Frontline Fashion

Meet Pan Wen: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Mainland China finalist_Pan Wen - 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 Pan Wen, a recent graduate of Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins who has returned to Mainland China to pursue her career in fashion design.

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

Pan Wen: I love nature and it pains me to see people endlessly emitting industrial waste for the pursuit of superficial vanity and harming animals and plants in the process. I have always felt that there must be ways to balance one’s needs with the burden we put on our earth. I want to keep exploring this balance through sustainable fashion design, a field which I am passionate about, and spark a deeper reflection through my work.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

The EcoChic Design Award 201516_Asia Finalists_PAN Wen_Photo credit Tim Wong_2.jpg
Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Pan Wen: The inspiration came from a 1940’s Scottish tapestry in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The tapestry depicts a scene of blue-blooded people who are hunting for fun. There is this enormous contrast between their elegant life and this cruel behaviour. I wanted to create a collection to express this contrast and condemn a society that would engage in hunting out of pride and vanity.

The collection’s colour is inspired by that tapestry’s soft vintage colour, and the pattern is derived from my sketch of that tapestry. I wanted to use a tender colour to contrast with the cruel reality of hunting. The simple but bold shape is inspired by the garments of the aristocratic hunters in that picture.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Pan Wen:
– Being organised is crucial.

– There are more sustainable materials beside organic cotton. There is a lot more high-tech and exciting materials out there.

– Process and outcomes are both important in fashion design.

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

Pan Wen: Education and events like the EcoChic Design Award helps a lot. Propaganda and advertisement also works. As long as costumers are aware of the importance of sustainability.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Pan Wen: Sustainable fashion is not just some homemade craft making use of recycled waste – I think this may be the biggest misconception. Sustainable fashion is about the consideration of processes along the entire fashion supply chain, and in a highly sustainable way too.

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

Pan Wen: Get to know what you are doing, and work really hard to do your best.

What is next in store for you?

Pan Wen: I enjoy living every moment! I look forward to doing some design collaborations with artists in other areas.

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You can follow Pan Wen on Instagram


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

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 Annie Mackinnon: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 UK finalist_Annie Mackinnon.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 Annie, a Fashion Design student at Central Saint Martins.

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

Annie: Honestly I am completely appalled and disgusted by the fashion industry. It is infuriating to see how such a natural and beautiful craft has turned into a wasteful, environmentally and humanly-damaging mess that only cares for the gain of money and popularity, as with most things in the world.

I am trying my best to develop my own practice of work to be as environmentally aware as possible is really the least I can do. I want to be a sustainable fashion designer to raise awareness and change the way people think about consumption and waste and I want to develop alternatives to an industry that is primarily based on ephemeral trends and mass production.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Annie: The collection was inspired by paintings by Karel Appel, Kandinsky, Kirchner and Matisse, and in particular one of Matisse’s paintings in which naked bodies recline and walk freely around a garden. My collection was based on a series of textiles I created which used up all the waste from the collection by cutting up and fraying all the off cuts and painting over them. These decorated simple silhouettes and all the fabrics used were obtained from old furnishings or off cuts.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Annie:
– Considering the human conditions of production are just as important as the environmental impact when designing. Because I have never had to design on a huge scale, I had never really thought about how mass production factories work, but visiting one of the largest shirt producing factories in the world during the Ecochic Design Award was incredibly eye opening and shocking.

– There are so many aspects beyond the garment itself that need to be taken into consideration when designing. For instance will the user need to wash or iron the garment often? Is the garment easy to dispose of or transform into something else?

– There are always so many ways to improve the sustainability of a design, so it is a process that keeps growing.

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

Annie: There are very few new and exciting designers who genuinely care about sustainability, and it would be great for this to change. Large designers are often guilty of green-washing consumers, or making poor attempts at sustainability that make this branch of design seem like a joke or a fad. Then of course, there is the problem since brands have to sell to make money ; nobody wants to slow down the pace of fashion, or create fewer, longer lasting garments. The whole attitude towards consumption needs to change, and consumers need to start appreciating craftsmanship and slow fashion more.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Annie: The biggest problem in my opinion is green-washing, and large companies using sustainability as way of advertising and marketing. This sort of false “sustainability” or “eco-friendly” clothing is damaging to those who genuinely care about the environment and workers rights.

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

Annie: Start learning about ways to be more sustainable as early on in your education as possible.

What is next in store for you?

Annie: This year I will be interning for Bernhard Willhelm, Vivienne Westwood and then a new brand in Shanghai, after which I will go back to university to begin my final collection.

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You can follow Annie on Instagram.


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

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?

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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.