eco-fashion

Meet Seerat: First Indian Designer to Upcycle Fashion for Redress Design Award

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In the past we interviewed, Redress Design Award finalists from 2017 and 2016. Environmental NGO Redress organises the Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition. This year the finalists will present their dynamic collections created entirely from waste textiles to an international audience in September in Hong Kong. Finalists have been selected from 11 different countries and this year, for the first time, we have Indian designer Seerat Virdi also on the list!

We sat down with Seerat, who holds a degree in Fashion Design from the Pearl Academy New Delhi, to gather her thoughts on a topic that is close to our hearts as well – you guessed it right – sustainable fashion.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
I was always obsessed with clothes and fashion since I was very little. I have my mother to thank for that because she was an art textile student herself and always encouraged my love for art. As a child, I remember making outfits for my favorite anime characters and superheroes. By the time I grew up and saw this as a career option, it was already a part of me and I was more than excited to get involved.
Over the past few months I’ve seen eye opening documentaries and read overwhelming articles on BOF [Business of Fashion] about the severe impact the fashion industry has made. I’m an empathetic person who also happens to be a designer and I felt it was my responsibility to act on this. I challenged myself to be a part of the sustainable fashion movement and Redress couldn’t have happened at a better time. It has given me platform to show my work and has encouraged me to work harder. I know I’m on the right track.

What is your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
I aim to inspire and influence consumers to reuse and repurpose their clothes by creating a contrast to today’s fast-paced fashion industry. My designs are multifaceted and include removable parts that can be interchanged across the collection. Applying the design techniques of zero-waste and up-cycling to silk organza and repurposed trims and threads, I embrace handcrafted detailing and fabric manipulation techniques in my designs.

Seerat Virdi_Redress Design Award 2018_Work in Progress_2

3 things you learnt during the process of designing Redress Design Award collection.
I’m very new to the ‘sustainable’ fashion field and there is a lot that I yet have to learn. Few things I did pick up have been very eye opening. A lot of waste can be eliminated at the design stage. Intelligent pattern cutting, and conscious resourcing do make a huge difference.
Another important note is that almost anything can be repurposed into a beautiful piece of clothing, you just need your creative intuition and grit to make things happen. Lastly, I’ve found it better to work backwards. Before you open your sketchbook, study what resources surround you and draw inspiration from that to put in your design process. Being mindful of your resources can help you avoid make wasteful purchases and more importantly is a better way to design, as you’re pushed to reuse and up-cycle.
For my collection, I used resources that were readily available to me. I familiarised myself to this raw material by doing a variation of fabric manipulation and material exploration to figure out how best I can use them in my designs.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream, especially in India?
Currently the mainstream fashion brands are solely focused on what’s trending and how to quickly increase sale volumes. Their failure to look beyond that is gravely concerning. Especially in India, a major reason for brands not shifting their practices is because the consumers aren’t fully aware about this crisis to demand for an eco-active change. Once the demand for more eco-friendly products rise, these major brands will start to comply.
On the positive side, the change from mainstream to niche is doable because we see it happening. We have mainstreams brands like Grassroot by Anita Dongre, Doodlage and Péro who support local artisans and take their sustainable design practices seriously.
We are moving in the right direction but in order for the transition to happen, major changes in the supply chain need to take place and the consumers need to be made aware about this issue. We’re getting there but it’s going to be a slow process.

Seerat Virdi_Redress Design Award 2018_Work in Progress_1

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
That because sustainable fashion is recycled, it’s ‘dirty’. When in reality it’s far from it and in my opinion can be considered an art form. Making something out of ‘nothing’ sounds pretty amazing to me. Today sustainable fashion has advanced and does not compromise on design or aesthetics. Designers have created products that people are happily willing to purchase only to later find out its eco-friendly, that’s how you know you’ve done something right. Now I can see the expectations of consumers shifting, as they want to be a part of a greater change and are looking for brands that have set an example towards the sustainable fashion movement.

