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Meet The Redress Design Awards Semi-Finalists For 2019

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Eluxe has been supporting the Redress Design Awards for many years, but the sustainable fashion competition never ceases to surprise and inspire with each new edition. Every year, RDA helps to launch the careers of fledgeling eco-designers by teaching them more about how to create ethical and eco-friendly collections, whilst never compromising on style.

Now, for the first time in the competition’s nine-year history, menswear designers have been included alongside unisex and womenswear designers. Furthermore, industry surplus textiles have been introduced this year, with a surprising selection of Eastman NaiaTM sustainable fabrics, which will be incorporated into the finalist’s collection designs. 

Although the competition is judged by industry experts from around the world, the RDA will once again call on the public to choose their favourite designer for the ‘People’s Choice Award’, which is open to your suggestions until May 6 – please click here for more information.

With applications from across 6 continents, the 30 selected Semi-Finalists of the 2019 Redress Design Award are showing us how environmentalism and circular business models can walk hand in hand with elegance and style.

As Founder & Board Chair, Dr. Christina Dean says:

If the fashion industry carries on with a business-as-usual linear model, carbon emissions from textile production alone are set to rise by more than 60% by 2030, but these emerging designers give us hope for a future where textile waste is valued, and where responsible design, production and consumption with circularity in mind are the norm.

Meet the Redress Design Award 2019 Semi-Finalists

1. ABBY GASKIN

Country: USA (Canadian)

Design Techniques:  Zero-waste, Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear 

Abby’s zero-waste design process inspired her collection ‘Indigo Blues,’ with layered, woven wigs, like the ones worn by Marie Antoinette, and rectangles of different textiles, connected through hand knitting and hand weaving.

She explains: “I started with the end in mind and designed patterns that have modularity and can be simply re-assembled in different ways  to extend the garment’s life. By connecting rectangles with looped yarn, my designs can be disassembled and reassembled, building new shapes to make completely new garments.

2. CHAN MEIYAN

Country: Hong Kong

Design Techniques: Reconstruction 

Collection: Womenswear

Meiyan’s collection ‘Leftovers’, took inspiration from the wave of feminism that took Western fashion by storm in the early 80s breaking the ground for women to aspire to new roles in society. At the core of her reconstruction are wedding gowns: “There are approximately 10.6 million weddings every year in China. What if just 10% of those brides decided to donate their dresses for up-cycling? This would have a significant impact on the fashion industry’s carbon footprint,” she says.

3. DAMINI MITTAI

Country: India

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear

Damini’s competition collection ‘Rangavalli’ is inspired by the land’s sacred value in her hometown Palamaner, where terracotta made from the soil has provided a source of income for centuries. This connection to the Earth is summed up in the designer’s philosophy: “As both a fashion consumer and creator, it is essential for me to design holistic solutions to the problems within the industry, and creating awareness amongst consumers is the first step towards sustainability. Consumers have to start looking at clothes not just as commodities but as living items with a lifecycle that can negatively impact  our environment over time.

4. JULIA TALITA PAGENKOPF

Country: Germany

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Julia’s collection ‘Inside Outside’ is inspired by the Japanese Wabi-Sabi concept, which sees beauty in imperfection. She thus merges secondhand garments in floral prints and vibrant colours to highlight their contrasts. As she describes: “Being constrained to use what is already in existence in my designs not only minimises my carbon footprint and slows down the flow of materials, it is also a fulfilling approach for me personally, as I find imperfection beautiful.

 

5. ALINA STANILA

Country: United Kingdom

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear

Alina’s collection is inspired by René Magritte’s ‘The Lovers’ paintings, in which she up-cycles surplus and secondhand yarns fragments to support ethical fashion. She states: “I personally believe that sustainable fashion is far more ambitious in scope then other practices within the fashion industry and this drives my work.

