Protective Covid-19 equipment manufactured by Golborne based Alpha Solway will soon be making a catwalk appearance, as part of an unusual collection designed by a fashion student from the University of Salford.
The unlikely turn of events saw 20-year-old Lorna Gibson using excess materials left over from the PPE making process to create her latest collection. The project is part of her final year university project, and the garments will be showcased at a Graduate Fashion Show. From there – they could even appear at London Fashion Week!
With almost 30 years’ heritage, Globus Group, the parent company of Alpha Solway, is the UK’s largest PPE manufacturer. Until now its products have been more at home on a construction site than a catwalk.
But the company’s Alpha Solway Chemmaster protective clothing series proved an unlikely source of creative inspiration for budding fashion designer Lorna. The daughter of a power station engineer, Lorna had seen her fair share of safety workwear from an early age, helping to shape and mould her sense of style.
As a sustainable manufacturer with a commitment of reaching net zero by 2027, Globus Group strives to recycle and reuse material from production wherever possible and helped assist Lorna by providing excess material from frontline production of its Alpha Solway clothing range. Inspired by her dad’s career, she carved out a design in the protective equipment’s vibrant green fabric.
Lorna’s aspiration was to help raise awareness around the low representation of women in industrial jobs. She said: “The social expectations surrounding women in industry are somewhat unclear and out of date.”
Seeing beauty in intrinsically unfashionable but practical workwear, she decided to flip this notion on its head, creating something unique.
Lorna said: “My ambition was to make typically ‘unstylish’ safety workwear more appealing. I was passionate about upcycling protective clothing from the sector to make it stylish.
“Although an intimidating task at first, the firm and thick nature of chemical suit material makes for a great base fabric when producing high volume. The Chemmaster in particular, offers a ‘firm but flexible’ exterior due to its PVC coating. Coincidentally this made it ideal for the quirky shaping that I needed to make this dress. It’s a bit of fun that also makes a serious and important point.”
The Chemmaster dress first made its appearance in house at the University of Salford catwalk, ‘turning heads’ with its bold colouring and unique style as well as creative and innovative design.
Steven Binnie, Managing Director of Alpha Solway, part of Globus Group, said: “Lorna’s talent partnered with our quality-made protective clothing has resulted in an exclusive for one of the world’s biggest fashion stages – something that, as a manufacturer, we could never have envisioned.
“Innovation and sustainability have always been part of the Globus DNA and Lorna’s Chemmaster dress certainly embodies that approach. With Lorna’s incredible eye for design, the opportunities are endless in terms of future prospects and we’re proud to be supporting her with her career endeavours.”