The Redress Design Award is globally recognized - what is the aim that drives you to go on with it?
The Redress Design Award is the world’s largest educational sustainable fashion design competition for emerging fashion designers, which is accepting entries until 13 March 2018. Year on year, we cultivate and identify some of the world’s most innovative, creative and courageous designers who are forming a strong pipeline for change. It’s very easy to be highly driven when working on this project; we get to meet, collaborate with and be enthused and inspired by the ethical barometers and design skills that are clearly evident within this next generation. And of course, ever-fuelling our drive is our deep commitment to make fashion more sustainable and because it is estimated that 80% of the environmental impact of a product is laid down at the design stage, we know that our education is creating the future we need.
Everybody is talking about the link between technical innovations and environmental responsibility in order to achieve truly sustainable goals these days. Do you share the hopes projected on this vision?
I have great hopes for the future in general; you have to in this role otherwise it would be difficult to sustain some of the challenges that come with this area of work. Technological advancements are often seen, too simplistically I think, as the knight in shining armour that will somehow save us to make fashion more sustainable. Some of this is wishful thinking because we’re a long way from scaling up the innovations that may well be wildly exciting in the laboratory, but which are not yet scalable for the big, bad and real world. Instead of putting all our hopes solely on technology, I think the three crucial ingredients that we need to nurture and unite simultaneously are true artistic creativity, sustainability principles and technical innovation.
What’s your broader sustainable vision for the textile industry?
Naturally, all bets are on circular economy principles to make the entire fashion and textile industry more sustainable. If and when successful, this will allow resources, which some may currently call ‘waste’, to be re-used and utilized again and again, driving with it economic, environmental and social benefit along the way. So fighting to unlock viable circular solutions within the textile supply chain is certainly in my visions for the future.
But I think there’s a different elephant in the room – that of over-consumption, over-production and waste - that is increasingly being addressed that has the possibility to change the industry. Having been in this sector for over 10 years, I am now increasingly seeing influential leaders, from mainstream fashion editors, influencers to academics, who are now looking at the elephant and realizing ‘We’re simply buying, consuming and wasting too much’. If these ideas catch on and we see a more widespread re-assessment and re-evaluation of our culture’s association with consumption and joy, then we may see values around consumption change, namely people will consume more consciously. The textile industry will pay part of the price of this, with supply and demand changes that will, I believe, reward the best and ditch the rest.