The EcoChic Design Award is the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition, challenging emerging designers to create high-appeal clothing with minimal textile waste. HausMag speaks to the 2015/16 winner of the award, Krakow based Patrycja Guzik, to find out more about her background and inspirations.

Patrycja Guzik EcoChic Finale | Image Courtesy of Redress

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Patrcyja and her Collection | Image Courtesy of Redress

Each EcoChic competition takes designers on a journey of education and design, lasting several months. Firstly, the designers are educated about the fashion industry’s negative environmental impacts and how they can be combatted. Sustainable fashion design techniques such as; zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction are taught. Secondly, designers are provided with tools in the form of lectures, videos, articles and recommended links, in order to develop their understanding of sustainable fashion design.

EcoChic Design Award 2015 16 Finalists

EcoChic Design Award 2015 16 Finalists | Image Courtesy of Redress

The concept for the 2015/2016 winning designer’s collection took the name ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’. Based on the idea that there is an everlasting pursuit of perfection in life, but when the feeling of emptiness and stagnation sets in, no one can find harmony.

Texture, colour and shape are important elements of Patrcyja Guzik’s collection, the forms of which are enhanced by patterns and prints. The collection uses a colour palette consisting of white, blue, violet and cobalt; inspired by the title’s collection, ‘heaven’. The designer collaborated with Polish artist Mateusz Kolek, who designed the print based on the proposed colour palette and mood board.

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Guzik’s Final Design | Image Courtesy of Redress

“Kolek developed the print after the many discussions we had about the theme, it is a labyrinth of symbols that takes the audience through my story. This printing technique also enabled me to bring new life to discarded textiles.”

Patrycja Guzik, 2016.

EcoChic Design Award 2015 16 Finalists visit secondhand clothing warehouse with Christina Dean and Kevin Germanier

Clothing warehouse visit with Christina Dean and Kevin Germanier | Image Courtesy of Redress

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Factory Trip | Image Courtesy of Redress

One particularly poignant moment for Patrycja during the competition, was a visit to a factory in Dongguan, China, to observe the typical process of clothes production. The designer was shocked to realised that every new, decorative aspect of design involves five more processes, more people, and the use of even more water and electricity.

“Every production process involved in each garment is in my hands during the time of design, it is my responsibility as a fashion designer.”

Patrycja Guzik, 2016.

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The Process | Image Courtesy of Redress

Commenting on the future of eco-design, the designer muses that, while it is difficult to ignore the constant demand from consumers who always want more for a cheaper price; fashion designers need to stop for a moment to really consider why sustainable fashion is important for us today. The Fashion industry is so fast paced, and designers are constantly seeking new things made from new materials.

“It’s important to remember that designers can make beautiful clothes using waste that are equally, if not more, original and creative.”

Patrycja Guzik, 2016.

The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Finalist Collection_Designed by Patrycja Guzik(4)

Guzik’s Final Design | Image Courtesy of Redress

“It’s not about wanting new things all the time. Using waste can sometimes be challenging, but no one said life is easy, easy can be boring. We need to recognise that less is more: we need to slow down our consumption, change our thinking, return to our roots and start thinking about our future.” Guzik comments.

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The Designer and her Collection | Image Courtesy of Redress

Patrycja takes inspiration for her designs from a myriad of sources. Travelling and visiting new places is one way in which the designer finds inspiration for her work, but good stories piques her curiosity the most. “I always ask questions and try to find the answer” says the designer.

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In the Process | Image Courtesy of Redress

Philosophy also deeply influences Guzik, who has studied the topic in depth. Yohji Yamamoto is the designer’s fashion-philosophy master. “He’s always staying true to his roots and he speaks beautifully about fashion. I love his way of thinking about clothes and beauty, about how we should listen to textile. I remember this one quote that first made me more aware about clothes, Yohji said that: “A pair of brilliantly cut cotton trousers can be more beautiful than a gorgeous silk gown.”

One of the designers favourite quotes from her study of philosophy is from artist Louise Bourgeois who said:

“The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair.”

With special thanks to the EcoChic Design Award for the images and to Patrycja Guzik for her insightful words and artistic inspirations.

Frontline Fashion, the documentary following the EcoChic Design Award finalists, is now available on iTunes! See the trailer here: