Designing the Future: Redress Award 2020 Finalists Revealed

By Melissa Watt |

In its 10th year running, the finalists of the Redress Design Award 2020 have been revealed.

Formerly known as the EcoChic Design Award, the Redress Design Award is the largest sustainable fashion design competition in the world. It was created to foster a new generation of talent who are finding innovative ways to design waste out of the textile industry. It is hoped that providing a platform for these changemakers will transform the global fashion sector for good.

The Redress Design Award was developed by Redress, a leading NGO working to reduce textile waste in the fashion industry through educating emerging fashion designers. Christina Dean, Founder and Chair of Redress, explains that “around 80% of a product’s environmental impact is locked in at the design stage. This means that designers have power. But unless designers have the know-how, we’re not tapping into their power in a positive way.”

The 10 global finalists are competing for career-changing prizes in a menswear and womenswear category. The two respective winners will be revealed in Hong Kong this upcoming September.

Each finalist is an emerging designer or student with less than four years of experience. The finalists have all demonstrated a combination of zero-waste, upcycling and reconstruction design techniques in their entries. You can view the finalists’ designs here.

The Menswear Prize winner will earn themselves a mentorship at apparel and footwear comglomorate, VF Corporation, who owns the likes of Vans​, The North Face and Timberland​​.

The Womenswear Prize winner will join the R Collective, one of the world’s fastest growing upcycling fashion brands, as seen on Net-A-Porter. This winner will also have the opportunity to transform their competition collection into a limited edition capsule collection for retail in 2021.

The winners will join the ranks of competition Alumni, all of which have gone onto successful fashion careers. Among them are Britain’s Katie Jones, who has dressed Kylie Minogue and Dua Lipa, and Hong Kong’s Jesse Lee whose upcyled collection was retailed in select Levi’s stores this year.

The winners will be chosen by an impressive judging panel, including former winner and founder of Germanier, Kévin Germanier; Creative Director of the R Collective, Denise Ho; fashion writer and consultant, Susie Lau; and the CEO of TAL Group, Roger Lee.

Joining the judging panel is the Global Creative Director and Co-Founder of Fashion Revoltuion, Orsola de Castro. Orsola is not just looking for a sustainable designer, she’s looking for a pioneer. “What is fundamental is that as well as designing collections, the winners need to also design intelligent systems, to use their creativity and to define a new marketing system that works specifically for what they are doing rather than thinking there is a rule that fits us all,”  says Orsola.

Kevin Bailey, Vice President and Group Presedient of the VF Corportation, will also be judging. His hope for the Award is that it “equips emerging designers with the skills and knowledge needed to turn the fashion industry on its head, leading us towards a more sustainable future and providing the finalists with a stepping stone directly into the real world.”

Judge and founding publisher of Vogue Hong Kong, Desiree Au, “took such joy in reviewing all the entries because they are more than beautiful garments, there is a true mission behind each thread and stitch. An undisputed ‘fashion force’!”

In the age of disposable fashion, the Redress Award is needed more than ever. Between 80 billion to 100 billion items of clothing are produced each year, while the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second. The finalists have all created collections designed to prevent unwanted textiles from ending up in landfill, where they can take several hundred years to decompose.

The competition also comes at a critical time as the fashion industry is facing its largest economic crisis in decades. “COVID-19 has devastated the business, the balance sheets and is affecting creativity on the drawing board. ​Meanwhile, fashion’s already staggering waste rates will likely spike due to shocking retail performance and dislocated supply chains that have stranded inventory and materials globally. Only the toughest and most talented designers will survive this crisis, and those designers who can upcycle waste materials, like our 10 Redress Design Award Finalists, are already ahead of the pack as they enter a new fashion industry,” says Christina Dean.