EcoChic Design Award: cutting waste out of fashion

Friday, 09 May 2014
For the fourth time, the EcoChic Design Award was launched yesterday in Hong Kong. The sustainable fashion design competition wants to inspire emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste. This year’s competition has been expanded to ten countries and  regions: Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, UK, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. For each country, a profile is available that list its “sustainable frontline” in terms of labels, designers, graduates and initiatives.

Like a garment that undergoes various production cycles, participants will have to undergo various competition cycles over the next few months that educates them about sustainable fashion design techniques, zero-waste, upcycling and reconstruction that can combat negative environmental impact of the fashion industry. As the students gather their tools, they are also encouraged to use textile waste in their creations. The sustainable design competition will be the ultimate test, for which the young designers will be judged rigorously on how well they have applied what they have learned and if they have managed to cut waste out of fashion.

Sustainability equals fun

“I think most of us don’t realise that designers influence an estimated 80 percent of the environmental impact of a garment. With our current environmental crisis, it is crucial to encourage and educate emerging fashion designers about their important role in making the fashion industry more sustainable. The EcoChic Design Award creates a platform for emerging designers to break the boundaries of conventional fashion and I’m excited to see how this will translate into more sustainable wardrobes in Asia,” said artist Sarah Lam about the design award.

Young designers and students who would like to participate can still do so as the deadline for online applications is on 15th August 2014. By 2nd September, 30 semi-finalists (three per region) will be announced on the website and the ten finalists by 15th September. From then, they will have only a few months till the end of November to finish their collections, which will be showcases and judged in January 2015 in Hong Kong. The final winner will be announced on 15th January at the grand final fashion show.

Since the first EcoChic Design Award in 2011, the competition first expanded to China in 2012 and included already eight countries and regions in 2013. “Watching The EcoChic Design Award grow to become an international platform has been amazing. The award has really helped a new generation of designers to see sustainability in a different light,” observed Orsola de Castro, one of the judges, about the design competition. She is also the co-founder of From Somewhere and co-founder and Curator of Estethica.

“Winning The EcoChic Design Award Hong Kong competition and being offered the incredible opportunity of designing a capsular collection for Esprit using recycled textiles has proved to be the turning point of my career as a young fashion designer. Through the support offered by Redress and Esprit, I am genuinely seeing that there is an exciting and viable future for sustainable fashion and I’m very proud to be part of it,” said Janko Lam, fashion designer and winner of the The EcoChic Design Award 2011.

The EcoChic Design Award was developed and is organised by Hong Kong-based NGO Redress. Established in 2007, the organization wants to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption.

Photos: Winning designs of EcoChic Design Award 2013