At the third annual Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards, held at the House Union Block in Cape Town city centre on Thursday, 18 November, 8 brands and designers were awarded for their efforts in moving towards slow, sustainable fashion as well as uplifting and bettering our community and our planet.
On the evening, founder and editor of Twyg, Jackie May said, “We are here to celebrate and support our creative economy, the designers creating hope and making positive change. But it’s not only our designers – it’s all of us in this room, everyone who was nominated and everyone who is invested in a better future.”
Each designer was assessed according to criteria in five judging categories: resources and materials; making and manufacturing; social and cultural; product and design; and, packaging and distribution. “The jury looked for consistency in a designer or brand that really follows the ethos and really believes in what they do,” says Cyril Naicker one of this year’s judges and the co-ordinator of Fashion Revolution South Africa.
There was a 20% increase in nominations from last year. From the 109 entries, 28 finalists were chosen, nine category winners were awarded prizes, and one Changemaker was selected.
Country Road’s Elouise Brink presents the Changemaker Award to Mbali Mthethwa of The Herd
The Changemaker Award, presented by Country Road, was awarded to The Herd, a storytelling and accessories studio, for their circular practices as well as their commitment to society and the environment. “We feel immense gratitude for winning such a game-changing award. This win gives us the encouragement that the work we are doing is not in vain”, says Mbali Mthethwa founder of The Herd.
As winner of the Nicholas Coutts category, The Herd, which celebrates and pays homage to the beading culture of Nguni women, was eligible along with eight other category winners for the overall prize. The final decision for the Changemker Award was made in consultation with Maria Rinaldi-Cant, Head of Design for Womenswear and Childrenswear Country Road. The Herd receives R100 000 cash from Country Road, R10 000 from the Coutts family and a place on the Plain Tiger Sustainable Fashion Accelerator programme.
Mbali recognises that many crafters and artisans in South Africa come from marginalised communities. The craft sector, she notes, is often exploited. “We believe that the importance of sustainability is to find a solution to addressing poverty. Once we find a solution to help eradicate poverty we are one step closer towards a sustainable future. We truly believe that the solution is through design and craft.” says Mbali who won both the Nicholas Coutts Award and the Changemaker Award.
The 2021 winners and finalists are:
In recognition of crafting sustainable accessories, this award is given to the brand or designer who implements ethical labour practices, limits the use and waste of toxic chemicals as well as utilising sustainable materials.
Judge and founder of The Beach Co-op Aaniyah Omardien with Ashley Heather of AuTerra
Hand-crafted and eco-friendly, AuTerra honours a holistic craftsmanship of jewellery. In making simplistic, minimalist designs, using reclaimed gold and silver from e-waste, their pieces transcend seasonal styles – making them timeless and treasured forever. All of their products are made in-house to control all facets of the manufacturing process. AuTerra is fully women owned and they make efforts to empower and employ women.
Using only materials that are sustainably sourced, upcycled or recycled, Ballo aims to minimise waste while still creating stylish, high-quality eyewear.
Using the ancient practice of Macrame, Knot Again creates artisanal products weaved from locally supplied cotton and recycled t-shirt yarn.
Student Award presented by Levi’s®
This award is given to a student whose work challenges the status quo of fashion in creative and innovative ways. The judges specifically sought out student designers who engage with environmental and social issues.
David Davey, brand manager of Levi’s® with Thabiso Musi of Nehemiah Project
Using the ethos of ‘ancient rules in a modern context’, the Nehemiah Project draws on ancient knowledge and practices in their creation of clothes. Their use of mostly off-cut fabric and waste material is a way the brand decreases their carbon footprint as well as being a creative challenge for creating new products.
Longevity takes a modern approach to a 70s floral aesthetic, using waste as a way of shifting to a circular production of fashion.
Their use of waste is part of VOGT’s mission to tackle waste culture. They hope to connect their consumers to our history, to ourselves and to our planet.
Inspired by African culture and tradition, ZALI GRAI aims to create clothing that is rooted in stories of diversity, culture, creativity and heritage while using sustainable practices.
Innovative Design and Materials Award presented by adidas
This award recognises the designer whose innovation reduces fashion’s impact, through minimising textile waste, reconstruction techniques, or other innovative techniques. Designers should also have a commitment to using sustainable fabrics.
Portia Gxasheka of adidas with Carlo Gibson and Toni Rothbart of The Homeless Home Project
Focusing on design that benefits the user, the Homeless Home Project worked with both independent designers and users to create wearable bedding – a lightweight jacket that transforms into a sleeping bag. Being wind and waterproof with durable fabric as well as pockets for storage space, the design maximises functionality.
In employing women and minimising waste, nuun considers their impact on society and the environment in the creation of all their products.
Using textile waste and dead stock fabrics, Rethread focuses on innovative ways of upcycling second-hand clothes.
Trans-seasonal Award presented by BMW i
The Trans-seasonal Awards celebrates the brand, collection or garment that transcends seasons and trends. Through their versatility and multi-functionality, these designs are timeless and made to last. Judges also looked for commitment to the preservation of their garments after sale in repair services.
FIELDS’ Mikael Hanan with Marcelle Duncan of BMW South Africa
Using only natural local fibres, FIELDS is committed to making clothes that are durable and long-lasting. The natural fibres used are biodegradable and ethically sourced. Classic silhouettes and comfort in both style and quality make the brand’s collections trans-seasonal. FIELDS also collaborates with local artists to uplift and support independent designers.
