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Meet Sung Yi Hsuan: Finalist 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 Sung, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Sung Yi Hsuan i

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Sung:
It comes from my upbringing and family culture that making the best use of everything is a matter of course and was simply about frugality. Through giving second lives to goods (and this is not limited to clothes), I discover the joy of being content. In other words, sustainable fashion and design is a living attitude for me.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Sung:
I was inspired to juxtapose discarded mass-produced, fast fashion items with the age-old technique of weaving to symbolise a spirit of awakening in a time of anxiety.  I applied the design techniques of up-cycling and reconstruction to damaged industry textiles and secondhand clothing waste.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_China_SungYiHsuan_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Sung:
1) It is good to be encouraged to discover the potential of waste; I learned to take every resource seriously.
2) Through my participation in the Redress Design Award I’ve found out more about how many resources it is possible to save by slightly altering our design process. This was highlighted on a large scale through a visit we took to the TAL manufacturing facility in China.
3) I also learned that communication is a vital element to change. By knowing more specifically about what our consumers need, we can avoid much waste.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Sung:
In my point of view, raising the public’s awareness of environmental issues can be the best starting point. Consumers should be better educated with how and why they should change their fashion attitude into a more sustainable way of consumption, and I believe it’s our duty as designers to do this.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Sung:
It might be thought as something uses only natural materials, thus a little boring.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Sung:
Design should always be motivated by making the world better and making our lives easier.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Sung:
I am planning to further my studies.

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You can follow Sung’s work on Instagram

The 30 Redress Design Award 2018 semi-finalists will be announced on 17 April at www.redressdesignaward.com when Redress will also open up public judging for the People’s Choice Award.

Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

Meet Sarah Devina Susanto: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

Posted on Updated on

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 Sarah, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Sarah Devina Susanto

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Sarah:
Previously, I never thought that someday I might go down the path of being a sustainable designer, but the Redress Design Award was a light bulb moment for me, offering me the opportunity to explore and demonstrate my researches and techniques under a sustainable lens.
Environmental issues are something that I have learnt in class, but by joining this competition, it enabled me to challenge myself as a fashion designer to develop my own practice of work to be as environmentally aware as possible and reflect it through my collection.
To me, sustainable fashion means living in balance. Maintaining sustainability is creating a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. I am aware of the amount of waste created in the production process and I see the potential for this waste to be transformed into new garments or details throughout my collection.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Sarah:
The name of my collection “Dirghayu” comes from the Sanskrit words “Dirgha” (which means “long”) and “Ayu” (which means “life”). My collection was inspired by the historical story behind Indonesia’s Independence Day tradition. The infamous competition of the Independence Day celebration is a jute sack race which marks the time under Japan occupation when Indonesian workers were forced to wear jute sacks as clothing. Jute sacks are the focal of this collection, coexisting with Japanese inspired silhouettes and elements, such as kimono shapes, obi belt and pleats. The ropes and braids details throughout the collection resemble the tug of war tradition also occurring during the Independence Day celebrations. The aim of this collection was to deliver a heart-touching tale and evoke the emotion of the Indonesian peoples suffering and struggle before the country’s independence.
I applied the up-cycling technique of jute sack fabric, hand painting them and created new clothes by combining them with secondhand bed sheets that i sourced from hotels in Jakarta. I also created tassels and braid detailing throughout the collection using cut-and-sew waste scrap fabrics.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_Indonesia_SarahDevinaSusanto_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Sarah:
During the process, I learned to be more considerate  when designing and practicing the sustainable techniques. The amount of production scared me the most as I only had two months to make the collection! It required more, even double time in outsourcing materials, designing, creating details, and production compared to the production of normal collection. Throughout the busy competition, I definitely learned to deal with my stress levels!
Another challenge was thinking whether people would accept my designs because they didn’t follow trends, in term of materials.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Sarah:
It all comes down to the way how consumer perceives sustainable fashion. We, as the designers have to prove that there can be a balance between sustainability and aesthetics; then people will start to change their thinking about fashion. We also can slowly change consumers’ misconceptions around sustainability in general by spreading more positive information about the opportunities.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Sarah:
Sustainable fashion is not just some homemade craft making use of recycled waste – I think this may be the biggest misconception. Sustainable fashion doesn’t have to be like secondhand, old clothes with lot of patches and poor finishing. Sustainable fashion is about looking at the processes along the entire fashion supply chain, and improving them.
Meanwhile, the consumers have no idea what actually goes on in the supply chain, which makes it difficult for them to make enlightened decisions about sustainability. The whole attitude towards consumption needs to change, and consumers need to realize that they need to understand the resources required to produce a garment/item, appreciating craftsmanship and stop demanding fast fashion.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Sarah:
As today’s fashion industry is so fast paced and consumers are constantly looking for new things made from new materials, it is important to remember that we, as designers, are able to create new clothes using waste that are equal to new through originality and creative ways. It’s not about wanting new things all the time. We should stop for a moment and consider why sustainable fashion is important for us today and how to reflect it in our work.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Sarah:
I’m planning to continue my studies for my bachelor’s degree next year. I also want to focus in developing my own brand, so stay tuned!

