These Chinese Designers Are Turning Waste into Luxury Fashion

    The EcoChic Design Award 2017 judges named four semi-finalists from Greater China for their talent for creating luxurious garments from sustainable materials.
    Xie Meng Si, who studies in Guangzhou, gives new life to unwanted and damaged textiles in her designs. (Photo courtesy of Redress/EcoChic Design Award)
    Chelsea ToczauerAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    Four fashion designers from Greater China were named among the EcoChic Design Award 2017’s 24 semi-finalists, which were announced early this week. Xia Meng Si, Hung Wei-Yu, and Sung Yi Hsuan, all currently studying or working in mainland China, and Gao Qingzi from Hong Kong, were chosen for their abilities in applying sustainable practices to designing clothes.

    The award, which is hosted by Hong Kong based NGO Redress and in its seventh year, seeks out the best talent in sustainable fashion design from around the globe. While the program expanded this cycle to include applicants from the United States, its organizers have said they've also seen an increasing amount of interest and skill from cities across mainland China. Redress works with universities and eco-fashion focused events across the country to conduct educational programs, workshops, and talks for aspiring designers and industry players, with a focus on bringing sustainability and eco-friendly practices to the fashion eco-system.

    EcoChic Design Award finalists from past years, both from China and abroad, have gone on to form partnerships with established brands in China and have even moved on to start fashion labels overseas, all in efforts to reach a growing market of affluent Chinese consumers interested in applying sustainable concepts into their lifestyle and purchasing decisions. Helping to fuel these future collaborations are the competition judges this year, which include stalwarts in China's fashion design community like Vega Wang, designer of namesake brand Vega Zaishi Wang whose collections can be bought in China's high-profile shopping malls like Galeries Lafayette.

    Most of the award applicants apply concepts of zero-waste, upcycling, and reconstruction to their fashion designs. Semi-finalist Gao Qingzi from Hong Kong uses damaged textiles and secondhand garments for her collection, while Hung Wei-Yu, who studied fashion design in Taiwan, uses wedding dress samples and secondhand kimonos for his creations. Semi-finalist Sung Yi Hsuan employs up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to create her textured weave designs, which she says symbolize a spirit of awakening among wasteful practices.

    “Making the most of our possessions can be very satisfying but this does not fit with the current model of the fashion industry,” she said. “I have been inspired to experiment with all kinds of waste—finding renewed value in waste drives my work creatively forward.”

    Ten finalists will be selected on May 25 before they go on to present their collections in the fall.

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