Meet Lia Kassif: Winner Redress Design Award 2017

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GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of Redress Design Award 2017 (earlier EcoChic Design Award). Redress 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 Thursday on GreenStitched.
Today we meet Lia, winner of the Redress Design Award 2017!

MeetTheFinalists-Lia Kassif
What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Lia: My awareness of the negative impact that the fashion industry has on the environment, humanity and natural resources was raised after attending an inspiring lecture by Orsola de Castro. The lecture with Orsola de Castro as part of a sustainable fashion course in Shankar last year, was a turning point in my view of the world. She was so convincing about other and better ways to work in the fashion world to make this place better and to stop harming our world, and it influenced a change in both my personal and professional life.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Lia: For army uniforms, it was because of the fact that every Israeli must serve in the army and wear the uniform for at least 2 years of their lives. I was drawn to wedding dresses, as it is the biggest industry in the fashion scene in Israel, and every girl’s dream. The contrast between those two materials, the roughness versus the softness and gentleness are important to Israeli culture.
My inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection was the famous phrase from the bible Isaiah 2:4 “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” It means that mankind, in the apocalypse, will transform their weapons into working tools. In other words, the nations will no longer fight against each other and there will be peace in the world. This is why I chose to transform military uniforms into casual garments for my collection, emphasizing the transformation by using lace and delicate materials as a total contradiction to the army uniform.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_2ndAndSpecialPrizeWinner_Israel_Lia Kassif_Full Collection
3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Lia: I learnt a lot from the whole experience! I think that now I understand sustainable fashion much better. The movie “The True Cost” really was brought to life when Redress took us to the TAL factory and I saw all the workers and the production process.

The Redress x Miele Consumer Care Challenge taught me that even Houte Couture dresses could be found in clothing bins, like the Christian Dior dress that we reconstructed – this has made the experience of looking in bins more exciting.
From all the experiences I learned how to work and design with group of people from all around the world that sharing the same passion to make the fashion industry better.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Lia: The change of sustainable fashion from niche to mainstream is split into two drivers – consumers and manufacturers.

Consumers have to change their habits, by buying less and buying more effectively and avoiding fashion trends. They need to be more aware about their clothes are sourced and made. They need to bring the sustainability issue to the front and combine it with their daily routine.
Manufacturers have to use green technology to produce, they must take action against pollution, and produce less clothes, to launch less collections every year and to increase the awareness of sustainable fashion among their consumers.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Lia: I believe the biggest misconception of consumers about sustainable fashion is that recycled clothes and sustainable fashion is dirty, worn out and old. They don’t understand that the garments and the materials go through cleaning process before they are reaching the stores.

I believe that sometimes ecologic fashion and recycled materials can look even better than the original garment.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Lia: My advice for the next generation of fashion designers is to increase the awareness to this field to their customers, that they should aim produce less but better – by acting to sustainable principles.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Lia: Since the Redress Design Award and after my graduation from Shankar, I have started working on my new sustainable brand ready to wear collection which builds on my collection shown in Hong Kong at the competition finale. Along with this I have just finished working on a new collection for The R Collective, which up-cycles military uniforms from around the world and will be launched soon.

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You can follow Lia’s work on her Facebook and Instagram
The Redress Design Award 2018 semi-finalists have just been announced and Redress are asking you to be a judge and vote for your favourite of these 30 emerging sustainable designers from across the world who will be awarded the ‘People’s Choice’. Vote now at redressdesignaward.com
Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

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