Upcycling

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?

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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.

 

adidas and Ocean Parley Team Up to Create Trainers and Football Tops from Upcycled Marine Plastic

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adidas trainer-min.jpegWe are all aware that millions of tons worth of plastic waste is washed up on shores across the world endangering marine animals and polluting our waters. In a recently study, 40 million pounds of plastic was left floating in the North Pacific Ocean alone. These facts were enough to encourage the iconic adidas sportswear fashion brand to work alongside Ocean Parley which is an environmental group raising awareness for pollution in our oceans. This partnership has delivered some exciting news which has seen the production of 7,000 pairs of trainers made from ocean waste. But this is not all, they have also created the first football jersey made from upcycled marine debris which was debuted by Mayern Munich and Real Madrid earlier this month.

This long-term partnership was first initiated in 2015 when adidas ( @adidas ) saw the importance in creating a new future for the sporting and fashion industry. adidas is a multinational corporation with a huge influence over sportswear. It is the largest sports clothing manufacturer in Europe and the second largest in the world. Having this sort of influence meant that more could be done to develop innovative new products with sustainable solutions. In a statement in 2015 Eric Liedtke, adidas’ Group Executive Board Member responsible forglobal brands said: “The conservation of the oceans is a cause that is close to my heart and those of many employees at the adidas Group. By partnering with Parley for the Oceans ( @parleyxxx ) we are contributing to a great environmental cause. We co-create fabrics made from Ocean Plastic waste which we will integrate into our product.”

The first fashion initiative was designed by the London designer Alexander Taylor. adidas’ exclusive trainers have the identical manufacturing process as their existing footwear but the process replaces synthetic fibres with yarns made from recycled Parley Ocean plastic. The knitted upper section of the shoe is made from 95% ocean plastic and 5% recycled polyester. In a unique design inspired by the ocean’s movement, a green wave pattern is created from recycled grill net and recycled into the fibre. The rest of the trainer is formed using waste plastic collected from around the Maldives where the government is collaborating with Parley to extract the plastic waste over the next five years. At a price of £178 (€200), the shoes, which contain 11 plastic bottles, will appear in adidas’ stores next month.

Real Madrid's sustainable football kit.This is not all the companies have been producing. Earlier this month, they debuted their latest football jersey tops made from up-cycled marine plastic debris. The adidas Parley football jerseys will be worn commercially for the first time when Bayern Munich faced Hoffenheim November 5 and again when Real Madrid competed with Real Sporting de Gijón November 26. Made from Parley Ocean Plastic, the water-based environmentally friendly prints, the all-white Real Madrid and all-red Bayern Munich kits feature the club logo, three stripes and sponsors’ logos in the same colour as the kit for a unique look.

Eric Liedtke, adidas Group Executive Board member responsible for Global Brands, said: “This represents another step on the journey of adidas and Parley for the Oceans. We have not only managed to make footwear from recycled ocean plastic, but have also created the first jersey coming 100% out of the ocean. But we won’t stop there. We will make one million pairs of shoes using Parley Ocean Plastic in 2017 – and our ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain.”

So What Sustainable Targets have adidas Outlined for 2017?

Their latest target will see at least eleven million bottles retrieved from coastal areas by the Parley Global Clean-up Network which will be recycled and re-purposed into elite performance sportswear. Next year the collaboration hope to create another million pairs of trainers. This plan forms part of a larger commitment by the brand to increase the use of sustainable materials in its products and to make eco-innovation the new industry standard as well as ending the cycle of marine plastic pollution in the long term.

“At this point, it’s no longer just about raising awareness. It’s about taking action and implementing strategies that can end the cycle of plastic pollution for good. Eco innovation is an open playing field. With the release of the Ocean Plastic jerseys and UltraBOOST Uncaged adidas x Parley shoes, we’re inviting every consumer, player, team and fan to own their impact under Parley A.I.R. and define their role within the movement,” said Cyrill Gutsch, Founder, Parley for the Oceans.

*This story first appeared on Bio-Based World News

Meet Esther Lui: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Hong Kong finalist _Esther Lui.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 Esther, a fashion design assistant for a bridal wear design house in  Hong Kong.

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

Esther: I first heard about sustainable fashion design through Redress at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI). I debuted my first sustainable collection for my graduation project, where I recycled textile waste from several garment factories to make my collection. I now put more thought into recycling and reducing waste through various fabric cutting techniques.

