Last January 2016, Ford whisked me away to Hong Kong to witness the Redress Forum 2016: Ford Design Challenge. The event is designed to bring together emerging fashion designers and thought leaders to drive the conversation about the future of sustainability in both the fashion and automotive industries.
During the event, the designers were tasked to create high-fashion pieces using Ford’s sustainable seat fabrics. These seat fabrics are made from REPREVE® – a hybrid fiber invented by Ford, made from recycled plastic water bottles and post-industrial waste. Super cool, right? But before the designers got to work on their pieces, in true Project Runway style, they all embarked on a quick inspiration tour around Hong Kong first. They were instructed to take photos of things and places that will serve as their inspiration for their pieces. After that, they were given a few hours to make their designs. All of them were partnered up though so at least they got to help each other out. Even so, I was still amazed at all the pieces they came up with! Most of which entailed highly intricate fabric manipulation. Props to all the designers!
Witnessing the designers’ final pieces come to life was truly exciting but the real highlight of my trip was really all the things I learned from Ford. I have to be honest, I never knew Ford was so environmentally conscious and aware. Sustainability is ingrained in every facet of its business, but one of the most inspiring areas is the rapid development of Ford’s sustainable materials. Just imagine: recycled denim transformed into sound-absorbing hood insulation; soybean oil into soy-based foam used in its seat cushions and seat backs; plant-based oils like castor oil to create a special foam for Mustang’s instrument panel; wheat straw for car storage beans; the wonder plant, kenaf, to create interior door panels; and eventually, tomato skins (yes, TOMATO SKINS) to use for wiring brackets and storage bins, and dandelions to turn into a natural rubber alternative. Who would’ve thought these are possible? It feels good to know that such a big company like Ford is doing its part in taking care of world, without compromising quality and design. It’s possible after all.