China ? And no, you did not misread that… yes China, and the Chinese fashion industry moreover !
That very industry accused of many misdemeanours by western textile manufacturers: delocalisation, cheap labour, mass production with no quality guarantees and that industry better known for its appalling social and environmental impact: dangerous and harrowing working conditions and disastrous ecological consequences….
Could it really be the beginning of a commitment over there to a more responsible way of operating? It seems that a sense of culpability is hanging in the air… the stakes are certainly substantial and steps towards a change in mentality urgently need to be taken.
As Audrey Garric pointed out in her article “China suffocated by industrial textile pollution”, published in Le Monde last February and based on a Greenpeace paper published in December 2010, the whole concept of China and Ethical fashion seems somewhat of an oxymoron…
So you can understand why we needed to share with you what we learnt when we discovered Redress and its mission to help develop ethical fashion in Asia… and we had not really zoomed in on to that part of the planet yet!
Redress, is a bit like the ultimate Ethical Chinese Fashion show…
Formerly known as Green2greener, Redress is a Hong Kong charity whose objective is to push for a more positive attitude within the Asian fashion industry with an approach that respects humanity and the environment. How do they go about it ? By organising fashion shows, exhibitions, competitions and training courses. In a first instance, the idea being to create higher awareness at all levels of the manufacturing process, from the producers through to the consumers.
Designers, textile manufacturers, retailers, academics, NGO and government members… a nice little aggregate of committed people ready to take part in this adventure and help the fashion world to take a big step forward.
The idea behind the project: an English journalist and doctor who moved to Hong Kong
Founded in 2007 by Christina Dean (sorry ! Doctor Christina Dean, who used to be a dentist in a former life prior to becoming a journalist), Redress is headed by an accomplished and beautiful woman (see below this ‘dentist’s photo and no comment…) with an impressive record of achievements: Vogue UK cited her as one of the most inspiring people of 2009 and our own personal pet mag, Coco Eco Magazine, ranked her among the 10 most influential ‘green ‘ women on the planet, alongside Summer Rayne Oakes, so not too shabby for a CV!
If you want to know more about Christina, come look over here… An extract from this interview nicely summarises her approach:
« If you look in detail at the whole production process, you see that each item of clothing goes through so many different pairs of hands, the farmers, the textile producers, the clothing factory and each piece of cloth has been dyed, transported cut and sown so many times that from a environmental and social perspective, the impact of each piece of clothing is significant.
Not many consumers realise this when they buy their clothes. They might be aware of the issues of transporting food products and the advantages of buying organic food but consumers still do not really understand the impact that their choice of clothes has on the environment and humanity as a whole. It is in this context, that EcoChic finds it’s reason for being: we hope to build real awareness in people about what they are buying. »
EcoChic and the next EcoChic Awards … the web is involved !
EcoChic is the name given to the Redress fashion shows. Since 2008, there have already been several EcoChic events organised in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Jakarta and Geneva.
The fundamental aim is a dual one: to introduce new designers and established ‘green’ fashion labels (to showcase their environmental and ethical approach) and to invite 15 or so new designers asking them to create some signature pieces of clothing specially themed around the event and it’s green values. Designers such as Thakoon, Diane von Furstenberg and John Rocha have involved themselves with Redress and made some dedicated items of clothing for it.
This year people on the internet are invited to take part in the EcoChic Design Awards in Hong Kong by voting for their favourite designer.
The idea is to give a leg up to promising young designers on the scene and help to develop Hong Kong as an Asian hub of sustainable fashion.
The name of the game? 12 creators have been given the same textiles (originating from the factories in Shenzen and initially destined to finish up in the bin) with the same brief : use a minimum of 90% of the textiles, using the ‘zero waste ’ approach.
To discover the result of their endeavours click here ! The results of the votes are tonight!
One of our favourites was a dress by Janko, Lam Chun Kuk, inspired by the life cycle of trees, she put together a totally romantic dress. In the back of the dress, each spiral represents a transversal cut of a tree trunk with the age circles… clearly the picture speaks louder than words here !
The lucky winner gets a training course in London with Orsola de Castro, designer of the famous eco label ‘From Somewhere’ (she is also judging the competition) But that ain’t the end of it because the winner also gets the chance to design a limited edition collection for Esprit, made out of recycled textile.
To top it all; the lucky winner gets to go John Hardy’s headquarter in Bali to learn how this luxury jewelry brand integrates sustainable development into each strategic stage of development. Keep this name in mind, we’ll most probably be talking to you about it in the future!
We can but laud Redress and its’ praiseworthy initiatives! It was well worth taking a trip to that part of the globe ! We’ll surely go back soon, if only to check out the ‘greener’ sidewalks of our friends living under the rising sun…
Julie & Marie