Sheffield talent agency Zebedee and Barnsley vintage upcyclers Glass Onion reach final of the British Fashion Council’s Changemakers Prize

Two South Yorkshire companies have been recognised for breaking down barriers in the fashion industry. Stephanie Smith reports.

Laura Johnson and Zoe Proctor of talent agency Zebedee.

A talent and model agency from Sheffield and a vintage clothing company in Barnsley have reached the final of a prestigious new UK competition that recognises pioneers of ground-breaking positive changes in the fashion industry.

John Hickling is one of three finalists in the Environment section of the British Fashion Council Changemakers prize. He is the founder of Barnsley-based Glass Onion, a vintage and remade clothing company that supplies the High Street and has recently launched its own direct to customer website. Sorting and grading 15 tonnes of used clothing each week, Glass Onion has a factory that remakes vintage clothing – cutting, sewing and remaking 12,000 remade pieces per month. John is being recognised for his outstanding work for sustainability in fashion.

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Laura Johnson and Zoe Proctor are finalists in the People section. Leading the “inclusion revolution”, Laura and Zoe set up Sheffield-based Zebedee Talent Agency, representing models with disabilities and visible differences, to change attitudes and create opportunities. The agency has expanded to represent other marginalised groups, such as transgender and non-binary people.

John Hickling of Glass Onion

The BFC Changemakers Prize in partnership with Swarovski is a new project that aims to discover and celebrate individuals within the fashion industry, especially unsung stars who go above and beyond, making outstanding contributions and striving for positive change.

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The other finalists are:

Cyndia Harvey, a hair stylist representing the entire spectrum of beauty to fight for the visibility of underrepresented groups of society. A champion of black women and black hair.

Rahemur Rahman, designer, filmmaker and campaigner, representing the British Bangladeshi communities in London, and transgender rights in Bangladesh through teaching and community outreach.

Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk, co-founders of Stay Wild Swim – a sustainable essentials and swimwear business tackling ocean plastic by creating swimwear from regenerated ocean plastic such as fishing nets and plastic bottles.

Patrick McDowell, an innovative young designer making great strides with his own eponymous label and as sustainability design director for Pinko fashion house. As Global Ambassador for the Graduate Fashion Foundation, he works with mentees at the foundation and institutions across the UK to explore more sustainable methods of working with a holistic approach.

Andrew Kenny, owner of The London Embroidery Studio in East London, marrying new technology with an exportation of new techniques developing embroidery for large and small fashion, interior, film and TV clients across the world.

Cozette McCreery, connector and brand ambassador at Iceberg, member of the Emergency Designer Network, finding, funding and bringing together designers and technicians across the industry to make PPE for the NHS for COVID.

Daisy Knatchbull, founder of The Deck London – the first ever solely-female shop front in Savile Row history.

The winners are announced on September 2.