It was the second-to-last day of Holon Fashion Week, a four-day conference hosted by the Holon Design Museum, examining the behind-the-scenes aspects of the local fashion business, and tensions were high for a particular group of design students.
All seven were participating Wednesday in the H&M recycling competition, a design contest set up by the global retailer to help promote their recycling campaign. Started last February, the company set up clothing recycling boxes in some of their stores, asking customers to bring in a bag of clothing they were no longer using. In Israel, where there are 13 H&M stores, each customer who brought in a bag of recycled clothing received a NIS 20 voucher off any NIS 150 purchase.
“We’ve been doing this with very little publicity,” said Ziv Queen, H&M’s spokesperson in Israel. “We have pilot stores engaged in this and the response has been great.”
As part of the campaign, two H&M executives, Margareta Van Der Bosch who handles the company’s cooperative efforts with designers, and Catarina Midby, head of H&M fashion, were in Israel for the conference and to judge the competition, in which seven students chosen from three design schools had two weeks to recycle an item of clothing into something entirely new.
“It’s like a master class,” said Queen of the competition, which offered each contestant the opportunity to discuss the concept and design process with the judges.
The students’ efforts were impressive, from a wedding dress turned into hooded sportswear, and Dad’s 501 Levis’ laser cut into a lacy denim jacket, to a princess-cut tweedy jacket that became a loose, boxy vest, and an old silky bathrobe sewn into a sporty hoodie with pockets for smartphone and ear buds.
But the clear winner was Yael Gaizler’s lacy denim vest, a tour de force of cutting and ingenuity.
The work of the students was “casual and creative, fun,” said Van der Bosch. “It’s all very cool, the look that you see here.”
“It’s more stuffy where we come from,” added Midby. “Here, the look is more personal.”
Gaizler, the winning student, will get to fly to Stockholm to H&M headquarters, where she’ll see how the fashion retailer works and meet with the head designers. There are 150 in-house designers at H&M, 30 of whom originate from different countries, leading to H&M’s particularly global take on fashion and training.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Queen. “And we wanted to support the local students.”
Besides the student competition and conversational sessions, there were a series of hands-on workshops throughout the conference, teaching wool felting, leather work and textile technology, among other options.
The final event of the conference was being held Thursday night, at the museum, where attendees were invited to dress up in their red carpet best, and see and be seen.
Holon Museum of Design, Thursday, 8 pm #HOF13