As GFW19 approaches, our Digital Editor Megan Doyle caught up with Global Ambassador Christopher Raeburn, founder and creative director of his self titled brand, as well as recently appointed creative director of Timberland. With a passion for responsible design, Christopher shares his thoughts on the current sustainability conversation in the industry, as well as sharing his advice for graduates and what he’s looking out for at GFW19.
Hi Christopher! This year will be your second year as a GFW Global Ambassador. What's been the most interesting aspect of your year being involved with GFW?
“What has sparked my interest in the work I have seen from graduates this year is not only the level of innovation and breadth of work the students have created, but also the placing of responsible design at the forefront of their approach which has been inspiring. “
Awareness around sustainability is at an all time high, but I'm interested to hear what you think the challenges from here are? Do you think there's a risk in more greenwashing or tokenism as it becomes more of a buzzword?
“Firstly, I think it is important to say that sustainability has not become a buzzword. This is about the industry making fundamental changes to the way it has been operating. Secondly, the growing awareness is fantastic and it’s incredible that sustainability is leading the conversation now.”
“Achieving a truly circular economy in our processes is a challenge that is faced by all industries, however, it requires people working together to make a positive difference. It’s been fantastic to see a more willing effort recently to achieve this.”
Last year you mentioned that you were looking for a mix of creativity and commerciality in graduates. What surprised you about the graduates you encountered last year, and what will you be looking out for at GFW19?
“It was particularly impressive to see the thoroughness of the work that was achieved by students last year, as everything from retail to packaging concepts had been explored. I will be looking for that mix of creativity and commerciality that is also underpinned by sustainable thinking and responsible design to ultimately build on the momentum and energy we had last year.”
What advice would you give this years group of graduates ahead of GFW19 as they start to make strides into their careers in fashion?
“The best thing to do is to start small. During the first five years of RAEBURN we only produced outerwear, which we became known for in the industry and grew from there, which really benefited the business in the early stages. My advice would be to start with a clear and simple aim, manage your risks and grow steadily.”
You've done lots of work to educate people through masterclasses and workshops. Do you think universities are doing enough to educate students on sustainable practices? Why do you find it so important to educate young people and the general public?
“We open the doors of the RAEBURN Lab to such a breath of individuals from all ages with accessibility and transparency at the heart of what we do. Young creatives and designers in particular are the individuals who are designing for generations to come, my own future included, so teaching people through our workshops and studio tours about the responsible work we do on a daily basis is very important.”
“I have witnessed the encouraging shift since being at university myself in the sustainable initiatives that have now been embedded into more and more courses at universities. However, it is as much about the students who are willing to work in a responsible way that has driven this change.”