- Claire Kalikman
MENSWEAR JOINS REDRESS UPCYCLED FASHION AWARD FOR THE FIRST TIME
Design board by Marie Eve Aubry
NEW NAMES TO KNOW IN CIRCULAR MEN’S FASHION - MEET THE 5 FINALISTS
The Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition which turns 10 this year, is focused on emerging global fashion designers circularity. Organisers say the competition “gives talented and passionate emerging designers a unique platform to transform the global fashion industry, rewarding the best with career-changing prizes to maximise long-term impact.” To wit - this year’s menswear winner will land a covetable contract with Timberland.
Menswear has produced some of the most interesting upcycling designers of the moment including Londoners Bethany Williams and Priya Ahluwali and New Yorker Emily Adams Bode of Bode. So it makes sense for the award , previously focused on womenswear, to introduce menswear category.
The five finalists find inspiration in diverse sources, from the 1940s zoot suit to the Japanese Boro dyeing tradition.
Don’t forget to register to watch the finals on Facebook this Thursday September 12 - details here.
Gönül Yigit’s collection, entitled “Suitable,” has a personal inspiration: her grandfather. The Dutch designer says he is a great model for sustainable living because “he only has a few key pieces in his closet, which he wears regularly”. Her collection aims to provide those pieces for today’s man. The suits, shirts, and Argyle sweaters are meant to be mixed and matched, meaning the fellas don’t need wardrobe overload to enjoy a variety of outfits. Yigit’s repurposing of second-hand clothing leaves a trace of the garment’s past life, and design elements favour certain influence from the past - think pinstripes as well as those classic Argyles - but the silhouettes, and way she puts them together, are distinctly modern. She pieces together the textiles using techniques learned from her mother, including patchwork and needle-lace. The latter technique involves making hundreds of tiny stitches using a needle and thread to create the appearance of lace. For Yigit, sustainable fashion means really valuing the clothes we own. “I hope to create awareness among consumers so that they value clothing like my grandfather does, and they can build an emotional connection with their clothes and wear them for years to come.” Just like her grandfather. BEATRICE BOCCONI @beatbocconi
For her Redress Design Award collection, “Felt in the Streets,” Beatrice Bocconi opted to use materials that can be recycled again and again: felt and cotton. Although on first glance these may not seem like revolutionary materials, the Italian designer uses low-impact processes to change the surfa
ce texture and natural dyes to alter the colour. She also assembles her clothes in a way inspired by the Japanese Boro tradition. The world is derived from the Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired. “Boro” refers to the process of repairing and reworking fabrics through patchwork, stitching, and piecing together. The intent of the technique is to extend their use, and for Bocconi, it helps her create unique pieces.
19th c. Japanese robe made in the Boro tradition via V&A Museum
Sustainability is a critical component, she says. “My goal is to design workwear/streetwear made entirely with natural fibres, which are long-lasting and intended for people who work or do outside activities but who still want to be cool and unique in a conscious and handmade way.” Her work proves that sustainable fashion doesn’t mean sacrificing cool and beautiful clothes.
Jin was inspired by zoot suits, which were first won by jazz musicians in the 1930s, then taken up by Mexican-Americans before gaining broader popularity with African Americans in the 1940s. Inherently rebellious because of their oversize silhouettes, these suits maxed out fabric use in an era when materials were rationed during World War II. In 1943 the infamous Zoot Suit riots broke out in LA, where police and others beat up minority men in Los Angeles. To Jin, who is Korean, the suit speaks of an “energy and enthusiasm for freedom.”
The designer mixes this inspiration with modern sportswear elements, and fashions her garments out of second-hand jackets and tracksuits mixed and surplus industry fabric. She is enthusiastic about the potential these second hand materials offer. “There are no limits to expressing myself using clothing waste,” she says.
NGOC HA THU LE
“My collection shares the attitude of fashion archivists - who treasure each garment, appreciate the craftsmanship, view it as an artefact of its age, and who customise their clothing using handmade techniques,” says Ngoc Ha Thu Le. The Vietnamese designer is focused on sustainability at every step of the process from manufacturing to use.
In her collection “Slow Boy Archive,” she uses zero-waste cutting techniques, uses secondhand textiles, and creates androgynous staple pieces that wearers can wear every day or swap between friends. She hopes that more companies from her home country will follow her lead and focus on sustainability. In the past five years, the textile industry has continuously grown at an average rate of 17% annually. As Vietnam becomes a bigger manufacturer and exporter of clothing, “for the sake of both our citizens and the environment, it is crucial that [the country] doesn’t make the same mistakes that other countries have in the past - and that it proves that a sustainable apparel industry is possible.”
MARIE EVE AUBRY
For Marie Eve Aubry, tackling the climate crisis is personal. “I have mandated myself to address climate change in my work, to find new alternatives for a better future and to generate greater knowledge and tools to educate people.”
Her collection, titled “True Gen,” uses upcycling and reconstruction techniques to turn waste - including damaged textiles, end-of-rolls, swatches, samples, and secondhand garments - into modern menswear. She creates classic silhouettes with an upcycled twist that she intends for customers to hold on to for a long time. “I want the consumer to cherish the garment and recognise the value of what they own."
The Wardrobe Crisis will be covering the winner of the Redress Design Award, so stay tuned!