Emerging Asian and European designers are ‘cutting the waste out of fashion’ with support from a prestigious sustainable fashion design competition. The EcoChic Design Award, now in its fifth year, highlights and supports up-and-coming new designers working in Asian and European markets toward reducing textile waste.
China alone produces approximately 20 million tonnes of textile waste each year. Organised by Redress, a Hong Kong based NGO working to promote sustainable fashion manufacture, the award highlights the influence designers can have on environmental and economic production costs, and sponsors include government agency Create Hong Kong and Ford Motors. This year’s theme, ‘Modern China Chic’, was inspired by Shanghai Tang, a leading Chinese luxury brand with 43 stores worldwide.
Christina Dean, Founder and CEO of Redress, said: “We are witnessing a polluted China activate her creativity, stretch her supply chain and flex her power as China unleashes a positive signal about sustainable fashion innovation.”
The 2014/2015 first prize went to UK upcycler and Central Saint Martins student Kévin Germanier who presented a range of sexy garments mixing fluffy textures with flowing lines and made from recycled PU waste and old wool blankets. He will now get to design an upcycled ready-to-wear collection for Shanghai Tang using the company’s own waste materials.
Second prize winner Victor Shing Hong Chu from Hong Kong was added late to the list as a ‘wildcard’ when there were no qualifying entries from Germany. The Hong Kong Polytechnic student grabbed the opportunity to dazzle the judges with chic garments cleverly cut for zero waste from sustainable fabrics beautifully decorated using plant-based dyes. He won the chance to create textile waste-reducing designs for the uniforms of restaurant staff at the prestigious Langham hotel in Hong Kong.
Singapore Raffles Design Institute student Laurensia Salim, who entered a range of eyecatching feminine clothes made from old denim jeans, was chosen to visit Bali to learn about luxury jeweller John Hardy’s sustainable design, production and business model.
Along with the other regional finalists, Cher Carman Chan, Aya Xiating Qi, Yvonne Tien, Chun Tsai, Veronica Hsiao Huei Lee, Noëlla Tapasu Koy, Kirstine Marie Hansen and Amandah Andersson, the winners also got to participate in expert workshops on the theory and techniques of green sourcing, zero-waste, upcycling and reconstruction.
They were also each invited on 19 January, 2015 to participate in intensive training then given three hours to meet a Ford Design Challenge: to create a statement fashion design using Ford’s recycled-PET car seat fabric. Veronica Lee of Malaysia and Swede Amandah Andersson collaborated on the winning asymmetric design, inspired by the Hong Kong Legislative Council building and using the faux-leather inside out and scored to evoke the texture of stone walls.
All ten finalists got to show their collections at Hong Kong Fashion Week’s World Boutique on 21 January, and will receive further PR support and industry exposure from Redress. Previous years’ success stories include Classics Anew, Wan & Wong Fashion and Absurd Laboratory.
Alumnus Angus Tsui from Hong Kong brand ANGUS TSUI was also chosen from among the past five years’ alumni to create a sustainable signature piece for a concert and fashion shoot for pop star Kary Ng, using the singer’s own cast-offs.
Find out more about the award at: http://www.ecochicdesignaward.com/
One thought on “Young designers celebrate sustainability in fashion design”
Sustainability in fashion is a growing trend, which is slowly penetrating not just the upcoming designers’ space, but high end brands, the likes of Stella McCartney, Bodkin, and John Patrick’s eco-friendly line, Organic, at Barneys. Award schemes like EchoChic Design are an important platform from which to showcase the creativity, elegance and beauty that can come from sustainable raw material, and contradict the perception that ‘what is made sustainably doesn’t have a sense of fashion, and is not appealing to wear’. Other award schemes have also come to light such as Ethical Award at Graduate Fashion Week and CFDA / Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge, all supported by SOURCE, a platform for the fashion and textiles industries, from field to final products, launched by the Ethical Fashion Forum in 2011.
Another platform for showcasing sustainable fashion being en vogue is Hollywood. Livia Firth’s Oscar dress, designed by From Somewhere, was a trigger highlighting the elegance of sustainable fashion. If more prominent figures take to advocating sustainable fashion, it would further enforce the need for luxury brands to start seriously considering sustainable raw material and sourcing practices for their products. The more the demand grows from consumers for ethically sourced, and sustainability manufactured fashion products, the higher the probability of change….so it’s up to us as consumers to take the first steps.
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