Ecouterre is the official media sponsor of the 2014 EcoChic Design Award.

It’s not everyday that the world’s biggest clothing factory, China, steps into the sustainable fashion scene. And what is one step for China is a giant leap for fashion. This month marks the opening of the fifth cycle of the EcoChic Design Award, sustainable fashion design competition, with whom Ecouterre has enjoyed a long media partnership. This cycle has gone into overdrive with the new prize partnership to create an upcycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang, and new creative brief to design for “modern China chic,” two small steps that reflect a new pace for China.

Textile waste continues to be an urgent environmental problem around the world. But for China, which is home to the world’s clothing and textile factories, textile waste is an increasingly major issue, with 20 million tonnes of waste thought to be created every year. Now China is taking note and turning waste into opportunity. From our base in Hong Kong, we are witnessing a polluted China activate her creativity, stretch her supply chain and flex her power as China unleashes a positive signal about sustainable fashion innovation.

The competition challenges emerging designers with less than three years’ experience, living in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, UK, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark, to cut waste out of fashion with their minimal textile waste applications before the competition’s deadline on August 15.

Competitors must get into the heart and history of China’s fashion heritage and ‘re-orient’ their design palettes to reflect “modern China chic.” Their designs must appeal to the modern cosmopolitan Chinese woman, who is as comfortable in a silk qipao as she is a jersey jumpsuit. The winner, with the cut about the rest, will design his or her own up-cycled textile collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang.

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Raphae?l Le Masne de Chermont, executive chairman of Shanghai Tang told us, “Shanghai Tang is proud of our China roots and our leading position as the curator of modern China. This collaboration with Redress demonstrates China’s evolution into now providing luxury and sustainable designs that are relevant to the world’s high-fashion tastes. We hope this will change perceptions about Chinese brands and inspire more sustainable practices.”

As the organizers, we’ve not only changed gears, we’ve also changed lanes since launching this competition four years ago. Ford Motor Company has joined the sponsor mix, alongside Major Sponsor Create Hong Kong, to drive this competition forwards. Upping the glam quotient is China’s supermodel, Bonnie Chen, who is the competition’s ambassador.

The steps are now being taken to set this new stage for China. Time will tell how big the leap for fashion is.

Apply before August 15 at

+ EcoChic Design Award

+ Redress