Their aim is to make clothes that fit women’s bodies, not the other way around. Using timeless silhouettes and colours, their clothes are unbounded by seasons and trends.
Focusing on self-empowerment and self-care, they only use materials that are kind to our planet, taking into consideration the water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Nicholas Coutts Award
This award is in honour of the late Nicholas Coutts, who explored traditional craft in his beautiful designs. This award, then, recognises the designer whose use of artisanal craft celebrates the craftmanship of a slow, ethical and sustainable production of fashion.
Managing director of Plain Tiger Louis Orlianges with Mbali Mthethwa of The Herd
The Herd pays homage to and celebrates the beading culture led by Nguni women. In reviving and elevating this age-old skill, The Herd aims to shift an ‘informal’ economic activity into the mainstream, increasing the value of handcrafted pieces. Mbali Mthethwa also hope that by supporting an undervalued industry, this would economically and socially benefit craftswomen.
FVH x LM puts craftmanship at the centre of their work and focuses on a holistic approach to a sustainable circular textile economy in their use of natural biodegradable fibres to limit waste.
VIVIERS’ products are created with special care and attention; made from high quality fabrics, they ensure the longevity of the piece.
Retail Award presented by Inscape
This award is presented to the retailer or retailing initiative that practices and promotes a sustainable consumption of fashion, such as swap-shops, rental or retailing of sustainably manufactured items.
CEO of Inscape Helen Buhrs with Keith Henning and Claudia Selzer of AKJP Studio
Housing 30 creatives, ranging from fashion, ceramics to artwork, AKJP Studio is committed to uplifting South African creatives. Supporting small businesses is an important facet of their work, which they achieve in mentoring and developing young designers. The studio hopes to create a positive impact on society and the planet through inclusivity and environmental activism.
Through buying and selling second-hand clothes for children, Petit Fox aims to make high quality children’s clothes more affordable as well as kinder to the planet.
Originally a platform for second revenue streams and freeing up people’s wardrobes, Thrift Fest has developed into a popular site for second-hand clothing.
Influencer Award presented by Reebok
This award recognises the personality or influencer that has produced content over the last 12 months to promote slow fashion. By using fashion communication, the influencer focuses on the intersection of inclusivity and environmental issues to spark important conversations while supporting circular fashion practices.
Stella Hertantyo and Masego Morgan of cnscs_ with Reebok’s Brett Burgess
Pronounced ‘conscious’, cnscs_, views sustainability as decolonial, environmentally aware and a way of living that focuses on community and connection. Masego Morgan and Stella Hertantyo created cnscs_ as a way of fostering an online community and space where knowledge, ideas and resources around sustainable living can be shared.
Wijdan Hendricks works closely with many local small businesses in order to highlight the craft of independent designers and promote slow sustainable fashion brands.
Zulu’s work with upcycling is a way to democratise sustainability and present easy accessible ways of making an impact.
CMT or Manufacturer Award
This award is presented to a ‘Cut Make Trim’ or manufacturer that is environmentally and socially conscious and demonstrates ethical practices as well as a commitment to reducing environmental impact.
Judge Fezile Mdletshe with winner Crystal Birch of The Hat Factory
Established in 1936, The Hat Factory has been producing high quality hats which are made to order, eliminating excess stock. Their use of traditional millinery techniques nurtures and supports local crafters.
Equator considers the production, material and distribution of their products to maximise their sustainability efforts.
Jaydu Creations is committed to social betterment though their training and employment of women while allowing them the flexibility to work from home.
Textile Maker or Mill Award
As the production of local fabrics is integral to sustainability, this award seeks to reward as well as encourage the production of preferred textiles including that use natural, regenerative and recycled fibres and non-toxic dyes.
Winner Stephanie Bentum with Fashion Revolution South Africa’s Cyril Naicker
Stephanie’s passion for natural fibres allows her to create the textures and material for each individual project she embarks on. The slow practice of making textiles is followed by dyeing, in which only natural dyes are used, to create a beautiful canvas for her project. Being handmade, Bentum is able to control the production and limit waste as well as the outcome of the pieces she produces.
They aim to have clothing that can be washed and worn multiple times, which is at the centre of their designs. Production waste is donated to prevent waste going to landfills.
Sett & Beat hope to have a future where humans work in harmony with nature in a slow and considered process.
Changemaker Award presented by Country Road
Country Road’s Elouise Brink congratulates Mbali Mthethwa of The Herd
This award is given to the winner of one of the categories in recognition of a designer whose career has embraced sustainable and circular design practices. The recipient’s collections will have helped raise awareness of environmental and social issues. Criteria include choice of fabric, ethical labour practices, the extent of upcycling, the reduction of waste, and the use of non-toxic dyes. This designer demonstrates a commitment to promoting slow consumer fashion habits.
The Herd won this year’s Changemaker Award presented by Country Road. In reviving and elevating an age-old skill, The Herd aims to shift an informal economic activity into the mainstream, increasing the value of handcrafted pieces. Mbali also hopes that by supporting an undervalued industry, this would economically and socially benefit craftswomen.
Congratulations to the nominees, finalists and winners for being changemakers moving us to a sustainable future.
Images: Pang Isaac for Twyg