In 2016, Selfridges is championing a new trend in the fashion industry: sustainability. Using their position as one of the leading retailers in the UK, Selfridges aims to inspire its people, partners and customers to respect the environment, buy responsibly and champion sustainable products that contribute to healthy and happy communities.
Throughout Jan and Feb, Selfridges is celebrating sustainability with Bright New Things and looking at 'fashioning a brighter future'. As part of the nationwide campaign, Selfridges Exchange Square is taking inspiration from the idea of “new northern heritage” – focusing on northern companies that come with real manufacturing heritage, have sustainable credentials, and which create handmade products made using time honoured skills and production methods.
The scheme’s focus will be a large-scale, dramatic installation created in partnership with the Whitworth, Manchester’s gallery in the park, and James Cropper PLC, a Cumbria-based bespoke paper manufacturer that is a pioneer in environmental technology.
On 22 February, a dramatic installation will be revealed in store. Taking the concept of the handmade as its starting point, the installation will feature a sculpture of two hands, composed from over 25,000 handmade coloured paper cubes. The installation is created by Lancashire artist Sam Robins and crafted entirely from a selection of James Cropper papers, made with reclaimed fibre from recycled disposable coffee cups.
James Cropper PLC began life in 1845 as a paper mill based in the heart of the Lake District. While maintaining its heritage, James Cropper has been noted in recent years for pushing the boundaries of sustainability and innovation in the paper world. Alongside its range of luxury and high quality coloured papers – including the bespoke yellow paper created for Selfridges’ signature carrier bag – James Cropper has invested significantly in its plant and technology, to both develop its range of recycled materials and to ensure is own production methods are as sustainable as possible. In 2013, the Queen opened James Cropper’s industry-leading reclaimed fibre plant, which converts single-use drinks cup waste into new paper products.
The Whitworth, meanwhile, reopened in February last year after a £15m expansion that saw it double in size – and become one of the most sustainable cultural venues in the country.
Jane Sharrocks, General Manager, said: “As one of the leading fashion retailers, we feel we have a responsibility to set an example in the industry and during 2016, will be championing sustainability throughout the store. Famous for stunning visuals and captivating designs, our store windows are the perfect place to launch this campaign with a thought provoking creation to begin the conversation in Manchester.”
Susan Wilson, Luxury Packaging Director, James Cropper, said: “Fashions may come and go, but a sense of style is forever. Similarly, we believe sustainability is more than a passing trend. This installation is about championing creativity with longevity – supported by the right mix of innovative and authentic production methods that respect the environment.”
Dr. Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth, said: “It's almost a year since the Whitworth reopened. This installation is an ideal way to mark our first momentous year, and to cement our relationship with two of the country's most creative companies, Selfridges and James Cropper. First wedding anniversaries are traditionally marked by giving gifts of paper; this beautiful, paper-based commission on the eve of our first anniversary thus feels rather fitting."
Artist Sam Robins said: “I am excited to be involved in a project which champions a return to artisan skills and the value of quality, handmade products that last. Paper making is a time honoured craft, and paper is not only a beautiful medium to work with but a wonderful example of a sustainable product. This installation is a celebration of northern industry - past, present and future; each tiny cube produced by hand to form a bold and beautiful representation of the many hands behind the story of a new northern heritage.”
On a national level, the Selfridges Buying team has been - and will be - focused on Buying Better. Following a training programme led by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion to understand the issues and impacts of the fashion industry, Selfridges began focusing on making sustainability part of the buying conversation, ensuring brands meet certain standards on ethical trade and promoting best practice. By 2020 Selfridges ambition is to reduce their carbon footprint 15%.