The second annual Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards took place last night at Rewoven’s recycling textile warehouse in Cape Town. Amongst the prestigious awards handed out on the night, designer Lara Klawikowski took home the most coveted award of them all: she was named this year’s Changemaker, a title which came with R100 000 in prize money. Lara said “I’m just waiting for the reality of winning such an amazing prize to sink in.” She said that she couldn’t wait to spend the money on new sewing machines and that when she got home she’d jump around in celebration out of the public eye.
Lara was one of the eight winners of the awards which were sponsored in most part by Country Road and PETCO, with Country Road sponsoring the Changemaker Award winner R100 000 in prize money. The event was co-hosted with Future of Fashion, a Rewoven initiative.
Besides Lara Klawikowski taking home both the Changemaker award and the Innovative Design and Materials Award, winners include TSHEPO Jeans, Matsidiso, VANKLAN, Liyanna Basini, The Seen Collective and Mungo.
Lara says, “I’m extremely grateful to Twyg magazine and Country Road for highlighting my work! The Sustainable Fashion Awards are a wonderful platform for creating awareness of what South African designers are doing to change their design practices for the better and to be more sustainable. Meeting the other finalists and learning about what they do has been inspiring and the prize money will be a great boost for my business, especially after this year with the Covid-19 lockdown!”
Founder and editor of Twyg, Jackie May says, “I’m very proud to have presented the second annual Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards. It’s an honour to celebrate the work of designers who take care with how they make and design the clothes we wear to ensure that fashion doesn’t harm the planet or people.”
The Twyg event followed a panel discussion about the politics and future of African fashion after the premiere of Rewoven’s short film, “Indlela Yethu – Our Way of Being” which was directed by Simbi Seam Nkula and produced by Zizipho Ntobongwana. The film was praised as an important contribution to the discussion about sustainability in Africa where traditional cultures have long lived in harmony with – and with a deep respect for – nature.
The Twyg awards are about acknowledging, celebrating and appreciating designers who are working towards sustaining each other and the planet. They celebrate South African designers leading sustainable, ethical, circular and regenerative practices in the fashion industry. They also reflect that fashion can be at the forefront of positive ethical, social and environmental change. Through our collaborations and partnerships, Jackie says, “We want to create a shared space for learning and unlearning, relearning.”
Country Road’s Elouise Brink, who presented the Changemaker Award, says, “All the finalists are a brilliant example of our country’s best creative talent in slow fashion. Country Road is proud to support this competition as we believe this is an opportunity to support South African creatives and create more awareness around sustainable fashion – aligned to our global strategy of protecting what matters most, our people and our land.”
PET plastic recycling company, PETCO’s Kara Levy says, “”It’s really exciting to see how the awards have evolved and developed since the inaugural awards last year. It’s really important to engage in a dialogue to draw attention to the issues that currently exist in the fast fashion industry and to make connections to create solutions going forward.”
Twyg acknowledges the British Council for its support of Twyg this year.
The judges for the 2020 Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards are: Prof Desiree Smal, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at University of Johannesburg; Cyril Naicker, CEO of Imprint Luxury, the country coordinator of Fashion Revolution South Africa; Kelly Fung, freelance content creator and stylist; Fezile Mdletshe-Mkhize, founder of Fezile Fashion Schools Academy; and Aaniyah Omardien, the director The Beach Co-op.
The judging process was audited by Elisabeth Makumbi.
Finally, Jackie says, “Thank you to all the nominees for entering the awards. And, our congratulations go to the finalists and the winners.” The finalists and the winners of the eight awards are:
This award recognises a retailer or a retailing initiative that enhances sustainability, including pre-loved/gently worn, “swop shops”, garment rental, and similar activities. The award is also open to retailers who support local producers, and sustainable design and manufacturing.
THE WINNER – Mungo
Founded in 1998, Mungo products are designed, woven and finished at a weaving mill in Plettenberg Bay. By introducing organic textiles to the local market, Mungo hopes in turn to increase the demand – which will hopefully lead to more conscious purchasing decisions and ultimately the growing and harvesting of organic cotton in Southern Africa.
Chic Mamas Do Care
Chic Mamas was founded ten years ago by “mamas” from around the country who want to have a positive impact on the environment and on society. “By donating pre-loved good quality clothing or shopping at our outlets or participating at our events we have become active citizens”. Through the proceeds Chic Mamas is able to support organisations they care about. To date they have distributed in excess of R7,5 million, predominantly focussing on Early Childhood Development.
