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British designer Maddie Williams wins Redress 2019

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Sep. 9, 2019


Edinburgh College of Art graduate Maddie Williams took home First Prize in the Redress Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition that aims to put textile waste in the global spotlight by challenging emerging designers to created collections using sustainable and circular design techniques.

Williams, who won the Graduate Fashion Week ‘Catwalk’ Award in 2017, and won an internship through the Dame Vivienne Westwood Ethical Award, applies up-cycling and reconstruction techniques to reclaimed textiles, yarns and secondhand clothing, weaving them into zero-waste pieces that she constructs into her garments.

For her Redress competition entry, Williams, who is currently a junior designer at Pentland Brands, drew on the loss of biodiversity, planetary health and humanity for her ‘The Mourners’ collection, and as winner she will have the opportunity to create an up-cycled retail collection for sustainable fashion brand Reverb, under the JNBY Group, one of mainland China’s largest fashion houses.

“Taking my catwalk competition collection into a commercial up-cycled collection will be a steep learning curve and I’ll be trying my best to keep sustainable, circular principles at the core of what I do!” expressed Maddie Williams in a statement following her win. “This is our time to tackle the environmental problems that we have inherited - we won’t get another chance!”

International judge Tillmann Lauterbach, creative director, Reverb of JNBY Group, added: “Reverb is committed to making sustainable fashion go mainstream. Working with Maddie, we want to give consumers more access to desirable sustainable fashion, particularly in Asia, where waste is a tremendous issue that needs to be addressed immediately.”

Redress Design Award 2019 names Maddie Williams as winner

Now in its 9th cycle, the Redress competition focuses on celebrating the work of sustainable designers, as well as educating fashion designers because it states that 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is laid down at the design stage, and with the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles heading to landfill or burned globally every second, the charity believes that education is at the heart of making the fashion industry more sustainable.

“Curbing waste and carbon is critical. Waste is an urgent concern, especially in Asia, which is home to one of the fastest-growing fashion consumer markets and where 50 percent of the world’s clothes are made. Redress is uniquely positioned to galvanise change and to inform the public about the dire need to make drastic changes in the fashion industry,” expressed Christina Dean, Redress founder and board chair.

This year’s ten finalists were from Hong Kong, India, Australia, Canada, UK, Israel, Spain and Germany, with each creating collections using sustainable and circular design techniques, up-cycling widely-available waste materials, from unwanted workers’ uniforms and saris to defective camping gear and bedsheets, and with a new educational focus on innovation in raw materials, the finalists also incorporated sustainable fabrics from Eastman NaiaTM into their Grand Final collections.

Other major prizes awarded at the Grand Final Show, included Spanish designer Carina Roca Portella being awarded the Redress Design Award 2019 Runner-up Prize for her ‘Caution Line’ collection that channeled the spirit of non-conformism and self-expression, while Israel’s Moriah Ardila won the People’s Choice Award for her ‘Home’ collection that featured upcycled damaged camping equipment including sleeping bags and tents into her designs.

Keith Chan was named the Hong Kong Best Prize Winner for his upcycled colourful collection that utilised end-of-roll textiles, fabric scraps and secondhand garments creating a layered, asymmetric collection embellished with typography using eco-friendly inks and embroidery.

The final award, the Alumni Prize with Vancouver Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong, was won by Germany’s Julia Tolita Pagenkopf, who was a semi-finalist in this cycle for her ‘Inside Outside’ collection inspired by the Japanese Wabi-Sabi concept - seeing beauty in imperfection.

The 10th cycle of The Redress Design Award competition opens in January 2020.

Images: courtesy of Redress Design Award 2019