EcoChic

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?

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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.

The EcoChic Design Award’s Five Year Legacy Puts Waste Back Into Fashion

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[13 May 2015] Today saw waste – reducing fashion NGO, Redress officially open The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 cycle of their sustainable fashion design competition for emerging designers alongside their Fifth Year Anniversary Exhibition at Hysan Place in Hong Kong. The event served to celebrate the competition’s growth since its inauguration in Hong Kong in 2011,when it accepted entries from Hong Kong only, to now including over 100 countries across Asia and Europe.
As the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition that challenges designers to reduce and reuse textile waste, the competition’s legacy is putting waste back into fashion.
‘The EcoChic Design Award is a powerful platform that is driving change in the fashion industry. Over the last five years, we’ve introduced sustainable fashion education to thousands of emerging designers, influenced global fashion brands to produce sustainable collections and reached millions of consumers,’ said Christina Dean, Redress’ Founder. ‘But whilst we pause for momentary celebration, we can’t be complacent because textile waste is still a critical environmental and social issue and our work to inspire tomorrow’s leaders to be agents of change is far from over.’
The competition promotes the importance of rethinking fashion design education and the use of minimal waste design techniques as solutions to the growing issue of textile waste that is generated by the fashion industry and consumers globally. In China alone, the total annual production of pre and post – consumer textile waste is estimated to be around 26 million tonnes.[1]
‘The EcoChic Design Award’s five year anniversary highlights the significant advances that Redress has achieved in raising
the agenda for waste reduction. It has inspired the fashion industry’s emerging talent to see waste as an attractive resource and highlights a viable future for sustainable fashion,’ said Mr Jerry Liu, Head of Create Hong Kong. Create Hong Kong is a dedicated agency set up under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and has sponsored the competition since 2011.
Announcing the 2015/16 competition cycle
The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 is now accepting entries from designers with less than three years’ experience who live
in any Asian or European country until the deadline on 15 August 2015. In their bid to cut waste out of fashion, applicants must incorporate one or more of the three sustainable design techniques of zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction into their designs. An expert line-up of judges will select 30 semi-finalists in early September 2015 and the resulting 10 finalists, announced on 15 September, will then come to Hong Kong in January 2016 for the Grand Final fashion show at HKTDC Fashion Week. They will also take part in a series of educational workshops including a design challenge with Ford Motor Company, Gold Sponsor of the competition.
Chelsia Lau, Chief Designer, Ford Motor Company said, ‘Ford is proud to be partnering again with Redress this year. Design and sustainability are key goals of the competition as well as drivers in the development of our global Ford vehicles. This partnership allows us to push the boundaries of sustainable design into new realms of creativity, collaboration and innovation.’
The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 continues its emphasis on prizes that support
designers’ career development in sustainable fashion. These include:
First prize: To design a capsule collection using up-cycled textiles for Shanghai Tang
Of partnering on this prize, Shanghai Tang Chairman, Raphael Le Masne de Chermont said, ‘As China’s leading luxury brand, we believe it is important to embrace sustainable design and collaborate with multi-stakeholders, from NGOs to emerging design talent, so as ultimately to influence consumers. The fashion industry ought to be more and more eco-responsible.’
Second prize: A six-month mentorship with distinguished sustainable fashion designer, Orsola de Castro
Special prize: To design a sustainable outfit for Hong Kong Supermodel Janet Ma
In addition to the main competition prizes, Redress will provide further opportunities for the competition’s alumni, who are the community of designers who participated in previous cycles, in order to support their ongoing development as sustainable fashion designers. The opportunities include the introduction of Redress’ The EcoChic Design Award Alumni Network to nurture emerging designers’ careers in sustainable fashion and a business development award.
EDITOR’S NOTES
  • International judges are Raffaele Borriello, Creative Consigliere, Shanghai Tang; Orsola de Castro, Fashion Designer, Co-founder of Estethica and Co-founder of Fashion Revolution; Susie Lau (Susie Bubble), Fashion Writer and Editor; Anderson Lee, Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium (SFBC); and Stephanie Zhu, Fashion Editor ELLE China.
  • Key sponsors are The Create Hong Kong of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Major Sponsor), Ford Motor Company (Gold Sponsor), Shanghai Tang (Prize Partner), UPS (Logistics Sponsor), ADM Capital Foundation (Bronze Sponsor), EAST (Hotel Partner). Other partners include Bloomsbury Books, Ethical Fashion Forum, Hysan Place and Aveda.
  • The EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 Ambassador is Supermodel Bonnie Chen.
    For high-resolution images, statistics, further information and videos please visit our media kit here.
    About The EcoChic Design Award (www.ecochicdesignaward.com)
The EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create high appeal clothing with minimal textile waste. Designers are educated with the theory and techniques to enable them to create sustainable clothing via zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction. The competition puts emerging sustainable design talent in the spotlight, creating a platform for the next generation of designers to cut waste out of fashion. The inaugural The EcoChic Design Award was launched in Hong Kong in 2011. Previous cycles include Hong Kong 2012, China 2012 and the 2013 and 2014/15 cycles, which were open to eight and ten regions across Asia and Europe
respectively.
About Redress (www.redress.com.hk)
Redress is the NGO with a mission to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing  extile
waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. They achieve this via educational sustainable fashion competitions,
shows, exhibitions, seminars, research and by a recycled textile clothing standard. They collaborate with a wide range
of stakeholders including multiple fashion designers, textile and garment manufacturers, retailers, schools and
universities, multilateral organisations, governments, NGOs, financial institutions and media organisations.
About The Create Hong Kong (www.createhk.gov.hk)
The Create Hong Kong is a dedicated agency set up under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau on 1
June 2001 to lead, champion and drive the development of the creative economy in Hong Kong. It co-ordinates
Government policy and effort regarding creative industries, focuses Government’s resources catering for the promoti
on and speeding up the development of creative industries in Hong Kong, and works closely with the trade to boost the
development of creative industries.
[1] – China Association of Resource Comprehensive Utilization (2013).