6. DENITSA DAMYANOVA 

Country: Bulgaria

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Denitsa’s competition collection ‘Heroine’ is inspired by the strong women that have shaped her life, adopting a pragmatic and problem-solving approach to the detriments of fast-fashion. “In the last few years I have learnt how the fashion industry is damaging the environment and people. It is really overwhelming and I definitely don’t want to be part of the problem. Instead, I want to be part of the solution, and believe that nothing is impossible,” Denitsa says.

7. LEUNG HOLAM

Country: Hong Kong

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

For her competition collection ’The Celebration of Imperfection’, Holam explores the wasteful wedding dress industry, to transform these symbolic items of beauty, combining them with secondhand clothing and cut-and-sew waste.

Her words prove she is adamant in wanting to be a game changer: “As a new generation fashion designer, I believe I have a responsibility to take action and make changes. I want to make use of my talent in design to reduce fashion waste, and through my collections I hope to inspire people to support the sustainable fashion movement.

8. YU YITING 

Country: Taiwan

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Yiting’s collection ‘Blue Tears’ is named after the Chinese translation of micro-plastics, ’tears of a mermaid’. She was influenced by the extensive pollution of our oceans, as she highlights: “The excessive waste I have witnessed that is created throughout the fashion industry drives me to be a sustainable designer. From high-end brands using only the most beautiful part of materials during lay planning through to fast fashion labels creating waste through production inefficiency, it’s all saddening to see.

9. ZSÓFIA TÁTRAI

Country: Hungary

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Menswear

Zsófia’s collection ‘Craving Nature’ focuses on traditional craftsmanship and timelessness through classic silhouettes that pay tribute to green oases in urban environments. Zero-waste is what motivates her, and she loves a good challenge! As she explains: “Sustainable fashion design provides all sorts of relevant challenges that give  purpose to what I am doing.

10. ANNA KEOMEGI

Country: United Kingdom (Latvian)

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Menswear

Anna’s ‘The Breakfast Club’ is clearly influenced by the film that tackled themes of peer pressure and parental expectations afflicting adolescents. She incorporated these themes into her work through a  variety of garments, using the techniques of up-cycling and reconstruction. She seems well-pleased with her pursuit: “I’m proud to be part of the future of fashion,” she says.

11. MORIAH ARDILA

Country: Israel

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Unisex

Moriah’s collection ‘Home’ draws inspiration from outdoor living in non-urbanised areas of the world where people are more attuned to nature and its connection to us. Damaged camping equipment gets a new life in her fashions. As Moriah rightly points out: “Sustainable fashion can significantly change the way the public currently thinks of fashion as a disposable commodity.

 

12. PRAGYA SHARMA

Country: India

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear

Pragya was inspired by the work of abstract expressionist Ellsworth Kelly and his dynamic use of shape, form and colour. She uses the Korean technique of sewing waste textiles together known as ‘pojagi’ to utilise discarded textiles for her creations. As she elaborates: “As a designer, I feel I have a responsibility to prevent the creation of more waste by using virgin fibres, instead using existing materials to lessen the impact on the planet and people. 

13. NATALIE TZUR

Country: Israel

Design Techniques: Reconstruction

Collection: Menswear

Natalie’s ‘Unireform’ collection taps into the prolific, but under-utilised source of uniform waste. Reconstructing a variety of garments from different professions, she embraces the history of the piece by preserving the salient and valuable features of the uniform, and making a positive impact on our planet, as she tells: “My project goes beyond just fashion – I’m constantly thinking about making the world a better and more pleasant place to live in.

14. SARAH MAYER

Country: Belgium

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Sarah’s collection ‘Wonder World,’ takes inspiration from the hues, landscapes and movement in our world, both natural and manmade. Her idealism motivates her to focus on functionality and simplicity, providing longevity to all of her pieces, as her words exemplify: “The fashion industry is one of the primary polluters in the world and heavily contributes to environmental damage. I absolutely cannot continue working in the industry without minding the consequences of what I am producing.

