08 Jan 2019

Pure London announces Katharine Hamnett as keynote speaker

Pure London announces Katharine Hamnett as keynote speaker

Activist and icon, Katharine Hamnett CBE will take to the stage at festival of fashion Pure London to deliver a hard-hitting keynote speech about the fashion industry. In conversation with futurist Anne Lise Kjaer, Katharine will discuss her career, her pioneering work on sustainability, and re-launching her brand in today's market.

Julie Driscoll, Managing Director of Pure London says; “The inventor of the slogan T-shirt, an icon of the 1980’s and an early champion of sustainability in the fashion industry, Pure London is delighted to welcome Katharine to our February show as we continue our own movement for sustainability through the Power of One campaign.”

Katharine will be interviewed by Anne Lise Kjaer at 3.20pm Sunday 10th February on the Main Stage.

About Katharine Hamnett:

A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Katharine Hamnett launched her brand in 1979 with a range of eclectic women’s designs; menswear followed in 1981. That year also saw her release the first of her many slogan tees CHOOSE LIFE, soon followed by EDUCATION NOT MISSILES, WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW, PEACE, SAVE THE WORLD, YOU – ME, SAVE THE SEA, CLEAN UP OR DIE, and SAVE THE FUTURE – these are central to the Hamnett DNA of the provocative and political writ large.

In 1984 events snowballed: the collection was selling in 700 of the best retail outlets across 40 countries. Katharine, known to the British public as a “bad girl with integrity”, was the first person to win the British Fashion Council’s “British Fashion Designer of the Year” and signed her first international licences. Across the media and on the street it was the summer of the slogan tee. Wham wore CHOOSE LIFE for one of their videos. Perhaps the most famous was the 58% DON’T WANT PERSHING t-shirt that Katharine wore to meet British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: a bold political act that made front page news around the world.

The sexy and seductive Katharine Hamnett London collections defined an aesthetic for the times and attracted fans such as Mick Jagger, Liz Taylor, Princess Diana, Boy George and Madonna; and with lines for denim, watches, handbags, shoes and eyewear, Katharine’s instantly recognisable style reached across the world. By the 1990s the Hamnett brand was a major UK exporter with a multi-million pound turnover.

Sustainability and ethical production became of prime importance, further shaking up what was expected of a global brand. Katharine’s 1989 research into the environmental and social impact of the clothing and textile industry horrified her as she discovered that the true cost of fashion was paid in environmental degradation and human suffering. She lobbied the industry to act for change, but with little success. She campaigned directly on issues such as the use of pesticides and the plight of cotton farmers, and badgered her licensees to reduce the environmental and social impact of her collections.

It was a war before its time, so Katharine took the decision to gradually wind down her brand – ripping up licences – until production methods could meet her environmental criteria. She moved out of the mainstream industry to concentrate on campaigning, political activism and collaborating with charities.

Now sustainable materials have at last caught up with her activism, in large part through her high-profile campaigns. Sustainability is no longer a left-field notion, consumers are increasingly demanding sustainably made products, and people are agitating for change in all areas.

Katharine Hamnett London re-launched in 2017 with reissues of many classic archive unisex pieces that are as relevant today as they always were, along with a wide selection of new designs – now all sustainably and ethically produced in Italy.

About Anne Lise Kjaer:

Anne Lise Kjaer is a renowned futurist and entrepreneur. Born in Denmark and resident in London, Kjaer holds the honorary title of Copenhagen Goodwill Ambassador. After studying design Anne Lise worked in France, Denmark and Germany. In 1988 she founded Kjaer Global, a Trend Management & Ideas consultancy helping organisations map trends and understand tomorrow’s people in order to make better decisions and fuel a culture of better design. Built on a holistic framework for balancing People, Planet and Purpose with Profit, Kjaer’s 4P vision and trend toolkit guides work with organisations in a wide variety of spheres. Her client list includes Amazon, Dell, FSC, UNICEF, Volvo, Wired and many others. In 2018 BBC Tomorrow’s World commissioned Kjaer to create eight scenarios set in Europe and the UK in 2035 to support and inspire future lifestyle visions.

The next Pure London and Pure Origin takes place at London Olympia from the 10th - 12th February 2019.

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