Fashion Design Consultant Abigail Eaton talks to b.kinda ahead of Sustainable Fashion Week

Abigail Eaton is a sustainable fashion design consultant and owner of Studio Real|ne, a responsible fashion platform. Her mission? To help transform the harmful fashion industry. As the driving force behind Sustainable Fashion Week’s Plymouth Hub Abigail aims to inspire collective action at a grassroots level. Educating, inspiring, and empowering the local community to help change their relationship with clothes. 

She agreed to an interview with b.kinda about the event itself (an event that b.kinda are proud to be a part of) – and her top tips for inspiring others to join the sustainable fashion movement.

How did you come to the fashion industry?

So I started off at Plymouth Art College doing the foundation course, and then I moved on to do my degree at Somerset College of Arts and Technology, which is part of Plymouth University. I went there to do print textiles, but quickly moved on to fashion. From there I went into my first job in London working for a small luxury brand on ‘ready-to-wear’. It got me involved in London Fashion Week shows, luxury high-end private clients and celebrities.

It wasn’t until the Rana Plaza disaster, ten years ago this year, that I began to focus on the ‘sustainable’ side of fashion. Many of the factories in Bangladesh are used by fast fashion companies; companies in the UK like Marks & Spencer, Primark and H&M. One of the factories started having issues, there were cracks and problems which the staff had alerted the managers to. Nothing was done and the factory collapsed killing 1,134 people and leaving thousands more injured. It was an eye-opener for everyone in the industry – and I was no exception. 

It started me off on my own path of research looking at the fabrics that we were using. As a luxury brand you would think that we’d be using sustainable fabrics as a given, but we weren’t. We were using sequins or viscose, which are really obviously harmful to the environment.

Eventually I started freelancing and working with small brands that wanted to start their businesses sustainably or that weren’t necessarily sustainable but wanted to go in that direction and wanted to change the way that they do things. And I’m still doing that now. I work with clients throughout the whole process, from a design perspective, creating those ideas at the beginning right through to design, making patterns, fabric sourcing, factory sourcing, and essentially getting everything ready so that they can take their garment to the factory and get it made. 

When you start with brands from the very beginning, you can really input the sustainability aspect into businesses. When you’ve got big brands that are trying to become sustainable and trying to change things within their business, that’s really difficult.

Tell us about your involvement in Sustainable Fashion Week?

Taking place across the UK, online and internationally – the Sustainable Fashion Week programme is packed with community-led activity to inspire, upskill and empower people and businesses to reject the status quo and embrace a fair fashion future. Hosted by organisations, individuals, brands, local authorities, creative spaces and community groups… coming together in ACTION. Fighting climate change – and looking good while doing it!

This year I had the opportunity to host the Plymouth hub, which will be at the iconic Devonport Guildhall,  a community led space from Real Ideas. The weekend long event will showcase sustainable fashion through a feature a market, fashion show, talks, swap shop, workshops and more. I’m really passionate about sustainability and fashion altogether in one place. I think it’s going to be really amazing. I am highlighting businesses and highlighting the amazing things that they’re doing. My plan is that we can grow this event more every year  – I think there’s opportunities there.

What are five things that you believe people could do to spread the word about fashionable – but sustainable – ways to dress? 

There are many ways to effectively spread the word about sustainable fashion, I would suggest a multifaceted approach.

This includes utilising social media platforms to showcase their sustainable fashion choices, connecting with initiatives like Sustainable Fashion Week, and collaborating with others who share their passion for sustainability. 

Blogging, whether through written content, videos, or imagery, offers a platform to share insights, brand recommendations, and practical tips. 

You could participate in or organise local sustainability-focused fashion events and workshops, such as clothing swaps and discussions, can engage the community. 

Then there is the educational side, which I think is important. So, this could be doing workshops or webinars to share knowledge about sustainable materials and ethical production. Anything which helps empowers others to make informed choices, can collectively inspire positive change in the fashion industry.

For more information and to find out more, head to SFW Hub Plymouth

b.kinda will be at the SFW Hub on Saturday – we hope we will see you there!

Also tickets are now live – and there are early bird prices for this week – BOOK NOW!