Stitching Waste from Runway to Retail
Written by Christina Dean – Founder, Redress
Redress’ war on reducing textile waste in the fashion industry victoriously and stylishly raged on this month with our fight to drive the circular economy in apparel and reduce the negative impacts of fashion.
Our recent spectacle, the 6th annual EcoChic Design Award, celebrated that fashion – as one of the world’s most polluting industries – is changing. British designer, Kate Morris, won first prize in the competition, wowing judges and the 700-strong VIP audience, as she stole the runway with her ability to spin yarn waste back into fashion. Besides her winning collection, all other nine finalist collections, created using textile waste ranging from bridal wear off-cuts and military uniforms to abandoned umbrellas and damaged yarns, also sashayed down the runway and into the hearts of the onlookers.
But all ten finalists – you can meet them here – proved winners in their own right with their passion to change the fashion industry. We were lucky enough to watch their magic first hand as we tested their creativity in tackling real-life textile waste scenarios. But you can soon, too, as they will be the focus of our upcoming Frontline Fashion TV documentary. Working with our partners, we created three challenges to see if they had the mettle to mend fashion’s waste. First, the designers crafted ‘new’ prototype designs using Cathay Pacific’s retired uniforms; then they rescued discarded clothes salvaged from Hong Kong’s clothing bins by using simple clothing care techniques with Miele; and, finally, they got a taste of large-scale production by working on the production line at sustainable manufacturers, TAL Group, which manufactures 123,000 garments per day.
The experience of watching the ten talented designers identify solutions to reduce and reuse textile waste confirmed what I’ve always believed: Creativity – and a little courage – can help us fight our textile waste crisis.
Textile waste amounts to 92 billion tons annually
But with recent statistics suggesting that, globally, the fashion industry generates 92 billion tons of textile waste each year, there is much yet to do. We’ve witnessed shocking increases in clothing consumption and production – with annual global apparel production doubling between 2000-2014 to 100 billion apparel pieces. During that time, consumers changed their behaviour so much that they kept their clothes for half the time they did 15 years ago. These numbers are baffling enough as it is, but they are likely only to get worse if the global population rises as expected to 8.5 billion people by 2030. By then, overall apparel consumption is predicted to rise by 63 percent, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons in 2030.
BYT – Redress’ new fashion brand
So all stakeholders – from NGO, academia to private sector – need to work together to tackle these massive waste issues. That’s why Redress, with our 10-year legacy and keen supporters alongside us, are proud to have ‘given birth’ to our sister fashion brand, BYT (www.bytlife.com), the pioneering designer brand and social impact business that dares to dream that fashion can be a force for good. Based in Hong Kong, BYT up-cycles surplus luxury materials destined to be wasted and transforms them into beautiful, enduring designer pieces using sustainable manufacturers and talented emerging sustainable fashion designers. The brand hopes to inspire change and prove the case for sustainable fashion, with 10 percent of profits donated to Redress. BYT’s inaugural collection is available at Lane Crawford and an exclusive line will be available soon at Barney’s New York.
But with the dust settling on these celebrations, there’s not a moment to lose in the on-going battle to reduce waste and inspire new ways to produce and enjoy clothes.
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