We blogged earlier about the EcoChic Design Award which pits six semi-finalist aspiring designers against each other in a Project Runway-style challenge to create a mini-collection using sustainable fabrics and techniques. The competition came to an end on July 5 with a fantastic fashion show, as well as a kickin' after-party at Assaggio Trattoria Italiana where the winner, Wister Tang, celebrated his win along with the other participants and friends. We caught up with the talented designer, who will have the opportunity to design a sustainable collection with Esprit, on the eve of the show as supporters crowded to congratulate him. Check out the interview below, as well as photos from his six-piece collection, themed "Reflection". We love the sleek first gown pictured below, comfy and slinky all at once!
What made you decide to join a sustainable fashion design competition?
Sustainable fashion design has great impact of the future world. Since there are so many concerns about the future of the earth, many people feel confused about their own future and they are uncertain about what tomorrow will look like. Therefore, I think we should start pursuing something natural, simple and ordinary and we should always have self-reflection as we approach such uncertain and tough times.
What does sustainable design mean to you?
For me personally, sustainable design is to consider how to extend a garment's life span whilst not being restricted by the design itself, so that the product will never be outdated.
How did preparing for the competition affect your creativity and the way that you work?
Before entering this competition, I would focus on the creativity and the appearance of the garment and to a lesser extent the marketability. Sustainability was not on my radar.
Now, having gone through the competition, I think about the sustainability of the design and I try to minimize the textile waste produced.
What was the inspiration for your collection?
My inspiration was “Reflection". By this, I mean that fashion should not only be about beautiful appearance. We also need to think about the environmental and social impacts of the fashion industry. I think reflecting on these environmental and social aspects are beneficial since it helps us to strike a balance between environmental protection and trendiness.
How has working with sustainable fashion techniques inspired you in other areas of your life?
Through the competition, I’ve learned that what you are using and what you have used up already can affect your daily life. This is not just related to fashion – it can be related to many other aspects of your life including what we eat, how we travel and how we consume in general.
Taking this inspiration into my own life, I intend to apply the concepts of up-cycling and reconstruction into my daily life to recreate 'brand new' items for my friends and family using pre-used garments and what other people consider to be ‘waste’. In this way, I hope to inspire my immediate circle with appreciation of the beauty of creating new and beautiful products using waste.
What are your plans for the collection that you will design with Esprit?
I’m very excited about designing for Esprit and about using their innovatively recycled textiles that they have made by recycling their own factory fabric waste into their own recycled fabrics.
At the core of what I design, I want to understand their target customer of the brand so that I can really build on the marketability of this sustainable collection. I’m keen to create a simple silhouette made with their high quality recycled fabrics to ensure the long lifespan of the garment.
How did you celebrate your win?
Being crowned as The EcoChic Design Award Hong Kong 2012 Winner meant a huge amount to me. I did enter the competition last year also but didn’t make it through so this was my second cycle. Winning therefore really recognized my effort, perseverance and talent in sustainable fashion design. I was very happy to share my success with my friends and family.
Where do you see yourself, career-wise, in five years?
As a designer, I want to establish my own sustainable brand. I hope my brand can help to spread the concept of sustainability with the fashion community. As people appreciate my designs, I can promote these positive ideas even further. Long term, I would love to see my sustainable brand as a high fashion one with simple style and the use of high quality sustainable fabrics.