Jacqui's flying in the face of fashion

DUNBAR-based international fashion designer Jacqui Burke is a lady on a mission.
Jacqui Burke, left, and Sue GuyJacqui Burke, left, and Sue Guy
Jacqui Burke, left, and Sue Guy

Her main job is teach her students at Dunbar Fashion School the intricacies of good fashion design, how to be a good machinist by perfecting the speeds and feeds of each individual job, choosing the best textiles and how to look after and love your clothes.

But she has now taken on a second mission – to help readdress the balance of clothing being sent to landfill.

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Mother-of-three Jacqui said: “Fashion is now affordable. However, the low-cost, high volume business model that allows this, also encourages a culture of disposal, with an estimated 350,000 tonnes of clothing sent to landfill each year in the UK alone.”

The businesswoman has always been conscious of where she sources her fabric and many of her garments – included in collections which have been shown worldwide including Munich Fashion Festival and London Fashion Week – feature recycled fabric.

She says she is inspired by her East Lothian surroundings and the environment in which she is “lucky enough” to live.

Dunbar was the first Zero Waste town in Scotland and she has now teamed up with officials from the campaign to highlight the importance of managing and reducing the towns’ waste footprint.

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Sue Guy, Project Manager of Zero Waste for Dunbar and District, said: “Recycling textiles is one way of addressing this issue.

“It’s a win, win situation. Buying smarter can mean choosing clothes that are better made and which will be a doddle to care for. Or maybe you don’t need to buy at all – you could hire or swap instead.”

Jacqui -–whose label is sold to top international buyers from L’Est in Tokyo to Untitled in New York and UK fashion retailers including Selfridges and Harvey Nichols – has teamed up with Zero Waste Dunbar and District and together they have held a number of “Frock Swap” events.

She is also working with students at Dunbar Fashion School on a new collection of clothes using recycled materials for next year’s London Fashion Week .

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Jacqui, 51, said: “I am keen to keep Dunbar on the world fashion map and at the same time help our environment by encouraging more and more people to ‘Love their Clothes’.”

The World Wildlife Fund says the use of pesticides and fertilisers, in addition to water, makes the global textile industry one of the most polluting and waste-generating sectors in the world.

Jacqui, who has a degree in clothing studies, launched Fashion School in Dunbar in August 2014. Students on the 30-week course learn everything they need to know about designing and tailoring for high fashion.