2019 Redress Design Awards Highlights: The Future Of Fashion Is Sustainable

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Environmental charity pioneer Redress, who can be credited with launching the sustainable fashion movement in Asia over ten years ago, recently presented the 2019 Redress Design Award Show, the ninth edition of what has become the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition. Green Queen got a front row seat to the Awards, held at Centerstage at Hong Kong’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, where groundbreaking collections by a cohort of 10 incredibly talented young designers who are passionate about advancing the sustainable fashion conversation through their work were presented to a star-studded audience.

The collections by the finalists, a diverse group of talent from 8 different countries, were created using leftover fabric rolls & upcycled deadstock, sending a strong message to the mainstream fashion industry about the critical need to address our global textile waste crisis. The winning prize went to English designer Maddie Williams, who will go on to collaborate with China’s largest sustainable fashion brand REVERB. 

Redress is a pioneering Hong Kong-based environmental NGO focused on educating the designers of tomorrow in order to tackle global fashion waste. In collaboration with CreateHK, the purpose of the Redress Design Award is to drive a circular fashion economy. In this latest cycle, the Award attracted applications from over 43 countries, with 10 finalists from 8 different countries battling it out at the event, which was attended by over 1,000 fashion VIPs and industry experts.

The apparel market is one of the world’s largest, and often overlooked polluters – from contamination of waterways due to the use of toxic dyes in the manufacturing process to the many off-cuts of clothing that ultimately ends up in landfills. According to a report by the Global Fashion Agenda, the apparel industry is responsible for 92 million tonnes of landfill waste annually, more than toxic e-waste.

Commenting on the power of Redress to galvanise change, founder and board chair Christina Dean said: “Curbing waste and carbon is critical…especially in Asia. Redress is uniquely positioned to inform the public about the dire need to make drastic changes in the fashion industry.”

READ: Green Queen’s Interview with Redress & R Collective Founder Christina Dean

Winning designer Maddie Williams’ collection, made by upcycling and reconstructing reclaimed textiles, yarns and second-hand clothing. Drawing on the loss of biodiversity and the state of our planet’s health as inspiration, Maddie created a show-stopping zero-waste collection that was hard not to adore.

Green Queen founder & editor-in-Chief Sonalie Figueiras commented: “As soon as I saw the models walk out, I knew Maddie’s was my favourite collection so I was thrilled to see her win. It felt vividly relevant and very pro-woman, from the Elizabethan-inspired collars to the rebellious feel of the Handmaid’s Tale-like cloaks, to the Dia de Los Muertos-themed prints that screamed for attention. The pieces had an edgy, eccentric vibe reminiscent of a young Vivienne Westwood.”

The Winning Collection at The 2019 Redress Design Awards

Speaking about her journey in creating a sustainable fashion collection, Williams said that it was a “steep learning curve” but that now was the “time to tackle the environmental problems that we have inherited – we won’t get another chance!” 

Alongside Maddie’s collection were 9 other finalists from Hong Kong, India, Australia, Israel, Spain and Germany showcasing extreme creativity in the designing of runway worthy pieces made from unwanted workers’ uniforms, to traditional Indian saris, to old camping gear and even pillowcases and bedding.

Another favourite was our city’s very own Keith Chan who nabbed the Hong Kong Best Prize with his typology-clad garments inspired by Hong Kong’s signature neon signs, and reflecting its unique East-meets-West history and culture. Spain’s Carina Roca Portella’s designs also received some well-deserved recognition, with her Caution Line collection made from restaurant napkins and tablecloths featuring slogans calling on people to think twice before they buy taking the runner-up prize.

Hong Kong Designer Keith Chan’s Collection

The Redress Design Award is at the forefront of driving much needed sustainable change in the global fashion industry, especially in Asia. The Asian Pacific region is home to one of the fastest-growing fashion consumer markets, and is also where over half of the global clothing is manufactured.

Since its inception in 2011, the award has produced 186 alumni designers from 27 different countries, with 50 launching their own sustainable brands since their start at the show. A fair few passed winners are based right here in Hong Kong such as 2011 awardee Janko Lam and his Classics Anew line of upcycled denim off-cuts crafted into Shanghai Tang-esque pieces and Angus Tsui and his eponymous sustainable brand that makes use of excess fabric stock sourced from local companies and social enterprises and is printed with eco-friendly ink. 

Asia is becoming a hotbed for exciting innovations working on tackling waste in the fashion industry. Launched in July this year, The Billie System at Tai Po’s Novetex upcycling mill processes waste from discarded garments and excess apparel, generating new recycled fibres from these textiles, all without producing toxic chemical waste or requiring water consumption. From this September, the company has partnered up with global sportswear brand PUMA and local charity Crossroads Foundation to encourage Hong Kongers to give their old clothing a “second life”. PUMA customers can donate garments at designated recycling bins in their Causeway Bay, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon Bay and Heng Fa Chuen locations, and wearable items will be donated to Crossroads Foundation’s centres to distribute to communities in need.

Most recently, the 2019 Hong Kong Fashion Summit saw the unveiling of a US$60 million investment fund to drive sustainable innovations throughout the fashion supply chain in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam.


Lead image courtesy of Redress.

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