25 July 2012
Wister Tsang takes to the runway after being awarded top prize at the EcoChic Design Award
With his unique kimono-style outfits and clean-line jumpsuit creations, budding Hong Kong fashion designer Wister Tsang wowed judges at this year’s EcoChic Design Award. The graduate of Bianchi College of Careers was this year’s winner of the sustainable fashion design competition, held 5 July, during the HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer. In its second year, the competition helps educate emerging fashion designers about sustainable design techniques.
Zero-waste, kimono-style outfit: part of the six-piece collection by Hong Kong designer Wister Tsang
Wister Tsang, along with five other finalists in this year’s competition came up with six-piece collections by incorporating such sustainable design techniques as reconstruction, zero waste and up-cycling.
As this year’s winner, Mr Tsang will design a sustainable collection for global fashion brand Esprit, to be sold in Hong Kong next year. A major partner of the programme, Esprit provided the fabric waste used by the six finalists during the competition.
“As a retailer, we have the responsibility to our consumers and to the environment,” said Esprit Project Manager Sustainability Margaret Kutt, who served as one of the judges. “We create so much waste in our supply chain that we needed to start looking at how to deal with it responsibly. Esprit, she added, has been buying back denim and jersey waste from its suppliers since last year to recycle into new apparel.
Stopping the Bleeding
“Reducing textile waste is Asia’s lowest hanging fruit,” said Ms Dean, who chaired the panel. “We all know making textiles is environmentally polluting, so it’s doubly destructive to then waste it.”
Major textile manufacturers, including Ace Style Group, Lever Style and TAL Apparel, formed the Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium (SFBC) in 2008, to share best business practices and come up with new ways to make the trade more environmentally conscious.
“We have to stop the bleeding,” said Anderson Lee, SFBC Vice Chairman, who said participating companies are now trying to source renewable or recyclable raw material. “If we leave the burden to consumers that will be too late, so we need to take ownership.”
In the Driver’s Seat
Panel members discuss the merits of cutting textile waste
Ms de Castro launched Estethica, a sustainable fashion trade fair at London Fashion Week, where she serves as curator. “Wherever there is a large textile industry, there is a unique opportunity to up-cycle. I’m seeing in Hong Kong a real awakening, in terms of creativity and improving the environment. Hong Kong fashion designers are uniquely positioned to alter China’s textile waste pattern,” Ms de Castro said.
While haute couture designers, such as Hong Kong’s Barney Cheng, are in the business of “making women’s dreams come true,” the environmental challenge is more prosaic: how to ensure, for example, that half the 120 metres of tulle needed for a wedding gown doesn’t go to waste.
Panelists on “Reducing Textile Waste through Sustainable Fashion” were (left to right): Hong Kong fashion designer Barney Cheng, SFBC Vice Chairman Anderson Lee, Redress founder Christina Dean, Esprit Project Manager Sustainability Margaret Kutt and Elle Hong Kong Publisher Do Do Yeung
Taking it to China
Made out of Esprit’s fabric waste, the up-cycled jumpsuit is from Wister Tsang’s winning collection
But there is still low awareness among Asian consumers, according to Do Do Yeung, Publisher of Elle Hong Kong. For consumers, she said, “It still boils down to quality, pricing and style.”
Esprit’s inaugural sustainable collection, designed by Janko Lam, last year’s EcoChic Competition winner, was launched in May at Hong Kong Esprit stores, where they are “selling better than our regular lines,” Ms Kutt said. “It’s really encouraging, and we’re going to do it again and make it bigger.”
Organisers plan to expand the competition to the Chinese mainland. “We want to grow the project slowly and eventually take it global,” she said. “But we first want to start here at the heart of the garment production.”