Sustainable Style’s first ever Charity Gala, and probably the first eco-event to happen like it in St Andrews, was hosted at Falside Mill on March 9th. Including a silent auction of sustainable designs, tarot readings and a BPM afterparty, it’s safe to say that the unique and jam-packed nature of the event did not disappoint its attendees.
The event began with guests being greeted at the door by champagne, floral decorations, and probably the best canapés in the history of St Andrews balls. Macaroni cheese bites? Yes please! Vibrance, energy, and enthusiasm for the night ahead was pumped out by the student band Raincheck, while in the main space of Falside Mill, a live DJ awaited to provide background beats for browsing the pieces on display. After drooling in the queue for La Creperie and reaching nirvana in the form of gorgeously melted nutella at the end of it, guests were ushered into the main space of the venue.
The gala’s emphasis on finding local designers and businesses to support their event really made me realise how lucky and resourceful our surrounding area is. The talent on display by our fellow student designers was truly incredible. Students had knitted bags, crocheted jumpers, and gotten creative with other clothing and accessories. One of the designers, Kristie Poon, started crocheting in lockdown and particularly enjoys creating hats. Like many other designers, the committee reached out to her in their aim to provide local, handmade and sustainable pieces made by talented students. A myriad of sounds and sights were appreciated by all, as a gala based on clothing and style, the unique and colourful outfits of attendees was a wonderful sight to see itself.
Fashion Revolution, the charity to which the profits of the Sustainable Style Gala would be donated, acts to support sustainable fashion through campaigns and general awareness-raising. Within our generation of H&M, Boohoo, Shein, and Pretty Little Thing, the rise of fast fashion has left unbelievably destructive impacts on the environment and to the rights not just of factory workers, but local designers too. The charity holds transparent aims to create ‘safe and dignified working conditions,’ ‘fair and equal pay,’ ‘respect culture and heritage,’ and ‘restore and conserve the environment’ – things which were clearly on the minds of the Sustainable Style committee whilst hosting their event. This gala provoked a sense of rethinking St Andrews’s ball culture in its themes, activities, and the destructive fashion culture of buying new dresses for every event. It brought some much needed awareness towards the necessity of reusing or buying second-hand.
The silent auction, where students bid on the handmade and local designs made by their talented peers, fed into Sustainable Style’s raffle. With prizes ranging from £100 Fatface vouchers to upcycled purses and jewellery, there was much up for grabs. After the raffle winners, guests were treated to two dance performances, from ballet to modern, wowing the audience with each turn.
Anush, a second year film student who creates content locally with students, said she was approached by Sustainable Style’s president, Tess, to help promote the Gala. Together, the committee, Anush, and some student designers who contributed their items for the gala made some clips to publicise the event and even did some behind-the-scenes photography. To promote the event and widen their online content, more entertaining videos interviewing students passing by were made.
The gala didn’t end there, however. Many students flocked in for the afterparty, hosted by St Andrews’ very own BPM. A busy evening bursting with creativity, energy and entertainment, geared towards a fantastic cause… Sustainable Style’s gala reached beyond the conventional ball culture, into something exciting and needed within the student community.
Read the exclusive interview with Sustainable Style committee members Velia (Press and Media Coordinator), Naomi (Head of Sponsorship), and Alex (Designer Publicity) here:
Why did you choose to get involved with the Sustainable Style Gala?
Velia: This year I really wanted to branch out more in terms of joining committees and trying new things, and when I saw Sustainable Style was looking for people to help out with their charity fashion gala, I was so excited and knew I wanted to give it a shot! Sustainability in general is such an important thing for me, especially when it comes to fashion, so to see Sustainable Style St Andrews promote it in such a fun and creative way has been so cool. The committee is awesome as well, I’ve loved working with everyone!
Naomi: I have been on the committee for almost a year now and absolutely love promoting the values of Sustainable Style as well as sharing our love for fashion. The ball entails all that makes St Andrews a sustainable and creative location. My main reason for joining the gala committee was to invite students who may not be used to sustainability to become enticed by our creative way of redesigning the event scene in St Andrews.
Alex: I’ve always been a huge fan of dressing with sustainability in mind by trying to only shop second hand. I love going round the charity shops but I found that the clothing swaps organised by sustainable style were such a brilliant way of finding new and stylish clothes without having to make large purchases or contribute to the fast fashion industry. I knew it was an initiative that I wanted to get involved with and when the committee opened up to new members in planning a big event I jumped at the chance to help.
What sort of things should attendees expect to experience and see at the ball? And do you have a particular favourite aspect?
Alex: Attendees of the Charity Gala should get excited for a really fun celebration of sustainability with so many carefully planned aspects to it. My favourite part of the event is the exhibition of over 70 incredible pieces of art, clothing and jewellery made by a huge collection of talented and mainly student designers. I’m also looking forward to bidding on a few of those pieces that have been generously donated for auction in support of our charity Fashion Revolution. As well as the exhibition, which is already bound to keep guests interested, there will be live music and dance performances, a tarot reader, canapes, drinks and the beloved BPM playing the afterparty so we can all have a good dance!
What are your opinions on the university’s eco initiatives? Do you think they/ the students are thinking outside the St Andrews bubble and of the wider impacts of the climate crisis?
Naomi: As I’m also part of the Environment Subcommittee, I see the lack of transparency from the university. Many societies work to achieve a greener St Andrews and follow through on the university’s net zero goals but when it comes down to the public and student body knowing what’s going on behind the scenes, there is a sense of miscommunication. I think that the university has the potential to do something great with all the opportunities and initiatives and it’s up to the students to demand that change. Regarding the student body, I sense a strong feeling of belonging and teamwork within the environmental community in St Andrews. Every organisation, society, subcommittee, and business is willing and has the drive to make change and that makes me so excited to see!