Hong Kong Fashion Week didn’t disappoint Mother Nature. Meet four designers who enrolled in a little healthy competition for a win-win situation.
While we enjoyed an eclectic mix of stunning presentations – including four up-and-coming talents – at Hong Kong Fashion Week’s CENTRESTAGE in September, we were also stoked by a new wave of eco-friendly brands that were exhibiting at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. After all, the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC) was proud to present its annual EcoChic Design Award Showcase, which is a sustainable design competition organised by environmental NGO, Redress, and aimed at reducing textile waste in the fashion industry. This year, four alumni designers were selected from a roster of over 100 Asian and European contenders, so we didn’t miss a chance at quizzing them about their design-driven and waste-reducing collections.
1. ALEX LEAU
Designer: Alex Law
What’s the story behind your brand name?
“The word ‘Leau’ sounds like ‘law’ in English, and means water in French. Metaphorically speaking, every ALEX LEAU piece starts from a glass of water as I’m inspired by its flexibility and diversity to constantly explore the limitless world of fashion design.”
Tell us about your Spring/Summer 2017 collection inspo and your motivation to go green.
“The inspiration came from the mood, soundtrack and plot of Hong Kong movie, 2046, which takes place in the future; hence, my contemporary-inspired collection. In terms of going green, it’s pretty simple – I’m a fashion lover and I don’t want my garments to pollute the environment.”
Where do you source for recycled textiles?
“I get all my fabrics from a hawker bazaar called Pang Chai in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong. Pang Chai is going to be demolished soon though, so I’m making the most of its end-of-roll textiles with my zero-waste and upcycling design techniques.”
2. ANGUS TSUI
Designer: Angus Tsui
What’s special about your latest collection?
“It’s called ‘BEEvolution’ and is inspired by bees and their declining population over the past decade. The collection is made from excess fabric stock sourced from Hong Kong companies and social enterprises while the unique prints were created using different glass pigments to represent the bee’s pheromones. Fashion has become one of the most polluting industries so we’ve been creating sustainable designs since 2012 in the most creative and ethical ways possible.”
What sets your label apart from other brands?
“We always strive to provide unique cutting and sculptural silhouettes along with original and artistic prints for those who believe in fashion sustainability and the core aesthetics of ANGUS TSUI.”
Who is your role model?
“Orsola de Castro is the most important influencer and mentor in my career. She introduced me to sustainable design and I learnt the skills and techniques of running an eco-fashion label during my mentorship in London last year.”
3. classics anew
Designer: Janko Lam
What is your brand identity?
“With classics anew, I’m trying to recreate a nostalgic atmosphere within the modern fashion world by turning Chinese vintage clothing into stylish items suitable for everyday wear.”
How did you end up designing a sustainable label?
“I designed the ‘Upcycled Denim Clothing’ line when I realised that ‘fast fashion’ is creating an environmental crisis; it’s inexpensive yet produces clothes in massive quantities with supply exceeding demand. On top of that, it makes consumers feel out of trend rather quickly, thus making them purchase more garments in a short period of time, which results in lots of textile waste.”
How much of recycled fibres are used in your garments?
“The ‘Upcycled Denim Clothing’ line comprises 100 per cent recycled fibres. However, our focus is not on selling ‘green’ but rather our collection whose core value is ‘tradition embracing modernity’.
4. WAN & WONG FASHION
Designers: Kelvin Wan & Joyce Wong
How would you describe your label’s design philosophy?
“It is based on minimalism and simplicity, with a focus on sharp lines, stark silhouettes and a balance in proportion and finishing of textiles, resulting in a unique harmony of design fundamentals.”
How did it all begin?
“Four years ago, while studying fashion design and textile in the Hong Kong Design Institute, we were introduced to the EcoChic Design Award; it gave us a sneak peek into the fashion industry. Realising that it thrives on change and seeing lots of leftover stocked fabrics, we adopted a mission to reduce waste. We started designing with sustainability in mind. Initially, we used cut-and-sew leftovers and patched them together to make tote bags and accessories but gradually moved on to designing clothes after noticing the impact it made. Today, WAN & WONG FASHION has already launched four collections.”
What’s your current goal for using recycled fibres?
“We want to build strong collections that constantly resonate with our brand vision. For example, 70 per cent of potential fabrics we use are sourced from factories in Mainland China and Hong Kong. By using sustainable production techniques like upcycling, zero-waste and reconstruction, we hope to eventually turn these fabrics into ‘profound’ fashion garments.”