There’s a collective desire for real, transformative change permeating the local fashion industry, and with circular solutions — innovations and systems that design out or repurpose potential waste — considered the future of fashion and gaining traction, it’s an exciting time.
In recent years, we’ve seen local designers (many of whom benefit from the smaller scale and nimble operating common in the New Zealand market) repurposing textiles, incorporating recycling, and eliminating waste.
Now, a new award will acknowledge and encourage achievements in circularity. Mindful Fashion, the non-profit industry organisation that advocates to support and improve the fashion sector in Aotearoa, has announced the launch of the Mindful Fashion Circular Design Award, in partnership with the Gattung Foundation.
The ambitious, hopeful initiative aims to inspire and support designers to reimagine how they approach and use textiles, and acknowledges exceptional work, underscored by both industry knowledge and mātauranga Māori and holistic and regenerative indigenous practices.
Notably, the awards are “place-based”, with entrants tasked with creating circular solutions to local and regional textile waste. The design brief (which you can find in full detail here) asks entrants to design and create a wearable garment using textile waste — categorised as pre or post-consumer waste, including unwearable clothing, sourced from within Aotearoa — alongside a plan for the garment’s life cycle, exploring and sourcing from their region.
Entry is open to individuals or collectives (all entrants must be over the age of 16, and New Zealand citizens or permanent residents) and the entry fee is $40, or $25 for students.
Up to 10 finalists will be selected and invited to attend the award presentation event, each receiving prize packages valued at $2500, including invaluable mentorship and exposure. Additionally, there are three major awards: creative excellence, innovation with commercial potential, and emerging talent, with winners receiving prizes valued at $7500. The prize pool totals an impressive $40,000 (contributed by the Gattung Foundation, and the awards’ other sponsors and partners).
The awards will be judged by respected industry figures: business leader and philanthropist Theresa Gattung, founder and CEO of Untouched World Peri Drysdale, Viva creative and fashion director Dan Ahwa, stylist and Viva contributor Chloe Hill, textile artist Maungarongo Ron Te Kawa and Emily Miller Sharma, co-founder of Mindful Fashion and general manager of Ruby and Liam.
Mindful Fashion hopes the award programme will resource a cohort of design talent, while also inspiring wider change, shifting attitudes and, most importantly, sharing knowledge.
“The aim of our Circular Design Award is to inspire Kiwi creatives to reimagine how clothing is designed, made and circulated to keep these valuable resources in use,” says Jacinta FitzGerald, chief executive of Mindful Fashion. “Each year, millions of tonnes of clothing is produced, worn and thrown away, with more than 85 per cent not finding its way into recycling or circular systems.”
New Zealanders create our fair share of waste — 220,000 tonnes of textile waste every year in fact — but it doesn’t have to be like this. Textiles can be repurposed, recycled, and a circular economy offers a sustainable, waste-minimising alternative to sourcing virgin materials and the (well-documented) environmental and social issues that this system can cause.
“We are excited to be providing a platform for innovation away from current wasteful systems,” says FitzGerald, and the organisation hopes to create a thriving future for our local industry.
Viva is proud to be the media partner for the Mindful Fashion Circular Design Award, and we look forward to sharing more news about the initiative with our readers in the coming months.
Applications close July 21, with finalists selected November 24 and the awards presentation scheduled to take place in December.