South African textile and fashion designer Sindiso Khumalo has scooped the title of Independent Designer of the Year at the prestigious Green Carpet Fashion Awards. Dubbed the ‘Oscars of Fashion’, the GCFAs are one of the world’s foremost sustainability and fashion awards, adding glamour and celebrity to sustainability issues in an Oscars-style ceremony.
The annual event celebrates the commitment of fashion houses to sustainability, and acknowledges both the handprint of fashion (the human capital that goes into the making of fashion) and the footprint of fashion (the natural capital and environmental impact).
The fourth edition of the GCFA, hosted by Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) in collaboration with Eco-Age, and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), aired globally on 10 October on Sky and YouTube’s Fashion Channel.
This year’s GCFA ceremony was filmed virtually at the Teatro alla Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy, which was transformed into a virtual terrarium for the occasion. The 45-min awards ceremony incorporated a mix of film, visual FX, holograms and augmented reality.
Khumalo was one of five award recipients, including Zendaya, who each received the GCFA statuette designed by Chopard.
Khumalo was selected as the winner from 16 shortlisted independent designers, who have all been recognised for their outstanding contributions to the sustainable fashion industry over the past 12 months. “What a privilege to be honoured for the work that we do in sustainability,” Khumalo said, dedicating her win to the “amazing artisans” she works with across South Africa.
The Cape Town-based designer’s most recent runway show, for spring 2021, was inspired by the life of American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.“I started my brand with the premise of being a modern-day Robin Hood: to create luxury clothing that will eventually help the poorest and most vulnerable in our society; to create a change for our continent, and create a new future for our youth. This award reaffirms that dream,” she said.
Emmy award-winning actress Zendaya was the recipient of this year’s GCFA Visionary Award, which recognises trailblazers in the industry who have been at the forefront of fashion and lead the way in important issues such as sustainability, equality and diversity. She was applauded for using plus-size models on the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya runway, and for using an all-Black team to create her September InStyle cover.
This year’s CNMI Responsible Disruption Award went to Progetto Quid, which designs, produces and distributes fashion collections made of first quality end-of-line fabric, offering career opportunities to those who would otherwise struggle on the job market, especially to women. And the GCFA North Star Award was presented to the United Nations for its Sustainable Development Goals.
The GCFA Art Of Craftsmanship Award was collectively awarded to Italy’s thousands of artisans in recognition for their valuable contribution to the country’s fashion industry. “…in an age of mass-production and automation, artisans across this country continue to offer us insight into a more viable path forward. Generations of craft and meticulous care, continuously evolving to engage with the pivotal times in which we now find ourselves,” actor Colin Firth said when presenting the award.
Complementing the GCFA ceremony was the first Digital Green Carpet, a platform showcasing celebrities from around the globe who wore outfits focused on sustainable style, and spotlighting looks worn to past Green Carpet Fashion Awards shows and providing how-to green-glamour style videos.