By Lora O’Brien
For the last six years, The EcoChic Design Award has welcomed young designers from around the world who are keen to create fashion from sustainable techniques such as zero-waste, upcycling and reconstruction.
The guidelines for entering the competition involve sketching three ready-to-wear styles that could be created using discarded textiles. Ten finalists are then selected to bring their drawings to life for a photoshoot by internationally renowned photographer Wing Shya. Wing, a regular contributor to various fashion and art magazines such as i-D and Vogue Italia. His images, shown below, wonderfully captured the diversity of the entrants’ styles and the significant links between clothing, the environment and creativity.
This month, each of the 10 designers will present a six-piece sustainable collection to the judges, alongside Hong Kong’s move fashionable elite and a global audience, who will all be able to tune in via a livestream on Facebook. Meantime, you can follow this link here for updates.
Ayako is currently studying fashion design at ESMOD Kyoto. For her EcoChic Design Award application she applied the modern aesthetics of reconstruction and up-cycling to give a new lease of life to abandoned quintessentially Japanese materials, such as discarded tatami mats and old kimonos, and gave them a modern reinvention.
“My inspiration comes from Tsukumogami, the obsolete tools which according to Japanese folklore acquire a spirit after many years, even if they are broken. Tsukumogami can apply to how I see sustainable fashion. By joining this competition, I hope to learn more about sustainable fashion design and how I can make a positive change on the environment.”
Candle Ray Torreverde
Candle currently works as a visual merchandiser and stylist, and also holds a degree in Fashion Design and Marketing from SoFA Design Institute in Manila, the Philippines. For his EcoChic Design Award Application, she brought inspiration derived the chaos of sea storms and used this alongside natural dyes to transform secondhand textiles into edgy fashion pieces.
“As fashion designers it is our responsibility to live and breathe sustainability to minimise waste. Our creativity can go beyond just creating wonderful things; it has the power to create great progress for the environment. Through my collection I want to highlight how vulnerable we are to natural disasters. The consequences on us will be severe if we continue to be insensible towards the environment.”
Lia is currently studying Fashion Design at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art.
“My awareness of the negative impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, humanity and natural resources was raised after attending an inspiring lecture by Orsola de Castro. I have become more sensitive to this subject and have been exploring alternative options for producing and manufacturing contemporary fashion. As a designer I find it an amazing challenge to use and transform old to new to contribute to a better future.”
Sarah Devina Susanto
Sarah holds an Advanced Diploma in Fashion Design from the Raffles Institute of Higher Education, Jakarta, Indonesia, and currently works as a fashion designer for an independent womanswear brand. For her EcoChic Design Award Application, she paid homage to her culture by taking hotel bedsheets and jute sacks -the latter of which is a common material in Indonesia – and upcycled them into fashion designs.
“To me sustainable fashion means creating and maintaining a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. I want to be a sustainable fashion designer to raise awareness toward our environment and show consumers that we can make beautiful clothes using textile waste.”
Sung Yi Hsuan
This young womenswear design assistant holds a degree in Fashion Design from Shih Chien University, Taiwan. For her EcoChic Design Award Application, she focused attention on how most mass-produced fast fashion ends up as waste, and reinvented old textiles with age-old weaving techniques to symbolise a spirit of awakening in a time where fashion is being so readily thrown away.
“Making the most of our possessions can be very satisfying but this does not fit with the current model of the fashion industry. I have been inspired to experiment with all kinds of waste in my previous collections – finding renewed value in waste drives my work creatively forward.”
Amanda Borgfors Meszaros
Currently a student of Fashion Design at the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, Amanda was inspired by the contrasts seen above and below the oceans for her EcoChic Design Award Application. Blending a diverse range of fabric textures, she applied zero-waste and upcycling techniques to surplus textiles, transforming them into trend-setting pieces.
“I am saddened to live and work in a world where clothing consumption is a growing problem. I have visions of a beautiful, positively contributing fashion system both for the industry, and the way people consume. To achieve this we need to take both collective and individual responsibility – I believe that being a fashion designer in current times is both exciting and challenging.”
Claire comes from a solid fashion background. She holds a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design, New York and also has a Masters Degree in Luxury Management in Europe and Asia from Paris Dauphine University, France. A French national currently residing in the USA, she makes her living as a freelance fashion designer. For her EcoChic Design Award Application, she took inspiration from polluted rivers and using surplus clothing and textiles, reconstructed them into clothing that reflects the world of blue-collar workers.
“Sustainable fashion has become a non-negotiable action that all brands and designers must adopt if we are to protect our people and our planet. I believe that it should be as normal to be communicating sustainable values for fashion as it is to add the perishable date on food packaging. Becoming a sustainable fashion designer is a way of protecting the world and people, while allowing the fashion dream to go on.”
Joelle Van De Pavert
Joëlle is a graduate from the ArtEZ, University of the Arts in the Netherlands and currently works for a footwear retailer. For her EcoChic Design Award Application, she sought inspiration from the way materials can be manipulated and used zero-waste and upcycling to reconstruct materials into new, multilayered styles.
“The inspiration of my collection is my very own behaviour as a consumer. I used to be an over-consumer – at times I still am – driven by the satisfaction of a purchase. During my studies in fashion design I have learned how to appreciate a good garment through tailoring and design and hope to inspire behavioural change through my own exploration with textile waste, encouraging a shift away from one of the most challenging human issues of our time that is over-consumption.”
For her EcoChic Design Award Application, Kate combined both new and old craftsmanship to her designs to create a line of garments whose construction was based on zero-waste and upcycling techniques to create diverse, sustainable knitwear looks. Kate is currently studying at the University of Nottingham.
“My journey into fashion has been led by the desire to create functional items of beauty that can contribute to changing behaviour and attitudes towards fast fashion. For me sustainable fashion is about each part of the supply chain working together, starting with the designer, to make informed decisions that will have minimum impact on the planet and its people.”
A Parsons School of Design graduate, Lina is an avid fashion and beauty blogger currently working to develop her own fashion brand. Her EcoChic Design Award Application was inspired by a United Nations conference she attended about the 2030 sustainable development goals. Her collection, which uses upcycling and the use of textiles created from recycled fibres.
“Sustainable design is my medium to promote love and compassion for our planet while honing my passion in fashion design. Fashion and sustainability should not be mutually exclusive, but mutually beneficial to create a better world for future generations. My desire is to break the stereotypes of sustainable clothing and prove that it can be mainstream and also luxurious for everyone, everywhere.”