Creating a perfectly sustainable shirt - from design to manufacturing
Aside from the hustle and glamour of preparing for the grand final fashion show, while in Hong Kong the Redress Design Award finalists were immersed in design workshops to challenge their knowledge and further educate them on sustainable design processes.
This year, our designers were tasked to work in teams to create the most sustainable shirt possible for fashion brand The R Collective in the challenge, which took place across multiple days. After an intense brainstorming session, we brought them to visit SGS, one of the world’s leading testing and certification companies. Here they learned about physical and chemical testing of fabrics and had an exclusive tour of the lab where they experienced how fabric pilling, colourfastness, as well as fibre content are tested – reinforcing that the fabric/fibre choices during the design stage have lasting impacts during the consumer care stage and longevity of the final garment.
Indian finalist Seerat Virdi shared, “I’ve learned that even the smallest of details can have a huge impact on the end of life of a garment.” In fact, around 80% of a product’s environmental impact is locked in at design stage, meaning that designers are in powerful position to influence positive shifts in manufacturing.
After selecting their preferred waste fabric from the Redress warehouse based on their new fibre knowledge and creating a pattern from scratch, the designers continued their journey the following day at TAA, one of TAL Group’s factory just over the border in Guangdong, China, to hone their pattern into digital form with tailoring experts. Working at this, one of the world’s largest shirt manufacturing facilities, each team prepared their prototype shirt in the sample room collaborating with a line of workers, experiencing the difference from creating their solo collections in their own studios to manufacturing at scale.
To wrap up the challenge a few days later, designers were tasked with creating a pitch presentation to The R Collective which outlined their sustainable design process in their bid to win. Their pitch also required the inclusion of a communication tool to educate the target consumer about the sustainability of the product. The majority of teams selected technology, through a QR code integrated into the garment or on the hang tag which, when scanned, would lead the customer to more product and care information. To prepare for these pitches, each team worked with a group of seasoned TAL executives receiving their expert advice to ensure their shirt was the best it could be.
The R Collective was impressed with all the teams’ work, but in the end decided on a shirt/top designed by Sarah Jane Fergusson, Lynsey Gibson and CJ Martin that they thought most closely answered the workshop brief, and had the most potential in terms of marketability and scalability. This winning team received a Master Class session on Sustainable Design & Production from The R Collective and their winning design is now in the works to be included in a future R Collective collection.
French finalist Melissa Villevieille reflected on the challenge, “It was eye-opening to learn that most clothes can’t be recycled not just because of the fibres they are made of but also because of care labels and clothing tags. I will certainly take this into account from now on.“
UK finalist Lynsey Gibson also added, “This experience has confirmed in my heart that following the path of sustainable design is the only way I can continue in the fashion industry. It has given me the confidence to continue with my belief despite it not always being the easiest path.”