Australian designer Tess Whitfort has won the Redress Design Award showing her sustainable collections on the runway in Hong Kong. Her collection is inspired by punk and counterculture. She takes elements of grungy, rebellious style and mixes them with a bit of elegance and refinement. She has a holistic approach. She examines every element of her collection through the sustainability lens. She uses deadstock linen, eco-friendly screen print inks, and upcycled metal hardware. But she is known for highly complex zero waste patterns.
She believes aesthetics matter. If a garment is not beautiful, desirable, cool, covetable, there’s no point. But she also has a strong focus on sustainability. Traditionally, the designer’s role has been to create a beautiful garment or collection, perhaps taking it one step further to imagine a customer wearing it. It is not yet the norm for designers to consider what happens to a garment after its first owner tires of it.
Yet up to 80 per cent of a product’s environmental impact is decided at the design stage. Designers have enormous power to look beyond aesthetics in order to green fashion. That’s vital in the context of the industry’s current waste crisis. Out of the 53 million tons of material used for clothing production every year, 87 per cent is landfilled or incinerated after its final use.