Through the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.
The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.
Today we meet Amy, who has recently received her degree in Sustainability in Fashion from ESMOD Berlin in Germany.
What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Amy: I really loved working with textiles, and it made me very curious about all the processes that go into its production –for example dyeing, growing and spinning. From there as I started to look deeper into some of the issues in the fashion industry which became very obvious. I realised what a significant impact this has; it’s one of the biggest industries in the world!
For me, just because something was sustainable, it doesn’t mean that it has to look or feel any different – I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable design. I think that working in a more holistic way makes the final products more interesting, more considered, and just as exciting and beautiful!
I want to make sustainable fashion accessible to everyone. I want it to be fun and engaging and not critical. Sustainability needs to be considered across the entire supply chain, from fibre production to manufacturing, to the way the user interacts with the garment and all the way to its end-of-life and potential for re-use. I want to be part of the new breed of designers who rethink the process of fashion design and who have a genuine and positive impact.
What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?
Amy: This collection has been inspired amongst other things, by dinosaurs depicted in modern art and nostalgic film posters, using knitwear to create areas of texture, from a variety of sources of material. The collection combines pop culture references from different eras, 60’s silhouettes, vintage washed out colours, and traditional knitting techniques, all combined with a contemporary approach to make unique, fun and interesting garments.
The collection is designed to be fun, tactile and unusual, but all with elements of familiarity and comfort. I wanted to display the potentials of knitwear within the field of sustainable fashion, as these garments are very low waste, low energy and reuse and re-purpose old materials, creating a very low impact collection that is also contemporary and beautiful knit.
3 things you learnt from of the challenge
– Getting the chance to work with other people from different backgrounds really opens your eyes to new possibilities. It is incredibly inspiring.
– Sustainable design is some of the most innovative design; it challenges people to be more creative, more inventive and more sensitive. I think that we can learn so much from people developing these ideas.
– Sharing your ideas is a great thing. In the more conventional fashion industry, it is normal to be very secretive about your process and your designs. However, with sustainable design, we all want to learn from each other and share our ideas and collaborate.
How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Amy: I used to think that a gradual change would happen, and if we were able to give more information to consumers and designers then we would naturally move towards a more sustainable industry. I still feel that but I think that the fashion industry, especially fast fashion producers, are moving so fast and doing so much damage that they need to be held accountable and responsible for their actions. We need to legislate and monitor the actions of these huge manufacturers, with regards to both the social and environmental impact of what they’re doing.
What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Amy: I think it’s changing a lot but there are still times when people assume that sustainable fashion is very dull and make of scratchy material. I think another of the biggest misconceptions is that people assume dressing sustainably is more expensive, there is such a huge amount that can be done with existing materials and clothing and the DIY industry, so being sustainable, fashionable and sticking to a budget is really easy!
What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Amy: My advice would be to think big and take risks – it sounds very cliché but to really get your ideas out there and to compete with the conventional fashion industry, you have to be doing something interesting.
I would also say to read all the time and learn as much as you can, you’ll never get it right first time and there will always be new things so don’t be put off, just keep trying.
What is next in store for you?
Amy: I am really lucky to be working on an exciting project in Scotland at the moment, working with children in schools with design and sustainability, helping them to reconsider what their learning spaces are and how they could adapt them. It’s a really rewarding project and the children are so excited and have a lot of energy, and are learning a lot about sustainability. I think the more we can teach children the more likely the industry is to change, so I feel very positive about this work.
Watch Frontline Fashion , a documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.
The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.