In an exciting denouement to a whirlwind week for the EcoChic Design Award finalists, pioneering environmental NGO Redress announced the winners of the world’s largest sustainable fashion competition at Fashion week’s CENTRESTAGE in Hong Kong. The EcoChic Design Award 2017, sponsored by Create HK, is on a mission to make fashion circular. This year’s competition drew applicants from 46 countries—including Israel, Sweden and Japan—and culminated in a runway finale in Hong Kong. It’s open to emerging designers and fashion students with less than three years’ of professional experience, who currently live in Asia, Europe or the USA.
‘Circular fashion’ can be defined as clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulate responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use.
—Dr. Anna Brismar, 2017
The awards ceremony 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 were 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.
Bright and earthy, just like her designs
British designer Kate Morris won first prize demonstrating the power of the circular economy, where nothing goes to waste. All collections were made from textile waste, ranging from bridal wear offcuts mixed with military uniforms to abandoned umbrellas and damaged yarns.
Kate currently has her own vegan knitwear label called CROP, and she hopes to use the EcoChic platform to educate the conscious consumer. Her designs were created from end of line yarns and reconstructed dresses and trousers, following the no-waste formula of the event.
My pattern and colour choices are often influenced by Pop Art, The Memphis Design group and 1960s psychedelia.
Redress: fashion needs a facelift
Christina Dean, Founder of Redress and Co-founder of BYT—a new Hong Kong affordable luxury brand born from Redress—said, “Fashion is 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, and it’s happening now. There’s no time for complacency, whether from industry or consumers, and 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.
—Christina Dean, Redress Founder
Kate will now join a team of fashion game-changers to create a collection for BYT. The brand’s inaugural up-cycled collection was designed by previous EcoChic Design Award competition winners and will retail in Lane Crawford, Asia’s iconic luxury department store, and in Barneys New York. This move demonstrates that Asia is a leading fashion powerhouse, and that the ethical tastes of luxury consumers worldwide are changing. Kate said, “I believe the fashion industry has reached a critical point and I want to be part of the change. Designing sustainable items of beauty for the masses is my dream and I am excited about winning this competition. It will enable me to contribute to a better future”.
Kate will also see her winning collection in an installation at Lane Crawford. The UK-born designer’s bright and playful knitwear collection mixed handcraft with technology and focused on the three design techniques of the collection: zero-waste, up-cycling, and reconstruction.
Lane Crawford Chief Brand Officer and competition judge, Joanna Gunn, 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.”
Tackling industry challenges
In the run up to the Grand Final, and hosted in luxury by hotel partner The Langham (HK), the 10 finalists united to explore numerous possibilities to tackle real-life waste scenarios. The first challenge was to create a reproducible product from Cathay Pacific’s uniform waste. The finalists then rescued discarded clothes from Hong Kong’s clothing bins using simple care techniques with Miele.
At the end of the week, the designers had a taste of the production line with TAL Group, a manufacturer that produces 123,000 garments a 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.
Other major prizes were awarded to the finalists. EcoChic Design Award 2017 second-prize winner Lia Kassif will receive a tailored mentorship with distinguished sustainable fashion designer, Orsola de Castro. Kassif also took home the EcoChic Design Award 2017 special prize: an opportunity to design a show-stopping sustainable outfit for the Hong Kong indie singer-songwriter Ellen Loo to wear at a public event.
Redress continues to create a groundswell for positive change in the fashion industry. It now boasts 23 sustainable brands among 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. Create HK is a dedicated agency set up under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on June 1, 2001 to lead, champion and drive the development of the creative economy in Hong Kong. EcoChic Design Award 2018 will be truly global for the first time, accepting entries from all countries.
Find out more about the 10 finalists and their waste reducing collections here:
To follow the journey of last cycle’s EcoChic Design Award finalists towards sustainable fashion, watch Redress documentary Frontline Fashion. Now available for download on iTunes.
About The EcoChic Design Award
The EcoChic Design Award, first launched in Hong Kong in 2011, is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress that 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.
BYT’s inaugural collection of upcycled jackets, which were designed by the EcoChic Design Award Alumni Kévin Germanier and Victor Chu, are available for retail on BYT’s website and at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong from September 18, 2017, with select pieces available in Barneys New York from early October 2017. Ten percent of BYT’s profits will be donated to Redress.
Congratulations, Kate, and all the EcoChic Design Award finalists who did an amazing job at wowing the judges and crowd! We look forward to seeing the up-and-coming designer’s new collection for BYT soon.
Written By: Adriane Rysz and Elizabeth Hunter