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You can follow Sarah’s work on Instagram

The 30 Redress Design Award 2018 semi-finalists will be announced on 17 April at www.redressdesignaward.com when Redress will also open up public judging for the People’s Choice Award.

Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

Meet Ayako Yoshida: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

Posted on Updated on

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 Ayako, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Ayako Yoshida

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Ayako:
I started to become interested in sustainable fashion when I visited Shima Seiki which is Japanese knitting hardware and software maker in Japan.
WHOLEGARMENT® developed by Shima Seiki produces knitwear three dimensionally
in one entire piece without seams and cut loss. Also, simple knitwear can be made in less
than 1 hour by the machine, so the technology can reduce material, time, and costs
for a garment. I was very surprised when I saw the production process in the company.
Before visiting Shima Seiki I didn’t realize that making clothing could be so wasteful,
but after I realized that with good concept or good technology, we can create garments that are zero waste.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Ayako: My inspiration came from Tsukumogami, the obsolete tools which according to Japanese folklore acquire a spirit after many years, even if they are broken. Tsukumogami can apply to how I see sustainable fashion. I applied the design techniques of reconstruction and up-cycling to transform abandoned materials such as discarded tatami mats and old kimonos into beautiful pieces giving them a new lease of life.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_Japan_AyakoYoshida_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Ayako:
3 main things:
1. Close communication is important.
2. I increased my knowledge about “ethical” and “sustainable” fashion.
3. I also learned more about considerations for sustainability through the process of producing garments.
When I visited to TAL Apparel in China as part of Redress Design Award challenge, I learned that considering every trivial step (e.g. an arrangement of patterns, division of labour, and  packaging) in the manufacturing process can lead to make a significant difference in cost. In japan, it is very difficult for a fashion designer start own brand and continue it for ten years. Creating a sustainable mechanism for producing is important to keep spreading sustainable fashion to consumers.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Ayako:
I think it is possible!  Joining the Redress Design Award, and through my many experiences there, this opinion has strengthened!
Changing consumers’ attitude is needed.  It is important to communicate to them information on strengths and other good points of sustainable fashion, as well as weaknesses of fast fashion.  For example, garments dyed with natural dyes and by hand all looks unique, no garments are exactly alike.  There is a possibility that we can create originality which fast fashion doesn’t have. By showing and appealing the added values, I believe we will be able to get customers hooked more.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Ayako:
The biggest misconception is the thought that sustainable fashion is boring.
The concept of sustainable fashion has expanded to luxury, sophisticated, and modern fashion fields. Consumers can choose garments freely in sustainable fashion depending on their taste or needs.  Sustainable fashion is not only environmentally-friendly but also can be combined designability and comfort.
I think nothing is more wonderful fashion than sustainable fashion. If you buy clothing of your favorite design, and it is made in consideration of environment and ethical besides, your choice is the best!

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Ayako:
Be aware that to producing sustainable clothing is not only about upcycling or reducing waste, but also whether your design is what consumers like and want – and will use to its fullest.
Also, your process of producing garments needs to be sustainable as a business.
I think these things are the most important to bring your designs into the world.
Don’t be afraid to broaden your world. In fact, when I participated Redress Design Award 2017, it was the first time that I had spent time with people from other countries and cultures, abroad. Everything was stimulating, and it was a big motivation and influence on how I create my designs, even now.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Ayako:
I will start to work at a company as a knit designer in April and will acquire new sustainable technology knowledge here. Simultaneously I will improve my skill of pattern making and draping that I have studied in my school.
Although many small textile companies which have amazing techniques in Nishiwaki, Bishu, Tango, and all-around Japan exist, the number of those is decreasing year by year, because of gaining momentum of fast fashion. Eventually, I want to be a designer who have both fabric and knit skills and spread my country’s traditional techniques working together with fashion companies.