15. NESSIE CROFT

Country: Australia

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Nessie’s collection, called ‘Dress to Impress’, explores and appropriates garment archetypes that are typically associated with male dress in the workplace and juxtaposes them with hyper-feminine details. She truly believes in making a statement through up-cycling and reconstruction, as she explains: “I am passionate about using fashion as a communicative tool. I believe working in a sustainable manner encompasses a wide range of actions taken towards generating a circular system, one that heavily reduces its impact on the environment and ensures social responsibility.

16. RYOTA SAKAI

Country: Japan

Design Techniques: Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Ryota adopted the functional embroidery technique of Sashiko to reconstruct secondhand denim garments, creating a hard wearing, non-trend led collection that will last over time. He is determined to end the waste that is so common in the apparel industry: “I’m passionate about recycling unwanted clothes, particularly when more than a million tonnes of apparel is discarded each year. I believe that keeping clothing in circulation is the key to solving the environmental issues caused by the industry,” he says.

17. CARINA ROCA PORTELLA

Country: Spain

Design Techniques: Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear

Carina’s collection ‘Caution Line’ Carina channels the spirit of non-conformism and self-expression, and is inspired by the inner-strength that is created by joining groups of like-minded people. She clearly demonstrates this through her pieces and her statement: “I aim to empower others to become conscious consumers and change the way they perceive sustainability. Knowledge is power. We, as fashion designers, should raise awareness of the negative impacts caused by the fashion industry and encourage people to change their buying habits,” says Carina.

18. MADDIE WILLIAMS

Country: United Kingdom

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Maddie’s collection, ‘The Mourners’, draws on the vast loss of biodiversity, planetary health and our humanity. Memento mori symbolism — the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality — is embedded within her textile and print designs to remind us that our time is running out to take action. As she states: “I want to be able to use my skills and craft to raise awareness of the climate disaster we are facing and show that conscious clothing does not have to play it safe and be minimal – it can also excite and tell stories.”

19. SAVELIIN UUSKULA

Country: United Kingdom (Estonian)

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Saveliin’s collection is inspired by Japanese contemporary ceramics and reflects those interesting shapes and textures in her designs. She embraces the challenges of being an eco-couturier with impetus and inspiration. As she elucidates: “Being a sustainable designer is not easy, but it makes me think out of the box, experiment with possible solutions and come up with new and unique ideas. I strive for my designs to have purpose with a minimum impact on our environment.

 

20. ANNA SCHUSTER

Country: Germany

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Menswear

For her collection ‘Anna meets X’, Anna took inspiration from other ‘maker’s’ disciplines through the discovery of crafts such as crochet, repair and patch-working, applying zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to manipulate various types of surplus.

Her words reflect the passion and enthusiasm she hs for sustainable design: “I am ready to challenge the current fashion industry model to prove that fashion and nature can exist in harmony. We are taking too much from the planet and I want to give back to nature through innovative design thinking and creativity.

21. CHAN JIANFENG

Country: Hong Kong

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Jianfeng’s collection is inspired by the signature neon signs that give Hong Kong its renowned nightscape and reflect its vibrant lifestyle and culture. He applies up-cycling and reconstruction to colourful end-of-roll textiles, fabric scraps and secondhand garments creating a layered, asymmetric collection embellished with typography using eco-friendly inks and embroidery, further emulating the unique signage. “I believe that as designers we have an obligation to develop more sustainable fashion. Through innovative design approaches we can restore a balance between human and nature and protect our limited resources,” he proclaims.

22. EMMA BOGREN

Country: Spain (Swedish)

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Emma’s collection ‘Beautiful Chaos’ is inspired by human influenced environmental disasters taking place around the world such as oil spills and melting ice caps. She feels sustainable fashion is a more creative enterprise than mainstream designing: “My vision is to become a game-changer within the fashion industry. I want to prove that sustainable fashion can be as beautiful, if not more beautiful than ‘regular’ fashion. I believe  the limitations that sourcing sustainable materials bring make us think outside the box as designers.

23. HE MENGMENG

Country: Mainland China

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

Mengmeng takes inspiration from the wide variety of diversity and colour found in nature  for her collection ‘Reborn’. She deeply believes in protecting our world from waste with the design techniques of zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction: “Every little fibre has its life and I believe not one should be wasted. Fashion design is powerful and through my work I hope to create an appealing aesthetic as well as meaningful designs that reduce pressure on the environment and generate a sense of social responsibility,” she says.

