EcoChic Design Award

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 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 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

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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.

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?

pat
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.

 

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.