The Festival of Natural Fibres 2019 was organised at Craft Central. This event brought together fashion and textiles designers and sustainability experts. Those who are looking to learn about and source natural fibres – for themselves and their businesses also joined the event. The venue in London’s Isle of Dogs is a welcoming and inspiring space. The event was full of panel discussions, craft workshops, exhibits and stalls for ethical businesses. Khadi London organised this event in collaboration with Craft Central, Freeweaver Saori Studio, ONE, and Boho Homes London. The blog presents reflections on organising the festival by a student consultancy team from University College London.

The team assisted with organising various aspects of the festival. The blog gives their reflections on being a part of the festival, about their experience on the day. An accompanying blog describes the event, especially the panel discussions. The first of these panels focused on global supply chains for natural, sustainable fabrics. The second had a more inward agenda, ‘a conversation on how to improve the UK’s production, supply and demand for naturally derived fibres/fabrics’.

The team members were Prune Bouillot, Maëla Cren, India Davies, Assel Issayeva, Kay Ean Leong & Karen Ou

Credit for all Images: Rose Bradbury/Khadi London

Event highlights

We met Khadi London in early October to discuss the direction of our consultancy project with them. There we first heard about the Festival of Natural Fibres. At the time, we learnt that we were to help facilitate the event, and that we would play a role in helping to collect data and create content for the event. 

Event planning

We spent the next few weeks brainstorming about our output. What sort of data would be the best? In the end we decided it would be best to take data at the start of the event: who was attending and why? It would be interesting to see if attendees had disparate or overlapping fields of interest. To help Khadi London prepare for future events, we also followed up with feedback forms.

At the same time, we conducted research into the industry. We designed two informative posters for the event, one on the progress of the industry in the past year and one on the evolution of Khadi London. We also created a collaborative art project for the event. This project involved the audience penning down their personal resolutions for a sustainable and ethical future on little swatches of khadi fabric. We felt that this would be effective in getting attendees to be personally involved in the event and for them to build an emotional tie to our aims of sustainability.

Event preparation

The day began early and we had much to do but it was exciting to see it come to fruition. We quickly set up the reception desk and posters, and assembled the art project, and soon, attendees were filing in. I was initially put at reception but moved over to manning the collaborative art project, which offered countless opportunities to interact with participants. My main job was to encourage participants to pen their personal resolutions for the industry – the small efforts they would make to reach broader goal of sustainability. It was wonderful to talk to attendees about their goals. It was nice to learn why they were at the event. Some of them were there as fashion students, some as fabric suppliers or as part of sustainable ethical brands.


Moving towards sustainability

Swara giving 'Unity'message through her picture

 One little girl drew a picture of people holding hands, united, which I felt encapsulated my sentiment after interacting with people: that everyone was trying to play a part, however small, in making the industry cleaner and greener. It’s a united effort. And I think the same applies to our role in this event. Although our contribution was small, it was all a part of the bigger picture. I am glad we were a part of it.