The 19th edition of the HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week for Spring/Summer is putting a spotlight on eco-fashion, a growing trend to use environmentally friendly fabrics and sustainable production techniques in the design and manufacture of fashion items. The trade fair will feature the grand final runway of EcoChic Design Award Hong Kong on Thursday, during which the six finalists will showcase their sustainable designs. Initiated last year by Redress, a Hong Kong-based non-profit group that advocates environmental sustainability in Asia's fashion industry, the competition challenges local designers to create mainstream fashion with minimal waste. 'Everyone is a fashion consumer, yet few people consider the underlying environmental impact embedded into our clothing, including textile waste, water pollution, chemical and energy use. The competition allows us to engage, educate and enable fashion designers about sustainable design issues over a period of time so that, ultimately, our work has more impact on protecting the environment,' says Christina Dean, founder and CEO of Redress. The award provides budding designers with sustainable design tools to take them through five months of design and theory that culminates in the grand final runway. The winners will design a collection for Esprit using recycled textiles and go on an educational fashion tour of London in partnership with the British Council. The competition is open to students and designers with up to five years' experience, living in Hong Kong. Dean says one of the benefits of collaborating with the trade show is the opportunity to integrate with the mainstream fashion industry. She believes that sustainability needs to be at the core of the industry and for all the players involved. 'This year is the first time that we have joined a fashion show organiser,' she says. 'Previously, we have traditionally held shows at our own events and galas, and so this marks a significant step into the mainstream industry.' It is important for participating designers to show their skills at the trade fair, she adds. 'This is partly because of their own personal experience and exposure, but also because then their sustainable fashion work is seen as viewed as being within the industry.' The judging panel includes Anderson Lee, business director of Hong Kong Non-Woven Fabric Industrial Company and vice-chairman of Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium; Do Do Yeung, publisher of ELLE Hong Kong; Margaret Kutt, Esprit's manager for sustainable projects; Orsola de Castro, founder of green labels 'From Somewhere' and co-founder of 'Estethica'; and fashion designer Barney Cheng. Cheng is excited about encouraging local designers to incorporate the principles of waste reduction into their designs. 'I'm pleased to support [them] so that in tomorrow's fashion industry, sustainability becomes the norm, not a niche. This award creates a competitive catalyst to achieve this.' Also in collaboration with Redress, the Hong Kong Fashion Week will present a seminar entitled 'Reducing Textile Waste through Sustainable Design' tomorrow. The session will be from 11.30am to 12.30pm at the seminar room in Hall 3C. Judges for the EcoChic Design Award will share their insights into eco-fashion with the audience.