Despite the pandemic deteriorating luxury sales, Burberry has notably stepped up to do its bit for the world. After turning its factory over to make PPE for medical workers earlier this year, the brand has announced it will team up with the British Fashion Council (BFC) to share unused fabrics with students in need. It’s a move that might create a sustainable model other brands can follow in the future.
The fashion industry has a deadstock crisis: excess fabric, waste, and overproduction. Burberry’s new initiative, titled the ReBurberry Fabric program, seeks to lessen this dilemma by donating substantial amounts of leftover fabrics. The BFC will oversee the logistics, getting the fabrics to students most in need at fashion colleges throughout the U.K.
Check, please — Colleges will be able to choose what fabric they want to receive, but sadly, all donated material is non-IP. This means that none of the fabric will be identifiable as Burberry cloth — no checks, logos, or accompanying flex. Instead, students will make their own garments that have to live up to the hype, while the brand doesn’t have to worry about protection or control concepts.
By way of its new initiative, Burberry is planning to put its leftover materials to good use to support “the next generation of diverse voices across the country,” the brand said in a statement. Its donations come at a crucial time for fashion students, who have taken a major hit as classes move online due to the pandemic. In addition to the lack of studio time and space, many students are facing financial struggles as they’re expected to pay out more for materials and tools. Not only will Burberry’s donations help out here, but they’ll also provide a sustainable way to bring the student’s creations to life.
Inciting industry change — While other brands have donated fabric to colleges in the U.K., Burberry's gesture is unique because it focuses on sustainability rather than brand promotion. After successfully donating its leftover fabric, Burberry wants to introduce, through the BFC, the Student Fabric Initiative, encouraging brands of all sizes to join the scheme and systematically donate fabric to underprivileged students. The brand’s initial donations, alongside the donations that will hopefully follow, will create circularity between the industry and education. Even beyond the pandemic, it will help those who would otherwise struggle to study fashion.
Serving as the blueprint, Burberry proves that high fashion can be sustainable too. In the meantime, we wonder what the brand is doing with its deadstock trademark fabrics…