‘Sustainable’ is a word thrown around so often that it’s nearly lost all meaning. As someone once told us, the most sustainable way to be is to create nothing new at all. But the reality of the commerce of creativity is that we have newness coming at us all the time. Yet the definition of newness has changed, with brands such as Marine Serre, Gabriela Hearst, E.L.V. Denim and more investigating (and practising) ways of creating less waste as they make new - from upcycling deadstock to biodegradable, natural materials, there are many ways in which “sustainable” practices can be embedded. It's fair to say that few designers commit themselves wholeheartedly to the practice because, well… it’s HARD. But for Mother of Pearl’s Creative Director, Amy Powney, making things in a sustainable way has been the cornerstone to all that she does. And now we get to see why and how, in a soon-to-be-released documentary in which she, and her process, stars.

“When I started this journey I happened to meet Amy Powney who was embarking on a primary mission to make an entirely sustainable collection from field to finished garment. I knew instantly that was a story I had to tell,” says Becky Hunter, the director, producer and editor of Fashion Reimagined, recently nominated for best debut director for her latest call to action movie.

When Becky first hit record back in 2017, sustainable fashion was more of a whisper in the industry and Amy was one of the few trailblazers backing the movement - alongside British designers like Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney and Katharine Hamnett (who the designer has always looked up to and features alongside in the film). But now the ethical fashion market is worth over $7.5 billion, having grown 6.5% each year since 2017, and is forecast to almost double by 2027.

Having joined Mother of Pearl under then-owners Maia Norman and Sue Foulston (Maia then being Damien Hirst’s wife), Amy spent 16 years at the brand, from sweeping the cutting room floor to becoming creative director. It wasn't until In 2017 after Amy was awarded the Vogue Fashion Fund for Best Young Designer of the Year, that she was able to fully commit to her mission. “To begin with, I was just looking at where I had to fit into the industry,” says the designer, who felt bound to schedules, fashion week and the image of the fashion circus. “When I won the award, I was able to direct the money and my attention towards what I have always wanted to do,” she continues.

After spending a portion of her childhood years raised off-the-grid in rural Lancashire in North West England by activist parents; and since creating her Kingston University graduate collection, fashioned entirely from organic and fair-trade fabrics, Amy has desired to change the way we engage with fashion; and with gaining day-to-day control as Creative Director of the brand in 2015, it was the perfect opportunity to start putting her value system fully into practice.

The film traces Amy’s tumultuous three-year journey across the world, from Peru and Uruguay to Austria and Turkey, sourcing yarns, fabrics and meeting manufacturers in an attempt to create garments with a low carbon footprint, minimum chemicals and a focus on natural fibres - all while being socially responsible and kind to animals. “In essence, creating the best possible product, with the best practices without forfeiting quality and design,” reads the brand’s website. ‘No Frills’, as the collection was aptly titled, debuted during London Fashion Week in 2018 and has remained a successful core diffusion line for the brand.

The original collection featured a technical cotton and wool jacquard cut into tailored jackets embellished with signature faux pearls. The fabric was made using organic yarns from a small-scale ethical farmer called Pedro, whose family ranch is in La Magdalena near Salto in Uruguay. Organic and recycled denim sourced from a supplier in Turkey that uses less water-intensive dyeing processes and solar power was transformed into oversized jackets and jeans. The denim collection was finished using light softening and stone washing - rather than controversial sandblasting which poses health risks - to create the distressed weathered look.

Not shying away from failure and hurdles, the documentary is a lesson to us all, an honest storytelling of Amy’s journey of determination to create a truly sustainable collection. “My favourite part was the personal story woven into the film,” says Amy, “a lot of documentaries present the audience with a problem which feels quite daunting, but in our film, there is hope. If this kid from the caravan can do it, so can anyone else.”

Fashion Reimagined is in cinemas from 3rd March and available on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW from 9th April.