7th – 8th September 2022
Nexus, University of Leeds, UK
7th – 8th September 2022
Nexus, University of Leeds, UK
Based in Hyderabad, India, Varsha Mahendra is a passionate fashion designer, entrepreneur and a craft revivalist with over 25 years experience. Since graduating from the 10k GS ISB Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs, she has been working with weavers and artisans at grass roots level to revive handloom and hand embroidery skills and help improve livelihoods.
She has worked as a consultant on a variety of projects with charities such as Oxfam to create handloom apparel, aesthetic products, handicrafts as well as gifting products based on traditional craft-based techniques. She has also undertaken projects with Microsoft India, Andhra Pradesh Handicraft Development Corp, APCO Central Cottage Industries Emporium and JMDC, with the aim to promote the Indian crafts on a global stage.
Currently Varsha is employing weavers and artisans to work on products and apparel based on traditional craftsmanship with modern silhouettes. Having formed the company Dsgyn Idys in 2007 to provide women with exclusively designed silhouettes with exquisite craftsmanship, handcrafted with an eye for detail. Varsha has developed 3 brands, within the Dsgyn Idys umbrella. These are Jus Blouses by Varsha Mahendra, VM Craft for Life and Varsha Mahendra.
Awards and Achievements
Christopher Raeburn is a graduate of London’s prestigious Royal College of Art (MA | Womenswear 2006), whose pioneering work has brought responsible design to a global audience and presents a new definition of luxury with integrity. Founded in 2009, the RÆMADE ethos in particular has pioneered the reworking of surplus fabrics and garments to create innovative and functional pieces.
Alongside this, a highly collaborative spirit informs elevated, handcrafted and award-winning products with distinct utilitarian value and purpose. This innovative approach, with an unusual balance of high concept, accessibility and wearability, is applied to menswear, womenswear, luggage and accessories.
RÆBURNs DNA is infused with collaborative partnerships, each carefully considered in order to improve knowledge and uptake of responsible practices across sectors. Over the past 10+ years, RÆBURN has secured connections with the likes of Moncler, The North Face, Umbro, Rapha, Aesop and many more. To complement this, Christopher has enjoyed an extended partnership with Timberland and is today seen as their ‘Collaborator at Large’, continuing to fly the flag for The Earthkeepers® by RÆBURN collection, which continuously challenges the brand’s dedication to eco-innovation. Alongside this Christopher is proudly appointed as the creative lead for the relaunch of both Left Hand and ST95, two brands that were originally founded by Massimo Osti.
Christopher translated the RÆBURN ethos into an immersive experience for visitors with the RÆBURN Lab, in Hackney, which is now home to the RÆMADE atelier, 11-year design archive and acts as the flagship retail space. In 2021 a sister space opened in Carnaby, Central London, located on 2 Marshall Street. The environment is a physical representation of RÆBURN, fixtures within the store are made from materials that are either reused, recycled or can be easily repurposed. Broadening our engagement with consumers on new systems and ways of working.
Avis Charles is a fashion and educational consultant, a graduate of the London College of Fashion (UAL). She started her career as an apprentice in the couture house of Susan Small, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies, whose clients included the British Royal Family in addition to global high-profile individuals. It is here she honed the skill of Haute Couture under the expert eye of mavens whose guidance has been instrumental in enabling Avis to become the exceptional couturier that she is today.
This foundation has led to over forty-five years of continuous development in an ever-changing fashion environment and the formation of Avis Charles Associates (ACA), a strategic fashion consultancy specialising in creative direction through to product development. ACA has developed educational, training, and vocational programs in the African continent and the Caribbean. which led to the company formulating the strategy for Africa Fashion International (AFI)’s bi-annual fashion weeks, which is one of the largest successful fashion week and designer development events on the African continent.
Avis’s interest in traditional crafts, cultural heritage and her extensive contacts have enabled the development of projects for the IFC/World Bank, the British Council, and the International Trade Centre (ITC) along with consulting with international academic institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and global brands on sustainability. These projects have celebrated female artisanal talent in Peru, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Ethiopia, India, to name a few, by directional mentoring enabling them to reach their full economic potential.
Throughout her career Avis has worked tirelessly as a to increase opportunities for young people, by working with the Prince’s Trust, as well as mentoring young entrepreneurs. She is a dedicated supporter of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) and Women for Women (WfWI). It is this relationship which has led Avis to combine personal ethics and the support for women, by creating a scarf range called Kivu. The scarves showcase exquisite print designs inspired by countries where conflict has devastated the lives of women. Proceeds from sales go to WfWi and NMCF, thus incorporating luxury and philanthropic values.
Avis has sat on several private sector and government boards and is a regular speaker at international conferences, including the World Economic Forum. She was honoured at Women: Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE)’s roll call of 50 of the UK’s most inspirational women in business and leadership. Avis is currently an Honorary International Research Fellow within the Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities at De Montfort University and is a guest lecture at several international universities.
Nexus, University of Leeds
Attendance at the conference is possible in person or online. Numbers within the venue are restricted. Presenters and exhibitors planning on attending in person are encouraged to register as soon as possible.
Wednesday 7th September
The conference dinner takes place on the evening of Wednesday 7th September 2022 at The Tetley, which is around 25-minutes walk from Nexus.
Delegates attending the conference in person have the option to register to visit the Marks and Spencer Company Archive: Mark in Time before the conference dinner. Numbers are limited to 60 delegates.
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 38,000 students from more than 150 different countries. We are renowned globally for the quality of our teaching and research. We are a values-driven university, and we harness our expertise in research and education to help shape a better future for humanity, working through collaboration to tackle inequalities, achieve societal impact and drive change. The University is a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities, and plays a significant role in the Turing, Rosalind Franklin and Royce Institutes.
Future Fashion Factory and the School of Design
Future Fashion Factory is an industry-led programme housed in the School of Design at University of Leeds. This is an interdisciplinary School bringing together expertise from a range of design and technology specialisms. Creation and innovation are at the heart of both our teaching and research as we aim to develop new design ideas and provide solutions to issues faced in industry and society. Within Future Fashion Factory, designers lead a highly creative process of applying, co-developing and implementing new textile and industrial digital technologies (IDTs) in collaboration with supply chain manufacturers, retailers and other technology experts in the high value luxury textile and fashion sector. The R&D cluster will deliver exciting new creative innovation opportunities, new products, shorter product development and design lead times, reduced costs, and increased global industrial competitiveness and productivity.
Future Fashion Factory is a five-year, £5.4m project funded by the Creative Industries Clusters Programme (CICP), which is part of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy.
Leeds offers a wealth of accommodation options. Ibis Styles 10-minutes walk from Nexus. There is accommodation around Leeds train station which is 10-minutes walk from The Tetley and 20-minutes walk from Nexus. Visit Leeds has useful links and information.
Twitter: @FTCorg #futurescan5