24. JULIA ENGLISH

Country: Australia

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Unisex

Julia’s ‘Worn Well’ collection conveys the idea that each piece of clothing tells its own story. Her creative skills are thus channelled to a higher purpose, as she clarifies: “I prefer the term ‘fashion activist’ over ‘sustainable designer’ – I use clothes as a medium to ask people about their own experience of fashion. Through addressing the space between purchase and end of life, I believe we can comprehensively address what the future of fashion will be.

25. OLIVIA THORPE

Country: United Kingdom

Design Techniques: Up-cycling

Collection: Menswear

Olivia’s collection ‘Public Transport’ draws inspiration from the colourful interiors of trains and explores cross-industry opportunities for textile waste through her bold menswear collection. She is determined to create clothes that are truly wearable. As she explicates: “As a designer starting out in the industry, I am motivated to see that the fashion industry is becoming more sustainable. However, I see a gap in sustainable streetwear and want to be a part of creating innovative and positive change here.

26. ANITA PRAYOGO

Country: Singapore (Indonesian)

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling

Collection: Menswear

Anita’s collection is inspired by the Japanese notion of ‘Wabi-Sabi’, that finds beauty in imperfection. This concept has come to life through the techniques  that are dearest to the designer, who explains: “I have gained great satisfaction from exploring the zero-waste technique, which has led me to pursue sustainable fashion. As a designer, I want to become part of making the fashion industry better.

Redress Design Awards Semi-Finalists For 2019

27. MD PARVEZ

Country: Bangladesh

Design Techniques: Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear

MD was inspired by the traditional garments of ‘Aboriginal Chakma’ an indigenous tribe who live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. He up-cycles textile swatches, cut-and-sew waste and damaged textiles into geometric designs with which he hopes to inspire freedom and confidence in the wearer. “Every year thousands of tonnes of textile waste are created in Bangladesh which saddens me. I am determined to find a way to utilise this waste through my designs and want to be part of creating a system that leaves a positive impact on our environment and society,” he states.

28. JOEY HAN

Country: Mainland China

Design Techniques: Up-cycling

Collection: Unisex

Joey’s collection was inspired by typhoons and the reminder of human vulnerability at the power of nature. Classic designs with a focus on versatility come to life through their ability to be styled easily across the wearer’s wardrobe. Joey is clearly concerned about climate change: “Global warming has brought more extreme weather and protecting the environment has become a serious matter that we should all be responsible for. My aim is to design fashion that saves natural resources and contributes to the development of society.

Redress Design Awards Semi-Finalists For 2019

29. FRANZISKA KNITSCH

Country: India (German)

Design Techniques: Zero-waste, Up-cycling

Collection: Womenswear

Franziska collected items that were forgotten, unwanted or unnoticed for her ‘REcollected’ collection. Then, inspired by photos of her parents hiking trips from the 80’s she developed a neo-nomadic uniform, that can transform to the needs of the wearer.

Repurposing fabrics truly inspires her: “I enjoy the challenge of working with waste from fabric mills and artisans because not only am I providing solutions for the overproduction of the industry, but it also creates spontaneous design choices with surprising outcomes.

30. NISHTHA DUA

Country: India

Design Techniques: Up-cycling, Reconstruction

Collection: Womenswear

For her collection, ‘Strike Twelve,’ Nishtha was inspired by the transformation of Cinderella from riches back to rags at the turn of midnight, deconstructing the idea of the seemingly perfect and highlighting her beautiful flaws.

This represents a paradigm of a powerful ecological metaphor, as she explicates: “I am passionate about slow fashion and lowering the negative environmental impact of the fashion industry. For my collection I felt strongly about sourcing damaged materials which would otherwise be sent to landfills, such as peeling faux leather jackets which I embellish.

Redress Design Awards Semi-Finalists For 2019

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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