The EcoChic Design Award, a fashion design competition with soul
The EcoChic Design Award 2013 fashion show held on January 15, concluded three days organised in Hong Kong by Redress to promote and stimulate more sustainable practices in the fashion industry.
Launched in 2011, the sustainable fashion design competition EcoChic Design Award has since grown in influence and prestige. All the previous participants to the competition mention the impact it had on their personal practice. For the first time this year Wan & Wong Fashion, and Absurd Laboratory, two brands launched by previous finalists showed their line at the Hong Kong International Fashion Designers’ Showcase (164 designers from 13 countries).
On January 13, the firts day of the Redress Forum, the eight finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2013 and ten local designers were challenged to re-designed used clothes sourced from a giant recycling warehouse. The following day, a series of lecture saw over 100 industry professionals discussing and imagining a sustainable future for fashion.
Thinking about the industry practice is becoming urgent. A 2013 report by Deloitte: Fashioning Sustainability states that in 2011, the global fibre production was 86 million tonnes, almost 12 kg per capita. According to fashion sustainability academic Timo Rissanen, approximately 15 % of textiles intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor. A 2004 report by Global Action Plan: Consuming Passions estimates that worldwide, every year, we send 7.5 billion pieces of clothing to landfill.
The international judging panel of the EcoChic Design Award 2013 included Orsola de Castro of From Somewhere and Estethica; fashion designer Johanna Ho; Margaret Kutt Sustainability Project Manager at Esprit; Gloria Lam, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Hong Kong and Anderson Lee, Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium.
The first prize with Esprit, went to Karen Jessen for her reconstruction design technique. Karen will now design the 2014 ‘Recycled Collection by Esprit’ for the retailer global market.
The second prize with John Hardy, was awarded to Louise de Testa. She won an educational trip to John Hardy’s design and sustainable production facilities in Bali.
The EcoChic Design Award 2013 Special Prize also went to Karen Jessen who was selected by the artist Sandy Lam to reconstruct a used outfit from her wardrobe.
On the 5 December 2013, the Redress team organised a photo shoot for the eight EcoChic Design Award 2013 Grand Finalists collections. Here are the pictures.
Alex Law, Hong Kong
Alex recently graduated with a Higher Diploma in Fashion Design from The Hong Kong Design Institute. He currently works as a fashion graphic designer in Hong Kong.
Alex’s collection combines zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction design techniques to create new outfits using leftover textiles and finished clothing samples sourced from various sources Hong Kong.
Alex explains: “Everyone has a pair of jeans but few are aware of the immense environmental impacts of denim production. A lot of heavy metals and chemicals are used to dye denim, which damage the environment and affect human health. However, denim is a durable, heavy-duty fabric that is perfect for recycling and reconstruction. For this reason, I think denim should be a prime concern when designing sustainable fashion.”
Xinyan Dai, Mainland China
Xinyan studies Fashion Design at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology in China.
Xinyan’s collection combines up-cycling and reconstruction design techniques to create new outfits using secondhand garments as well as cut-and-sew waste from her own production.
Xinyan explains: “I believe a great designer can use any existing materials to create something new, and that natural resources should not be wasted. Textiles should not be cut or dyed solely to create something beautiful. For this reason, I find the concept of reconstructing used materials in sustainable fashion to be very appealing.”
Tsung-Chin Chiang, Taiwan
Tsung-Chin studies for a Masters in Fashion Design at Shih Chien University in Taipei.
For her The EcoChic Design Award 2013 Collection, Chiang has reconstructed secondhand garments sourced from friends and family as well as her own wardrobe.
Tsung-Chin Chiang explains: “Fast fashion makes me re-think our need for clothes. The emphasis should not be about ‘having’ but about ‘using’. To re-deign and re-use clothes from past seasons is a way to extend a ‘bond’ between people and clothes. For me it is important to keep the original features of the old clothes and I don’t try to completely transform them. Instead, I try to reconstruct used clothes by fitting them to the different parts of the body to create uniqueness. When an old garment gets given a new life, it is even more unique.”
Phee Ng, Swee Yee, Singapore
Phee Ng is currently working as a graphic designer in Singapore. She has Diploma in Apparel Design and Merchandising from Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore.
Phee Ng’s collection combines up-cycling and reconstruction design techniques to create new outfits using cut-and-sew waste from her own production and secondhand garments sourced from friends and family.
Phee Ng explains: “Sustainable fashion is mentally challenging, but is also interesting and fulfilling to create designs that make people look good – without compromising our already scarce natural resources. For me, it is important that my collection demonstrates that sustainable fashion can be incorporated into our life easily, while not compromising style or design.”
Catherine Hudson, United Kingdom
Catherine works as an apprentice tailor in London after having interned with renowned designers Peter Pilotto and Aitor Throup. She recently graduated with a Fashion Design degree from the Manchester School of Art.
Catherine uses geometric zero-waste patterns to fully utilise new textiles.
Catherine explains: “To me sustainable fashion is a means of investigation and experimentation. It means aspiring creatively to influence a consumer base, so as to change the pre-conceptions of the fashion market, which is very set in its ways. I want to incorporate this in my work because we are at a point where sustainable fashion can be exciting and embrace both the future and science. I want to use the idea of sustainability to focus on new developments in a contemporary and aesthetically pleasing way.”
Clémentine Sandner, United Kingdom & France
Clémentine works as a production intern at Aitor Throup in London. She graduated with a Fashion Design and Creation degree from ESMOD Lyon.
Clémentine’s collection combines zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction design techniques to create new outfits using leftover textiles from her own production and secondhand clothes sourced from charity shops in France.
Clémentine explains: “To me sustainable fashion is self-evident. As the future availability of natural resources is more and more debated, it is important to think about new ways of producing. Today, I cannot imagine being a fashion designer without thinking about fashion’s future.”
Louise de Testa, France
Louise currently works on her own label, Louise de Testa, she established in Paris in 2011. She has a Fashion Design degree from Atelier Chardon Savard and has interned for famous designers including Vivienne Westwood, Alexander Wang and for US Vogue.
Louise’s collection combine zero-waste and up-cycling design techniques using leftover textiles from her own production as well as secondhand textiles.
Louise explains: “It is very important for me to create quality designs that will last in time with excellent finishing, which is the opposite of fast fashion consuming. As a young designer, I have a lot of ideas but limited resources, so I make the most out of resources available to me. That’s why I think that for our generation, sustainability has to be naturally anchored in our creative process.”
Karen Jessen, Germany
Karen currently works on her own label, Benu Berlin, established in 2012. She has a Fashion Design and Pattern Drafting degree from the ESMOD Berlin.
For her The EcoChic Design Award 2013 Collection, Karen is reconstructing jeans and T-shirts sourced from secondhand stores in Germany.
Karen explains: “Jeans and T-shirts are some of the most mass produced garments in the world and also the most thrown away. Transforming old clothes is an effective approach to turn this cycle around.”