Redress Design Award


Innovating for a better future

Photo credit: HKRITA

Photo credit: HKRITA

As the world’s environmental and ethical issues become more urgent, designers and activists, companies and communities are developing increasingly innovative ways of solving them. The best merge elements of technical invention with the spirit of collaboration and mutual support. Here are some of the exciting solutions shaking up the fashion industry right now.


Creating texture effects on denim is a labourious process, requiring thousands of chemicals and labour and water-intensive processes such as sanding and rubbing. Project F.L.X., a unique initiative by Levi’s, uses electric lasers to engrave texture details onto denim jeans instead; with the potential to make denim, one of fashion’s largest sectors, far more sustainable.


New start-up, Advanced E Textiles has created thread sized microelectronic RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags which, once sewn into a garment, contain information about the garment’s composition for more accurate and efficient disposal, driving the transition to a more circular system. Win win.


Textile blends are one of the greatest challenges to effectively recycling clothing. The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) is developing solutions to separate cotton and polyester in poly-cotton blends through a hydrothermal process, meaning that original yarns can be recaptured for use.


Cosmos Studio is a Hong Kong based startup challenging conventional, polluting dyeing methods to produce minimalistic and contemporary clothing. Their proprietary GiDelave™ technology uses 95% less water to dye and creates no wastewater, as they apply colour directly to the yarn through 360 degrees printing. This eliminates the need for dye baths, as well as reducing energy and chemical use.


Three hundred thousand tonnes of fashion waste goes into landfill in the UK each year.1 To cut waste, in an industry first, British department store John Lewis is trialling a programme, in partnership with Stuffstr, to buy back its clothes. Via an app, customers will be able arrange a pick up from their home, with cash value given to any unwanted clothing bought from the retailer over the past five years.


Most clothing companies use mass production which inevitably creates waste. USA-based Unspun Tech builds custom jeans for consumers on demand, using 3D scanning. This means no inventory, no down-cycling - and a perfect fit. The company’s long term mission? To contribute to the reduction of global carbon emissions by at least 1% through automated, localised and intentional manufacturing.


One of the key buzzwords in sustainable fashion is ‘repair’ with initiatives growing in the mainstream. In Hamburg, H&M launched its Take Care project, with workshops and facilities for sewing clothes and applying patches. Patagonia’s Worn Wear Programme encourages shoppers to trade in old Patagonia items which are then up-cycled. Every pair of Nudie Jeans comes with a promise of free repairs.


Ideas of common ownership, in which goods are centrally maintained but individually borrowed when required, is starting to gain currency within the sustainable fashion movement. Offering a gorgeous mix of luxury and independent labels for both special occasion and every day, YCloset, MSParis, LeTote, Rent the Runway and Yechoo are leading the way in rental fashion.

This article originally appeared in the Redress Design Award 2018 Magazine.

Hannah Lane