Eco Fashion Week Australia Sets Upcycling Challenge

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Eco Fashion Week Australia Sets Upcycling Challenge

Eco Fashion Week Australia (EFWA) kicks off on November 23 with a week-long celebration of the best in Australian and international conscious fashion.

The brainchild of Zuhal Kuvan-Mills, founder of certified organic couture label The Green Embassy, EFWA 2017 will feature a huge designer line-up, spectacular runway shows, exhibitions, industry talks and hands-on workshops. 

One event on the EFWA program capturing the imaginations of local and international fashion designers is the EFWA Upcycling Challenge. The challenge is the first fashion themed event  by Marilyn R. Wilson, EFWA’s publicist and freelance writer who holds more than a decade of experience covering fashion events and runway shows.

So what’s involved in the upcycling challenge?

Participating designers will be required to create one runway look from used men’s dress shirts, but there’s a twist: the designer must include at least one detail from the original garment.

So far 21 talented designers representing 12 countries will participate in this sustainable fashion challenge. Here are the ones to watch out for:

Alex S. Yu

Alex S. Yu is a designer who isn’t ‘from’ one place per se, but spends equal amounts of time across three cities: Taipei, Vancouver and London. This exposure to such contrasting cultures can be seen in his eccentric attitude towards design, where he often experiments with different silhouettes, textures, colours and proportions to create avant-garde pieces.

Fashion Designer Alex S. Yu from Taipei, London and Vancouver to show in Eco Fashion Week Australia
Fashion Designer Alex S. Yu with his designs. Images supplied.

Francesca Phipps

If the London-based designer’s previous work is anything to go by, EFWA attendees will be in for a treat. Francesca Phipps’s talent for tailoring, drapery and experimenting with silhouettes and her penchant for alternative construction of materials and fabrics is a preview of what we can expect from her in the upcycling challenge.

London fashion designer Francesca Phipps will show at Eco Fashion Week Australia
London fashion designer Francesca Phipps.

Lara J. Ireland

Graduating in 2015 with an Honours in Fashion and Textile Design graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, Lara J. Ireland is an emerging designer with a focus on conceptual and sustainable fashion design. She cleverly implements sustainability concepts throughout her designs, transforming even the most derelict waste materials into exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces, a skill that will no doubt come in handy in the upcycling challenge.

Lara J Ireland Sydney-based designer to attend EFWA
Sydney-based fashion designer Lara J. Ireland.

Evan Clayton

Evan Clayton is a fashion designer that strives to combine artistic expression with fashion. Influenced by French history, pop culture and performance artists including Marina Abramovic, his skills in tailoring and drapery are evident in his romantic collections. His structured pieces are also noteworthy, conveying a feeling of old world aristocracy, a glimpse perhaps of what’s in store from this talented designer.

Evan Clayton will participate in Eco Fashion Week Australia
Vancouver-based designer Evan Clayton.

Amber Nifong

Drawn to the mystery of the occult, NYC-based fashion designer Amber Nifong describes her style as “Haute Macabre.” Her collections explore this fascination for the weird and the unusual with an emphasis on dark imagery but incorporates romantic elements like embellished necklines, lace and tulle, helping to create movement in her designs. How her aesthetics will influence her work in the upcycling challenge is anyone’s guess, but nevertheless, her creation will be something guests can look forward to.

Amber Nifong New York designer will be at Eco Fashion Week Australia
Amber Nifong New York designer will be at Eco Fashion Week Australia.

Jacqueline Zeyi Chen

Raised in Vancouver Canada and Guangzhou China, Jacqueline Zeyi Chen settled in New York City after graduating from the acclaimed BFA Parsons School of Design. The young designer launched Zeyi Studio and uses her collections to explore some of society’s toughest issues. Her designs are the medium in which she chooses to express herself, and explore life, and can be described as social commentary in the textile form. Some ‘inspirations’ for her designs include subjects as lung cancer, cosmetic surgery and body violence, over-prescription, and a rare allergy she herself experienced in her capsule collection.

Jacqueline Zeyi Chen of Zeyi Studio will compete in Eco Fashion Week Australia Upcycling Challenge
New York Fashion Designer Jacqueline Zeyi Chen of Zeyi Studio.

Charné Esterhuizen

Founder and director of MAAK Clothing, Canberra-based designer Charné Esterhuizen produces all MAAK collections in Australia. Choosing local production over mass-manufactured, the sustainable fashion designer weaves 3D- printing and traditional stitching to help create her range of garments and accessories. The result? A contemporary collection that blends hard edges and soft lines with a dose of minimalism thrown in the mix.

MAAK Canberra-based sustainable fashion label will be at Eco Fashion Week Australia
Charné Esterhuizen founder of eco fashion label MAAK.

Anita Heiberg

Having attended prestigious design schools including Central Saint Martins in London, Berlin-based Anita Heiberg is a designer and pattern cutter who runs her own fashion label and consults for others. She recently launched a unique interactive crowdsourced sustainable fashion design platform called 13 Dresses. We can expect this tech-focussed designer to think innovatively at the upcycling challenge.

Anita Heiberg of 13 Dresses will be taking part in EFWA Upcycling Challenge
Berlin-based fashion designer Anita Heiberg.

Eco Warrior Princess is a proud media partner of Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017. To learn more about the EFWA Upcycling Challenge or to check out the event program, visit

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