The Redress Design Award: Turning Waste Into Want

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By Nastassja Salem  

“This entire experience has proved to me that  creativity and collaborative business models can create powerful, viable solution for fashion’s  waste…I am even more determined to be part  of solving the problems out there.”

So says Kate Morris, the winner of the Redress Design Award 2017 (formerly the EcoChic Design Award). Morris credits the design competition for launching her career into the competitive world of  sustainable fashion. It was no easy feat, given that she was up against strong young talents from over 50 countries from around the world, but after her victory last year, her innovative  designs for the R Collective will be launching in Hong Kong at Art Basel, in an exciting pop-art installation made possible by her Chinese-based distributor and retail partner Lane Crawford.

Besides presenting up-and-coming talents to the world,  the award aims to educate fashionistas about sustainable design methods, as well as challenging designers to bring new life to materials that would otherwise go to waste. Contestants are instructed to employ at least 1 of 3 specific, eco-friendly techniques such as up-cycling or zero-waste cutting to create their collections.

Alongside Kate in last year’s round, for example, Ayako Yoshida re-fashioned discarded umbrellas into clothing, and Sarah Devina Susanto repurposed fabrics from hotel bedsheets into highly wearable garments.  Kate’s winning designs were made from up-cycled knitwear sourced from excesses yarn found at spinners.

It’s exciting to follow the Redress Design Award, as it follows a Project Runway-style format in the sense that challenges are set to contestants, and the results are often surprising. One of the tasks last year that most captivated my attention was seeing how the candidates re-purposed old Cathay Pacific staff uniforms into fresh, new designs.

Redress, founded by Christina Dean, is a platform designed to support the extensive network of Redress Design Award Alumni. Together with R Collective, the pioneering up-cycled fashion brand and social impact business, designers now have a full-circle launching pad, supporting them from production to distribution.

There have been over 400 downloads Redress’s education packs from their website; a sure sign that sustainable fashion design is clearly becoming the new normal in the industry, as designers, institutions and teachers of fashion are recognising the importance of educating themselves on the subject.

Indeed, the Redress team will soon be expanding their platform by offering a documentary series that will present their designers’  creativity for using eco-design techniques to the public. The film will highlight not only how it’s entirely possible to transform fashion into a much more sustainable industry, but also how the Redress Design Award can launch a young designer’s career beyond his or her wildest dreams.  

If you or someone you know would like to follow Kate’s success, the Redress Design Award is accepting submissions from designers until the 13th of March 2018. Just visit their website to apply.

Nastassja Salem
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