#15 BROOKE ROBERTS-ISLAM - knits science and sustainability together


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Digital knitwear designer,
Diagnostic radiographer within the NHS,
Material scientist producing biodegradable materials,
Co-director of Brooke Roberts Innovation Agency (BRIA),
FashionTech writer for the Huffington Post,
KPMG's Shift 100 list for retail technology entrepreneurs in 2017,
The Hospital Club 100 list of the most influential and innovative creatives in the UK,

It’s hard to believe that this list of titles and achievements could belong to one person. However it can only belong to one person, and that’s Brooke Roberts-Islam.

Cross-discipline, multiple job roles, the Muti-Hyphen Method (as Emma Gannon describes it), is something that most of us can relate to. Brooke flows quite naturally between extremely diverse roles, such as radiographer and knitwear designer. It’s this blend of skills that makes Brooke so unique and incredibly interesting to discuss the fashion landscape with.

Finding that traditional fashion media didn’t quite get her projects, Brooke created a space for discussions around fashion, technology and cross-discipline innovation to take place. Pioneering FashionTech long before others caught up and wanted a piece of the action. Not only has Brooke created an outlet for her company’s projects, she has opened up the discussion encouraging new ways of thinking. Through her frustration she has created a way for others to be understood and flourish.

The projects that Brooke conceived through the innovation agency - BRIA - she co-founded with her husband, Moin Roberts-Islam, are incredible on so many levels, see two diverse examples below.

Slave/Master an amazing installation shown at the V&A during London Design Festival explored the "borders" around human/robot interaction, reversing the traditional “fear” portrayed in sci-fi films of robots oppressing and interfering with humans.

BRIA and SABINNA collaborated to transform a fashion capsule collection of wardrobe “staples” into new 100% biodegradable materials for use in garment packaging and shop interiors. By developing innovative processes for transforming garments into new biodegradable materials, they successfully demonstrated that without compromising on design, it is possible for brands to create commercial fashion that is circular and that never needs to go into landfill, with the potential to avoid millions of tonnes of garment landfill waste every year. W

The way Brooke approaches her work, with no barriers, through exploration to innovation is something we can all learn from.

Sometimes we are searching so hard to find the right direction or solution to our business or design problems and coming to a dead end because we are expecting the solution to look a certain way. But by giving ourselves the space to be free, take time out to explore and remember what it’s like to free of preconceived ideas, perhaps with a fresh childlike naivety, we may well be blown away by what we are capable of.


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