Media release, 3 December 2021
Designed and handmade by the critically acclaimed designer Alexandra Sipa, for the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, the dress was painstakingly created from 22 Ethernet cables (wifi cable) which were used to create the flowers on the upper part of Nicola’s dress, and 188 discarded household cables, which made up the most part of the monochrome design. All were collected personally by Alexandra from recycling centres, friends and family, and even from her local electricians and builders, to create the bodice and shoulder detail of the final beautiful design, which weighed in at an incredible 1kg.
The national Recycle Your Electricals campaign aims to get UK households to stop throwing away or hoarding their small old electricals and instead start donating or recycling them. Electricals contain some of the most precious materials on our planet – gold, silver, copper, aluminum, and platinum.
Alexandra is one of the UK’s most talented young designers, known for her awareness of environmental issues and of the waste produced while creating fashion. Her debut collection, which also featured recycled electrical wires, received praise from the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Dazed and Elle.
The new show-stopping gown, worn by Nicola Roberts, featured intricate shoulder and decolletage detailing, formed from items the world has an abundance of – hoarded and unwanted electrical cables. There are enough cables hoarded in UK homes to circle the Earth five times, containing nearly a whopping 700 tonnes of copper. If this copper was recycled, it would save 140,000 tonnes of rock being blasted out of the ground (enough to fill 12 Olympic swimming pools) and save 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The stunning design was enhanced by the lower part of the dress, which Alexandra created using black recycled wool created in Britain.
The dress earned admiring glances from the other A-list guests present at the event including Demi Moore, Kate Beckinsale, Adriana Lima, Hailee Steinfeld, James McAvoy, Tan France and Romeo Beckham.
High-profile figures from the fashion industry, which accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions and almost 20% of waste water* (UN Climate Change News), welcomed Nicola’s appearance in the dress.
Caroline Rush CBE, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council (which organises London Fashion Week and the annual Fashion Awards), recently warned that UK fashion brands need to sell fewer clothes to lessen the industry’s impact on the environment. The industry body launched its Institute of Positive Fashion Report, and called on brands to encourage customers to buy 50% less items of clothing. The fashion industry uses 98 million tonnes of non-renewable resources and creates 92 million tonnes of waste each year.
Nicola Roberts said: “We all have a duty to make sustainable choices. As the consequences of our demanding and accessible way of living begin to increasingly show themselves, it’s something I feel a responsibility to do more and more. For instance, the impact of electrical waste is something few people consider. Working with Alexandra Sipa and the team at Recycle Your Electricals has been an interesting and enlightening journey. My dress has been created from 210 electrical cables and I’m proud to be able to show you just what is possible when supporting sustainability with recycling and just how beautiful it can be.”
Alexandra Sipa said: “I started recycling electrical waste as a happy accident, born from my interest in Romanian and Belgian lace-making while I was a second year student at Central Saint Martins, in London. I experimented and realised that these beautiful details could be achieved using waste we all have lying around – old cables. My partnership with Recycle Your Electricals hopes to make people aware that discarded electricals are the fastest-growing waste stream in the world – and show how people can start to tackle it, because anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled.”
Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus added: “We are delighted that Alexandra Sipa has made such a stunning dress out of recycled copper cables to highlight the benefits of recycling electricals. This dress is a great example of the range of many amazing items that could be made out of the precious materials contained in our unwanted electricals, from new tech, jewellery, green technology such as the magnets in wind turbines to the wiring in battery electric vehicles. Unwanted electricals contain some of the most precious materials on our planet. We are calling on UK households to stop throwing away their unwanted electricals and instead start recycling them.”
Harold Tillman CBE, Chair of the Ethical Fashion Forum, also said: “The Recycle Your Electricals campaign with the designer Alexandra Sipa is a brilliant way of illustrating how the mindful use of waste materials can create beautiful products. The dress she has made expertly illustrates that we need to be much more environmentally conscious and think about fashion in a far more sustainable way. The Ethical Fashion Forum provides a lot of information and support to people looking to change their ways of manufacturing to make things more sustainable. Campaigns like this for Recycle Your Electricals can have a very positive impact, I’m looking forward to seeing more and I think all designers, and especially jewellers, should label their products when they are made from recycled metals.”
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*UN Climate Change News, 6 September 2018
Notes to Editors
About the Recycle Your Electricals campaign
Recycle Your Electricals has a goal to stop the nation throwing away or hoarding all their old small electricals. The campaign is revealing the value hidden in electricals and is making it easier for us all to recycle and reuse the small electricals we no longer need. The campaign is doing this by providing more recycling points as well as providing practical information on how households can recycle.
One of our friendly team will be happy to help.