In 2013, Christina Dean, designer and founder of Hong Kong-based charity Redress, took on a year-long challenge to only wear second-hand clothing in order to promote her “Redress it, don’t bin it” agenda, to minimise waste and keep clothes in use and out of landfills. Last week, she introduced Mumbai to another brainchild of hers — the EcoChic Design Award — “a sustainable fashion design competition challenging emerging fashion designers with less than three years of experience to create high-appeal clothes with minimal textile waste”, which was constituted in 2011.
At an event co-hosted with Tina Tahiliani Parikh, Executive Director, Ensemble, and supported by Lakme Fashion Week and
IMG-Reliance, Kolkata-based designer Paromita Banerjee made a presentation on her label’s eco-friendly practices. Dean, meanwhile, spoke about why the India push in the award’s fifth year of existence is vital. “India has incredible emerging design talent and a huge young population. It is a crucial time to inject sustainable design thinking firmly into emerging designers’ DNA and to show them the future opportunities of sustainable design,” she said.
Also adding impetus to the India angle is the significant amount of production and consumption that takes place here. “India is really opening up to fast fashion. Experience from other markets has shown that when you get fast fashion you get even more clothing waste,” she added.
Backing Dean in her venture is Tahiliani Parikh, a member of the advisory board of the EcoChic Design Award. “The mission to create an eco-friendly industry starts with making the customer and designers conscious. We can play a pivotal role in both,” Parikh says.
Drawing young designers into the fold is part of Dean’s plan of making “sustainable design, zero waste, up-cycling and reconstruction popular within the fashion world; and to make textile reuse an aspiration for designers and consumers”, she says.
Online applications for the EcoChic Design Award 2015/16 close on August 15, and 10 finalists from Asia and Europe will showcase their collections at the Hong Kong Fashion Week in January 2016. The winner will get the opportunity to design an up-cycled collection for luxury brand Shanghai Tang and the best Indian applicant will get to showcase at Lakme Fashion Week in August 2015.