The EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition challenging emerging fashion designers to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste. The 2014/15 cycle is open to designers in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark.
Ecozine is a huge fan of the concept, and we are absolutely honored for the chance to sit down with Singaporean finalist Laurensia Salim, who bases her eco fashion concept on denim - you'll see why.
E: Sustainability is highly considered “impractical” in the fashion industry, especially for those starting out. What inspired you to incorporate this feature into your work?
L: As designers, we need to consider how to use sustainable design techniques without lessening our design philosophy and quality. This of course does demand more thought in the design process. But after the initial thinking process of how I can best integrate these techniques, sustainable design is not as impractical as it seems. There are many ways to be more sustainable in fashion. Before I took a design class at my University in sustainable design, I was pretty unaware about sustainable fashion in general. But, as I increased my knowledge on this subject, I had an a-ha moment. I thought to myself that if I can make my designs more ethical, why don’t I.
E: Who (in general) do you see wearing your designs? Who in particular?
L: I would like to see confident women who have their own distinctive fashion tastes and style wear my designs. The woman I have in mind dares to push the boundaries by her clothing and she has a liberating sense of freedom in her style. She is of course also conscious about fashion and the environment.
In particular I would like to see someone like Bjork or Kimbra wear my designs.
E: In terms of the eco aspect that you have adopted (upcycling and reconstruction), how do you come up with ideas and designs?
L: Before I start designing my collections first of all I choose my main fabric choices. The key fabric of my EcoChic Design Award collection is denim, which I sourced from second hand shops in Singapore. I also use shirting fabric and lining extra yardage which I sourced from a Singaporean workwear company as well as leftover fabric from my previous design projects.
Denim is an extremely durable and long-lasting material and nearly every single person I know has at least one pair of denim jeans. Therefore it is very common to see racks full of jeans in Singaporean second hand shops. My collection is entitled ‘The sea and its creatures’ and through my collection I want to reflect a beautiful and harmonious sea. The sea and its many varied creatures support a lot of our daily needs, but I don’t think we realize the full extent of how much we harm the sea. Just looking at the fashion world’s impact, textile waste and denim dyeing definitely harm the sea. Denim, which is my main material in this collection, is supposed to reflect my belief of the damage the denim making process causes the sea and also the fact that lots of times the lifecycle of denim is not used to its full potential. I want my collection to show that we need to protect our environment in general, not only the sea. We can do this by smart shopping and also taking good care of our existing garments so that we as fashion consumers can reduce textile waste in general.
E: What are your thoughts on the future of sustainability in the fashion industry?
L: I think that the fashion consumer in general has started to become more aware about sustainable issues. Consumers have started to be more curious about the design and manufacturing processes behind the clothes that they purchase. In my opinion, if the general public has greater exposure and thus increased knowledge about sustainable fashion, then sustainability has a positive future in the fashion industry.
E: Where do you see yourself (or where would you like to see yourself) in 10 years?
L: Of course I want to continue my career in the fashion industry as a designer. But sometimes it is difficult to imagine myself so far in the future so I think that for now I will work as hard as possible to chase my sustainable fashion dream and let’s see where that takes me.