In the battle against Asia's textile waste, Redress continues to aim high and punch hard. For the second consecutive year, the Hong Kong-based nonprofit is launching its EcoChic Design Award, a sustainable-fashion design competition that challenges the region's emerging designers to create mass-market-appeal clothing using zero-waste, upcycling, and reconstruction techniques. Both the Hong Kong and China contests, which run for five grueling months, are packed with judging rounds, seminars, exhibitions, and workshops overseen by the likes of From Somewhere designer Orsola Castro, Hong Kong Elle publisher Dodo Cheung, and Esprit's Margaret Kutt. Each competition culminates in its own grand final runway show: Hong Kong's in July and China's in October.
WHAT A WASTE
An average of 234 tons of textiles are discarded every day into Hong Kong’s landfills, according to 2010 statistics. “This amount is surely a small blip compared to the vast amount of textiles discarded in China, the world’s largest garment manufacturer,” says Christina Dean, who founded Redress in 2007.
The EcoChic Design Award, she says, heads straight to the source of the problem by educating fashion designers on how they can stem the tide of garment waste. “An estimated 80 percent of the environmental impact arising from a product is influenced by the designer,” Dean says. “By creating a competitive and educational catalyst, we are changing the pattern of fashion in Asia.”
China is the manufacturing hub of the world, which means the problem is as much an international one as it is local. Partly to blame? The lack of sustainable-design education available to the region’s up-and-comers, Dean says. “The turnover of textiles through our rampant manufacturing rates to satisfy consumers globally is mind-blowing,” she adds. “Chinese designers’ proximity to garment manufacturing presents a massive opportunity for designers to use their creativity to assist in controlling textile manufacturing waste.”
The winners of the EcoChic Design Award will apply their knowledge to high-street retail by designing a capsule collection for Esprit using recycled textiles. The EcoChic People’s Award Winner, voted by the public online, will win an educational fashion tour to meet some of Britain’s top sustainable-fashion designers, including with a stopover London Fashion Week’s Estethica showcase. All six grand finalists will also receive a membership to Source4Style and the opportunity to sell their own eco-fashion collections online at Shop des Créateurs