Founded in 2015, the Johannesburg-based design mix found at the retail collaborative, Convoy include Heart & Heritage, Hannah Lavery, Anmari Honiball, Isabel De Villiers, African Style Story, Chiefs of Angels, Merwe Salt, Sitting Pretty, GOOD Clothing, Raw Collection, The Herd. The designers combine their networks and ideas to create a retail space that reflects how their brands are perceived by the market.
Innovative Design and Materials Award
This award seeks to recognise a designer who uses techniques that minimise textile waste through innovative pattern cutting, the use of pre- and post-consumer fabric waste, and / or reconstruction techniques. The award also seeks to recognise a commitment to using sustainable fabrics in a collection.
THE WINNER – Lara Klawikowski
Cape Town-based Lara Klawikowski launched her eponymous brand in 2010 and has since focused on avant-garde wedding dresses and wearable high-art womenswear using unusual materials and textures created by hand at her studio.“Since a wedding dress is one of the only times someone makes an effort to investigate every detail of what they are wearing, a custom-designed wedding dress made from recycled, upcycled materials, re-fabricated by hand promotes the appreciation of slow fashion”. She used plastic refuse bags and plastic bags, which she says are an ideal material, as there is transparency about their origin printed on the bags.
Anmari uses natural fabrics sourced for quality, comfort and durability that allow for extended wear and lifespan. Anmari says, “My process is also up-cycle orientated. Fabric is treasured and saved up over the years, each collection incorporates bits and pieces used in the production of previous collections thereby generating layers of continuity between collections and our work as a whole. This approach has over the years ensured that our label continuously produces minimum waste.” Unusable off-cuts are used by an organisation to stuff or craft other products. Anmari’s business model focuses on the production of small run capsule collections. Products that sell too slowly, are uplifted, reworked and enhanced before putting them back in circuit. She explains, “This model allows for a hyper-sensitive market to develop that communicates better with the designer and allows for greater experimentation with my customer.”
Sealand Gear crafts handmade, durable bags and other accessories using recycled material. The brand, founded in 2015, is grounded by a passion to protect the environment. The Sealand Gear team uses up-cycling sails, advertising banners, and b-grade reject materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
The Sewing Cafe
Founded in Masiphumelele in Cape Town in 2012, The Sewing Café is a non-profitable initiative that is not only a professional CMT with pattern making and sampling but also a producer of small to fairly large runs. The CMT and design studio as well as our ‘SO GOOD’ products enable the initiative to train, support small businesses and teach through a high school sewing and design club. During the pandemic The Sewing Café designed a ‘Covid Coat’ using discarded advertising banners.
This award goes to a student who has produced a garment or collection that addresses the challenges of sustainability in fashion in the most innovative, beautiful and creative way.
THE WINNER – VANKLAN
Twenty two-year old Alex van Heerden is a 4th year fashion and textile design student at Durban University of Technology. The collection she submitted for her nomination, includes garments made from old pillowcases and other thrifted items from the Kloof & Highway SPCA. “When designing, creating and sewing these garments I hoped that they would challenge and address the throwaway culture present in our society today,” says Alex. “One of the many reasons I love fashion is because it allows me to combine two of my greatest passions; the environment and making a difference by doing something that I love and enjoy”. [Alex was not in Cape Town to receive her award.]
KQ_MADE is a collection by Kwanga Qusheka, a student at the Design Academy of Fashion in Cape Town whose preferred fibre is hemp – when he can get hold of it. Kwanga says his work is not determined by trends but by quality, yet it is “still relevant to his target market’s lifestyle and desires.”
Loskop is disrupting business models in a bid to hasten a transition towards a more sustainable economy and lifestyle. The Fedisa Fashion School student Emily Mcmahon founded her fashion label on a made-to-order model. She calls it a slow, streetwear brand.
This award recognises an accessory or accessory brand which implements ethical labour practices, limits toxic chemicals and uses sustainable materials to create a quality item and considers end-of-life. Ideally it should be made of compostable materials, but, if not, it should be made using recyclable or recycled materials.
THE WINNER – Matsidiso
The Matsidiso brand was founded in 2017 when co-founder Jinae Heyns left her marketing career and identified the potential in her mother-in-law’s shoe factory in Cape Town. The brand’s vision is that through their ethically made shoes, they will have the opportunity to help build the South African economy.
Ivy Nhlapo makes jewellery and accessories out of recycled can tabs. Using her crochet skills, Ivy has found a way to upcycle this waste item into bags, necklaces and earrings. “I’m doing my bit in terms of saving the environment by upcycling tabs on the cans to make usable and fashionable accessories out of waste materials.” The Langa resident sources her tabs from a recycling plant where the majority of the staff are people who overcome mental health disorders.
