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Meet Cora Bellotto: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 2nd prize winner_Cora Bellotto (1).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 Cora, an Italian freelance fashion designer living in Spain.

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

Cora: Fashion has always been in my dreams, but I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be a designer until I did a training course in tailoring at the age of sixteen. I always loved to create, to physically make things: that’s my favourite part about being a designer, together with the definition of the design concept, which is the stimulating part behind everything.

Regarding sustainability, fashion waste has always been one of my concerns. Since my very first project in fashion academy, I’ve been interested in investigating what in our society is considered to be trash.

I did my bachelor’s thesis under the supervision of designer Marina Spadafora (who recently won a big prize at United Nations for her commitment to  sustainable fashion) and she really boosted my interest in this area. After graduating, I did an internship with her at Cangiari, a sustainable fashion brand from southern Italy, working towards combating the spread of the Mafia and raising employment opportunities for women.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

cora
Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Cora: My concept for the competition was LOVE ENDINGS, since the materials I decided to use for my collection were all related to marriage somehow.

For example, I up-cycled and reconstructed second-hand wedding dresses and vintage trousseaus, which I sourced from my network of friends and family. I saw the potential for these items to be part of new love stories through a new life. Vintage linen and all the materials from vintage trousseaus have always fascinated me: the sophisticated touch of these fabrics was my first source of inspiration. I worked on a comfortable, smooth silhouette, where asymmetrical cuts meet a delicate palette of fresh and pale colours. I also up-cycled different textile leftovers by weaving them into brand new fabrics.

Weaving took up a huge amount of time, but I did it as an artistic expression: it was my statement against the rush that fashion industry is urging to all of us all to follow, designers and consumers alike.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Cora:
– The most stimulating and enriching aspect of the competition was that each participant had his/her own personal view on sustainable fashion and a different approach to deal with sustainability.

– We also had the opportunity to listen various talks held by experts and learn specific topics.

– I was quite astonished when I found out that the most pollutive stage in the life-cycle of a clothing item comes after manufacturing, and it happens during the machine-washing. I learnt that, on average, we wash an item fifty times before we dismiss it.

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

Cora: I don’t believe this is possible. In my opinion, the right question would be: how can mainstream become more sustainable? And my answer is: through education, through consciousness, through a deep awareness of the catastrophic effects of our current way of manufacturing and consumption and, last but least, through an expanding recognition of human rights in the developing countries.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Cora: A common misconception is that sustainable fashion is not cool, or it is something only for hippies or vegans. This is not true; and I wanted to demonstrate it with my own capsule collection. I wanted to show that a sustainable luxury is possible, and I wanted my clothes to be attractive because of their sophisticated style, then subsequently for being sustainable.

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

Cora: Try to design good quality products that people would love to wear as long as possible and don’t forget to consider the environmental and social impact of each manufacturing stage and process.

What is next in store for you?

Cora: My main objective right now is to implement production and work on distribution. It’s very hard for a young, independent designer to be noticed in such a saturated market and reach new clients. I am now looking for international shops and online platforms interested in selling my collections. In the meantime, I am working on a new winter collection!

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You can follow Cora on her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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.

 

Meet Tsang Fan Yu: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Hong Kong finalist _Tsang Fan Yu - Copy.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 Fan Yu, a Fashion Design student at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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

Fan Yu: I believe in Zen philosophy, and so I respect the balance between nature and human lives. When Zen philosophy is then combined with sustainable fashion, both concept and design style should enhance the overall quality of the product. This helps to maintain sustainable fashion in simple and high-end styles – much like the concept of “wabi-sabi” which is an aesthetic that accepts and celebrates imperfection. As a fashion designer, I believe less is more.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

The EcoChic Design Award 201516_Asia Finalists_TSANG Fan Yu_Photo credit Tim Wong.jpg
Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Fan Yu: “SAN(さん)” in Japanese is a title of a person, much like “Mr/Ms” in English. In this collection, the “SAN” is representing a Zen master Shunryu Suzuki (鈴木俊隆). The collection is inspired from his book called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”.

The soul of book is about an attitude called “Beginner’s Mind”. It emphasised that stay initial as beginner when you face every challenge, then you can feel real and enjoy lives in details. As a modern, energetic Chinese lady, contemporary sustainable fashion serves as good accessories to help them to stay true and stay initial; and displaying their beauty towards others.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Fan Yu:

– Sustainable fashion design techniques

– Sustainable materials/textile

– Sustainable technology application

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

Fan Yu: Sustainable fashion is a trend around the world.

Education and promotion is the most important factor, such as carrying out workshops, talks, competitions, flea markets and second-hand pop-up stores etc. It will be easier to spread the message of sustainable fashion to the public through these activities.

It is also important to encourage popular fashion brands to become leaders of sustainable fashion in the industry.  For example, brands such as H&M, Stella McCartney play a huge role.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Fan Yu: People think that sustainable fashion is rubbish, for example, they would think the clothes are old, dirty, damage, second-hand, uncomfortable, disgraceful or have poor finishing (patching everywhere).

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

Fan Yu: Be yourself. Do not be the kind of person you hated when you were young.

What is next in store for you?

Fan Yu: Preparing for my fashion label. Keep explore sustain fashion techniques and promote to my friend of designer.

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You can follow Fan Yu on his website, 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.

 

Meet Belle Benyasarn: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Thailand finalist_Belle Benyasarn.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 Belle, a fashion designer from Thailand.

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

Belle: I have a background in textile design. As I weave different fabrics, I see the importance and need to be aware of the things I make. I believe it is my responsibility to understand the long-term effects. As fashion design students, we typically spend the bulk of our time learning about designing and making, but we rarely do we consider the environmental impacts we cause through our production as well as what happens after we have sold our designs. I want to be part of the new generation of designers who raise the standards of the fashion industry.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

unspecified
Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Belle: The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. As I am aware of the amount of waste created in the process, I saw the potential of using them with my specialty as a weaver. I was inspired to use a technique I call “Up-cycle Weaving” in my collection – which is all about reinventing new materials. For my EcoChic Design Award collection, I re-weaved various types of waste fabrics including waste leather and end-of-roll textiles I sourced from a local bag factory in Thailand to create a sustainable collection that looks wearable in everyday life.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge

Belle:
– Believe in your passion. Search for an opportunity and express it.

– It may be difficult to balance aesthetics and design sometimes, but the most important  thing is to do what you like and be proud of your creations.

– Sustainable is around the corner. It is in your everyday life.

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

Belle: It all comes down to the way consumer perceives sustainable fashion. Aesthetics will be important . The designer has to prove that there can be a balance between sustainability and aesthetics; then people will start to believe it.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Belle: Sustainable fashion is not about designing an outfit from the garbage or plastic bottles that you purchase from supermarket. We must consider the source of the materials well as who makes it.

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

Belle: Believe in yourself. Be confident. There will always be someone who likes your work.

What is next in store for you?

Belle: I’m currently running a woven textile studio under my name. I’d like to provide a new creative approach to textile design by exploring unusual materials as well as a sustainable approach.

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You can follow Belle on Facebook.


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.