The pandemic may have put paid to glitzy red carpets and show-stopping live performances, but that hasn’t stopped the British Fashion Council from celebrating the industry’s heaviest hitters in 2020. Having already spotlighted the 50 emerging creatives to watch, tonight, the prestigious Fashion Awards, usually held at London’s Royal Albert Hall, went virtual, and – much like the digital shows of London Fashion Week – was made available for those outside of the industry to watch, too.
Rather than repeating its annual format, 2020’s awards saw its hosts, including Millie Bobby Brown, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Rosalía, champion the designers, brands, and individuals who paved the way for progress in what has been an uncertain and troubling time for the industry. From adapting business models to supporting key workers, via fighting for equity and against prejudice in the face of Black Lives Matter movements this summer, 20 honourees were recognised in a 30-minute film under the pillars of environment, community, people and creativity.
“This year, under unique circumstances, we felt it was important to recognise the people and businesses who played a role in some of the most important and challenging issues of our generation and champion those who raised the bar in areas such as diversity, sustainability and community,” British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush said in a statement ahead of the 2020 Fashion Awards.
So, who made the fashion industry a better place this year? The Emergency Designer Network, founded by Phoebe English, Holly Fulton, and Bethany Williams, took home the community accolade for its work in harnessing the power of London’s creative efforts to produce 50k surgical gowns and 10k scrubs for British health workers. A Sai Ta‘s Actively Standing Against Injustice campaign and charitable work in dismantling systemic racism within the industry, and Michael Halpern‘s joyful celebration of 8 frontline workers in lieu of a digital show, also won them the award.
UNSPECIFIED – DECEMBER 01: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been shot in black and white. Colour version not available.) In this screen grab released on December 3, Lindsay Wagner, of Black In Fashion Council during The Fashion Awards 2020 on December 01, 2020. Due to COVID-19 and the global pandemic, The Fashion Awards 2020 celebrates designers, brands, creatives, and individuals who have lead change during this time. The Fashion Awards Digital Premiere will be streamed via fashionawards.com on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 7PM. (Photo by Misan Harriman/BFC/Getty Images for BFC)
Lewis Hamilton presented the recipients of the people category, those who create “equal, diverse and empowered workforces from head office and supply chain to shop floor.” British Vogue‘s Edward Enninful was awarded first, with The Crown‘s Emma Corrin sending a virtual message of gratitude for the progress and positivity Enninful has injected at both the title and within the industry at large. Agents of change in holding the industry to account, Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles also won the award for their work in founding the innovative and much-needed Black in Fashion Council. Designers Priya Ahluwalia and Samuel Ross were both commended for using their platforms “to raise awareness around the challenges of the Black community, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement,” with Ross pledging an incredible £10,000 to organisations and people on the frontline of the movement. Brother Vellies founder Aurora James was also acknowledged for spearheading the 15% Pledge, a powerful platform calling on retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands.
To award the environment accolades, fashion activist Aja Barber delivered powerful messages about the industry’s responsibility to the planet and its people, stating: “Now is the time to act – frankly, the time to act was actually yesteryear. We can get through this together, but it will take immediate and bold action.” Actor Maisie Williams continued, “We need to understand that we are all part of the problem – but that we can also be part of the solution.” 5 individuals were celebrated, those who have helped create change and inspire the rest of us to take action: Stella McCartney, Anya Hindmarch, Christopher Raeburn, Gabriela Hearst, and The Fashion Pact, a platform of industry leaders and businesses working towards collective environmental progress.
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been shot in black and white. Colour version not available.) In this image released on December 3, Designer JW Anderson poses ahead of The Fashion Awards 2020 on November 27, 2020 in London, England. Due to COVID-19 and the global pandemic, The Fashion Awards 2020 celebrates designers, brands, creatives, and individuals who have lead change during this time. The Fashion Awards Digital Premiere will be streamed via fashionawards.com on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 7PM. (Photo by Misan Harriman/BFC/Getty Images for BFC)
Finally, presented by Rosalía, the creativity award was given to the designers and brands who have made significant and meaningful global impacts over the past few years, pivoting particularly well in such turbulent times. Grace Wales Bonner, whose innovative and inspiring collections “challenge the roles of race and Black culture in fashion,” JW Anderson, who this year redefined the idea of a fashion month show with his virtual show-in-a-box, and Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, who came together to imagine a new kind of fashion future with a co-created brand, all took home the award.
In the most sobering year on record, it’s only fitting that the, British Fashion Council steered the celebrations away from the glitz and glamour of celebrity, instead presenting meaningful awards to a community of diverse, innovative, progressive and future-facing creatives. With them at the helm, the future of fashion is looking up.
Read below for a full list of the 20 honourees:
A Sai Ta
Emergency Designer Network
Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles for Black in Fashion Council
The Fashion Pact
Graces Wales Bonner
Prada, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons
Riccardo Tisci and Burberry