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Young designers accelerate eco-friendly fashion

fashion designer

Youth may be wasted on the young (as the saying goes) but it’s the young designers and ‘Green Grads’ actively reducing waste, who will fast forward sustainable fashion.

With London Fashion Week hurtling towards us like Enya Davis down a runway, eyes will be peeled for the young designers incorporating “green” materials and sustainable processes into the creation of next season’s clothes.

Whilst trends come and go, sustainability is sticking around, because both businesses and buyers want the hottest clothes, without the Earth getting hotter. Luckily for us, innovations in textiles are enabling eco-conscious brands to bring sensational new styles to the runways this Spring.

Someone who already knows a lot about sustainable fashion is Sarah Thorley, who recently graduated from the University of Bolton Undergraduate & Postgraduate Courses | University of Bolton and won the Eco Stories Gold Award for Green Grads in 2022.


Green Grads was founded by multi-award-winning design journalist Barbara Chandler, who has written about design for over 25 years at the London Evening Standard. Barbara and her team are on a mission to support new graduates and the environment at the same time. Their last two shows in 2021 and 2022 each attracted over 2,000 visitors over a single weekend and were also shown at prestigious events like Grand Designs Live and the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.

Michael Czerwinski, co-director of Green Grads, said:

“Our vision is to fuel UK environmental action with new talent from our universities, through shows, pop-ups, Salons, film, this website, and more.”

For the 2022 competition, Green Grads challenged Art Schools across the UK to design patterns that reflect their environmental concerns and/or love of the natural world. And to consider eco-friendly textiles, dyes, and methods of production.

Sarah studied on Bolton Uni’s Textiles and Surface Design programme, gaining the skills to accelerate her career in fashion, evidenced by the fact she’s already won awards for her green designs.


Sarah’s winning work included a series of botanical prints and upcycled chairs she had rescued from charity shops. Inspired by Biddulph Grange Gardens – a National Trust Property in Staffordshire – Sarah achieved her ambition to “celebrate conservation and highlight the beauty of nature”.

By using recycled paper to create her designs, which were then printed on natural linen, Sarah wowed the Green Grads panel with a collection of artwork that proves beauty doesn’t have to cost the Earth.

Sarah also took home the 2022 Masterpiece Prize at the Inspiring Designers of Tomorrow Today (IDOTT) show. Her work was based on the creations from The Potteries in Stoke-On-Trent.

Green Grads’ mission is well aligned with the University of Bolton’s commitment to supporting students and Alumni to grow their awareness of climate issues, begin to take responsibility for their own carbon footprint, and positively influence others in their lives and their careers.

Textiles and Surface Design is one of ten courses offered by the University of Bolton’s School of the Arts and Creative Technologies, alongside degrees in Fashion and Fashion Photography. At Bolton, a BA in Fashion provides students with the opportunity to explore and critically apply concepts, theories, and practice, developing an appreciation of the aesthetic, social, moral, ethical, legal, environmental, and economic contexts associated with fashion.

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