As a designer witnessing our earth’s resources rapidly diminishing and the increasing amount of textile waste discarded day-by-day, I’ve become very motivated to utilise every piece of textile in my creations. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to give a new life to previously discarded textiles.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Esther: It all started when I saw the waste from a clothing label vendor. I took some of the unwanted labels home and weaved them into a fabric. During the weaving process, I was reminded of the legend of Mulan, a woman warrior who was known for being strong on the outside but had a gentle heart. The concept for collection was then born.

In my final collection, I applied the up-cycling design technique using surplus textiles and discarded clothing labels, which I sourced from garment manufacturing factories in Hong Kong. I also applied traditional hand-weaving techniques and 3D cutting technology in my work.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Esther:

During The Redress Forum:  Ford Design Challenge I learned a good lesson to trust myself and believe in my instincts. The thought of only getting three and half hours to make our piece was daunting, and nothing like the way I would normally design. But after completing the challenge I felt sense of accomplishment!

– And I think time limitation is the best driving force for creation. We were all focused on what we were doing during that time and we all only want to do our best in 3 hours!

– Lastly, I thought it’s hard to do the sustainable fashion before that because it costs a lot and needs to concern multiple stages during the process . Ford  showed us how they use the high technology to make the inside of their car in sustainable way. That inspires me to rethink sustainable fashion through the way that I cut fabric, the methods of making fabric, etc.

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

Esther: Fast fashion brands have been providing consumers with a large quantity and variety, as well as offering high fashion brands clothes at more affordable prices. This allows consumers to get their hands on fashionable clothes more accessibly. I have no doubt of the economic benefits, and am sure this also pushes designers to improve and bring forth new ideas.

However, fast fashion also brings with it low quality fashion and copies because the provider is always rushing against time. We’ve already seen this being a problem with few big fashion retailers. Consumers have lost the focus, and no longer care about the details of the clothes and the quality. And designers feel tired when they’re constantly designing and producing new clothes day by day without enough time to find new inspiration.

Recently, a few designers from the high fashion brands realised that there was a growing problem and they have begun to change. For example Jean Paul Gautier is now focusing on haute couture only as he wants to spend more time on the design details and quality instead of quantity.

I think it’s good that high fashion brands designers are starting this trend, as they have a power to turn the people’s eyes. But it might take a bit of time to change, as fast fashion remains a very attractive option.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Esther: I think people might still think sustainable fashion means use the creating fashion using trash or rubbish bag, or only wear second hand clothes. Honestly speaking, this was what I thought too before I learnt about sustainable fashion from college.

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

Esther: Have persistency and passion. You really need to stick to it and keep going, as it is never easy to develop your design or a brand, whether it is sustainable, or fashion in general.

What is next in store for you?

Esther: I am starting a collection of gowns in which I am using textile labels as the fabric  Why gowns? It is because I worked for a wedding brand for 5 years and I found that I really love to make gowns! Besides, I want to use the textile waste to make couture dresses because I think it seems like turning trash into gold for me.

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You can follow Esther on Arts Thread


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.

Black Friday: Greenpeace Calls Timeout for Fast Fashion

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New research on fashion trends and textile waste, released by Greenpeace on the eve of Black Friday, highlights the serious environmental consequences of overconsumption. Clothing is among the most sold products on the annual shopping day promoted in many countries, which, critics say, encourages impulsive overspending and unnecessary purchases through bargain ’ offers and discount prices .

“It is hard to resist the allure of a good bargain, but fast fashion means we’re consuming and trashing fashion at a higher rate than our planet can handle,” said Kirsten Brodde, head of Greenpeace’s Detox my Fashion campaign.

To counter excessive consumerism, growing numbers of people choose to abstain and observe “Buy Nothing Day” instead. As part of this movement, “trash queens” in dresses upcycled from discarded clothes are visiting shopping centres in three major cities in Asia and Europe to remind customers how many impulse buys of today end up as trash tomorrow.

The research, Timeout for fast fashion, published today by Greenpeace Germany, shows how the fast fashion business is rapidly expanding: Clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014, with sales rising from US$ 1 trillion in 2002 to 1.8 trillion by 2015, and a forecast of 2.1 trillion by 2025. The average person buys 60 per cent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago, producing immense volumes of textile waste.

Environmental impacts detailed include chemicals from textile factories polluting rivers and oceans, high levels of energy use and pesticides from cotton growing contaminating agricultural land. One of fast fashion’s biggest costs to the planet comes from the rising use of synthetic fibres, says Greenpeace, in particular polyester that emits nearly three times more CO2 in its lifecycle than cotton. Already present in 60 per cent of clothing, polyester can take decades to degrade, as well as polluting marine environments with plastic microfibres.

