Cape Town designers make sustainability sexy

Winners Werner Boschoff and Drew Wolf. Credit: Live Eco

On Thursday 13 August the winners of the Remake Challenge for both fashion and object categories were announced at BelloVista Studio, Woodstock. Organised by Nikki Stear from Live Eco, this is the fifth consecutive year of the sustainable design challenge, and it only seems to be growing bigger.

“This year the judges were really excited about the designs because the designers really grasped the concept of sustainability and the quality of work was of a high standard,” organiser Nikki Stear stated.

And the winners are:

The winner of five ‘Living Room’ Object finalists is Drew Wolf for his practical “Belted” chair. The runner-up is Kristina Nielson for her beautiful “Glass Garden” design.  Out of five ‘Urban Luxe’ Fashion finalists Werner Boschoff took the first prize with his “Urban Valkyrie” fashion line. Justine Pulford with her “Autumn Knit” comes close in second, and a special prize is handed to Hannah-Rose Smith for her “Urban Transformation” design.

Most of the finalists were from design schools. Cape Town University of Technology supplied most of the fashion finalists as second years need to enter the Remake Challenge as part of their curriculum.  The object design finalists were all from the Design Time School.

Meet the finalists:

The top ten share their journey and their inspiration for their responsible design:

Is there a future for sustainable design?

“It’s challenging to bring sustainability into designs,” says object winner Wolf. “Sustainability is expensive. It is often cheaper to source for new material instead of hunting around for scrapyards for seat belts.”

Wolf acknowledges that salvaging the materials from the squash court for his chair frame and car seat belts for the chair was laborious, expensive, and probably not too energy efficient with the necessary driving.

“But I think what a competition like the (Remake Challenge) highlights what can be done with sustainable design,” he reassures.

justine final
Justine Pulford received second prize for “Autumn Knits”. Credit: Soninke Combrinck

Justine Pulford is excited about her future in sustainable fashion. To her this is more than just a challenge, it is a way of life.

“I believe that everyone can make a small difference by changing their lifestyles,” she discloses.

Hannah-Rose Smith, who is already an established and practicing designer with her company Lila-Rose, is optimistic about the about the youth and their environmental- as well as social-awareness.

“The youth of this generation are more aware due to platforms like social media campaigns,” Smith shares. “It is actually a very exciting time to be designing.”

The biggest challenge to her design was availability of materials and the cost. Yet she is sure that despite the increased cost for her responsibly sourced products because they are local and sustainable. Smith says ‘going local’ creates jobs in your own country and have a knock on effect of reducing crime and improving the economy.

Hannah-Rose Smith received a special reward for the sustainability of her design, “Urban Transformation. Credit: Soninke Combrinck

Jean Baard, one of the five fashion finalists, shared her story as a contestant.

“Each designer gets 2 meters of hemp from Hemporium and cotton from Photoganics for free.”

The rest each designer needs to source from themselves by upcycling wardrobes or thrift stores. However, the challenge once again lies with the financial implications of these sustainable designs. This is also particularly challenging in a society that centers around fast fashion where you change your wardrobe with the seasons.

Earlier this year South Africa celebrated Fashion Revolution day on April 24 to commemorate the1 129 lives lost at the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. South Africa produced its very own short film to educate and inform its viewers about the social, economic and environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry, and share stories of entrepreneurs who are invested in local and sustainable fashion.

View the live Twitter feed from the event.

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