What are things you wish Indian fashion students/budding Indian Fashion designers should know about sustainable fashion design?
It is extremely crucial to be ethical when it comes to your design practices. From sourcing, production to execution everything needs to align in a way where there is none to minimal wastage. Since fashion is currently the second largest cause of environmental pollution, being sustainable isn’t an option anymore; it’s a prerequisite. A problem this big can only be solved if we work in collaboration, share innovative ideas and spread awareness about the importance of a sustainable lifestyle.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
I would advise them to be mindful about their design practices. A small pro-eco change can lead to a huge positive impact. As designers we have a huge role to play in all this. We can influence our consumers and create a positive change in this industry. So, I encourage you to be creative with your ways, voice your opinion and share your ideas.

Seerat Virdi_Redress Design Award 2018_Work in Progress_3

What is your next goal after joining Redress Design Award?
I have a few projects that are in the process of building up. Currently, I’m focused on developing my collection for the Redress Design Award. I am currently also a part of the Lakmé Fashion Week x Reliance incubator program and that has given me an amazing opportunity to network with a few important people in the industry. I’m also working on developing my brand’s website, so I can increase my reach and share my newly formed sustainable ethos. After Redress, I plan on creating my new sustainable line for next summer but I’m keeping my options open for new and exciting opportunities.

You can follow Seerat’s work on his Instagram

Have a look at all the finalists of the Redress Design Award here.

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

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Meet Candle Ray: 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 Candle, winner of the Redress Design Award 2017!

MeetTheFinalists-Candle Ray Torreverde

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Candle:
When I was younger, I always enjoyed reading fashion magazines. That developed my interest in fashion and inspired me to sketch and design a lot back then, but I started entertaining the thought that it could be a possible career for me when I was asked to design garments for a pageant. Since then, I’ve been competing in fashion design competitions and I was able to get a scholarship to study Fashion Design and Marketing.

Joining the Redress Design Award opened the door for my development in sustainable fashion. I didn’t know that much about the subject until I decided to join the competition. I remember, when I was doing my entry I went through all the educational materials redress have in their website which introduced me to sustainable fashion and gave me some inspiration about how I can make a difference as a designer. As I continued to learn I’m becoming more interested in it.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Candle:
My inspiration came from the chaos brought about by sea storms. Through my collection I wanted to highlight how vulnerable we were to natural disasters. The consequences on us would be severe if we continued to be insensible towards the environment. I applied the design techniques of up-cycling and reconstruction along with the use of natural dyes to transform secondhand textiles and clothes.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_Finalist_Philippines_CandleRayTorreverde_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Candle:
First, I learnt that we can do a lot of wonderful things with textile waste. It only requires our creativity and our strong will to push it even further to transform all of it.

Second, there are a lot of techniques and options we can use to minimize or even zeroed out environmental impacts. Doing the Redress Design Awards taught me the techniques of zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction but I know there are more techniques and technologies we can apply to create every design sustainable. We just need to do more research to look for those existing techniques, technologies or even ideologies and apply them.
Lastly, I also learnt the importance of educating consumers about sustainable fashion and how can they help to minimize environmental impact through re-evaluating their buying habits. If we can let the consumer know that their choices can create a positive impact, for sure we can draw in a lot of people to join the sustainable bandwagon.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Candle:
Aside from providing products that are sustainable we also need to educate consumers about sustainable fashion. We should let them know that they can create positive environmental impact through making better choices when buying. Promoting awareness about this wonderful cause will definitely move sustainable fashion into the mainstream.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Candle:
The biggest misconception about sustainable fashion is that it is an unpolished handcraft. I think consumers are hesitant because they think that sustainable fashion is uncomfortable because it is made from textile waste but nowadays there has been a lot of eco-friendly technology that can transform textile waste to a comfortable and polished merchandise in line with the traditional fashion items we normally see in stores.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Candle:
My advice to next breed of fashion designer is that they need reevaluate and incorporate sustainable design techniques to their design processes. They can create positive environmental impact through eliminating waste during the design process. They should be mindful of their material choices. After all, as designers we are equipped with an important strength, which is our creativity, to transform textile waste.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Candle:
After the Redress Design Awards, I am planning to push myself to build a brand which is 100% sustainable. Joining the competition, I have found that it really is possible. There is a lot of textile waste waiting to be discovered and be transformed. As of right now I’m creating a sustainable collection and plan to launch my brand in October. I am currently sourcing my textile waste. In the future I also plan to include accessories into my line using textile waste and I am really excited to do all these things with environmental consciousness.