As of today, recycling is not a solution. Markets are overloaded with unwanted clothes and technological challenges mean full recycling of clothing into new fibres is still far from commercially viable. “Our research indicates that the second hand clothing system is on the brink of collapse. Fashion brands need to urgently re-think the throwaway business model and produce clothing that’s durable, repairable and fit for re-use. As consumers, we also hold the power. Before buying our next bargain item, we can all ask ‘do I really need this?’,” said Brodde.

Since 2011, Greenpeace’s Detox campaign has gathered support from 78 companies including fashion brands, retailers and textiles suppliers  to achieve zero discharges of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing supply chain by 2020 and many are making progress towards this goal. However, if the trend for more and cheaper clothing continues, any gains that are made on eliminating hazardous chemicals will be outstripped by higher rates of production and consumption in the industry as a whole.
*This story first appeared on Greenpeace International 

Flotsam and Fashion: Recycler of ‘Ghost’ Fishing Nets makes Marine Litter Trendy

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The oceans are choked with discarded fishing nets, or ghost nets, that are estimated to kill 300,000 whales, dolphins and seals each year. It’s a grotesque and avoidable toll on nature, and one that Giulio Bonazzi, CEO of Aquafil, hopes to reduce using an unlikely ally – fashion.

The Italian firm is pioneering the use of “ghost” or discarded fishing nets to make a synthetic fabric marketed under the name Econyl that’s currently being used by several apparel brands, including Speedo and California surfer Kelly Slater’s Outerknown.

Last year, Aquafil regenerated more than 5,000 tons of discarded nets at its factory in Slovenia. With the exception of some fish farming nets, which are coated with copper oxide to prevent algae and cannot be used, the company receives the majority of its nets directly from fishermen, or through partnerships with two firms, Healthy Seas and Net-Works.

By breaking down the nets to a molecular level, the plastics are then recreated as yarn in a process the sustainability industry calls recommercialization. “If they know us, they contact us and we pay for the waste. They have to have a motivation to contact us. So they call us from all over. From California, from Australia. We take them from all over the world,” says Bonazzi, a former scuba diver.

The environmental problem of discarded fishing nets, or ghost nets, is well-documented. Some are accidentally lost during storms, or dumped deliberately. By some estimates, ghost netting and other discarded fishing gear makes up 10% of all marine litter. The cost to marine life is devastating.

The National Marine Fisheries Service reports an average of 11 entangled large whales per year from 2000 to 2012 along the US west coast. Between 2002 and 2010, 870 nets recovered from Washington state alone contained more than 32,000 marine animals.

Other initiatives include Fishing for Energy, a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) Marine Debris Program, Covanta and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Schnitzer Steel to collect old fishing gear and reuse it either in recycling or to produce energy.

Aquafil’s proposition is to turn ocean waste into higher-value products. “If you can reach people with higher income then they’re always ready to pay something more for a product that responds to their needs and to their desires. And everybody wants some kind of exclusive product, and they feel that wasting is no longer connected to luxury.”

But fashion is fickle. Currently the fashion for nostalgia, and for an era before the advent of mass luxury is more apparent than ever. Warnings of a slump have been issued recently by luxury goods companies including Hermès and Richemont and there are fears that the industry could be forced into a fundamental shift in values.

The big question for the luxury market, say analysts, is whether the values of fashion and luxury can begin to acquire values that align with sustainability in a meaningful way.

Of course, the cost of the material is also a factor. And it depends which cost is most important to you. Recommercialized nylon is up to 6% more expensive to produce than new nylon. But creating fibre from recycled nets and carpet waste produces 50% less CO2 than typical, petroleum-based fibre production.

As the luxury industry reports a gloomy outlook, many companies are looking to reconfigure their notions of luxury to meet new consumer ideals around the ideas of recycling, repurposing and reclaiming.

“The more the fashion industry hears about us, the more they call when they need nylon as raw material,” says Bonazzi. Slowly, he says, “we are becoming more conscious and more aware. Of course, we all want to be rich but we also want to live.”

Some of the spirit of “ethical fashion” was on view at the periphery of New York’s fashion week last month where men’s clothing designer Heron Preston staged an event in a department of sanitation salt shed to draw attention to ways New Yorkers can reduce landfill waste, in this instance, by “upcycling” department uniforms into designer clothes.

Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution and a leading campaigner for sustainable fashion, says any effort to reduce the environmental cost of clothes production and steer toward closed-loop technology in which 100% of fibres are recycled must be embraced.

