Erin Hayhow from Whitstable is a fashion designer on a mission to change the world. Using only waste materials, which she dyes and paints with her own designs, she is on her way to building a sustainable future for the fashion industry. Her slogan is #SalvagedWithLove.
Erin’s mum, Sarah, was cared for at the Canterbury hospice in 2014. To give back for the support her family received, she plans to donate to Pilgrims Hospices as her brand grows and hopes to run up-cycling workshops with Pilgrims shops in the near future.
After graduating with a first class BA in Fine Art from Solent University, Erin moved to Berlin to pursue a career as an artist but returned home when her mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
She said: “I was her carer for two years; during that time, creativity was so important to me because it was a way of understanding what was happening.
“My mum was the most fashionable person I know; my love for fashion came from her, she always dressed me in the coolest clothes. Putting my legs through plastic carrier-bags from our weekly shopping trips, pulling up the handles like straps, I’d made my first pair of dungarees. I wasn’t allowed to wear high heels, but I improvised by painting papier-mache tissue boxes and toilet roll tubes. I put them on with my new dungarees and strutted down my garden like a catwalk.
“During her illness, Mum would wear amazing garments every day and it would give her the ability to conquer the world. It became her armour, and it’s the same to me.”
Sarah was initially given a three-month prognosis but lived with cancer for 18 months. She didn’t feel she needed hospice support until the end of her life. Erin continued: “Mum’s mindset changed once Pilgrims was involved. I remember the hospice so strongly, there was a big community of people ready to support us. They were incredible with her. This was my first experience of hospice care and I want to raise awareness so that others know they can access it, too.”
Erin went on to complete a Fashion Design MA at UCA Rochester, achieving a distinction. She finished her five-piece collection Flowers Grow in Dustbins, made from 100% recycled materials, in 2019; these garments are available to purchase on her website. She also sells a range of more affordable pieces via Instagram @eirinnhayhow. To give back for the support her family received, Erin will donate 5% of the money made from sales to Pilgrims. Erin also took part in the charity’s sponsored Firewalk event in Canterbury on 13 March 2020.
Most recently, Erin showed her digital film Polluted Garden at London Fashion Week and Fashion Scout, a leading international consultancy and platform for nurturing, empowering and showcasing the future of fashion. She also took part in London Fashion Week 2021.
I remember the hospice so strongly, there was a big community of people ready to support us. They were incredible with her. This was my first experience of hospice care and I want to raise awareness so that others know they can access it, too.
Erin plans to continue donating to Pilgrims as her brand grows and hopes to run up-cycling workshops with its shops in the near future, in exchange for materials that they can’t sell. Tim Stewart, Retail Business Development Manager at Pilgrims, said: “I met Erin in 2019 and she told me her story, explaining she’d been buying bits from our shops and using them as a basis for her new pieces. It was obvious to me that she was talented, and that she wanted to give something back to Pilgrims. So I offered her some materials that we hadn’t been able to sell, along with a couple of rails, and a mannequin to help her starting up. She was very grateful for the support and has offered to run design and screen-printing classes at one of our shops. We look forward to working with Erin in the future.”
Erin added: “After my mum passed away, I moved back to Berlin and began screen-printing on t-shirts and garments DIY-style. As my sewing skills improved, I used fabrics and materials that were either found on the street or donated to charity shops – from there I started to form my own collections. In 2017, I sold my first collection at Studio183 in Bikini Berlin. That summer, I moved back to Whitstable and opened a pop-up store in an old shipping container in a furniture yard in Margate. I became part of a waste-free fashion collective made up of four members; we all make garments from waste materials. We’ve had three shows at the Turner Contemporary and one at Soho House Berlin.
“The fashion industry is the world’s second biggest contributor to global warming, with 350,000 tonnes (that’s around £140 million worth) of used but still wearable clothing going to landfill in the UK every year. My brand says no to fast fashion. It is my intention to help solve our global waste crisis by creating imaginative solutions for unwanted materials.
“We need to find sustainable solutions to our waste problems. We need to re-think the fast fashion system. Fashion should be positive, it should be inclusive, it should be empowering. As designers of the future, it is our duty to be sustainable.”
Pilgrims shops are now re-open across east Kent! Check opening times for your local shop. We hope to see you very soon.