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Polly Burton

15th May 2021

Sustainability is a key focus for Fashion Design BA student Polly Burton, who aims to design timeless, quality garments that will last a lifetime, and give the wearer confidence to be whoever they want to be on any given day. For Polly, fashion gives everyone an opportunity to explore who they are. She said: “It is the person we choose to be every morning when getting dressed, it gives us a chance to change our identity, to fit in or stand out”. This inclusive ethos as a designer combined with a passion for sustainability set Polly apart from the crowd. Polly’s collection ‘Soul Sista’ is a sustainable streetwear brand created as an entry to ‘Better Design for the Future’ – a competition by ‘Fashion & The OutCrowd’ where Polly won 3rd place and secured one-to-one coaching from the organisers. 

Inspired by nineties sportswear and the hip hop scene in New York, ‘Soul Sista’ is a womenswear capsule collection featuring adaptable, functional, reversible and zero waste garments to promote sustainable practice in a variety of ways. The bright colours and graphic prints are influenced by artist Hiro Yamagata’s 1996 Olympic posters. Key garments include bomber jackets, shell suits and classic t-shirts worn by both athletes and rappers during the nineties, fabricated in materials such as ripstop, satin, and airtex mesh. The collection is designed to mix and match across the 8 looks to create a higher number of wears per garment, due to details such as zip off sleeves and trousers. 

Polly is a pattern cutting specialist with an accomplished knowledge of colour and print. Her approach to research is to start with observational garment drawings to study the details and finish, using collage to help create innovative silhouettes. Combining this hand drawn approach with her expertise in digital plays to Polly’s strengths in 2D work. She added: "The way the industry has changed to a digital way of working has really suited me, and I love putting my portfolio together. The pandemic has encouraged me to think more about the communication of each page to ensure my personality and designer handwriting stands out”. For the print aspect of Polly’s work, she starts with mark making by hand, developing the designs further in a digital format to change composition and colourways. 

“I think the fashion industry needs to become slower, which people have realised as a result of the pandemic. It’s not sustainable to keep the previous rate it was going, and there needs to be a huge shift in the attitude towards fast fashion and sustainability. I believe there should be a focus on designing quality, long lasting garments rather than on trends. This approach is something I aim to take forward in my own design work, and encourage others to do the same”, Polly said. 

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