“We have created an environmental crisis in the oceans of spectacular degree so any solution that helps us begin to redress the imbalance is a good solution,” she says.

But, she continues: “We’re coming off 25 years of product, product, product. And this is what people understand. It all needs to be seen as a part of a concerted effort to clean up to embrace technology to allow us to enjoy clothes again without necessarily feeling that it’s at the cost of the Earth.”

*This story first appeared on The Guardian

Learn more about the impact of fashion on our oceans 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.

How Do I Sew Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

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Upcycling is a creative design solution to an environmental crisis – it is also the single most effective way at slowing down fashion without resorting to boycotting brands.

Because we don’t need to stop buying clothes, we need to learn how to buy better, and by buying clothes made with pre-existing materials we would save an enormous amounts of water, slow down unnecessary virgin textile production and drastically reduce landfill mass with its associated emissions burden.

What upcycling does is encourage creativity, problem solving, a sense of humour, and the understanding of efficiency and common sense.

There is a kind of poetry in taking the unwanted and giving it another life – as a design process it has its own aesthetic signature, its own set of values, its unique method. It may not be for everyone, but those who love it can become passionately addicted.

It encourages time, the single most undervalued word in fashion’s modern history.

It also encourages patience, which, along with time, is part of an ancient fashion lexicon.

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It encourages a journey of discovery whereby sources of fashion waste are located, materials are ‘saved’ and reintroduced into the system via the intelligent use of creativity and manual abilities.

Let’s put it into context. Upcycling may be a new definition (first coined by Reiner Pilz in 1994: “Recycling,” he said, “I call it downcycling. They smash bricks, they smash everything. What we need is upcycling – where old products are given more value, not less.” ) but we have been upcycling for millennia in all forms of art and design, from mosaic to Wabi-Sabi, quilting to Boro fabric, modern art to interior design.

We just have to look at food to understand how steeped repurposing is in our culture. Almost every country will have a much loved national dish that derives from leftovers: Paella in Spain, stale bread for Bread and Butter Pudding, Minestrone, Broth… there are way too many to mention all.

And in fashion it’s second nature: in fact, it’s so trendy right now that designers are borrowing the look without actually implementing the technique. From Galliano at Margiela to Christopher Kane, catwalks are awash with the ‘looks upcycled’ aesthetic, its vibrant, patchy, colourful, often idiosyncratic juxtapositions look great online, a breath of fresh air to contrast black minimalism.

Back then when clothes didn’t cost the same as a sandwich, people made the effort to keep them, customising them to suit the changing trends. So when we went from hippy to glamrock to punk, kids didn’t go to New Look to buy their skinnies and ripped t-shirt. They learned how to sew (or asked their mum) and ripped away purposefully. Clothes had value and weren’t thrown away, providing a creative canvas for change. It was a challenge, it was disruptive, it was iconoclastic: grannies’ tartan skirts ending up ripped and safetypinned on the Sex Pistols; Victorian underwear, such as drawers and petticoats, becoming ruffles on a New Romantic shirt.

Unfortunately, in fashion, upcycling makes little sense in today’s culture, now that we have been taught by this gigantic industry that it’s easier to throw something away if it isn’t perfect, given that it has become so easy, quick and cheap to go out and buy something else, something new.

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Despite the fact that it is estimated that the industry is producing approximately 150 billion items of clothing annually, closed loop technology is nowhere near 100% effective. Although we can recycle single fibres such as wool or cotton, we are still far from being able to recycle clothes made by blended fibres (that’s the majority of the stuff we wear) not to mention clothing implements such as zips, buttons, labels and sewing threads, or accessories, like hair clips, shoes and handbags.

So, while we wait for technology to save us, why not upscale upcycling instead?

It’s the best bet we’ve got to still make wonderful clothes whilst slowing down the industry.

Upcycling should be taught as a design technique, and as a technical method for production.

Young fashion designers interested to know more should be shown zero waste pattern cutting; how to follow a waste-stream; how to look for second hand clothing at scale; how to approach manufacturers for factory remnants. They should be taught how to disassemble garments and transform them into something else; how to sort surplus, how to store it and how to design to include surplus.

Garment workers should be taught disassembling and reassembling and trained ‘waste engineers’ inside both brands and manufacturers sourcing and production departments should be aware of where the surplus is kept, whether it is stock fabric, defected fabrics, unsold clothes or defective runs; they should know which types of waste are reusable and how to offer it to their clients to reincorporate it in their collections. There should be upcycling lines in factories, ready to produce new stuff from stuff that is deemed unusable.

