It is that time of year again for the Redress Design Award. New design talent who have a strong direction and ethos towards designing and making fashion product for a more sustainable and ethical future, have gone through a cycle of applications, proposals and education, including practical workshops on sustainable design techniques such as zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction.
‘The Redress Design Award (formerly the EcoChic Design Award) is the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition. Organised by Redress, the competition works to educate emerging fashion designers around the world about sustainable design theories and techniques in order to drive growth towards a circular fashion system. By putting sustainable design talent in the global spotlight, the competition creates a unique platform for passionate and talented fashion game-changers to transform the global fashion industry and rewards the best with career-changing prizes to maximise long-term impact.’
The Redress Design Award is now into its 8th cycle, having been launched in 2011. We caught up with two knitwear designers who have made it through the process to the final 11 participants, Lynsey Gibson and Melissa Villevieille.
Having studied fashion knitwear design at London’s Central Saint Martins, Lynsey now works as a freelance knitwear designer. Lynsey talked to us about her design background, and reasons for applying for the Redress Design Award.
‘Through my work I want to elevate the idea of sustainable design and to re-imagine what sustainability can look like through the manipulation of waste. As a fashion designer, I developed an antagonistic relationship with the industry and its current modes of production. Together and interdisciplinary we can make decisions in ambiguity and understand that the path is non-linear. I am most looking forward to sharing the knowledge with other like-minded designers and to work collaboratively.’
For her RDA project collection, Lynsey has taken inspiration from conceptual artist Robert Montgomery who uses text to provoke political discourse. Having recently visited Japan, Lynsey told us that she was also greatly inspired by how well people in Japan preserve their clothing. The outcome is a desire to create a collection that blends textile innovation with the preservation of traditional handcrafts. Having previously worked with seamless knitwear manufacturer Santoni, Lynsey is driven by the zero-waste capabilities of seamless knitting technology.
‘I am so excited by seamless technology as it is basically like printing out a fully-formed garment. I think the more dialogue a knitwear designer can have with a knitwear technician, the more ambitious the design can be.’
Lynsey tells us about her design process..
‘Before making any drawings I usually start by sampling. I love to make small knitwear samples either by hand crocheting or on a domestic knitting machine based on things I have found inspiring, it could be a colour combination or a texture. These samples then get developed into something that can be produced on an industrial machine. I don’t make patterns, I usually do a lot of draping on the stand, take lots of photographs and alter things as I go. I let things develop organically rather than sticking to one idea.’
And with regards to the materials and processes behind her collection..
‘I am using leftover sample yarns to create the collection and working on three different knitwear machines, SMDJ, TOP2 FAST and Goal Sock machines to make seamless sleeves. Sourcing materials is both the hardest part of the process and equally the most exciting because you don’t know what you might find. It can be challenging to think of ways to utilize leftover sample yarns.’ For her fine knitted pieces, Lynsey uses a combination of Nylon and metallic yarn Galaxy and qualities from Kyototex.
‘The reason I want to study further is to know that what I am doing is authentic and want to work collaboratively with other designers.’
Knitwear and textiles designer Melissa has a degree in Fashion Design from Edinburgh College of Art and is currently setting up as a freelancer. Melissa’s love and drive to design knitwear was reinforced following a ‘valuable’ internship at Julien Macdonald.
‘I loved seeing the reaction of the clients as soon as they stepped into the knitted garment, how the knit takes on a new dimension and shapes to the body, rather than constraining the body to fit a predetermined shape.’
Melissa is using industry yarn waste, including yarn created from recycled plastic bottles for her RDA project. Melissa takes textile waste in the form of industry off-cuts or damaged textiles, shreds them into smaller parts and reconstructs them into new textiles, which are given value through meticulous craftsmanship.
‘The concept of my collection in strongly anchored in the idea that that a garment can be greater than the sum of its parts. For my design processes, I am fully fashioning both couture and ready-to-wear knitwear pieces. I am also knitting in my own beads, which I have made using shredded recycled waste.’
On her influences and desires for the future, Melissa told us..
‘Innovators in all design fields fuel my creative curiosity. I’m especially drawn to case studies in which streamline design brings a new lens to everyday objects. At the same time, I admire the timeless value that artisans bring to traditional craftsmanship. I try to offer some of both in my own design work. I would say my main influence is to give a new life to the flagrant textile and plastic waste in the world. There is so much raw material, simply thrown out and I know there are many solutions to giving them a second life, and a greater purpose. This huge problem allows me to constantly be thinking of new ways to find solutions, and drives me to always do better, and ask for better in the industry.’
‘I would [like to] create my own brand or help shape a brand alongside a like-minded team. Most importantly, each part of the design process would be thought through, with integrity, intelligence and an emphasis on textile and knitwear innovations.’
All finalists will now create their five-piece collections from their homes from which they will be shown at the RDA’s final fashion show at HKTDC’s CENTRESTAGE fashion week on 6th September 2018 where the winners of this years Redress Design Award will be announced to an audience of 1000 and via global live stream. More information on the process can be found on the Redress Design Award website.
We look forward to catching up with Lynsey and Melissa later in the process..