Celebrating the Future of Sustainable Fashion in China

Goodlifer: Celebrating the Future of Sustainable Fashion in China

When we talk about sustainable fashion, rarely is China mentioned in a positive context. There is, however, a large movement among younger designers to move toward more conscious ways of creating wearables.

The EcoChic Design Award China was given out at the end of October, in a grand finale/runway show organized by fashion NGO Redress. Ten finalists competed in what was Mainland China’s inaugural mainstream sustainable fashion design competition, showcasing their textile waste-reducing designs to an audience of over 500 industry representatives, local fashion influencers and high profile personalities.

The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 was introduced by Redress in April this year and is China’s first dedicated sustainable fashion design competition focusing on textile waste reduction. Redress and their pioneering local fashion partners, with the support of global retail brand Esprit, are educating and enabling emerging Chinese fashion designers to create a more sustainable fashion industry for China, the world’s major garment and textile manufacturer.

“The fashion industry creates excessive amounts of waste that causes environmental pollution. With China manufacturing approximately 40 percent of the world’s textiles and 30 percent of the world’s apparel, these negative impacts are all too close to home,” said Dr. Christina Dean, Founder of Redress. “Designers are thought to influence an estimated 80 percent of the environmental impact of a product and so designers must be part of the solution. Chinese designers are in a powerful position to change the fashion industry from the inside.”

Actress Zhu Zhu, The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 Ambassador, attends the Grand Final.

Actress Zhu Zhu, The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 Ambassador, attends the Grand Final.

After six months of education in sustainable design and theory, the finalists each revealed six-piece sustainable collections, made using textile waste and one or more of the sustainable design techniques of zero-waste, upcycling and reconstruction.

Designers were judged by a panel of renowned experts, including Orsola de Castro, co-founder of From Somewhere and Estethica; fashion designer Dorian Ho; Anderson Lee, Vice Chairman of the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium; Helen Lee, Deputy Secretary General of Shanghai Fashion Designers’ Association; Margaret Kutt, Manager for Sustainable Projects at Esprit; fashion designer Vega Wang; and Xiao Xue, Editorial Director of ELLE China.

“I’m honored to be on The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 judging panel,” said fashion designer Dorian Ho. “Redress creates an exciting platform for the next generation of designers to explore creative solutions to our pressing environmental issues. The finalists have done an incredible job and their individual talent and sustainable design innovation is reflected in every piece. I’m excited to see this sustainable fashion landscape gradually emerge in China.”

Gong Jia Qi, The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 Winner.

A look by Gong Jia Qi, The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 Winner.

After two competitive judging rounds, Gong Jia Qi was announced The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 Winner. Her prize is to design a sustainable collection (made using recycled textiles) for Esprit, which will retail in China in 2013. “I hope my designs will inspire more Chinese designers and consumers to embrace sustainable fashion,” said Gong Jia Qi. “Designing Esprit’s next sustainable collection is a career-changing opportunity and I’m excited that I’ll be seeing my collection hit the streets of China.”

Margaret Kutt, Project Manager Sustainability at Esprit says that The EcoChic Design Award “allows Esprit to develop our sustainable fashion lines whilst also engaging with Asia’s emerging sustainable fashion designers.”

Yang Qi Ying, The EcoChic Most Promising Student Award China 2012 Winner.

Yang Qi Ying, The EcoChic Most Promising Student Award China 2012 Winner.

Alongside Gong Jia Qi, Yang Qi Ying was announced as The EcoChic Most Promising Student Award China 2012 Winner. Her prize is a visit to Hong Kong Fashion Week in 2013 to explore Hong Kong’s booming sustainable fashion scene.

Finally, Chen Qin Zi was voted The EcoChic People’s Award China 2012 Winner, an award voted by the attending media live on the runway. Chen Qin Zi will have the opportunity to visit ethical jewelry brand John Hardy’s sustainable production facilities in Bali, Indonesia. All ten finalists received a one-year membership for the online sustainable sourcing platform Source4Style.

Chen Qin Zi was voted — by the attending media live on the runway — The EcoChic People’s Award China 2012 Winner.

A runway look by Chen Qin Zi who was voted The EcoChic People’s Award China 2012 Winner.

“The fashion industry is loved for its creativity and expression but it is one of the world’s most polluting industries,” said Zhu Zhu, actress, former MTV China host and The EcoChic Design Award China 2012 Ambassador. “We need initiatives like The EcoChic Design Award to inject innovative ideas into China’s fashion industry so as to increase sustainable fashion shopping options for consumers,” she said.

Soon, perhaps ‘Made in China’ will not be considered a bad thing.

Stay tuned, as Redress will soon announce plans of The EcoChic Design Award 2013 regional competition, which will include selected Asian and European countries.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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