Alexander McQueen are donating old fabric to young designers

And you’ll see it on the runway tonight.

by Douglas Greenwood
14 February 2020, 2:28pm

Photography Liam Leslie

In a time of facile celebrations of ‘sustainable design’ -- a term so overused it’s swiftly losing meaning -- it’s always encouraging to see a major luxury house actually do good. Case in point? Alexander McQueen. The brand, now helmed by the brilliant Sarah Burton, has just announced a new scheme to give their old fabrics and cut-offs new life, in the hands of young designers at London’s fashion schools. They’re some of a few houses doing similar things: MMRMS Studio relied on jacquard from Gucci for their most recent collections, and Burberry handed reams of fabric to Patrick McDowell for his too.

It’s the start of an official scheme, pioneered by Sarah, that will see any fabric that might’ve otherwise wound up being disposed of being carted off to Central Saint Martins and the University of Westminster, to be used by the students for their own collections. “The ethos at Alexander McQueen means that everything we use in researching and designing collections has always been archived and stored,” Sarah says. “We’ve never thrown anything away.”

We’ll get our first look at these recycled McQueen fabrics this evening at the University of Westminster show. Designer Steven Stokey-Dayley has created a series of stunning overcoats. He’s used McQueen’s old tattersall check raglan to create a trench, some wool to make a tennis coat, and a ‘Flyte’ dressing gown comprised of 120 strips of flesh and blood-coloured fabric.

Not only does this mean that fabrics get a new life through the lens of a fresh young designer breaking out, it also helps said designers with the financial burden of fashion school. “It’s inspired all of us, and reminded me of being a student, and how tough it is when you can’t afford to buy fabric for your final collection” Sarah says of the scheme. “I was so lucky because when I first worked at McQueen, Lee helped me source fabrics for my final collection. It’s even harder today, and at a time when we all feel precious resources must be properly used.”

Alexander McQueen recycled fabric
Alexander McQueen recycled fabric


Photography Liam Leslie

Alexander McQueen
Central Saint Martins
Sarah Burton
University of Westminster
fashion student