 

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You can follow Ayako’s work on Instagram and Arts Thread.

Catch the debut broadcast of Frontline Fashion 2 on Lifetime Asia at 8 pm (Hong Kong/Singapore time), 23 March 2018. Watch the trailer here.

Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

Meet Lina Mayorga: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

Posted on Updated on

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 Lina, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Lina Mayorga

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Lina:
Sustainable design is my medium to promote love and compassion for our planet while honing my passion in fashion design. When I became vegan, I started reading about the detrimental effects of the fashion industry and decided that I wanted to be ethical in every aspect of my life, including my design philosophy and practice.
Fashion and sustainability should not be mutually exclusive, but mutually beneficial to create a better world for future generations.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Lina:
I was inspired by a United Nations youth conference on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that I attended.
To my surprise, no one talked about the fashion industry, so I wanted to promote the goals through my colour – blocking graphic collection. I believe that our planet should aim to reach these goals no matter how far-fetched they seem to be to us. If our society is aware of the problems, subconsciously or consciously we can start creating a positive change. For this collection, I applied the design techniques of up-cycling and reconstruction using textile waste sourced from a textile recycling company and leftover fabrics from old projects.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_USA_LinaMayorga_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Lina:
I learned that there are always new ways to improve your designs and make them more sustainable. Also, that the road to sustainability is a never-ending path of acquisition of valuable new knowledge, and that I should trust my hard work and my good intentions.
I also learned that as a designer I should educate my customers on how to care the garments to make them last longer since the biggest pollution production comes from the time we wear our clothes.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Lina:
We need to break the stereotypes of sustainable fashion and show to people that the resources available in the world are coming to an end because of the mass production. We need to be aggressive in spreading the word about these issues in order to finally move sustainable fashion from being niche to mainstream. There are enough ethical ways to source and use materials for the production of sustainable clothing, these can look as beautiful and well-done as regular clothing.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Lina:
I’m always explaining to people that sustainable clothing doesn’t mean recycled junk made into clothing. There’s a misconception that sustainable clothing is bohemian, hippy-like and not versatile. This is incorrect because sustainable clothing can be made with different design styles and can look amazing.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Lina:
If you believe that your designs and philosophy are right, ethical and key for the future of the fashion industry, you shouldn’t listen to people who want you to remain working in the wrong mindset. Be honest to yourself and the planet and eventually you will find the perfect path for you and your designs.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Lina:
I’m planning to apply for the Redress Design Award 2018 as well as look for options that would help me to start my own sustainable brand. I am still designing sustainable vegan clothing and spreading the word about sustainability through my website, youtube channels and instagram.

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You can follow Lina’s work on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

Catch the debut broadcast of Frontline Fashion 2 on Lifetime Asia at 8 pm (Hong Kong/Singapore time), 23 March 2018. Watch the trailer here.

Find a screening of the Frontline Fashion documentary in India here.

 

Meet Joëlle van de Pavert: Finalist 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 Joëlle, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Joëlle van de Pavert

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Joëlle:
I used to be an over-consumer – at times I still am – driven by the satisfaction of a purchase. During my studies in fashion design I have learned how to appreciate a good garment through tailoring and design and hope to inspire behavioural change through my own exploration with textile waste, encouraging a shift away from one of the most challenging human issues of our time that is over-consumption.

I think it is important for the new generation of fashion designers to communicate a message about being aware of what happens in fashion nowadays, and to confront “over-consumers” about their behaviour.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Joëlle: 
The concept of my collection was about confronting myself as an ex-over consumer who has learned to value timelessness. For this collection, I was inspired by the multiple ways the same materials can be manipulated and transformed, creating the sense of a never-ending story. I’ve used design techniques such as zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_Netherlands_JoellevandePavert_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Joëlle:
A few things! I discovered the world of sustainable fashion. Before the Redress Design Award, I wasn’t familiar with sustainability, so this was the most interesting aspect for me when developing my collection. It was also an experience that made me confront myself as a designer in general and discovering where I want to be as a designer. Finally, it was fantastic learning other approaches and perspectives on sustainability from the all other finalists.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Joëlle:
When people become more aware and better informed about sustainability, they will also become more open for changing their behaviour – just take myself as an example. We all have to do it together for it to become mainstream.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Joëlle:
The biggest misconception about sustainability is that it’s for a certain group of “green” people. That it’s kind of boring and “old”. That’s so not true because there is can do so much more you can achieve with various sustainable fashion design techniques. You can also get very creative because of various limitations.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Joëlle:
Just show the world what you can do with what you think is sustainable. Even if you don’t know that much about the topic, you’re already taking a big step. Just go for it!

