KPU Wilson School of Design recyclable materials competition enters next stage

Contestants will focus on topics like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and toxic masculinity

This concept sketch for a shirt-style dress with ruffles, dyed with madder roots, is an exploration of toxic masculinity. (submitted/ Zachary Chao)

This concept sketch for a shirt-style dress with ruffles, dyed with madder roots, is an exploration of toxic masculinity. (submitted/ Zachary Chao)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Wilson School of Design program is collaborating with Our Social Fabric to host the Our Social Fabric Design Competition. The theme for this year’s competition is “awareness.” 

Our Social Fabric is a non-profit material store that sells unused clothing and fabrics from companies. The goal for the organization is to make sure clothing is reused or “upcycled” to reduce the amount of clothing materials companies throw out. Our Social Fabric receives and finds a home for the materials. 

With upcycling, the goal is to use the materials to create new items. 

The idea behind the competition was to use the money earned from the Our Social Fabric store to raise awareness about the importance of reusing clothing materials or creating something new with them. 

For this year’s competition, contestants are creating designs from upcycled materials that relate to the competition’s theme. They are expected to gather any materials they need from Our Social Fabric store and stick to a $40 budget. 

Jennifer Lamont is one of the participants in the competition, and she’s focusing on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Lamont’s design will be a red dress with hands, and she says she plans to include the ages and birthdates of victims. She also plans to indicate if the victims were missing or murdered. 

Lamont says she chose to focus on this issue because not enough people are aware of how important it is. 

“I find that whenever one of these women are missing or murdered, it gets maybe a two-second blurb on the media and then, if it’s somebody else, like a Caucasian woman, they get like a whole segment. It needs to get more awareness than it does,” she says. 

This is Lamont’s second time participating in this competition. She says it’s competitive, but it makes her think outside the box. She’s had to think of different ways to stretch out the $40 budget while making sure she’s meeting all the requirements for the competition. 

Zachary Chao, a first-time participant in this competition, plans to focus on the topic of toxic masculinity. He says he wants to create a garment that challenges gender norms. 

“I want it to be like a very literal and visceral visual creation of what toxic masculinity might look like,” he says. 

Chao says working on the competition has helped him see some of the challenges that occur when creating a sustainable design. When it comes to adding sustainability to his designs, Chao takes the time to think about what he plans on creating, and sometimes he has to modify certain things in order to ensure the design is sustainable. 

“I think it’s generally a good practice as a designer or as a design student to kind of implement this mentality onto everything we do,” he says. 

Now that the top ten participants have been finalized for the next round of the competition, Lesley Pollard, an instructor at Wilson School of Design’s Fashion and Technology program, says participants will begin shopping for the materials needed, and then start creating their design while making sure to keep a digital record of their creation process. 

There will be three awards and a social media winner for this year. The first-place winner will receive $2,000, second place will receive $1,500, third place will receive $1,000, and the social media winner will get $500. 

The social media winner is determined by the number of votes a contestant receives on social media. 

The final date for contestants to submit their designs is March 14, and the social media voting will take place from March 28 to April 11. The three winners will be declared on April 21.