I’ve been so excited to press “publish” on today’s post! Not only is it the first instalment of my Inspiration Series, an on-going interview series with ethical entrepreneurs that I admire, I also get to start by speaking to the award-winning ethical fashion designer, Kate Morris.
Kate has just got back from winning this year’s EcoChic Design Award, the world’s largest sustainable fashion competition, which saw applications from over 45 countries. The award is led by Redress, a pioneering environmental NGO that has been battling the fashion industry’s systemic issues with pollution and draining natural resources for over 10 years.
Kate was the only British finalist in this year’s awards, and is currently studying fashion design at Nottingham Trent University. Her collection demonstrates the power of a circular economy, applying zero waste principles to create fresh, playful, street-style knitwear – I want to wear all of it! Most impressively, her designs took from textile waste that included end of line yarns and secondhand t-shirts.
Kate will now go on to create a new collection at BYT, a new Hong Kong affordable and ethical luxury brand created by Redress.
1. Congratulations on your win, Kate! How does it feel to win such a prestigious award?
This competition really has been the biggest adventure I have ever been on. Creating my collection has transformed my view of what up-cycling can achieve, the week of the grand finals hugely broadened my mindset and horizons alongside meeting so many fantastic people. Winning first prize has bought me confidence, exposure and the valuable opportunity to work and learn with influential platform brand ‘BYT’ that will enable me to make a change within the industry.
2. What inspired you to look into sustainable fashion and in particular zero-waste production?
My desire to design fashion coincided with the Rana Plaza disaster, this really woke me up to how critical the problems were in the fashion industry and I wanted to be a part of changing this. Watching the ‘True Cost’ documentary and attending a lecture by Orsola de Castro made me more aware of the scale of waste in the industry and I wanted to challenge myself to use the zero-waste credentials of knitwear production to its full potential.
3. What are your predictions for the future of ethical and sustainable fashion?
I predict that sustainable fashion design will become the normal practice and any brand who is not following this will not last very long. Consumers will keep demanding to know more about their clothing and tighter regulations will be put in place for more ethical manufacturing. I think both technology and traditional craft hold important roles in the future of sustainable fashion.
4. Are you looking forward to seeing how your collection will be translated into a line for BYT?
I’m so excited to have the opportunity to apply my design practices to working in the industry. To be able to take my collection principles further through this exciting platform and to learn about sustainable manufacturing on a larger scale is an incredible opportunity for me. I am in awe of what BYT has achieved so far and feel very lucky to be a part of continuing their mission.
5. Finally, what have you got planned next and how can we follow you online?
After returning to Hong Kong to work with BYT I hope to continue to help change attitudes within the fashion industry and I plan to launch my own knitwear brand called CROP, all made from sustainable plant fibres. You can follow me online at my website: www.wearecrop.com and Instagram: crop_uk