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Joëlle:
This March I am going to start my career, working as an assistant designer at a Dutch sustainable womenswear brand called Vanilia, based near Amsterdam.

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You can find Joëlle’s work 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.
Find a screening of this documentary in India here.

The next cycle of the Redress Design Award is open for application till 13 March 2018. Interested designers can find more details here.

Meet Amanda Borgfors Mészàros: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

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Through the next two months, 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 Amanda, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Amanda Borgfors Mészàros

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Amanda:
I wanted to work within fashion mostly because it truly is a main tool for many people to express their identity and we are all constantly surrounded by fashion. I was intrigued by how we can work with fashion to really contribute to a change towards a more sustainable way of dressing and producing fashion. I would say that I am very driven by challenges, and we sure do have a large challenge in front of us within the fashion industry. I feel that I have a great responsibility by working within fashion, and that makes me excited and very determined to contribute in my best possible way through sustainable thinking and acting.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Amanda:
I draw inspiration from the contrasts seen above and below the ocean surface. I am applying the design techniques of zero-waste, and up-cycling to industry surplus textiles, blending diverse fabric textures to form my collection.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_Sweden_AmandaBorgforsMeszaros_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Amanda:
1) A key way of creating visionary and innovative design is through collaborating with others with similar areas of expertise.
2) I learned to challenge my design process, and to push myself to make more sustainable decisions.
3) The most interesting thing I learnt is that designing sustainable fashion is fortunately no longer a trend. For me, it is the only way of designing that should exist. Hopefully all individuals working within the fashion industry will soon come to that conclusion so that we can create an all-sustainable and innovative fashion industry.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Amanda:
I believe that the big companies within the fashion industry have a role to play, as they have a great impact on society and also impact what trends the smaller brands pick up. I also believe that fashion and designs schools that produce the next generation of creatives have a great responsibility to teach sustainability.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Amanda:
People always think sustainable fashion is not fashionable enough, and that it is too time-consuming to produce. For me, it took less time to produce my collection ‘Global Nomad’, compared to my previous collections because I had limited choices of fabrics to work with. I also actively tried to reduce the man-hours and construction methods to make this collection as productive and sustainable as possible.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Amanda:
Challenge yourself when it comes to your selection of materials and your working hours. Best of all, try to collaborate with people that share the same love for innovation and desire to question our current fashion industry as you do.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Amanda:
I am working on my graduate collection at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm. I will graduate with a BFA (Bachelor in fine arts) in June 2018. I will continue to question our fashion industry and work towards a more inclusive, explorative and innovative industry.

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You can follow Amanda’s work on Instagram and her website.

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.
Find a screening of this documentary in India here.

The next cycle of the Redress Design Award is open for application till 13 March 2018. Interested designers can find more details here.

Meet Claire Dartigues: Finalist Redress Design Award 2017

Posted on Updated on

Through the next two months, 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 Claire, finalist of the Redress Design Award 2017.

MeetTheFinalists-Claire Dartigues

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Claire:
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. If we want to live better and longer, we need to dress smarter! Sustainability has been part of my education and now I consider it as a core value of my activity.

I always had a sustainable frame of mind, but it was only at university when I was getting some sustainability teaching that I put two together and realized I was a sustainable designer.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Claire:
The collection takes inspiration from polluted rivers all over the world because of chemicals products used to dye fabrics and sets out to connect the two very different worlds of finance and blue-collar workers. I applied the up-cycling and reconstruction techniques along with natural dyes to industry surplus clothing and textiles.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_France_ClaireDartigues_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Claire:
During the challenges I learnt a lot about the circular economy and how you can make it work on a bigger scale. Redress took us to visit manufacturer, TAL’s facility in China, where they make shirts for big brands all over the world. This visit was an amazing experience, I learnt so much about the manufacturing world and how to make it more sustainable on a huge scale.
I discovered different visions of sustainable fashion thanks to the other competitors. We came from all over the world with so many different culture, it was a pleasure to learn from them and listen their vision of fashion.
I also learnt a lot about myself, this competition helped me to grow as a fashion designer. It increased my motivation to develop a better fashion industry! 

