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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
I just launched a sustainable knitwear ‘Pop’ collection with The R Collective. It is now available to buy at 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 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 Amy Ward: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 UK finalist_Amy Ward.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 Amy, who has recently received her degree in Sustainability in Fashion from ESMOD Berlin in Germany.

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

Amy: I really loved working with textiles, and it made me very curious about all the processes that go into its production –for example dyeing, growing and spinning. From there as I started to look deeper into some of the issues in the fashion industry which became very obvious. I realised what a significant impact this has; it’s one of the biggest industries in the world!

For me, just because something was sustainable, it doesn’t mean that it has to look or feel any different – I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable design. I think that working in a more holistic way makes the final products more interesting, more considered, and just as exciting and beautiful!

I want to make sustainable fashion accessible to everyone. I want it to be fun and engaging and not critical. Sustainability needs to be considered across the entire supply chain, from fibre production to manufacturing, to the way the user interacts with the garment and all the way to its end-of-life and potential for re-use. I want to be part of the new breed of designers who rethink the process of fashion design and who have a genuine and positive impact.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Amy: This collection has been inspired amongst other things, by dinosaurs depicted in modern art and nostalgic film posters, using knitwear to create areas of texture, from a variety of sources of material. The collection combines pop culture references from different eras, 60’s silhouettes, vintage washed out colours, and traditional knitting techniques, all combined with a contemporary approach to make unique, fun and interesting garments.

The collection is designed to be fun, tactile and unusual, but all with elements of familiarity and comfort. I wanted to display the potentials of knitwear within the field of sustainable fashion, as these garments are very low waste, low energy and reuse and re-purpose old materials, creating a very low impact collection that is also contemporary and beautiful knit.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge

– Getting the chance to work with other people from different backgrounds really opens your eyes to new possibilities. It is incredibly inspiring.

– Sustainable design is some of the most innovative design; it challenges people to be more creative, more inventive and more sensitive. I think that we can learn so much from people developing these ideas.

– Sharing your ideas is a great thing. In the more conventional fashion industry, it is normal to be very secretive about your process and your designs. However, with sustainable design, we all want to learn from each other and share our ideas and collaborate.

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

Amy: I used to think that a gradual change would happen, and if we were able to give more information to consumers and designers then we would naturally move towards a more sustainable industry. I still feel that but I think that the fashion industry, especially fast fashion producers, are moving so fast and doing so much damage that they need to be held accountable and responsible for their actions. We need to legislate and monitor the actions of these huge manufacturers, with regards to both the social and environmental impact of what they’re doing.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Amy: I think it’s changing a lot but there are still times when people assume that sustainable fashion is very dull and make of scratchy material. I think another of the biggest misconceptions is that people assume dressing sustainably is more expensive, there is such a huge amount that can be done with existing materials and clothing and the DIY industry, so being sustainable, fashionable and sticking to a budget is really easy!

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

Amy: My advice would be to think big and take risks – it sounds very cliché but to really get your ideas out there and to compete with the conventional fashion industry, you have to be doing something interesting.

I would also say to read all the time and learn as much as you can, you’ll never get it right first time and there will always be new things so don’t be put off, just keep trying.

What is next in store for you?

Amy: I am really lucky to be working on an exciting project in Scotland at the moment, working with children in schools with design and sustainability, helping them to reconsider what their learning spaces are and how they could adapt them. It’s a really rewarding project and the children are so excited and have a lot of energy, and are learning a lot about sustainability. I think the more we can teach children the more likely the industry is to change, so I feel very positive about this work.

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You can follow Amy on Instagram, Tumblr 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.