The Wren Design
The Wren Design takes paper, fuses it with fabric to be durable and makes a wide collection of accessories. It chooses to reclaim paper waste first, recycled paper second and buys new certified paper from FSC accredited suppliers as a last resort. The coating is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and the fabric comes from Zimbabwe, Italy and India: “Wherever possible we choose the sustainable option, and where there is no alternative, we commit to investing in research to find an option that is in line with the company’s sustainability policy and goals.”
This award recognises a personality who has actively promoted sustainable fashion over the last 12 months and who has sparked relevant conversations. On social media and other platforms, the influencer has explained sustainable issues factually and has cautioned against unsustainable fashion habits. The influencer supports conscious brands while promoting the Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle).
THE WINNER – Liyanna Basini
On social media the Swazi-born model and activist Nomfundo Liyanna Basini is known as Liyanna B. When she is not shooting covers, she chairs the Liyanna B Foundation aimed at spreading awareness and helping survivors of gender-based violence. Her family has been the biggest influence on her life and it is through them that she has learnt thrifting, patching, mending, and swapping.
Johannesburg-based stylist, fashion activist, and changemaker Yasmin Furmie supports local designers and is designer Thebe Magugu’s muse. Yasmin has a keen interest and an eye for young design talent, and she has long been invested in supporting local fashion talent, including Thebe and Reign SA. Yasmin also has her own fashion label: Making classic shirts @sisi.the.collection and is always on the hunt for sustainable fabrics.
Singer-songwriter and social and environmental activist Zolani Mahola says on her Instagram, “ I am in love with my world. Our world. I want my children’s children’s children to enjoy its beauty and splendour… When we are aware of how our consumption affects the health of our Earth and therefore our own health we think twice about all we use and throw away”. Zolani is increasingly lending her voice to connecting people to nature, and to drawing attention to environmental issues.
This award recognises a collection, brand or designer who promotes trans-seasonal and versatile style. It rewards quality garments, designed to be timeless and which are made to last. This category also recognises brands that remain invested in garments after their sale, for example, through the provision of lifetime guarantees or repair services.
THE WINNER – TSHEPO Jeans
Having grown up Inspired by his mother, grandmother and trendy aunt to dress like the gentleman they said he is, Tshepo Mohlala founded Tshepo Jeans in 2015. The brand’s manifesto states that it is committed to the development of denim, through the promotion of Africanism and localisation. The design process is transparent, to ensure accountability at each stage of production. Cotton is sourced from Zimbabwe, dyed in Japan using old indigo dyeing techniques that were originally created in Africa. Fabric is also sourced from one of the world’s most sustainable denim suppliers in Mauritius. Garments are created in the brand’s atelier, in Victoria Yards in Johannesburg.
“I’ve always looked at working with something that has a purposes, something that’s going to still be worn and that will last for the next 50 to a 100 years. Something that will outlive me. Truly embodying timelessness. Denim is a fabric that achieves this. Our jeans also become a part of you and your story. And through our jeans your story will always survive,” says Tshepo. [Tshepo was not in Cape Town to receive his award.]
African Renaissance Designs
African Renaissance Designs exhibited as an ‘emerging creative’ at the Design Indaba earlier this year. Using mohair, textile design graduate from Nelson Mandela University Siphelele Ntombela creates garments “inspired by the Nguni tribes of Southern Africa”. He says that these tribes once lived in harmony. They have similarities in traditional customs and they have dress roots from one origin. The tribes split when Shaka Zulu was in power. The African Renaissance collection aims to reunite the Nguni tribes through fashion by taking elements of each tribe and creating garments representing each tribe. According to the designer, the brand is committed to uniqueness, quality, longevity and cultural consciousness.
Although FIELDS is a young brand, it has gone far to achieve transparency, ethical labour practices and sustainability. The brand’s motivation for the Twyg Awards explained that it is “crafted in sustainable, natural fibres sourced in Southern Africa.”
“FIELDS showcases the high quality our yarn and factory partners bring through their manufacturing. Garments produced by FIELDS are created to share in journeys from home to the work space, from streets to the outdoors, and in the world’s foremost cities.”
Nicholas Coutts Award
This award recognises a designer who uses artisanal craft techniques such as weaving, embroidering or botanical dyeing to make fashion that foregrounds, celebrates and values the skills of the person who makes the garment.
THE WINNER – The Seen Collective
The Seen Collective is a group of women who make knitwear and jumpers for all seasons. Founded in 2017, the collective consists of designer Steph Mundy and talented women living at the Gerard Fitzpatrick House and Nursing Home in Johannesburg. They use a locally sourced kid mohair and merino wool blend. The yarn comes from the Karoo, where it is hand spun and hand dyed by an all-women rural-based business in the Eastern Cape. The benefits of the work of the collective go far beyond financial. Steph says, “Every member of the collective has discovered a new sense of purpose and pride in producing the work as a group. The Seen Collective places value on an age-old skill done to a high level.” says Steph.
