Fashion NGO Redress’ biggest search in history for emerging sustainable fashion designers in Asia and Europe has culminated with the unveiling of the ten designers who have made it as The EcoChic Design Award finalists.
The talented ten out-designed a record number of applications received from 40 countries, including newcomer countries such as India, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Iran and Israel, and this cohort of designers collectively represent the greater global focus put onto sustainable design amongst emerging designers.
Now these ten designers, who represent seven countries across Asia and Europe, will continue their ambitions to create a more sustainable fashion industry as they produce their textile-waste-reducing collections ready for the reveal on the Hong Kong Fashion Week runway in January 2016, where career-changing prizes, including designing an up-cycled collection for Shanghai Tang, will be awarded.
“The world is finally waking up to the horrific environmental and social impacts caused by the wasteful fashion industry and people are questioning how the fashion industry has become the world’s second most polluting industry, after oil. This is a crucial time to act because fashion consumption is at an all time high and this is driving up textile waste levels, and the associated pollution, to shocking highs,” said Christina Dean, Founder, Redress. “It’s imperative that we instill education into tomorrow’s fashion industry. Through The EcoChic Design Award, we are educating designers around the world to reduce waste through sustainable design innovation to inspire a more positive future for the industry. The change we need is in their hands,” she continued.
The EcoChic Design Award’s current competition cycle had unprecedented interest with over sixty university partners joining to promote the competition to their students and alumni, including Central Saint Martins in the UK, National Institute of Fashion Technology in India and Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology in Mainland China.
For their applications, designers with less than three years’ industry experience and students were challenged to design a textile waste-reducing womenswear collection. The applications received showed diverse innovation, with many designers going all out and constructing their own fabrics through weaving, patchwork or knitting using yarns and fabrics from cut up and unwoven secondhand garments, off-cuts and even from surplus textile labeling. The finalists will now bring their application concepts to life by each creating a six piece collection that showcases their creativity using the waste-reducing design techniques of zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction.
The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 Finalists:
- TSANG Fan Yu – Asia (Hong Kong Chinese)
- WANG Di – Asia (Mainland Chinese)
- Esther LUI – Asia (Hong Kong Chinese)
- PAN Wen – Asia (Mainland Chinese)
- Belle BENYASARN – Asia (Thai)
- Sara KIANA – Europe (Danish living in UK)
- Annie MACKINNON – Europe (British)
- Cora Maria BELLOTTO – Europe – (Italian living in Spain)
- Patrycja GUZIK – Europe (Polish)
- Amy WARD – Europe (British living in Germany)
To secure their prominent position as finalists, each designer faced a fiercely influential jury of 10 judges, including Raffaele Borriello, Creative Consigliere, Shanghai Tang; Orsola de Castro, Fashion Designer, Co-founder of Estethica and Co-founder of Fashion Revolution; Susie Lau (Susie Bubble), Fashion Writer and Editor; Anderson Lee, Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium (SFBC); and Stephanie Zhu, Fashion Editor ELLE China.
“I was extremely impressed with the level of thought put into the initial sketches by the designers as well as the propositions of use of fabrics - be it using unconventional materials, zero-waste patterns or secondhand textiles. It’s interesting to see ideas of reducing waste being put into practice in a multitude of ways. This competition shows that when designers are still gestating their ideas at the beginning of their careers, and they become exposed to the concept of using limited resources and coupled with their imagination, you get some really exciting ideas that are truly innovative,” said international judge, Susie Lau.
“Over the past five years The EcoChic Design Award has provided support and inspiration for a new generation of fashion designers, paving the way for creative and environmental innovation. It has inspired and encouraged a shifting of attitudes towards a better way to redesign our fashion future. I am proud and honoured to have been a part of it since inception: it has changed my life as much as the lives of the young designers it has supported,” said international judge, Orsola de Castro.
Prizes to put waste back into fashion
The competition provides impressive prizes to support the emerging designers’ careers. They include a one-week immersive sustainable fashion trip to Hong Kong, with sponsorship from Create Hong Kong during which the finalists will stay at EAST, Hong Kong. They will take part in an educational design challenge, with sponsor Ford Motor Company, and other design workshops and influential networking with top industry professionals. Their stay in Hong Kong culminates at the Grand Final fashion show where the designers will showcase their minimal waste collections on the runway to compete for career-changing prizes.
The first prize winner will design their own named capsule collection using up-cycled textiles for Shanghai Tang, China’s leading luxury brand, and will later return to Hong Kong to work with Shanghai Tang’s creative team from the collection’s design, production to marketing.
The second prize winner will be coached by distinguished fashion designer, Orsola de Castro and receive expert and targeted support that will propel his or her career in sustainable fashion design forwards in preparation for the competitive market of attracting fashion media, buyers and sales.
The Special prize winner will design a sustainable outfit for supermodel Janet Ma to reveal at a high profile event and in a top fashion editorial.
Other prizes include sustainable fashion books from Bloomsbury Publishing and Fairchild Books and subscription to The Ethical Fashion Forum.
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The remaining 20 semi-finalists will now join Redress’ increasingly impactful community of alumni, which include over 80 designers from the competition’s five-year history. More information on Redress’ alumni can be found at: http://www.ecochicdesignaward.com/alumni/.
About The EcoChic Design Award (www.ecochicdesignaward.com)
The EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create high appeal clothing with minimal textile waste. Designers are educated with the theory and techniques to enable them to create sustainable clothing via zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction. The competition puts emerging sustainable design talent in the spotlight, creating a platform for the next generation of designers to cut waste out of fashion. The inaugural The EcoChic Design Award was launched in Hong Kong in 2011. Previous cycles include Hong Kong 2012, China 2012 and the 2013 and 2014/15 cycles, which were open to eight and ten regions across Asia and Europe respectively. The 2015/16 cycle is the first open cycle to all of Asia and Europe.
About Redress (www.redress.com.hk)
Redress is the NGO with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. Redress achieves this via educational sustainable fashion design competitions, shows, exhibitions, seminars, research and by a recycled textile clothing standard. Redress also engages in various consumer campaigns to educate consumers about clothing consumption and waste. Collectively, Redress collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders, including multiple fashion designers, textile and garment manufacturers, brands and retailers, schools and universities, private sector organisations, multilateral organisations, governments, NGOs, financial institutions and media organisations.
About The Create Hong Kong (www.createhk.gov.hk)
The Create Hong Kong is a dedicated agency set up under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on 1 June 2001 to lead, champion and drive the development of the creative economy in Hong Kong. It co-ordinates Government policy and effort regarding creative industries, focuses Government’s resources catering for the promotion and speeding up the development of creative industries in Hong Kong, and works closely with the trade to boost the development of creative industries.
“The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provides funding support to the project only, and does not otherwise take part in the project. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials/events (or by members of the project team) are those of the project organizers only and do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Communication and Technology Branch of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Create Hong Kong, the CreateSmart Initiative Secretariat or the CreateSmart Initiative Vetting Committee.”
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