She’s the outspoken designer who fought for legislation with slogans during the tumultuous Thatcher years and now, as the political climate takes another turn, Katharine Hamnett is back. Her first collection in 15 years, Spring/Summer 2018 is as iconoclastic as ever: a wardrobe of fluid – and that includes gender –, utilitarian pieces, spun from organic and sustainably sourced textiles. Following her exclusive preview presentation in-store, we caught up with Hamnett to discuss the role of fashion as a catalyst for change.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN FASHION DESIGN?
My family were crazy about fashion. They were pretty chic and very competitive. They had their clothes made or made them themselves, we used to go to Liberty for fabric. I was in charge of getting the right colour sticking cotton. I discovered the power of clothes.
HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CHANGING THE OUTLOOK OF YOUR BUSINESS?
Declaring I only wanted to make clothes ethically from now on as sustainably as possible and preserving traditional skills. Using and abusing media coverage, speaking at conferences, talking to suppliers and licensees. Showing them the evidence, trying to get them to change the way they were making clothes. T-shirt campaigns, collaborations with the likes of Tesco, M&S, Co-op Italy, getting them to use organic cotton and make sustainably. I don't think I was wildly successful, still only maximum 2% of cotton used in clothing is organic………..