Taipei Fashion Week SS21 took place at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park from Oct 6 to 10 with the theme ‘Re:Connext’, which was inspired by the ambition to adopt creative energy as solutions and imagine what it means to connect and reconstruct in a post-pandemic world. Having successfully contained the coronavirus, Taiwan is generating a buzz globally because it has kept infection numbers extremely low. As a result, Taipei Fashion Week SS21 (TPEFW) kicked off mostly virtually, but also successfully featured a total of sixteen physical shows with local attendees adhering to strict measures.
An online interactive buyer meeting was also launched to help designers interact with international buyers. Virtual shows and digital exhibitions were able to generate audience and engagement on social platforms due to the island’s innovation in VR technology and penchant for multimedia arts. “We fine tuned TPEFW this season to give greater exposure to local designers,” said CM Liu, managing director of Condé Nast Taiwan, recently to Vogue UK. The glittering event closed with festivities organized by TPEFW x Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, cementing its second year since joining the international fashion industry’s calendar.
Emerging Taiwanese talent: Sustainable PPE fabric and upcycled fashion
Justin Chou, the designer of Luxxury Godbage by JUST IN XX, utilizes waste materials and trimmings to reconstruct second-hand clothing. He expressed in TPEFW’s press release that perhaps there’s no longer a need for trendy attire, but designs that embody meanings, stories, and workmanship. “I’ve been thinking how as a member of the fashion industry, I can reduce waste and environmental pollution. It’s something not only the industry, but also everyone in the global community, should think long and hard about,” Chou fervently stated.
Based in Berlin, Taiwanese designer Shih-Shun Huang’s sustainability-conscious brand #Damur took a step further in the innovation of upcycled fashion to create ‘safe travel fashion’ for a pandemic. For its SS21 collection, #Damur worked with Taiwanese textile and chemical fiber factories to manufacture clothes made with PPE P2 fabric into weatherproof and versatile designs. “We printed houndstooth and leather patterns on nonwoven fabric to transform the material beyond medical uses, making it something people can wear in everyday life, including when traveling or on planes,” Huang said in the TPEFW statement.
Sustainable textile hub and closing the loop
Taiwan is a worldwide hub exporting over 2.5 billion US dollars worth of textiles in 2020. In 2019, the textile and apparel industry in Taiwan recorded a total trade surplus of 5.6 billion US dollars according to the Netherlands Office Taipei. As the local textile industry has steadily invested in new machinery and developed novel products to meet the global market demand, it has been exchanging ideas with the Netherlands in finding solutions to help the island’s manufacturers be more sustainable, circular, and environmentally friendly. Currently, Taiwan is also the second largest export destination in Asia for the Dutch economy.
Dutch sustainable solutions and exchange at TPEFW: Water-free dyeing, yarn weaved from sea algae
“The textile industry is the second most polluting one in the world and second largest consumer and polluter of water,” said Guido Tielman, Representative of the Netherlands Office Taipei in a recent email to FashionUnited, “and moving its production elsewhere doesn’t solve the problem, so we (the Netherlands) have been looking for international partners with our vision and technologies.”
“We see Taiwan as a natural partner because some of the biggest players in textile are based in Taiwan and the Netherlands has many cutting-edge technologies such as reclaiming ocean plastic for new yarns, dyeing without water, and producing fiber out of seaweeds,” Tielman stated.
According to Metabolic, a Dutch consulting company that tackles major sustainability challenges, Taiwan’s textile industry has a long history of specialization in performance fabric made from waste-based products (PET bottles, coffee ground) and are pioneering circularity and sustainability efforts in this region. In 2018, Metabolic helped the Taiwan Textile Research Institute (TTRI) conduct a circular scan and material flow analysis to pinpoint key performers in the textile industry and on how the island can continue to lead this part of Asia in closing the loop.
As seen at the World Economic Forum last year, DyeCoo is a Dutch green-tech company leading in Co2 dyeing technology of water-free and process chemical-free dyeing of polyester. All of the machines are manufactured in the Netherlands and currently both customers and partners are Taiwan’s Formosa Tafetta (FTC) and Far Eastern New Century Corporation (FENC). Another shared vision towards a circular fashion future was from Nienke Hoogvliet, a sustainable designer from the Hague and author of the books “Seaweed Research” and “Fish Leather”. "In 2017, we visited different companies and learned about textile innovations, as well as about seaweed cultivation and all the species (in Taiwan). We hope we can set up a local Taiwanese seaweed textile factory or collaboration in the future," Hoogvliet recently wrote to FashionUnited in an email.
Tielman added, “Backed by the Dutch government, a group of trade organizations and NGOs in the Netherlands signed the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile in March 2016 vowing to “do everything in their power” to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. Last year, over 40 businesses in the textile industry also joined the Taiwan Circular Textile Initiative on June 12, proving that the Netherlands and Taiwan share a commitment to sustainability.”
Designers featured this year included ALLENKO3, C JEAN, Dleet, DOUCHANGLEE, GIOAI PAN, if&n, INF, Luxxury Godbage by JUST IN XX, oqLiq, Seivson, SHIATZY CHEN, SILZENCE men, Syzygy, WEAVISM, WEIYU HUNG, and #DAMUR.
Photos: courtesy of Netherlands Office Taipei, courtesy of Taipei Fashion Week SS21