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Claire:
We need consumers to change their behavior. If they show – through what they buy – that don’t want to buy fast fashion any more, the industry will start to change their strategy seriously. Fashion companies also need to communicate about their products better to be more transparent.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Claire:
In France, one misconception is that most of the people think that you can’t do sustainable fashion if the production is in Asia, which is completely wrong. I think every country has a specialty and we live in a globalized world. I agree that producing in the same country where you’re selling your product to avoid transportation and carbon impact is good, but at the same time if you can’t find the expertise you need to relocate this to get your best product. The problem is not the relocation but how brands can make sure that they continue to respect their sustainable values wherever they produce.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Claire:
Sustainable fashion is not an exact science. You can do your best to be sustainable, but you don’t have to fill all the criteria immediately. Take one step at the time!

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Claire:
I just returned from the USA to live in France. I have my own atelier in Paris Suburb where I am developing my transformable zero-waste accessories line. I am also working as a free-lancer for other brands all over the world. I am actually working on some projects with Indian brands right now!

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You can follow Claire’s work on Facebook and Instagram and her website.

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.
Find a screening of this documentary in India here.

The next cycle of the Redress Design Award is open for application till 13 March 2018. Interested designers can find more details here.

Levi’s Is Radically Redefining Sustainability

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And it all comes down to making a timeless product that the customer will hold on to for many, many years.

How do we make the fashion industry more sustainable? For Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co, it’s not enough to simply plant a few trees to offset carbon dioxide or use less toxic dyes. To make a real impact in the world, you need to help change the way people think about clothes.

Paul Dillinger
Levi’s has always been a leader in sustainability. In 1991, it established “terms of engagement” that laid out the brand’s global code of conduct throughout its supply chain. This meant setting standards for worker’s rights, a healthy work environment, and an ethical engagement with the planet. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do,” Dillinger says. “At the time, we were worried that doing this would drive up our own costs and prices.” In fact, what happened was that these practices were quickly adopted by other companies, who used it as a template to write their own rules. “We were actually leading industry toward new standards,” he says.

These days, Levi’s continues to focus on how it can push the envelope when it comes to being green. Dillinger believes that part of the solution is encouraging people to stop thinking about clothes as disposable. As a designer, his goal is to create durable jeans that customers love and feel good wearing because this increases the likelihood that they will care for them better and keep them longer. In this Creative Conversation, we discuss what it will take to create a real paradigm shift in people’s thinking about fashion.

You’re tasked with creating a product that is fairly timeless and less subject to trends. Are you intentionally changing the narrative about consumption?

Yes. In my wildest dreams, we’d be helping to cultivate a Levi’s consumer who values durability and demonstrates a real attachment to an object. We’d be nurturing the person who doesn’t purchase because of immediate seasonal change, but who purchases for lasting value. This would mean there are shared values between our brand and our consumer.

3067895-inline-s-14-levis-radically-redefining-sustainability.jpg
A publicity shot for a Levi’s collection that Dillinger designed specifically for urban bicycle commuters.

This seems to run counter to the fashion industry, which values new looks and trends.

Yes, most companies are focused on convincing the consumer that they are not pretty unless they radically change their look; they’re not going to be in, attractive, or cool. They create a false appetite that directly leads to a pattern of hyper-consumption. If someone is pushing boyfriend jeans on you real hard this season, they’re probably going to be pushing a super skinny jegging on you next season. This radical oscillation in silhouette preference is going to make you feel that the thing you just bought is no longer valuable.

Instead, what we’re trying to do is encourage our consumer to be conscious that when they purchase a pair of jeans, that is not an isolated event. The garment had an impact before they purchased it, in terms of people that made it and the waste that was involved in creating it. And its going to exist long after they’re done owning it.

