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From fashion cycle to recycle

By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)

10:37, July 02, 2012

Janko Lam's winning designs at the Ecochic Design Award in Hong Kong in 2011 earn her a project with Esprit to make a collection from the brand's own fabric waste. (China Daily)

Garbage collectors must wish there were more designers like Janko Lam. The Hainan province native has just created a fashion collection for Esprit, using materials that would have ended up in a landfill.

She made jeans, T-shirts, shorts, dresses, vests, a skirt and a jacket from the brand's own fabric waste and unused clothing.

Lam's denim pieces incorporate patches in different shades of blue, while her T-shirts are in grainy pinks, purples and grays - a result of blending multicolored leftover fabrics. The T-shirts were purposely not re-dyed, Esprit says, to keep production as eco-friendly as possible.

"Using discarded materials really entails more discipline and creativity," Lam says by phone from Hong Kong, where she went to design school and has lived for the past 16 years.

"You have to follow sustainable guidelines, as well as experiment with a lot of patterns."

Fortunately, she has had practice.

Mutt Museum, the fashion label she co-founded in 2010, after working for a Hong Kong TV station designing costumes, primarily uses salvaged materials. Its cheongsams are also made from recycled fabric waste and its fashion accessories from wood scraps.

The designer, who's in her late 20s, bagged the Esprit project by winning last year's inaugural Ecochic Design Award in Hong Kong. The contest, organized by the fashion NGO Redress, aims to inspire "Asia's emerging fashion designers to create mainstream fashion with minimal textile waste".

Hong Kong, where Redress is based, dumps an average 234 tons of textile waste into landfills every day, according to 2010 figures from the city's environmental protection department.

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