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You can follow Candle’s work on his 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.

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.

Meet Kate Morris: 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 Kate, winner of the Redress Design Award 2017!

EcoChic Design Award 2017 1st Prize Winner_Kate Morris

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?
Kate:
The time I was getting into fashion design coincided with the Rana Plaza disaster which, like for so many people, really opened up my mind to how critical the problems had gotten in the fashion industry. Part of me wanted to run screaming, but a bigger part of me wanted to design fashion to contribute to change.

What was your inspiration for the Redress Design Award collection?
Kate:
A lot of my inspiration for my Redress Design Award collection came from my fine art background and through visiting art galleries. I looked at pop art visuals of food and was interested in how people’s attitudes to food have changed in relation to attitudes to fashion.
Cutting out wasted time and energy as well as materials inspired me to create minimal seam silhouettes combined with zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to create a diverse range of knitwear. The concept behind the collection is technology and hand craft working in harmony, I wanted to celebrate the possibilities within digital knitwear production as well as maintaining a tactile connection with the wearer and encouraging people to get making, mending and reusing through the hand-crafted elements.

EcoChicDesignAward2017_1stPrizeWinner_UK_KateMorris_Full Collection

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?
Kate:
This competition really has been the biggest adventure I have ever been on!
Creating my collection transformed my view of what up-cycling can achieve as well as what’s possible in a small time frame!
I learnt how easy it is to source luxury materials the industry considers waste, companies were really keen to get involved and I was doing them a favour by taking the materials off their hands.
The week of the grand finale hugely broadened my mind-set and horizons alongside meeting so many fantastic people. Winning first prize has bought me confidence, exposure and the valuable opportunity to work and learn with influential platform.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?
Kate:
I predict that sustainable fashion design will become the normal practice and any brand who is not following this will not last very long. Consumers will keep demanding to know more about their clothing and tighter regulations will be put in place for more ethical manufacturing.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?
Kate:
I think the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion is that aesthetics have to be compromised in order to create low impact products. A lot of designers believe it has too many limitations, but it is working within these boundaries that leads the most exciting and rewarding designs for me.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?
Kate:
I believe to be a successful fashion designer today you have to be aware of how your design decisions will affect the rest of the supply chain, the planet and creatures within it. I also think that having good time management, organisation, communication and calculation skills are just as important as being creative!
My advice is to try and not feel overwhelmed by all the different factors within sustainable design, start by picking one aspect that you feel most passionate about, for example minimalising waste in fashion, and other elements will lead on from there. Try to see the limitations as opportunities to create unexpected designs that will have a story that consumers can connect to.

Where do you go from here? What is next in store for you?
Kate:
I just launched a sustainable knitwear ‘Pop’ collection with The R Collective. It is now available to buy at http://www.thercollective.com and select pieces will be available exclusively at Lane Crawford, Asia’s leading iconic luxury department store, from March 2018. Working with The R Collective opened up my eyes to the sheer scale of surplus yarn stock that accumulates through current manufacturing systems. We were working with perfect condition, extremely luxury yarns that were considered waste as the result of brands changing their minds after sampling a dye-lot, cancelling orders or miss-calculating, or the aversion to replicating the same colour across two seasons.
I am also hoping to slowly launch my own brand CROP by this year. To enable this, I am currently looking into working with start-up company ‘Kniterate’ who are producing affordable compact digital knitting machines aimed at enabling small labels to create custom made/small runs and bring local manufacturing back to their neighbourhoods. When exploring conventional manufacturing routes, so far, I have been stunted by high minimums and the struggles of maintaining a transparent supply chain/ connection with my product’s story.