What would happen if we could change culture in such a way that consumers imagined the end of life of the product they bought? So, what if we said that you could mulch your jeans, put them in your garden, and see how the decomposition of your Levi’s could feed the food that you were growing. That’s conceivably how we might dispose of garments in the future. That would prompt the consumer to think about little details like how the color was applied to the garment in the first place. Would the chemicals in the dye affect the garment, my food, and my body? This is the kind of holistic thinking we want to spur in our customers. Fundamentally, asking them to take into account the impact they’re responsible for in the whole system, from the supply chain to the eventual disposal of the garment.

VIDEO: HOW LEVI STRAUSS & CO. KEEPS IMPROVING JEANS

How do you cultivate that consumer?

It starts with the product. Take the 501: It is an anchor product that has endured over time. Sure, it has evolved in some ways, but we don’t offer radical changes in silhouette. We’re owning the history and the provenance of our brand that makes essential, archetypal pieces of clothing.

What we do is we try to maintain a fit portfolio where we ensure that we have the fit you feel best in, not the one you’ve been told to feel best in. Then we make that product available consistently. When you love a pair of jeans, you develop an emotional connection not just with that object, but with the brand. You know that the brand has served you well. If we can make clothes that are really worth loving, then hopefully people will love them longer and care for them better.

We’re choosing not to participate in the fashion cycle. Instead, we’re choosing to cultivate long-term relationships with the consumer and deliver against their needs. And hopefully that participates in the recalibration of consumption broadly, though that is a lofty goal.

You’re known for your forward thinking when it comes to incorporating technology into fabrics. How do you do this, but also ensure that you are making these classic garments?

Technology is a loaded word: It implies gadget. We’re engaged in scientific dialogue with a lot of different people, but not all of it lights up the way you’d expect when you think of tech. There are ideas that we’re bringing to market that you might never notice. One that comes to mind is coming out in the next six months. A lot of people expect performance from clothing now. It’s one of the reasons that yoga pants are winning the market. The solution for performance has often been a mechanical or chemical application to a garment, often in the form of a synthetic fiber blended in. Often these technologies really flatten and dull the vibe of a jean. It starts to look like franken-jean: a jean from an unhappy future.

How do you bring that performance to a garment that is, in many ways, very similar to its original archetype that is now almost 150 years old? We’ve been working on this for two and a half years. The proposition is to bring jeans to market that will be 100% cotton, but that have hollow yarn architectures. We had a polyester that was woven into the yarn, but after weaving the [yarn] together [to make the denim], we were able to dissolve it out. What happens in that process is that we have the ability to wick away moisture and hold in warm air, but the jeans look and feel the way an authentic pair of Levi’s should.

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But I imagine that it is hard to create profound change as one isolated company.

Yes, absolutely. If you look at how the food industry has evolved and shifted, it’s not one chef, or one farmer, or one supermarket choosing to align itself around different values. It’s a whole evolving system of consciousness. Personally, I can only take responsibility for my own behavior and advocate for these values.

But I also think there are other likeminded people that we can seek out. We have a program called the Levi Strauss Collabatory where we bring small designers who share our values and help them integrate sustainability into their young new businesses. We give them the support they need to bring that to life. So we can help nurture the ecosystem.

As a large company, what are you doing to make your manufacturing process more sustainable?

I think it’s important to focus on making products sustainable in every place that we manufacture. It’s very important not to use offshoring as a way to hide the way that we are manufacturing. We believe in transparency. It’s incumbent on us to know that water is a precious resource everywhere in the world. And it’s important for everyone across the entire supply chain—from the farmers to the factory workers to the people disposing of the products—to be conscious of resource conservation. To do this, we have a life cycle assessment that looks at the impact at every stage of the process, all around the world.

It’s also about educating the customer, telling them that there are better ways to care for their clothes. You don’t have to wash your jeans every time you wear them; in fact, this is bad for them. If you hang them to dry, they’ll last longer. A simple message like that allows us to involve the consumer in a much bigger effort to carefully, deliberately draw down on resource consumption.

And importantly, when we unlock proprietary data about water or waste, the best thing we can do with that is share it with everybody. Last year, we hosted a conference here at Levi Strauss where we brought in our competitors and anyone in the industry who was interested, to share every bit of knowledge we had about water-saving best practices. If you figure out how to save water and you don’t tell people about it, you’re kind of a jerk.

