Following the success of the AW20 No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) collection, which featured a blanket coat – Selfridges commissioned a capsule coat collection to be released and sold during London Fashion Week in February 2021. As with every collection and project we work on, the social and environmental issues go hand in hand.
“This particular project was inspired by our ongoing work with The Magpie Project, a charity that supports women and children under five in temporary, unsuitable or no accommodation. The Women’s Institute community creates a personal blanket for every baby born into the Magpie Family. A blanket is so much more than a piece of fabric, it is a feeling of comfort and shelter and I wanted that feeling to be at the heart of this capsule collection.” – Bethany Williams
Drawing on this tradition at Magpie as inspiration, the collection saw us explore the historical heritage of vintage and antique wool blankets from across the UK. All the blankets were carefully sourced from vintage sellers, across Antiques Markets and car boot sales. Steeped in history, each blanket sourced tells a story, from the textile and weaving techniques, to the county, town or village it was made in. One of Bethany’s favourite pieces sourced for the collection was found on a pitch black frosty morning at Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Racecourse. With a phone touch as her only source of light, she came across a rare and usually very expensive Welsh, patterned wool blanket with brightly coloured pink and orange patches.
With this collection, the story continues, as each blanket is given a new lease of life through the artistic vision and mastering of design-led upcycling techniques, which created this capsule collection. Shapes for the details on each garment come from historical research into childrenswear that she explored with the V&A Museum of Childhood. The complimentary colour palettes, slightly oversized fit and skilful patchwork techniques all create a unique, bespoke-feel to each garment.
Handcrafted in London, these blanket coats were created in three different jacket styles. Each garment is conceptualised by allocating a specific blanket to each style of jacket based on its weight, thickness and colour. The outer material used is blanket wool for optimal insulation with a 100% organic cotton lining, sourced from Wales. And the story does not end with the wool that was sourced, each element of these coats has a history. From the UK sourced organic cotton insulation to the handmade wooden buttons made by craftsman Spencer Martin from London Green Wood, a not-for-profit cooperative, using Hackney grown wood or waste wood from local tree surgeons.
20% of the profits from this collection has been donated to The Magpie Project via The Bethany Williams Benevolent Fund, a fund set up by The Magpie Project and Bethany Williams London. Jane Williams, CEO and Founder of The Magpie Project commented, “Working in partnerships with Bethany Williams and her creative crew is like a dream come true for us, our mums and minis. Bethany's NRPF collection brought the issues that blight our families' lives to the attention of a whole new audience - making change increasingly possible. She lends her spotlight to tell seldom heard stories - empowering and centring those who have previously felt powerless and marginalised.
Now the profits from her collection have become a lifeline for mums in moments of crisis. When a mum was forced to move home with 12 hours’ notice, the Bethany Williams Benevolent Fund paid for a man with a van, which meant that she did not lose the furniture she had saved and saved to buy. When a mum was forced to flee domestic abuse and was housed in a flat with no beds - the Bethany Williams Benevolent Fund meant that her children did not have to sleep on the floor. We are using the BWBF when no other funds are available to mums - and a surprisingly small amount of money (up to £100 at a time) makes the impossible possible for our mums and minis.”
This collection is part of Selfridges sustainability initiative, Project Earth, committed to putting sustainability in the heart of the business and reinventing the way we shop.
“We are so thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Bethany Williams. Bethany joined the Selfridges menswear edit as part of our Bright New Things programme, and we are so excited to now be launching this collection straight from her LFW presentation. She was a clear choice to be included as one of our key Project Earth partners due to her innovative approach to sustainable and socially conscious work” – Jack Cassidy, Head of Menswear.
Donate to The Bethany Williams Benevolent Fund.