A Decade Of Dedication

By Dr. Christina Dean 17 August, 2017

Redress' founder Dr Christina Dean reflects on their victories in sustainable fashion over the last 10 years

10 years of Redress has seen the topic of fashion & sustainability become, thankfully, mainstream
92bn tons of textile waste is created annually & not reusing it within the circular economy makes no sense
With the EcoChic Design Award, upcycling brand BYT & other initiatives, Redress continues to drive circular action

I’m applauding as Redress hits our 10 year milestone this September. With a decade of dedicated work fighting to raise awareness of sustainable fashion, so as to cut waste out of fashion, this welcomes a moment of reflection on the battle that it has been.

“These ten years has seen the topic of fashion & sustainability become, thankfully, mainstream…

… with this, the shift towards the circular economy become more aligned with business strategy”

Throughout the last 10 years, the greatest victory – above and beyond our direct work victories – has been seeing the broader industry become focused on sustainability as a business imperative, as opposed to a being a niche or moral option. These ten years has seen the topic of fashion and sustainability become, thankfully, mainstream and with this, the shift towards the circular economy become more aligned with business strategy. And when this comes to textile waste, the fashion industry’s penny has finally dropped that waste is almost never actually waste. I rather like how Will.I.Am put it when he said, “Waste is not waste – until it is wasted”. Hear hear!
This victory of the circular economy is worth celebrating. Although the circular economy can sometimes be daunting for businesses to embrace, the concept of circular economies is simple. Think of how Mother Nature (aka the circular economy master) does it; when a tree falls over and decomposes, every part of that tree is put to good use feeding the forest floor and enriching all biodiversity – soil, slugs, fungi and fauna included.
Through Redress’ projects over the last 10 years, we have demonstrated that it is possible to apply this fallen tree concept to fashion in how we design, produce and use clothes better within the circular economy. Like the falling tree, we want all of fashion’s “waste” created throughout fashion’s complex supply chain to be reclaimed or re-used.
And today, we face vast consumption and production rates, and correspondingly the rapid depletion of natural resources. Imagine this; every year, the fashion industry consumes nearly 79 billion cubic meters of water. We’re also wallowing in clothing and textile waste –  which is thought to be almost 100% recyclable – with an estimated 92 billion tons of textile waste created annually from the industry. These “waste” textiles already used precious water, and required many other natural resources (and, often toxic, chemicals) to produce and so not putting them to good use within the circular economy makes no sense at all.

Every year, the fashion industry consumes nearly 79bn m3 of water…
…with an estimated 92bn tons of textile waste created annually from the industry

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That’s why we’ve developed projects that stimulate the circular economy; to make sense of waste.

 Redress’ EcoChic Design Award is now the largest sustainable fashion design competition in the world

Examples could include the EcoChic Design Award, now the largest sustainable fashion design competition in the world, which pushes circular thinking forward. This cycle, we pursued emerging sustainable designers in Asia, Europe and the USA. During our search and educational roadshow around the world, during which we personally faced and educated around 1,300 students over 38 lectures and workshops worldwide, we were overawed by the diverse range of fashion talents who are determined to prove they have what it takes to cut waste out of fashion.

Thankfully, the circular system comes naturally to the next generation of designers

Thankfully, the circular system comes naturally to the next generation of designers, which was reflected in the record-breaking number of applications from designers living in 46 countries. Our competitors, who are poster-pin-ups for the circular system, up-cycle anything that crosses their creative paths; from tatami mats, old kimonos, end-of-line yarns, old military uniforms, bridal wear scraps to old jute sacks. (Although please note, there is nothing “sack-like” about the outcomes!)


Other projects that spin people to think circular include our “Dress [with] Sense” consumer guide to a conscious closet, and our TV series, Frontline Fashion, which inspires the world to sit up and take notice of their clothes.

