Eco-fashion took center stage this week in Hong Kong, demonstrating once again that high fashion can be both beautiful and environmentally sustainable.
Redress, a pioneering environmental NGO, recently announced the winners of the world’s largest sustainable fashion competition. The EcoChic Design Award 2017, sponsored by Create HK, drew applications from 46 countries, culminating in a runway finale at Hong Kong Fashion Week’s CENTRESTAGE. This followed a week-long intensive design exploration to prove there are already exciting solutions to change the face of fashion – one of the world’s most wasteful industries.
Fierce aesthetic and innovative techniques applied to a range of unusual and sometimes surprising materials combined to impress the distinguished judges and dazzle 600 of the region’s most influential industry players and VIP onlookers. All collections were made from textile waste, ranging from bridal wear off-cuts combined with military uniforms to abandoned umbrellas and damaged yarns. British designer Kate Morris won first prize for her colorful zero-waste knitwear line demonstrating the power of the circular economy, where nothing goes to waste.
For inspiration on your next fashion journey, scroll for some of my favorite looks from the EcoChic runway, from formal wear to funky street fashion:
KATE MORRIS, UK
Kate said, “I believe the fashion industry has reached a critical point and I want to part of the change–designing sustainable items of beauty for the masses is my dream and I am excited about winning this competition as it will enable me to contribute to a better future.” Kate will also see her winning collection, a bright and playful knitwear collection which mixed hand craft with technology, and focused on the three design techniques of the collection–zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction–in an installation at Lane Crawford, Asia’s leading iconic luxury department store. Competition judge, Joanna Gunn, Chief Brand Officer, Lane Crawford, said, “As part of Lane Crawford’s commitment to supporting young emerging talent, we are pleased to support the EcoChic Design Award and its cause of promoting sustainability in fashion with the next generation of designers.”
Kate will now join a team of fashion game-changers to create a collection for BYT
, a new Hong Kong affordable luxury brand born from Redress. BYT’s inaugural up-cycled collection, which was designed by previous EcoChic Design Award competition winners, will retail in Lane Crawford and Barneys in New York, demonstrating Asia as a leading fashion powerhouse, and the changing ethical tastes of luxury consumers worldwide. Christina Dean, Founder of Redress and Co-founder of BYT said, “As one of the biggest global polluters that is rapidly draining natural resources, Redress has been battling fashion’s growing problems for 10 years. Our unique EcoChic Design Award competition solidifies that the change is here, it’s happening now. There’s no time for complacency–whether from industry or consumers–it’s time to face the bitter reality that it’s our time to act. Our 10 finalists represent a small snapshot of the creativity that can drive us out of crisis.”
TACKLING INDUSTRY CHALLENGES
In the run up to the Grand Final, and hosted in luxury by hotel partner The Langham, Hong Kong, the ten finalists united to explore numerous possibilities to tackle real-life waste scenarios. They created a reproducible product from Cathay Pacific’s uniform waste; rescued discarded clothes from Hong Kong’s clothing bins using simple care techniques with Miele; and had a taste of the production line with TAL Group, producers of 123,000 garments per day. These challenges showed first-hand how improved interactions between designers, manufacturers and consumers can significantly alter the overall environmental impact of every single piece of clothing.
THE ECOCHIC DESIGN AWARD
The EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress and works to inspire emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream 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 EcoChic Design Award was first launched in Hong Kong in 2011 and the annual competition has since expanded over the last six years-now accepting entries from designers living in Asia, Europe and the USA.
The EcoChic Design Award 2017 was open to emerging designers and fashion students with less than three years’ of professional experience, who currently live in Asia, Europe or the USA. International Judges of the EcoChic Design Award 2017 were Michelle Bang, CEO of BYT; Orsola de Castro, Fashion Designer, Co-founder of Estethica and Co-founder of Fashion Revolution; Joanna Gunn, Chief Brand Officer, Lane Crawford; Johanna Ho, Fashion Designer; Anderson Lee, Board Member, Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Dr. Harry Lee; Chairman, TAL Apparel Limited (TAL).
Other major prizes were also awarded, including The EcoChic Design Award 2017 second prize won by Lia Kassif, who will receive a tailored mentorship with distinguished sustainable fashion designer, Orsola de Castro. The EcoChic Design Award 2017 Special prize with Ellen Loo was also awarded to Israeli designer Lia Kassif, who will now have the opportunity to design a show-stopping sustainable outfit for the Hong Kong indie singer-songwriter to wear at a public event. Check out some of our favorite looks from Lia’s showcase, which allude to the beauty and strength that can still be found in our overly militaristic world:
Other designers featured during the show included bright young talents from around the world, including:
AMANDA BORGFORS MESZAROS, Sweden
Feathery ruffles and pleats marry beautifully with futuristic, Gothic inspired formal wear.
CANDIE RAE TORREVERDE, Phillippines
Embrace your inner drama and make a fashion statement layered with texture, ombre tone and tight right angles.
JOELLE VANDEPAVERT, Netherlands
Playful, colorblocked pleats provide an architectural landscape to days or nights out on the town.
SARAH DEVINA SUSANTO, Indonesia
Make getting dressed each day a humble offering with indigenous-inspired layers, tassels and crochet.
AYAKO YOSHIDA, Japan
Be inspired to open your wings and take a zen flight in these soft, flowy and air-light separates.
CLAIRE DARTIGUES, France
Vive la france! Let your inner goddess scream liberté, fraternité and egalité – every time you hit the streets.
SUNG YI HSUAN, China
These varsity-inspired looks bring a playful cheer to the game of repurposed style.
LINA MAYORGA, U.S.A.
This fresh take juxtaposing primary colors like red, white and blue introduces s a new voice that speaks loudly to a world in crisis.
With upcycled looks like these hitting the global fashion scene, depleting the planet’s resources to manufacture “new” garments will soon be a thing of the past.
is an environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry. They achieve this through a variety of programmes, initiatives and campaigns. Redress aims to enhance, educate and enable the adoption of a more sustainable fashion industry in order to minimise the negative and maximise the positive impacts of the fashion industry on society and the environment. Collectively, Redress collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders, including fashion designers, textile and garment manufacturers, brands and retailers, schools and universities, private sector organisations, multilateral organisations, governments, NGOs, media organisations and consumers.
Redress continues to create a groundswell for positive change in the fashion industry and now boasts 23 sustainable brands within its alumni–previous competition finalists-with many past competitors going on to ultimately change the face of fashion. The EcoChic Design Award 2018 will open in early January 2018 with major sponsorship from Create HK. This cycle will be truly global for the first time, accepting entries from all countries across the world.
To find out more about the 10 finalists and their waste reducing collections, click here. To follow the journey of last cycle’s EcoChic Design Award finalists towards sustainable fashion, watch Redress’ exciting new documentary, Frontline Fashion, now airing via broadcast TV on Lifetime Asia and available for download on iTunes. Frontline Fashion II will broadcast in early 2018.