Beagle + Basset
Sustainable and eco-conscious design studio Beagle + Basset has a small space in Woodstock where natural fibres are dyed using organic waste like fynbos, blue gum bark and avocado pips. Designer Genna Shrosbree says, “I only extract colour from fallen matter, so the colours I get are solely based on the plants that are being discarded at the time, seasonally. This includes the throw away leafy bits of fynbos stems that are being used for export, pecan nut shells and shucks that are discarded by the farm after harvest season, as well as fallen blue gum bark which is foraged off the forest floor. It’s not much about what inspires my colour range, but more about what is being provided by nature itself.” Genna’s fabric of choice is linen.
As part of her submission, creative director Lezanne Viviers sent a video of the making of her #RefashionPlastic coat for the 2020 Plastic Free July campaign earlier this year. The protective, utilitarian trench coat is an upcycled plastic masterpiece made from light-blue disposable medical fabric, woven plastic bags, U-Cook ziplock bags and computer packaging. She says, “Our ethos is to respect and celebrate each material for its intrinsic and valuable properties. We strive to create timeless objects of beauty that are worth repairing and worth investing in. We invest hundreds of hours into making our garments which are Limited in Edition intended to be heirloom, collectable pieces.”
This award recognises 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 Winner is Lara Klawikowski, who also won the Innovative Design and Materials Award.
About Country Road
Launched in 1974 with a simple white shirt, Country Road evolved to become Australia’s first lifestyle brand and a subsidiary to Woolworths Holdings Limited. A timeless aesthetic, premium fabrics and quality craftsmanship have become synonymous with Country Road across Woman, Man, Child, Teen, Home and Pet. The brand has stores within Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Special thanks also go to plastic recycling company, PETCO. PETCO is South Africa’s national industry body accountable for managing the PET plastic industry’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). While we do not physically collect or recycle waste PET in South Africa, PETCO acts as a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) that uses its revenue to drive recycling activities, support collectors, guide product design, and build the required local recycling infrastructure necessary to keep the PET value chain moving in an efficient yet still affordable manner, on behalf of its members.
About British Council
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. In Sub-Sahara Africa we work across East, Southern and West Africa to connect young people between SSA and the UK through art and creative economy programmes. British council’s focused efforts in this year’s awards, through projects like Design Futures, have convened critical young storytellers from Southern Africa and dynamic designers from the continent in their Making matters programme developed in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Rewoven is a textile recycling innovation project currently in pilot phase that diverts textile waste from landfill and facilitates it to various recycling loops. Rewoven also revives the life of old textiles by selling 100% recycled fabric and leftover end of roll fabric. Our end goal is to develop manufacturing capacity that is able to process textile waste into quality fabric that can go into various end products within the South African clothing industry, and other industries. We are passionate about using textile recycling to not only create a circular economy embedded in environmental sustainability, but one that also contributes to job creation and overall social sustainability.
Twyg is a not-for-profit company inspiring and supporting a modern, eco-conscious and forward-thinking lifestyle. We recognise the urgency of the climate crisis and play a part in the solution. Our work is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals focusing on SDG12, sustainable consumption and production patterns. We create content about fashion, food and places that don’t harm the planet nor people. We create bespoke experiences, workshops and campaigns in collaboration with like-minded organisations to inspire people to make sustainable, inclusive and ethical lifestyle choices.
The Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards were launched in July 2019.
Image 1: Jackie May introduces the Twyg Awards 2020
Image 2: Changemaker Award winner, Lara Klawikowski with Jackie and Country Road’s Elouise Brink and Sylvia Tekanyo
Image 3: African Fashion Research Unit’s cofounder Dr Erica de Greef listens to producer Zizipho Ntobongwana talk about her short film, “Indlela Yethu – Our Way of Being”
Image 4: Sponsors and partners slide
Image 5: Mungo’s managing director, Dax Holding accepts the Retail Award from Cyril Naicker, judge and country co-ordinator of Fashion Revolution
Image 6: Jinae Heyns of Matsidiso receives the Accessory Award from Twyg judge, Kelly Fung
Image 7: Liyanna Basini with her Twyg Award for Influencer 2020
Image 8. Steph Mundy of The Seen Collective talks to the collective in Johannesburg about winning the Nichols Coutts Award
- For more information call Jackie May on 082 825 1855 or email [email protected]
- Images by Tash Singh at @tash.singh and @picturethis.media