Meet R Designer Meiyan Chan, the creative brains (and beauty!) who combines her love of soft feminine design details with her no nonsense approach to designing into ‘waste’. Here the woman, who you’ll just as easily find behind her design board as hiking Hong Kong’s trails with her rescue dog, shares why now’s the time to get serious on waste.
Q: You love fashion and loathe waste - tell us more.
Yes, I love fashion and I’ve designed my pieces for the design-loving woman who wants to travel through her day with inner and outer confidence knowing that she’s really dressing from her heart outwards. And yes, I also loathe ‘waste’ and so I prefer to think of ‘waste’ as a creative starting point that is calling for great ideas for a new life. And with fashion’s waste set to increase, creatives really need to get inspired and informed now on how to make our mark on waste.
Designer Meiyan Chan enjoying hiking the Hong Kong trails
Q: What rescued materials did you work with?
The R Collective rescued a range of waste materials from other luxury brands and manufacturers for me to work with, including gorgeous silks, cottons and viscous knits. I then designed pieces specifically into these rescued materials. This is quite a science - or at least a mathematical challenge! - because there are some constraints that come with rescued materials, like the amounts and colours available and how to share these materials across a collection. But these constraints don’t deter us sustainable fashion designers - they excite us!
Q: How can designers be a part of the change?
Design is both fantasy and function. As designers, we have a creative drive that flourishes in us, from when we’re hiking mountains to ambling in cities. So we have this force that wants to fantasise about beauty! When you combine this with a feeling of activism in fashion, you get the foundations for sustainable designers - those who want to bring beautiful change as a creative force today. So designers - even though we feel small - must be part of the change.
Hong Kong is my home and I’m excited to have my designs on Haustage’s rails. Many people in Hong Kong find it hard to discover independent small brands and designers’ collections, and so I’m excited to dress in my home.
Q: How did taking part in the Redress Design Award sustainable fashion design competition help you?
I was in the Redress Design Award 2019 cycle, where I presented a reconstructed collection using secondhand wedding dresses, in what was more of a couture-collection. This type of deeply aspirational couture design has a place in the market, albeit on a smaller scale. Since the competition, I’ve been working with larger fashion businesses, including The R Collective, and I’ve come to understand that sustainable design needs to think big picture also, and move from couture to the bigger collections. So I now want to challenge myself to think bigger.-