*This story first appeared on Fast Company

 

Arvind of India Makes a Mark on Sustainability

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Since it’s founding by Indian industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai in 1931, Arvind has led the way in manufacturing on a global scale. Located in Ahmedabad, India, over it’s 85-year tenure Arvind has become the world’s fourth largest denim manufacturer and boasts an installed capacity of over 110 million meters per annum. But make no mistake it’s not just quantity for Arvind, it’s quality. As one of the founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and an active member in Roadmap to Zero, an initiative to eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals in apparel manufacturing, Arvind was recognized as one of the Global Denim Award’s Mills of the Year for 2016.

To learn more about Arvind and it’s sustainability success, Carved in Blue spoke with Stefano Aldighieri, Creative Director at Arvind, while he was in California before heading back to India.

Read more at Carved in Blue


This article is one of a series on GreenStitched from Lenzing’s Carved in Blue denim blog. From conversations with the experts behind the mills that make some of the world’s most-wanted denim to the global brands bringing novel denim made with TENCEL® and Lenzing Modal® to the market, Carved in Blue shares the stories of those whose roots run deep with denim.
Visit www.carvedinblue.lenzing-fibers.com.

Meet Patrycja Guzik: Winner of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 1st and special prize winner_Patrycja Guzikjpg.jpgThrough 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 Patrycja, the winner of the EcoChic Design Award 2015/16.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?

Patrycja: I asked myself: what I can do as a young fashion designer without big financial capital. And I realized that the answer is really simple: I can make a difference in a fashion industry. My artwork means something more for me than just a clothes. I’m glad that I can tell story through my collections. To me sustainable fashion means living in balance. We need to change our thinking around clothes and more designers need to show consumers that we are able to make beautiful clothes using old clothes and damaged textiles.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Patrycja: My interpretation of the phrase ‘Heaven is a place on Earth’ was the starting point for the The EcoChic Design Award. This corresponds to the everlasting pursuit of perfection in life, and is a condition when the feeling of emptiness and stagnation is able to be balanced, allowing us to be in harmony – to find your own place on earth. I aimed to make my clothes a shelter; a dreamy, heaven-like space that one could just settle into.

Texture, color and shape are the main codes of the collection and the forms are enhanced by the prints. My jumpers are knitted with rug-making techniques using secondhand wool. ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ was also the inspiration for the colour theme with tints of black, white, blue, violet and cobalt dominating the collection.

I collaborated with a Polish illustrator, Mateusz Kolek, who designed the print based on my inspiration pack and colour palette. This print developed from lots of discussions about the theme and is a labyrinth of symbols which take you through my story. This re-printing technique has also enabled me to bring new life to discarded textiles.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Patrycja: In time of the competition we went to a factory in Dongguan China to see what the typical process of production clothes looks like. Then I realized that every new, decorative line of my design drawing involve 5 more process, peoples, more water and electricity.

Of course that trip to the factory made me more aware. Every production process involved in each garment is in my hands during the time of design. It is my responsibility as a fashion designer.

What was the impact of this award on you?

Patrycja: It has been the most important experience and biggest adventure in my life so far. All the designers I met through The EcoChic Design Award are so talented and conscientious in sustainable fashion. Each of them have their own stories, own experiences, and own way perspective on things…it was pleasure to spend time and work with the group of finalists and the Redress team.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Patrycja: Consumers are constantly wanting more and for a cheaper price. As designers, we should stop for a moment and consider why sustainable fashion is important for us today and what it means for each of us in our work. Today’s fashion industry is so fast paced and we’re constantly looking for new things made from new materials.

But it’s also important to remember that designers are able to make beautiful clothes using waste that are equally, if not more, original and creative. It’s not about wanting new things all the time.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Patrycja: Using waste can sometimes be challenging, but no one said life would easy! Easy can be boring! We need to recognize that less is more: we need to slow down our consumption, change our thinking around clothes, return to our roots, not forget our past and start thinking about our future.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Patrycja: Just make a first step into sustainable fashion. You’ll love all those sustainable fashion technique. And the moment when you see your collection on a models on a catwalk and you realized that 3 months ago these were ugly leftovers and secondhand wool yarn and old school sweaters, hats, scarfs is unspeakable.  So just start and go for it!

What is next in store for you?

Patrycja: I have just completed designing my capsule collection for Shanghai Tang, I’d now like to spend more time developing my own designs using the zero¬waste design technique, adding more everyday wear items to my existing collection. I really fell in love with this technique during The EcoChic Design Award. Farther into the future, I’d like to develop my own brand.

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You can follow Patrycja on Facebook and 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.