Fashion designers win spotlight for circular design solutions

16 September, 22
Redress, the environmental NGO promoting the reduction of fashion’s waste, announces the winners of their Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition supported by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as the lead sponsor.

Redress, the environmental NGO promoting the reduction of fashion’s waste, announces the winners of their Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition supported by Create Hong Kong (CreateHK) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as the lead sponsor. The First Prize winner will work on a sustainable design project for Timberland. Redress educates designers about sustainable and circular design to transform fashion’s polluting practices. This 12th competition cycle cast a global net and received applications from designers located in 47 countries and regions. The competition culminated in a Grand Final Fashion Presentation to an exclusive in-person VIP event and global livestream on 7 September in Hong Kong.

“This prize is about more than winning a competition,” said the First Prize winner, Federico Badini Confalonieri from Italy, who out-designed eight other finalist designers from Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, India, Spain, Chile and Brazil. “It will give me even more energy and determination to work towards building together a more sustainable fashion industry. I am humbled that the jury selected me among such skilled designers! We sustainable designers may have competed, but the reality is that collaboration creates greater fashion. To partner with one of the world’s most iconic brands, Timberland, is a huge opportunity for me, and I look forward to creating a positive and powerful project together!”

With a focus on the design stage, the competition has been inviting global emerging designers to create by using circular design techniques, including zero-waste, upcycling, and reconstruction. This cycle’s finalists’ looks also drew from various textile waste streams, including industry excess end-of-rolls, cut-and-sew waste, yarn waste, and consumers’ cast-off clothing, turning unwanted materials into eye-catching fashion from casual to couture.

The fashion industry, in its current form, is unsustainable, and reducing waste is critical. Since 2002, global clothing production has more than doubled, the average consumer buys 60% more, and each garment is kept for half as long1. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned, and just 1% of clothing is recycled back into clothing, with 73% of clothing going to landfill2. On fashion’s current trajectory, compared to 2017, textile waste is estimated to increase by 60% by 20303 and the fashion industry is projected to use 25% of the world’s carbon budget by 20504.

“The whole fashion industry and academia must take educating designers seriously. It’s thought that 80% of a product’s environmental impact is decided at the design stage5,” said Christina Dean, Founder of Redress. “From our base in Hong Kong, we’ve educated in several different languages thousands of designers globally, whom we consider more as activists than artists. As we look forward, we increasingly look to double up on efforts to access more Asian countries, which are home to the world’s greatest apparel production bases and consumption markets.”

Ms Jersey Yuen, Assistant Head of CreateHK, shared, “I am grateful for Redress’ dedication to creating a unique platform to promote sustainable design theories and techniques among up-and-coming fashion designers around the world through the sustainable fashion design competition.”


The 12-year work of the Redress Design Award to reduce fashion’s textile waste crisis by educating designers is further validated by the development of policies in different regions. The European Commission’s recent Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles outlines mandatory circularity standards for the entire lifecycle of products, from design to clothing consumption, and is anticipated to force changes in the industry.

Christophe Degoix, Chief Operating Officer of TAL Apparel Ltd., the world-leading manufacturer that produces around 120 thousand garments daily, is passionate about educating designers. He shared, “Fashion designers have enormous power as they instruct what we manufacturers produce. Governments are taking notice as well. The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles is clear that by 2030, all clothes placed on their market will meet design requirements on durability and recyclability, among other requirements. This will have a substantial impact on industry, its supply chains, and how clothes are made.”


Federico Badini Confalonieri wins the opportunity to work with the Timberland team to collaborate on a special sustainable design project. He will work closely with the Sustainability and Responsibility teams, across the supply chain from responsible design to marketing, at Timberland’s parent company, VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest global leaders in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear, and accessories. The collaboration will culminate in the launch of Timberland’s Lunar New Year 2024 collection.

“Redress consistently brings together emerging talents across the world to challenge our norm and sustainable design thinking,” said Sean Cady, Vice President of Global Sustainability and Responsibility at VF Corporation, who along with The VF Foundation, VF’s philanthropic arm to address economic, environmental, and social challenges, has supported the competition over several cycles as one of the judges. “As we look to embed circularity into the business models of our brands, we must disrupt our current processes, helping to drive creativity and fuel growth. With this goal in mind, we are excited that Federico will join us in bringing fresh innovation to support our upcoming sustainable design projects for our APAC market.”


Redress educates designers about circularity through various educational programmes, including the Redress Academy, the multi-language open-source online platform. In the leadup to the Grand Final, the finalists of this cycle also participated in a 10-day educational bootcamp online, which included two challenges that mimic real-life design team’s scenarios.

In the Digital Zero-waste design challenge, hosted by TAL Group and Browzwear, a technology company pioneering 3D solutions for fashion, designers were equipped with 3D digital design skills to turn TAL’s factory fabric waste into digital fashion pieces. Such skills could help dramatically reduce sampling wastage, improve efficiency, and are particularly in demand in the post-pandemic, remote-working world.

The icebreaker® ‘Move to Natural’ challenge, hosted by VF Corporation, tasked the finalists to design a solution for a 100% natural fibre product that aims to reuse textile waste from the icebreaker® supply chain, from sheep to shirt, supporting the brand’s ongoing exemplary efforts to eliminate unnecessary plastic from performance apparel.


Upon completion of each competition cycle, all the finalists and semi-finalists of that cycle will join their predecessors in the Redress Design Award Alumni Network, which offers ongoing career guidance, connections, and opportunities in sustainable fashion. Redress has 240 alumni designers in over 40 countries and regions who continue designing into sometimes complex local waste streams in their creative bids to commercialise and mainstream hyperlocal, mini circular fashion systems to benefit their own local communities.


Up next, the 2022 finalists’ and selected alumni brands’ collections will be displayed at Hong Kong’s ArtisTree in Taikoo Place with free admission from 9 to 16 September (11am–7pm daily). At the showcase, a key interactive and consumer-focused tech feature will allow guests to virtually try on the displayed outfits using augmented reality (AR) filters on Snapchat, further educating public consumers on advances in virtual fashion.

In addition, the works of six alumni brands using a wide range of sustainable design techniques, three of which are from Hong Kong, will be showcased at CENTRESTAGE Asia’s Fashion Spotlight in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 9 to 11 September. CENTRESTAGE is open to the trade and public for free admission with registration.

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