This week Darcey Sergison looks at the increase in student-run companies at universities around the country and explores why their sustainability has sparked their popularity amongst other young people.

Today’s students are defining their futures and ours. They are not just gaining degrees from prestigious institutions, but they are also proving they can multi-task with running demanding brands. This is changing the widely held perception that they are the ‘snowflake’ generation. Instead they are being heralded for their entrepreneurship.

This has come from the increase in student run businesses popping up on platforms such as Depop. However, not only do these student companies inspire others like myself to become more productive, but the ethos of these brands define our future in their desire for sustainability. These start-up businesses have begun where many brands wish to be, in that they value ethical and sustainable products and shipping.

These businesses include profitable companies that pride themselves in upcycling. Whether it be jewellery or vintage jeans, this trend has hit many universities around the UK. I am sure that many students, like myself, have noticed the increase of student-run businesses at events, proving the popularity on campus for new exciting products. However, it must be noted that not only do these companies show that entrepreneurship has no age restriction, but also that the core ethos of these brands is their passion for being sustainable. For many this stretches from not just the product itself but also the packaging and postage process.

Sustainability seems to be on the lips of most fashionable brands currently with a push for environmentally friendly practices within the world of fashion. The fair and ethical trading of fashion has become so popular now that many shop for the purpose of ensuring the environment is not damaged in the process, such as avoiding the use of fast fashion companies.

So, with trends from the 1990s, such as flared jeans and scrunchies, making a popular return, rather than buying these popular items brand new, why not look for a vintage original from that period?

It is the perfect timing for upcycling brands to appear on platforms loved by people looking for unique pieces. Depop has proven that second-hand clothing is no longer dreaded hand-me-downs from older siblings, but instead has been branded as vintage by our generation. With 80% of its users being under 25 years old, this proves the need for innovative upcycling of old clothes into new pieces worthy of the runway.

Depop, in similar style to Instagram, has understood the importance of young people and their influence. These entrepreneurs have harnessed the power of their social media skills for business promotion, showing how each person can create their own brand. Therefore, these self-made young people have understood the importance of sustainability to others and incorporated that into part of their company ethics.fore she did, he just didn’t realise it.

Increasingly the environment is moving up on individual’s agendas, whether this be joining Extinction Rebellion or choosing to go vegan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, companies such as Demoo have proven the importance of the environment to them. As three Durham University students, they have set up an upcycling company for headbands and jeans. Now with over 3,800 followers on their Instagram, this shows the popularity of sustainable fashion at this university as well as others.

Another brand produced by Durham University students is Rhimani, which hand crafts African accessories. The student-run company pride themselves on the ethical use of materials, and each month they support a different charity helping African animals. Newcastle University also boasts new student companies. Belle Bands is a local business which makes custom made headbands. This company shows the popularity of the 2019 headband craze. It started with super brands, such as Prada and Dior, incorporating headbands into their summer uniform, and now this trend has become part of everyday fashion. Belle Bands wearers include the likes of Amelia Windsor, showing the popularity of the brand both in Newcastle and outside of the campus. These student-run businesses prove that, with thousands of followers and clients, fashion can create brands that not only produce beautiful, unique and colourful pieces, but also help others and the environment.

With companies such as Rhimani’s sales raising hundreds of pounds for charity, this shows the importance of independent companies. Not only avoiding the waste of fast fashion, but in turn making sustainable fashion a viable trend for future generations. Thanks to platforms, such as Depop, younger generations have been able to have their space in what is already a crowded room of competing fashion brands.

However, due to acute social media skills gained from years of personal use, the more innovative of them have turned these into profitable and sustainable skills. Not only promoting their own business, but also helping the environment through upcycling and ethical fashion choices. These shopping habits could create a more sustainable environment for the future.

Images via Darcey Sergison

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