It has been done before, plenty of times, the knowledge is there. It has been done as a result of poverty and need (women scouring factory floor off-cuts during the wars); it’s been done by the industry to maximise factory resource efficiency and it’s been done more recently by design pioneers who see it as a creative way to combat mass production and mass consumption. Just like the materials we reuse, its nothing new. But it’s not been upscaled, yet.

As resources will become more scarce and expensive, as the issue of fashion and textile waste drowning the planet will become more obvious following a global call for brand transparency, what we are looking at is a viable alternative, one that would be creating new skills and new jobs, and move us towards an efficient industry where surplus is addressed long before it becomes waste.

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In a fashion moment where our prêt-à-porter has become much more like a prêt-à-jeter, we need to look back to move forward: we have the answer, now all we have to do is start asking the question.

Here you can find a video of Fashion Revolution’s upcycling workshops which took place in April during Fashion Revolution week, where you can find out more about upcycling, some amazing designers, and why it’s so important to become involved in looking for solutions for fashion.

 

Credits:
Photographer Montana Lowery
Styling, Hair and Make up: Novel Beings
Models: Sienna Somers and Nancy Morris
All outfits created by students at the Upcycling Workshops.

*This story first appeared on Huffington Post

 

8 Elegant Ensembles for the Eco Warrior

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Verve showcases a selection of thoughtful looks that are shaping the sensibilities of sustainable fashion today

 

Red and black tunic, from Sartorial…for working exclusively with pure vegetable dyes. Madder root was used to obtain the red colour, lime-resist kiryana for the splash of black, and indigo dye for the blue. The pure handloom silk was attained from weavers in Bengaluru, and the buttons from scrap indigo fabric.

Ikat black kurta, grey churidar, both by Madhu Jain…for promoting indigenous forms of textile weaving and design, and giving a boost to ikat in the Indian market. The entire Uzbek-inspired collection was created by merging Indian ikat with that from Uzbekistan, to create a new weave that incorporates the sensibilities of both regions.

Gypsy loafers, from Gush…for encouraging the slowly dying skill of footwear karigari. The heel of the shoes has been hand-carved by skilled artisans, who use lightweight waste wood and minimal to almost no machinery, to make sure they get the fit, shape and slope right. The tassels and embroidery are also done by hand. In spite of being a time-consuming process, the brand believes in manual handcrafting to ensure quality over quantity.

Yellow flared tunic, from Kalki Design Studio…for creating home-grown natural dyes, developed from plants or flowers grown in the studio’s backyard. The yellow colour was developed from myrobalan or kadukkai flower and the red from myrobalan, alum and madder. A botanist helps to find sources from which to obtain the desired colour.

Khadi layered dress (worn as jacket), from Crow…for creating a contemporary khadi-only collection that uses no dyes. The fabric was intentionally left unbleached so as to retain the rawness of the material, which is completely handcrafted. Use of the charkha reduces the consumption of electricity by machines. The leftover fabric is also used to make shopping bags or passed on to the artisans to make pillow covers.

Rabari throw (worn as skirt inside), from Aish…for choosing to work with handloom and handwoven fabrics for every collection, thereby supporting the crafts communities and weavers throughout the year.The label believes in creating collections that are classic and not limited to a particular season. This scarf is made from handloom Bengal cotton, with hand embroidery and mirror-work from artisans in Kutch.

Ikat clutch, from Sonica Kapur Design…for training nearly extinct artisan communities in design and production skills necessary for them to survive in the international marketplace. Ikat motifs are made by weavers in the villages of Pochampally in Andhra Pradesh where weaving is a generational skill; women prepare the yarn, men execute the weaving and the elders are involved in simpler tasks like yarn spinning on the charkha. This accessory combines traditional ikat motif with chrome-free leather that has been processed in wet white tanneries using chemical-free processes.

Beige anti-fit tunic, from Bias…for adopting slow fashion which concentrates on the quality and longevity of the garment. Made from handloom cotton khadi, sourced from Khadi Gram Udyog in New Delhi, the fabrics used to make this trend-free collection are 100 per cent biodegradable. The fabric can be spun again into fibres
at the end of the garment’s life.

Khadi and kala cotton jumpsuit, from 11.11 / eleven eleven…for creating links between farmers, weavers, vegetable dyeing and block printing traditions, while consolidating roots in the luxury space. Kala cotton is one of the purest and oldest forms of non-genetically modified cotton.

