On Monday, Ford Motor Company and Redress — a sustainable fashion charity organization — announced the winners of The Redress Forum: Ford Design Challenge, in which 10 emerging designers from around the world transformed sustainable seat fabrics from Ford vehicles into couture garments as part of The EcoChic Design Award 2014/15 at Hong Kong Fashion Week.
“We would like to congratulate these budding designers for successfully rising to this challenging task of creating fashionable outfits out of a technical material like car seat fabric,” said Emily Lai, manager of Color and Materials Design at Ford Asia Pacific. “More than 80 percent of the environmental impact of a product is determined during the design phase. Designers have the power to affect environmental waste through their designs and the design process, and can minimize this total impact through the creative use of materials and other innovations. All the creations we have seen today are examples of this, and we applaud each participant for rising to the challenge.”
Designers Veronica Lee and Amandah Andersson, from Malaysia and Sweden, respectively, won the competition with their assymetric design inspired by the bamboo scaffolding at the Hong Kong Legislative Council.
“We scored the foam on the reverse side of the seat fabric, revealing color and texture reminiscent of the stone walls of the legislature,” said Andersson. Lee and Andersson said they handcrafted their design in three hours.
“The opportunity to work with recycled seat fabrics was an exciting experience. I never expected plastic bottles could be transformed into appealing materials and eventually into such an unexpected garment,” said Lee, a recent graduate in fashion design from the Raffles Design Institute in Singapore.
Giving new life to wasted or abandoned materials through upcycling is an idea popularized by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2013 book, The Upcycle. Since then, the concept has been creatively embraced by companies ranging from Starbucks and Carlsberg to Southwest Airlines and Mars.
“I believe upcycling and design innovation, both in cars and in fashion, are an important step towards a sustainable future for all of us,” said Andersson, who is at work developing her own brand in Stockholm.
Redress founder and CEO Christina Dean commented: “Waste-to-landfill is a big issue our planet faces and we at Redress work to raise awareness about how we can reduce this. The Redress Forum: Ford Design Challenge was a great demonstration of how sustainable design thinking is as relevant for fashion as it is for the automotive industry.”
No stranger to upcycling, Ford engineers have incorporated materials made from everything from denim and Coke’s PlantBottle plastic to soybeans and tomato skins into its vehicles in an effort to reduce consumer and industrial waste, decrease depletion of natural resources and lower energy consumption.