Due to the pandemic, most glitzy red carpets and show-stopping live performances have been put on the back burner. That said, it didn’t stop the British Fashion Council from celebrating the industry’s heaviest hitters in 2020. Having already spotlighted the 50 emerging creatives to watch, this year the prestigious Fashion Awards — usually held at London’s Royal Albert Hall — went virtual, and, much like the digital shows of London Fashion Week, it was made available for those outside of the industry to watch, too.

Forgoing its annual format, 2020’s awards saw its hosts, including Millie Bobby Brown, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Rosalía, instead champion the designers, brands, and individuals who paved the way for progress in what has been an uncertain and troubling time for the industry. From adapting business models to supporting key workers via fighting for equity and against prejudice in the face of the Black Lives Matter movement, 20 honorees were recognized in a 30-minute film under the pillars of environment, community, people, and creativity. “This year, under unique circumstances, we felt it was important to recognize the people and businesses who played a role in some of the most important and challenging issues of our generation and champion those who raised the bar in areas such as diversity, sustainability, and community,” British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush said in a statement ahead of the 2020 Fashion Awards.

So who made the fashion industry a better place for all this year? The Emergency Designer Network, founded by Phoebe English, Holly Fulton, and Bethany Williams, took home the community accolade for its work in harnessing the power of London’s creatives to produce 50,000 surgical gowns and 10,000 scrubs for British health workers. A Sai Ta‘s Actively Standing Against Injustice campaign and charitable work in dismantling systemic racism within the industry, as well as Michael Halpern‘s joyful celebration of eight frontline workers in lieu of a digital show, also won the award.

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© Provided by Refinery29 UNSPECIFIED – DECEMBER 01:
(EDITORS NOTE: Image has been shot in black and white. Color version not available.)

In this screen grab released on December 3, Lindsay Wagner, of Black In Fashion Council during The Fashion Awards 2020 on December 01, 2020. Due to COVID-19 and the global pandemic, The Fashion Awards 2020 celebrates designers, brands, creatives, and individuals who have lead change during this time. The Fashion Awards Digital Premiere will be streamed via on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 7PM.

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton presented the recipients of the people category, those who create “equal, diverse, and empowered workforces from head office and supply chain to shop floor.” British Vogue‘s Edward Enninful was awarded, with The Crown‘s Emma Corrin sending a virtual message of gratitude for the progress and positivity Enninful has injected both at the title and within the industry at large. Agents of change in holding the industry to account, Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles, also won the award for their work in founding the innovative and much-needed Black in Fashion Council. Designers Priya Ahluwalia and Samuel Ross were both commended for using their platforms “to raise awareness around the challenges of the Black community, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement,” with Ross pledging an incredible £10,000, or $13,485 USD, to organizations and people on the front line of the movement. Brother Vellies founder Aurora James was also awarded for spearheading the 15% Pledge, a powerful platform calling on retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands.

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© Provided by Refinery29

To award the environment accolades, fashion activist Aja Barber delivered a powerful message about the industry’s responsibility to the planet and its people, stating: “Now is the time to act — frankly, the time to act was actually yesteryear. We can get through this together, but it will take immediate and bold action.” Actor Maisie Williams reiterated: “We need to understand that we are all part of the problem — but that we can also be part of the solution.” Five individuals were celebrated, those who have helped create change and continue to inspire the rest of us to take action: Stella McCartney, Anya Hindmarch, Christopher Raeburn, Gabriela Hearst, and The Fashion Pact, a platform of industry leaders and businesses working towards collective environmental progress.

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© Provided by Refinery29 LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27:
(EDITORS NOTE: Image has been shot in black and white. Color version not available.)

The Fashion Awards 2020 celebrates designers, brands, creatives, and individuals who have lead change during this time. The Fashion Awards Digital Premiere will be streamed via on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 7PM.

Finally, presented by Rosalía, the creativity award was given to the designers and brands who have made a significant and meaningful global impact over the past few years, pivoting particularly well in such turbulent times. Grace Wales Bonner, whose innovative and inspiring collections “challenge the roles of race and Black culture in fashion;” JW Anderson, who, this year, redefined the idea of a fashion month show with his virtual show-in-a-box; and Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, who came together to imagine a new kind of fashion future with their co-headed brand, all took home the award.

In the most sobering year on record, it’s only fitting that the British Fashion Council steered the celebrations away from the glitz and glamour of celebrity, instead presenting meaningful awards to a community of diverse, innovative, progressive, and future-facing creatives. With them at the helm, the future of fashion is looking up.

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