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On September 7th the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition, the EcoChic Design Award, took to the runway its annual Grand Final Fashion Show, as they showcased 10 waste-reducing collections from fashion designers across the globe. Live from Hong Kong’s CENTRESTAGE at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, viewers were treated to an array of original and contemporary ready-to-wear pieces fashioned from up-cycled or zero waste textile materials.
Organized by Redress, the environmental NGO with a mission to reduce waste in the fashion industry, the competition took 10 burgeoning fashion designers and students to create up-cycled clothing with little to no textile waste. This year’s competition cycle drew applicants from 46 countries, with finalists hailing from Asia, Europe and the US. Challenges leading up to the finale ranged from creating a reproducible product from old Cathay Pacific uniforms to refashioning new items of discarded clothes from Hong Kong’s clothing bins.
At the end of a weeklong design intensive, it was innovative British designer Kate Morris who won the competition with her colorful, exuberant knitwear collection made entirely from textile waste – reconstructed secondhand T-shirts and end-of-line yarns – demonstrating a sustainable, circular economy of zero waste fashion. Focused on three design techniques: zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction, her winning designs will be featured in an installation at Lane Crawford. Other prize highlights of the competition included Second Prize: The EcoChic Design Award 2017 mentorship with fashion designer and Founder and Creative Director of Fashion Revolution, Orsola de Castro, and The EcoChic Design Award 2017 special prize with Hong Kong/Canadian singer-songwriter, Ellen Loo, both of which Israeli design, Lia Kassif, won with her beautiful collection of up-cycled bridal wear cutoffs and textile waste from old military uniforms. Kassif will have the opportunity to design a sustainable outfit for the at17 musician to wear at public events.
BYT: Beyond Your Tomorrow
Coinciding with the final show is the launch of affordable luxury fashion brand, BYT. Born from Redress, BYT uses sustainable, socially responsible supply chains in Asia to create fashion pieces from unused surplus textile waste materials. Their inaugural capsule collection, which debuted at the end of the show, featured seven up-cycled edgy, eclectic and versatile jackets designed by past EcoChic Design Award competition winners that will now retail online, at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong and US luxury department store Barneys in New York, in New York City. Winner Kate Morris will also create a collection for BYT. Helmed by former Redress COO (and one of Green Queen’s Zero Waste Heroes!) Michelle Bang, BYT brings to life a bright light in an otherwise ominous tunnel that is the dark side of fashion.
January 2018 Update: Michelle Bang is no longer working with BYT.
The Dirty Truth
As the second biggest environmental global polluter and the second biggest polluter of clean water, the fashion and textile industry is known to wreak havoc on the environment. Cotton is a thirsty plant and with the apparel industry (or fast fashion to you) infamous for churning out inexpensive, runway-to-retail cotton clothing, the $3 trillion global industry is a huge contributor of worldwide carbon emissions. For the past decade, Redress has been championing a less damaging fashion industry. Through a variety of initiatives and campaigns to educate the world on sustainable fashion, Redress and BYT respectively are leading the change to lessen the overall environmental impact of fashion.
The EcoChic Design Award 2018 competition will open in early January next year and will accept applicant entries from all countries across the world.
All images courtesy of Redress