BYT is a daring new up-cycled brand borne from Redress’ 10 year legacy…

…it rescues luxury brands’ & manufacturers’ waste & converts this into beautiful products

And then there’s BYT, the daring new up-cycled brand that was born this year from Redress’ 10 year legacy. BYT rescues luxury brands’ and manufacturers’ waste and converts this into beautiful products, already gaining the attention of global retailers. With some profit going back to Redress, BYT is already hell-bent on stylishly proving that fashion can be a force for good.
And if you want to see what a decade of dedication looks like – you need to look no further than our upcoming 10 year exposé on 7 September 2017. On this milestone day, we will present the EcoChic Design Award 2017 Grand Final at Asia’s hottest fashion platform, CENTRESTAGE, followed by the launch of BYT, all of which will be livestreamed (5pm HKT), 7 September 2017 at www.facebook.com/EcoChicDesignAward to our global audiences and presented live to our VIP and media audiences.
But when the limelight is off this big milestone day, we need to keep the vision of the Mother Nature’s fallen tree. If Redress, and the industry, can continue to drive the circular economy, we can all see the dedication take root in a more sustainable economy for us all.

“If Redress, and the industry, can continue to drive the circular economy, we can all see the dedication take root in a more sustainable economy for us all.”

Join Redress’ 10 for 10 anniversary campaign to support their work.

Further Reading

  • The Status Of Fashion’s Redesign – Fashion, an industry not often associated with climate change & technological innovation has been redesigning itself to change just that. With growing global focus on the environment China Water Risk’s Dawn McGregor takes a look at the status of this redesign
  • Fashion’s New Cycle – With 12,000 garments entering landfills every hour, the USD3 trillion fashion industry is ripe for a disruptive overhaul. FINCH Designs’s co-founder Heather Kaye shares how this Chinese brand is doing this through their swimwear made from recycled PET
  • Circular Economy: From Theory To Action – As we move outside the ‘safe operating space of our planetary boundaries’, Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Nick Jeffries explores what is a circular economy & implications for water
  • 85 Voices: Insights From Chinese Textile Manufacturers – Hear from China’s textile manufacturers on their challenges and what help they need to transition to a clean and circular model. This is an opportunity for the global fashion industry. China Water Risk’s Dawn McGregor shares key takeaways from our new survey report
  • Toward Better Industrial Water Management – The HSBC Water Programme for Industrial Water Management is now complete. We sat down again with Hong Kong Productivity Council’s Dr Anthony Ma to get key takeaways from the programme and find out what textile factories in China can do to reduce their water exposure
  • On Being Water Conscious in Textiles – Zhao Lin from Solidaridad expands on the Better Mill Initiative (BMI) and provides solid business cases in water savings for the textile sector. See how water & energy savings can result in sustainable & financially viable gains with short payback periods
  • Out With the New – Consumers should reflect on their fashion choices this New Year in a bid to reduce the fashion and textile industry’s negative environmental impacts – Dr Dean shows us how a secondhand wardrobe can save the world
  • Circular Fashion Today – Closing the loop in the fashion is not new. But perhaps now that China,  the world’s largest manufacturer of garments, wants to go circular, it might become a reality. Get on top of the latest trends with leading circular fashion innovators
  • Fashion to Solve China’s Plastic Problem – With most PET made for fibres and not bottles, fashion is a big contributor to the plastic problem but it can also be part of the solution as Sondra Kim from Waste2Wear tells us. The company turns plastic waste into sustainable & high quality clothes
Dr. Christina Dean
Author: Dr. Christina Dean
Dr. Christina Dean is the founder and CEO of Redress, a Hong Kong based environmental NGO working to promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry by reducing textile waste, pollution, water and energy consumption. Redress achieves this by conducting educational sustainable fashion shows, exhibitions, seminars, competitions and research. Prior to establishing Redress in 2007, Christina was a journalist and prior to this a practicing dental surgeon. In 2010, Christina was listed by US online magazine Coco Eco as one of ‘2010’s Most Influential Women in Green’. In 2009 she was listed by UK Vogue as one of the UK’s ‘Top 30 Inspirational Women’.
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