Hong Kong Ecochic Design Awards reward sustainability - the future of fashion
Walter Ma, Bonnie Chen and Janet Ma were at Hong Kong Fashion Week to see Polish designer Patrycja Guzik win sixth edition of ‘the world’s biggest dedicated sustainable design competition’
The Ecochic Design Awards, the highlight of Hong Kong Fashion Week that wrapped up this week, was won by Polish designer Patrycja Guzik, whose collection featured hand-drawn fantastical prints and tufting in colours such as purple, blue and orange.
Guzik beat 10 other finalists, who all showed sustainable collections made using minimal textile waste and popular techniques such as upcycling and reconstruction.
The winner was announced in a room packed with Hong Kong fashion luminaries, including veteran designer Walter Ma and supermodels Bonnie Chen and Janet Ma. Judges for this year’s competition included blogger Susanna Lau and ethical fashion designer Orsola de Castro.
When the awards began in 2011 it was a small-scale event, open only to Hong Kong-based designers. This year the competition received applicants from over 40 countries across Asia and Europe, proving that sustainable fashion is no longer just a trend but a global concern.
“We have launched the world’s biggest dedicated sustainable design competition from scratch and are proving that emerging fashion designers are taking sustainability seriously. They know it’s the future and ethically they want to contribute something. We’ve unearthed a big trend that’s real,” says co- founder Christina Dean, who also founded environmental NGO Redress.
“The level this year is extraordinary, and every year is getting better because these designers have created a marriage between storytelling and design. Sustainable design is no longer about crunchy alpaca socks any more - we are talking modernity and innovation,” says de Castro.
Guzik said her collection, called Heaven is a place on Earth, was inspired about a feeling to look for a perfect place on earth. “For me it was about creating beautiful clothes from waste. I used a traditional tufting technique which added a modern touch while the print, which was created by my illustrator boyfriend, was transferred onto damaged polyester,” says Guzik.
Other prizes up for grabs included a mentorship with de Castro and an opportunity to design a sustainable outfit for Janet Ma. In addition, an Ecochic alumni prize awarded to local label Wan & Wong and Clementine Sadner gives them the opportunity to sell their collections at local retailer Kapok.
“We are really excited to showcase this collection. A few years ago our customers didn’t care about sustainable fashion but now they very sensitive to it,” said Kapok founder Arnault Castel.
In addition to the awards, the 10 finalists were invited to participate in a series of projects including a design challenge, two workshops and an industry seminar highlighting the importance of sustainability in the fashion world.
“What these designers have proven is that sustainability can be innovative and be adopted by the industry at large. The fact that they have been restricted has made them even more creative. And now that conglomerates like Prada and Kering are adopting sustainable practices it’s an issue we can no longer ignore,” says Lau.