VF Corporation and Redress unveil the winner of the Redress Design Award 2022, Federico Badini Confalonieri, for his collection “Micro-Rain.” Hive Life catches up with Puneet Khosla, the Vice President and Managing Director of Timberland APAC, a VF Corp brand, on the future of circular and sustainable fashion, and why young talent are the answer to a global dilemma.
Sustainable fashion NGO Redress and global lifestyle apparel leader VF Corporation unveiled the winner of the Redress Design Award 2022 on September 8th, 2022. The winner, Federico Badini Confalonieri, of the prestigious leading global sustainable fashion design competition, will gain the opportunity to work with VF’s Timberland team and collaborate on a special sustainable design project in alignment with the brand’s vision for a greener future.
Federico’s winning collection, “Micro-Rain,” incorporates upcycled waste fabrics from his previous collections, and includes synthetic fabrics that have a filter fabric to retain pollution during washing, raising awareness of the global microplastic issue.
“This prize is about more than winning a competition,” said Federico Badini Confalonieri, “It will give me even more energy and determination to work towards building together a more sustainable fashion industry. I am humbled that the jury selected me among such skilled designers! We sustainable designers may have competed, but the reality is that collaboration creates greater fashion. To partner with one of the world’s most iconic brands, Timberland, is a huge opportunity for me, and I look forward to creating a positive and powerful project together.”
We caught up with Puneet Khosla, the Vice President and Managing Director of Timberland APAC, on the Redress Design Award 2022, how he is driving sustainable impact at the brand, and the importance of community-driven green initiatives.
How has your experience with the Redress Design Award 2022 been?
It was my first year as a judge and it was a really great experience. Very rewarding. I was really impressed with the incredible looks that the designers put together. Not just their design, but the integrity of each designer in pursuit of eco-innovation and sustainability. The actual process was very encouraging for me to see how the younger generation is trying to think about solving larger problems.
As much as design is important, solving for circularity, sustainability, and advancing that cause was equally important.
The only time I got to meet everybody in person was through zoom, and it was great to interact with Federico! I like his thinking, his ability to put it all together, also, his sustainability and his commitment to circularity and sustainability. His concept was very interesting, which uses zero waste techniques to upcycle waste fabrics from his previous collection, and also it was very interestingly designed.
The Redress Design Awards are a two-way process- he’s learning and we’re learning from him and that’s the exciting part of having young talent join us. So I’m really excited and looking forward to working with Federico [at Timberland] on the collaboration, learning about how he thinks about waste reduction, and his technique of using different materials, and upcycling waste.
Why is it important now more than ever that retailers not only take part in such initiatives like your partnership with Redress, but also integrate them in their core operations and values?
I believe that the starting point is our vision, that we are focused on creating a greener future, and this is something that’s embedded in our DNA. Since the time we’ve been founded in 1973, it’s a commitment that we have towards making products responsibly, protecting nature, and strengthening our communities. Therefore, the work that we do whether it’s through circularity, our programme called Timberloop, or the use of natural or regenerative materials, it’s who we are as a brand.
If you think about that impact and how do we address that, the ability to partner with Redress gives us the opportunity to get to work with young fashion designers and be able to build this thinking along with them. Redress is a great platform where we can equip the talented next generation of designers with the tools, experience and exposure needed, to develop more innovative and circular solutions.
What is the significance of integrating circularity and sustainability in the fashion industry?
As Timberland is a fashion brand, the creation of products has an impact on the environment and we’re all working hard to minimise this impact. We’re always looking at what impact does [a new design] have, sustainability and circularity, and the Timberloop innovation design platform that we showcase. We are constantly rethinking the entire approach and how we can extend the life cycle of a product.
There’s a lot of power that we can bring to the industry if larger brands like us can drive these pursuits.
In 2020, we launched our first boots made with regenerative leather. Then in 2021, we launched GreenStride™, which is a comfort soul that uses about 75% natural sugarcane and rubber from trees. We have a collection called Earthkeepers, and that’s our pinnacle expression of the brand, and that was launched in 2007.
We’re seeing a shift in knowledge of sustainability and impact. Many of these shifts are often led by young consumers, which we are seeing in Gen Z becoming more conscious consumers, more aware of sustainability, and therefore more willing to purchase sustainable products.
This is an evolution, and that’s where the work that Redress does is also great because it helps raise awareness with a larger spectrum of consumers.
How can consumers be more mindful?
In Hong Kong, I can see the shift happening and it’s great to see. The advice that I have for consumers begins with them getting a better understanding around sustainable products. How do they engage with the product, how do they identify it has been produced responsibly, and there’s a lot of information available today. Consumers can play a very key role in sustainability through their purchasing decisions. That’s the first part.
The second part is the need for consumption. How do you make sure that you can either give your products to charity, or even check out some takeback programmes many brands have, including Timberland. There’s a lot of stuff happening and I think the consumer has the power to make the right choices.
Do you have any advice for the Redress finalists and aspiring sustainability changemakers on how they can make their mark in the industry and initiate long-lasting impact?
Continue to stay true to the purpose you embarked on and continue to build and develop your skills and understanding around sustainable production and marketing. It’s not just a project, but something that becomes second nature to you.
For anybody who’s an aspiring designer and interested in sustainability and circularity, I do encourage them to sign up for the Redress Design Award- it’s the experience of a lifetime. It’s a great opportunity for them to develop their creativity, think outside the box, problem-solve ideas, innovate, and test their dedication to advancing sustainability and circular design.
They have a big role to play and I feel inspired by what I see.
Jessica Chang, the winner of last year’s Redress Design Award, has collaborated with us on the Lunar New Year 2023 collection for the Year of the Rabbit- “Down the Rabbit Hole Straight to the Source.”
For Timberland’s 2024 Lunar New Year collection, the brand will collaborate with this year’s winner Federico.
“The need for sustainable design education has never been more critical,” Christina Dean, the Founder of Redress, concluded, “Education is not easy to deliver, yet VF Corporation, and more recently The VF Foundation, has supported Redress in delivering education for several years, opening their hallowed design studios and experts’ calendars for extensive educational support. This speaks of the authentic heart that drives the business. We encourage more companies to follow the purpose-driving motto, and, critically, continue to push forward even when the going gets tough.”