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You can follow Kate’s work on her website and 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

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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 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 Claire Dartigues: 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 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.

Cradle to Cradle: Fashion’s Grave Reality

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circular-vs-linear-fashion-cycle_1024x1024.jpg

The circular economy.

Closing the loop.

Cradle to cradle.

These are all phrases you may well have heard of. If not, best to familiarise yourself with them a.s.a.p. As our increasingly consumerist lifestyles reach tipping point, organisations are desperately trying to gather and reuse our rubbish, because otherwise, we may have nothing left to make anything with.

This year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit was kicked off by someone I had, until that moment, not heard of: Bill McDonough. If you are as clueless as I was, take the next 14 minutes and 30 seconds to get to know him and his ideas a little better. You won’t regret it.

Interesting, right?

People were still clapping by the time I’d completed my purchase of his book, Cradle to Cradle.

Fashion’s grave reality

McDonough’s work is clearly applicable to the creation of many, if not all, products. But it is particularly relevant to clothing because this industry has arguably one of the most linear and wasteful cycles in modern society. And this cycle’s impact on the environment is exacerbated by its speed and the quantities involved.

take make dispose clothing lifecycle fashion

The fashion cycle: cradle to grave

With 92 million tonnes of textile waste being produced by the global fashion industry in 2015, corresponding to more than 12 kg per person, it’s clear that we are hemorrhaging valuable resources every second of every day.

So What Exactly is Being Wasted?

I recently wrote about the differences between natural and man-made fibres, and the importance, as a consumer, of understanding where these different fibres come from.

In particular, I highlighted popular man-made fibre polyester as the most used in clothing production today.

Polyester is derived from fossil fuels, one of our planet’s none renewable resources. A resource so valuable in fact, that it should be treated as a ‘nest egg’ McDonough suggests.

And yet, not only do we buy cheap, poorly made clothing using this precious resource, but we throw it out in such a way that these valuable materials cannot be retrieved.

Perhaps excavating landfill sites will be a common activity in the future?

How insanely backward would that be?

How Can the Fashion Industry Do It Better?

How can this regressive fashion industry transform itself into a regenerative one?

When it comes to fashion, and the materials we use, we can work to achieve a circular system in two ways:

By creating a “biological” cycle, whereby an item made with 100% natural fibres (wool for example), able to be broken down by bacteria, is reclaimed by nature into its vast ecosystem when we no longer want or require it.

clothing fashion lifecycle cradle to cradle biodegradable

The fashion cycle: cradle to cradle (biological)

Or a “technical” one, whereby the clothing we buy made of man-made fibres is designed in such a way that the fibres can be separated and reused in a never-ending production cycle, whilst not degrading in quality.

 

fashion clothing lifecycle recycle circular cradle to cradle

The fashion cycle: cradle to cradle (technical)

Some organisations are themselves working on large-scale collection schemes in their shops. These schemes provide them with the raw materials to experiment with ways of recycling fibres.TT

Unintelligent and Inelegant Things…

My favourite phrase from ‘Cradle to Cradle’ is: ‘products that are not designed particularly for human and ecological health are unintelligent and inelegant –what we call crude products

Everything we buy, and everything we do, is part of a bigger process.

We can’t know everything. But know this: as a wearer of clothes, what you chose to buy and wear really matters. Because with every purchase, you are telling the world who and what you support.

Choose not to buy cheap clothes from people who cannot tell you how or where their products are made.

Chose not to buy clothing from companies who ignore our collective responsibility to address the issues the fashion industry and, by default, we all face.

A product without background, without craftsmanship, made without thought or purpose or regard for the future is a product without beauty, without meaning and without worth.

It’s a crude purchase. Simple.

*This story first appeared on Study 34