Redress, the Hong Kong-headquartered, Asia-focused environmental NGO accelerating the change to a circular fashion industry, announced the winners of the Redress Design Award 2023. With Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as the Lead Sponsor, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition concluded its 13th cycle at Hong Kong’s fashion spotlight event, CENTRESTAGE*, on 7 September.
Winning First Prize, Nils Hauser from Germany gets the career-changing chance to work on a sustainable design collaboration out of VF Corporation’s Tokyo Design Collective with the Timberland® design team for the brand’s Spring 2025 apparel collection. The winner out-designed eight other emerging designer Finalists from Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, and the USA, following a gruelling nine-month educational competition that attracted applications from 46 countries and regions.
“Collaborating with a world-leading brand like Timberland® and bringing my sustainable fashion ideas into the mainstream and large-scale fashion market whilst working with Timberland®’s expert team is a designer’s dream,” said Nils Hauser. “Designers have solutions, and we know that by working together we can make change,” he said.
Change is much needed. Fashion is one of the world’s most polluting industries. Approximately 100 billion apparel items are sold per year, representing a 50% increase since 2006, with the majority of clothing being landfilled or burned within one year of production. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined at the design stage.
“Design decisions made at the drawing board can change the world,” said Redress Founder, Dr. Christina Dean. “Fashion needs to reinvent itself to become more circular. Floods and fires are continuing. Our Redress Design Award Finalists are fashion’s fire-fighters. Making sustainability and circularity an industry norm feels like a far off dream, but it’s worth fighting for if we want to reduce fashion’s negative environmental impacts.”
Congratulating on the success of another cycle of the Redress Design Award, Mr. Victor Tsang, Head of CreateHK, remarked that “The National 14th Five-Year Plan has stated its clear support towards Hong Kong developing into an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is pleased to support the Redress Design Award, which plays a pivotal role in bringing sustainable design elites from around the globe and providing a unique platform that serves to educate talented fashion game-changers to transform the global fashion industry.”
The Finalists represent a new generation of fashion designers who are designing waste out of fashion with the circular design techniques of zero-waste, upcycling, and reconstruction. They do so by exploring their local textile waste streams for their design materials, from manufacturing waste and consumer castoffs to the more imaginative reuse of turbans, tents, and bedsheets. Their bold designs and sourcing methods represent creative and innovative solutions to increase current circularity achievements, which presently see less than one percent of clothing being recycled back into clothing.
“Our collaboration with Redress gives us the unique opportunity to directly connect with emerging fashion designers who have a passion for sustainability, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to usher in a new era of sustainability in fashion,” said Jeannie Renne-Malone, Vice President of Global Sustainability at VF Corporation. “VF remains committed to fostering a lower carbon future through implementing sustainable design principles, such as circular design, that minimise the industry’s environmental impact.”
Nils Hauser now takes the previous winners’ baton from Redress Design Award 2022 winner, Federico Badini Confalonieri from Italy, 2021 winner Jessica Chang from Taiwan, and 2020 menswear winner Lê Ngọc Hà Thu from Vietnam, who each contributed towards sustainable capsules in collaboration with Timberland®.
Expert judges at the vanguard
Nine expert judges scrutinised this complex judging process across criteria ranging from circularity to commerciality, including Mr. Kévin Germanier, Creative Director, GERMANIER and Alumnus, Mr. Rod Henderson, President, TAL Apparel Ltd; Mr. Peter Hui, Honorary Secretary, Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium.
Judge Orsola de Castro, Author and Co-founder, Fashion Revolution said; “I’ve judged the Redress Design Award for 13 cycles and mentored as many winners. I’ve seen the transformation that Redress is driving in Asia’s fashion industry, and the ripple effects globally. It’s a remarkable impact and Hong Kong should be commended for this.”
Redress alumni fuel sustainable fashion development globally
All nine of the 2023 Finalists now join the Redress Design Award Alumni Network, which consists of over 300 previous Finalists and Semi-finalists from over 40 countries and regions to benefit from Redress’ ongoing support. With diverse circular design talents and solutions, these influential fashion game-changers continue to catalyse greater industry change, whether starting their own sustainable brands, educating other designers, or working for small to large fashion brands and manufacturers.
Over the last four years, Redress Alumni have worked with American Eagle Outfitters, Harvey Nichols Hong Kong, Kipling, and Timberland®; showed at fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, Shanghai, and Shenzhen; and dressed global celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Heidi Klum, Taylor Swift, and Sunmi. Through The R Collective, the social impact business inspired into life through Redress, Alumni have also collaborated with Lane Crawford, Net-a-Porter, kapok, Haustage, UBS, and Value Retail.
In celebration of the Alumni’s ongoing achievements, and supported by Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong, eight Redress Alumni brands were showcased at the Grand Final Fashion Show on 7 September and at CENTRESTAGE until 9 September 2023.
Education at the core
Education plays a vital role in driving a circular fashion system. As such, the Redress Design Award works with 150 fashion university partners to reach thousands of fashion students across the globe, and provides free circular fashion resources and teaching materials through the Redress Academy. This year’s selected Finalists also experienced a weeklong educational bootcamp of masterclasses and circular design challenges, from working with manufacturers and packaging solution providers to revitalising discarded consumer clothing.