Innovations FAQ

INOVATIONS is an annual sustainable fashion show, hosting a series of eco fashion design challenges for students, stylists, and the greater Twin Cities community to redefine sustainability for fashion.

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Students who enter the Eco Fashion Design Challenge will have the opportunity to compete for two scholarship prizes, which will be determined during the INNOVATIONS runway show.  

What is Eco Fashion?

Eco fashion is a practice of designing and making garments that consider principles of social responsibility and environmental sustainability along a product’s lifespan.

Design Challenge?

The Eco Design Challenge sponsored by Sol Inspirations is an opportunity for students to gain insight about the social and ecological issues surrounding the current state of the fashion industry.  Students are given the opportunity to experiment with sustainable garment construction and conceptualize ways they can contribute to fair labor practices and reduce their carbon footprint throughout their design career.

The Eco Design Challenge asks Twin Cities emerging student designers to utilize sustainable design techniques and practices, while creating garments that are runway ready. Garments are judged by a panel of fashion and sustainability industry professionals for a chance to win one of two scholarship prizes.  

Designers will be asked to select an inspirational theme for their garments, based on an element of sustainability outside of fashion. Designers will explore other organization’s sustainable projects and will create one or two looks inspired by an element of sustainability that these projects focus around.  This year’s elements of sustainability themes to choose from include: water, energy, agriculture, technology, and food waste. Designers will take their garment design beyond the limits of fabric, all while including sustainable practices and philosophies into runway ready looks.

Participants will have access to coaching and mentorship opportunities from local designers and industry experts during two open workshops throughout the design process. Professional photos of looks will be taken and shared with participants after the show for their portfolio.

What are the contest requirements?

Design participants can submit up to two designs to showcase on the Innovations runway for a chance to win a prize.  

  • 1 avant-garde look made of unconventional, found material (non-fabric).
    • Eligible for the Eco Fashion Design Challenge prize.
  • 1 ready to wear look made of found or repurposed material OR sustainable textiles and notions.
    • Eligible for the People’s Choice prize.

All garments must consist of at least 70% sustainable materials, 30% traditional (muslin interiors are acceptable for shape and fit). All materials must be documented using our sustainable materials certification form.

In addition to the creating a garment, a written design statement is required, no more than 300 words:

  • Part One: Share a description about your design and artistic inspirations, and how you were inspired by your selected sustainability project.  
  • Part Two: Showcase how you incorporated sustainability standards into your garments (including notions) and design process.
  • Part Three:  How do you foresee sustainability playing a role in your fashion career?

What are design techniques that I should use?

While there are various types of sustainable design techniques and principles utilized across the industry, the Eco Design Challenge focuses on the following core concepts:

  • Material Quality – Knowing the ingredients/fibers within materials used
    • Naturally dyed vs. chemically altered
    • Made from natural, blended, or synthetic fibers
  • Garment Construction – Utilizing waste in the design process
    • Zero-waste: a design technique that eliminates textile waste and utilizes all materials in the process.
    • Up-cycling: the transformation of materials into products of equal or higher quality. Up-cycling can be textiles that have never been made into any garment form or textiles from non-fabric products.
  • Material Sourcing – Consider where the materials came from
    • Virgin material vs. repurposed  

Any questions on this process, can be workshopped during 2 open workshop opportunities with local designers and past participants.

Who can apply?

Any design student over the age of 18, that is currently enrolled in an accredited university or collegiate program.

What are the prizes?
Two prizes will be awarded at the INNOVATIONS fashion Show

  • Eco Design Challenge -$800 prize, as judged by a panel of industry professionals
  • People’s Choice Award – $200 prize, as determined by audience participation

Sol Inspirations_November 13, 2016_Gregg Jiracek Photography_219What are the judging criteria?

The judging criteria includes top aesthetic appeal and construction techniques, as well as documentation ensuring that sustainability was applied during the design process.

Students will be judged on four scored criteria each contributing to a total score. The student with the highest score will win the $800 Eco Design Challenge scholarship prize. Below is the percentage of each category that will contribute to the total score.

Judges will determine a winner based on the following criteria:

  1.            25%  Design Statement
  2.            25%  Aesthetics
  3.            25%  Construction / Design Technique
  4.            25%  Creativity

What is the judging process?

Before the runway show, judges will be given each participant’s design statement and sustainability theme. Both looks will walk the runway during the first part of the Innovations fashion show.

During intermission the students will have a one-on-one opportunity to talk directly with the panel of judges to discuss their garment, the inspiration behind it, and showcase what sustainability techniques and standards were incorporated into the design process. During this interview, judges are encouraged to ask questions about designs. A score tie will be broken by judge’s decision.

What is the application process?

  1. EXPLORE other innovative sustainability focused projects happening in the Twin Cities from the provided list for inspiration and direction for your designs.
  2. SELECT one project from the catalog (water, energy, agriculture, technology, and food waste) as the central theme for your garments.
  3. CRAFT a general artist statement and design direction for your two looks:
    1. Share the vision of your design, your inspirations, and any sketches/renderings
    2. Share the outline of sustainable practices you hope to explore or use in your process (It is acceptable if this changes throughout the process as you explore how to incorporate eco-friendly and ethical practices into your designs.)
  4. SUBMIT your application online at by February 21st, 2018 for review.
  5. BRING your innovative designs to life as ready to wear garments to walk the runway on April 28th, 2018.

Students should also be prepared to supply preliminary sketches of their designs upon request.

What are the themes?

Sol Inspirations offers a catalog of projects for designers to choose from. All projects are innovative midwest based organizations or initiatives focused on a specific element within the field of sustainability. Each student must pick one from the topics listed below and use it as the inspiration behind their looks for INNOVATIONS 2018.