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 Pan Wen, a recent graduate of Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins who has returned to Mainland China to pursue her career in fashion design.
What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Pan Wen: I love nature and it pains me to see people endlessly emitting industrial waste for the pursuit of superficial vanity and harming animals and plants in the process. I have always felt that there must be ways to balance one’s needs with the burden we put on our earth. I want to keep exploring this balance through sustainable fashion design, a field which I am passionate about, and spark a deeper reflection through my work.
What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?
Pan Wen: The inspiration came from a 1940’s Scottish tapestry in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The tapestry depicts a scene of blue-blooded people who are hunting for fun. There is this enormous contrast between their elegant life and this cruel behaviour. I wanted to create a collection to express this contrast and condemn a society that would engage in hunting out of pride and vanity.
The collection’s colour is inspired by that tapestry’s soft vintage colour, and the pattern is derived from my sketch of that tapestry. I wanted to use a tender colour to contrast with the cruel reality of hunting. The simple but bold shape is inspired by the garments of the aristocratic hunters in that picture.
3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
– Being organised is crucial.
– There are more sustainable materials beside organic cotton. There is a lot more high-tech and exciting materials out there.
– Process and outcomes are both important in fashion design.
How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Pan Wen: Education and events like the EcoChic Design Award helps a lot. Propaganda and advertisement also works. As long as costumers are aware of the importance of sustainability.
What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Pan Wen: Sustainable fashion is not just some homemade craft making use of recycled waste – I think this may be the biggest misconception. Sustainable fashion is about the consideration of processes along the entire fashion supply chain, and in a highly sustainable way too.
What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Pan Wen: Get to know what you are doing, and work really hard to do your best.
What is next in store for you?
Pan Wen: I enjoy living every moment! I look forward to doing some design collaborations with artists in other areas.
You can follow Pan Wen on Instagram
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.