Fashion is a form of expression, identity, and social change. This is the message that 30 students from Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK conveyed through their creative proposals at the 5th edition of Sustainable Challenge 2023, a fashion creation marathon that challenged students to develop sustainable projects with a gender perspective.

The event, organized by MODA-FAD in collaboration with Design Manchester, with support from the Barcelona City Council and Disseny Hub Barcelona, along with the British Council and the Embassy of the Netherlands as collaborating institutions, took place from November 2nd to 4th at Disseny Hub Barcelona.

The theme of this edition was “Gender perspective in fashion”, a concept that invited students to question the normative gaze on the body and attire, and to explore the diversities within the group through an intersectional lens. The students worked in mixed teams, using participatory design methodology, and repurposed discarded clothing provided by the Roba Amiga association, resulting in unique, value-added or upcycled pieces.

The culmination of the project was a fashion show on November 4th at Disseny Hub Barcelona, where the six teams presented their garments featuring activist models from the queer community. The runway was attended by FAD President Salvi Plaja and Mireia Escobar, Director of Disseny Hub Barcelona, along with a hundred enthusiastic guests.

The curator of this edition was Roberte Piqueras, former fashion designer, social educator, and researcher in constructing safe educational spaces for LGBTQIAQ+ adolescents. The students also received guidance and feedback from industry experts and mentors: Alyce Kell, design instructor at Onlelab College, a university school part of the Royal College of Art focused on creating a more inclusive world through design, digital media, and entrepreneurship; Frank Trobok, an artist, curator, and director of performative and socially engaged arts; Harm Rensink, creative director of the Dutch platform New Order of Fashion, a platform for international talent working for the next generation of fashion designers to drive the transition towards a circular fashion and textile industry. And local upcycling designers Tania Marcial and Juan VG.

Sustainable Challenge 2023 aims to promote the role of design in achieving sustainable products, not just environmentally, but also socially and economically. It also showcases the talent and creativity of young fashion designers, who can create innovative and meaningful solutions for the challenges of our times.

Check out below the looks created by the six student teams, to be exhibited at Disseny Hub Barcelona in the first quarter of 2024 and photographed by Isaac Flores, an artist who explores dissidence and the Barcelona queer underground:

Vegan activist and Tiktoker @bruno.leon_ is wearing a look created by Joy Julius, Royal College of Art (London),  Norah Severien, Willem de Kooning Academie (Amsterdam), Daniella Cretenze London, Escola de la Dona (Barcelona), Alba López Matamala, Elisava, Escola Universitària de Disseny i Enginyeria (Barcelona) and Fernando Carbonell Marti, Barreira Arts i Disseny (València).

Model and performer @galatehortua wearing a look created by Jeriliano Vicente, Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam); Annis Dodd Adkins, Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester); Larisa Pavón, ES Design (Barcelona); Pilar Garrigos Llabata, Barreira Art i Disseny (València) and Alba Prinz Naspler, BAU, Centre Universitari d’Arts i Disseny (Barcelona).

Music and performer @rebel.bunnie is wearing a look created by Nuoqi Shen, Royal College of Art (London), Martina Otero Jeandrevin, Escola Massana (Barcelona), Marta Garcia Marcos, Escola Illa (Sabadell), Pablo Cariñana Llopis, Barreira Art i Disseny (Valècia) and Paco Teepe, Willem de Kooning Academie (Rotterdam).

Creative director and stylist @tesrosmeri is wearing a look created by Tobi Ajibola, Pearson College (London), Amber van Ravenswaay, Business and Fashion Academy (Eindhoven), Eva Herranz Sánchez, ES Design (Barcelona), Marta Torrents Buendía, Escola de la Dona (Barcelona) and Francesca Salvaia, Politecnico di Torino / Erasmus a Elisava, Escola Universitària de Disseny i Enginyeria (Barcelona).

Actress and comedian @viddapriego is wearing a look created by Bink Kwist, Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam), Siji Bernita, Escola Massana (Barcelona), Norah Ruiz Vazquez, Institut Guillem Catà (Manresa), María del Rosario Arenas Lee, IED (Madrid) and Jakub Komar, University of central Lancashire (Manchester).

Artist, model and activist @jossyjaycoff is wearing a look created by Mar Nilia Ayala Rohner, Elisava, Escola Universitària de Disseny i Enginyeria (Barcelona), MichałZgierski, Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam), Laia Sánchez Arlegui, Elisava, Escola Universitària de Disseny i Enginyeria (Barcelona) and Claudia Torres, Barreira Art i Disseny (València).


Image credits:
Photographed by Isaac Flores
Make-up and hair by Allison Caranton and Aimé Baroni
In collaboration with Fucking Young! Magazine