Interview with Bettie Jiang, Designer of Bettie Haute Couture and Bettie Bespoke
What inspired you to use sustainable or recycled material? Can you share with us what experience you have gained from joining the Fashion Hong Kong runway show? Any special learning or insights from your clients regarding the usage and outcome of recycled/upcycled material?
I earned my master’s degree in Fashion Futures in the UK, which focused on environmental protection and sustainable fashion. These two topics have become major trends within the fashion industry, and, I believe, are important issues that demand the attention of every designer. The Fashion Hong Kong runway show is not only an excellent platform for local brands to showcase their designs, but also attracts the attention of people from different fields and therefore helps raise brand awareness. We realized that many customers do not have much knowledge and understanding of recycled materials, but after some initial explanation from us, they learned that clothing can also be eco-friendly. This led them to change their fashion habits and support sustainable fashion.
What’s the most challenging thing about running a sustainable fashion show? Is there any difference from working on a regular fashion show?
Environmental protection and sustainable development serve as the foundation of our brand’s design concept. As a designer, I generally strive to adopt a “zero-waste” approach to cutting to reduce fabric waste. The fabrics we use most include naturally degradable wool, cotton, and silk, and we aim to use hand sewing as much as possible during the garment-making process. However, hosting a sustainable fashion show is still a big challenge for any designer brand, as sustainability encompasses a wide range of areas from material selection and production to sourcing of accessories. Ensuring that every step of the garment production process meets sustainable requirements is not easy, and can even impose limits to the design of a garment. In contrast, designers enjoy relatively more creative freedom when it comes to “ordinary” fashion shows.
Do you see sustainability ever truly affecting the fashion industry? How do you think sustainability will affect your future creations?
I am positive that sustainability will have an influence on the fashion industry due to the impact the industry has on the environment. “Slow” fashion will gradually replace “fast” fashion. Personally, I hope to reach higher standards of environmental protection and sustainability by making improvements to my tailoring methods and material selection. My designs will gradually shift towards minimalism or multifunctional styles so as to lengthen the life cycle and durability of each garment.
After this collaboration with the Billie/Novetex and having used our upcycled yarns, could you give us some of your comments on the quality, usage of the yarns and outcome of your final styles? Would you consider increasing your usage of upcycled yarns/material after this collaboration? Any plans to work with Billieupcycling™ yarns in your future collections?
This is our first collaboration with Novetex. We only had limited knowledge of the knitting process prior to this project, so the collaboration was a valuable experience for us. For our latest collection, we employed flat knitting techniques to apply geometric patterns on knitwear, which achieved a completely different effect when compared to printing on wool and silk fabrics. In addition to creating a more three-dimensional look, this method offers another fabric option for my designs, and highlights the concept of environmental protection and sustainability. Upcycled yarn is ideal for fall and winter collections – not only is it environmentally friendly, it also produces knitwear with the perfect thickness and texture for the cooler seasons, as well as a unique adaptability that allows for easy mixing and matching. I hope to have more opportunities to work with Novetex in the future (for both menswear and womenswear), and believe that collaborations between designers and suppliers will become an increasingly important way for the fashion industry to achieve its environmental and sustainability goals.