Beryl blue scarf, from No Nasties…for being a 100 per cent organic and fair-trade brand. The scarf has been made in a sustainable factory certified by SA8000, using completely organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and 100 per cent fair-trade cotton certified by Fairtrade India. In addition, factory offcuts from excess fabric were used to guarantee zero wastage.

Neck-piece made with natural materials like jute, shell and bone beads, by Jamini Ahluwalia.

Striped shirt, by Anita Dongre, for Grassroot…for collaborating with a network of trusted NGOs to provide a life of dignity and economic independence to artisans. The collection was made with 100 per cent cotton voile that was handwoven by women weavers belonging to SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association )Trade Facilitation Centre, with a view to provide a platform to showcase their craftsmanship.

Cotton silk double border sari, by Suchismita Dasgupta, for Nextiles…for providing a platform to any art and textile professional, who works with the vision of developing and promoting Indian textiles. A contemporary version of the Pachhapaar sari, this was especially handwoven by the weavers in Nadia, a district in West Bengal. The brand focuses on liaising with the weavers directly without involving middlemen.

Ikat jacket, from Sonica Kapur Design.

Foot accessory made from scrap fabrics woven together with a jute thread, by Paromita Banerjee.

Natural biodegradable linen pants, from Eka…for constantly working with handloom clusters, thereby helping families over generations, and for comfortably opting to not be in the mainstream market while offering a brand that supports an alternate fashion movement. The brand never uses fabrics that are off the rack. Instead, it has developed a strategy which works months in advance to deliver end results, choosing not to be threatened by the world of fast fashion.

Hand accessory made from scrap fabrics woven together with a jute thread, by Paromita Banerjee.

Merino wool and silk top, from Akaaro…for drawing attention to handlooms on a global scale. Akaaro is one of the first brands to weave their own fabric, a pioneering idea that quickly gained momentum in the industry. The top has been handwoven together with fabrics that are created in designer Gaurav Jai Gupta’s own weaving studio in Gurgaon.

Blue tunic (worn inside), off-white tunic with pleat detail, both by Vibhuti Behl, for Roha…for consciously creating a collection made from kala cotton, khadi sourced exclusively from Khamir, and naturally-dyed Ajrakh prints from Kutch. Since its inception, the label has been associated with Khamir, an organisation that works to strengthen and promote the rich artisanal traditions of the Kutch district.

Woollen bag, from Péro…for modernising the idea of upcycling in every collection. The bag is made from wool waste from the previous seasons, where the wool is cut into knit panels equivalent to the size of the bag, in order to avoid the accumulation of further scrap.

Maroon organic cotton dress, from Upasana…for creating the local organic brand Paruthi to support India’s organic farming community. Upasana has been working with the organic cotton farmers as part of the Kapas project. Paruthi in Tamil means ‘cotton’. It is the result of a sustainable business collaborative that is striving to protect and promote the fragile cotton communities of Tamil Nadu.

Wide-legged kalidar pant, by Paromita Banerjee…for emphasising the feel of ‘handmade’ and catering to global aesthetics with a local approach rooted in the handloom culture. Made from Malkha khadi with a kalidar detail of kalamkari block print, the weaving of this khadi skips the spinning mills with the yarn coming directly to the weaver right from the primary producers, the farmers. Kalamkari as a technique follows a natural process of printing which is beneficial to the village industry.

Black-and-white top, made with 100 per cent organic cotton; mirror-work jacket, made from 100 per cent handloom Khamir cotton and handloom Bengal silk lining, with manual mirror work done by a cluster of craftswomen in Gujarat. Both from Aish.

Location

Tucked away in the industrial neighbourhood of Byculla in Mumbai, the property, designed by Studio Mumbai Architects, was the ideal setting for the eco-conscious premise of this feature. Located in a former tobacco warehouse, a leafy compound connects seven units that make a case for urban living as it should be. Each unit is punctured by a central courtyard, allowing foliage, sunlight and natural ventilation to flow through. The underlying philosophy of working with nature rather than against it and repurposing available resources, with an emphasis on local materials and expertise harnessed in close collaboration with skilled craftsmen, support a nuanced approach to contemporary sustainable architecture.

Photographed by Anushka Menon. Styling by Shweta Navandar. Assisted by Anuradha Gandhi. Make-Up and Hair by Avni Rambhia. Model Courtesy: Gabriella Demetriades, Toabh Talents. Location Courtesy: 561/63, N. M. Joshi Marg, Mumbai

*This story first appeared on The Verve

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).