Circular Design Award: About

The Circular Design Award

The Mindful Fashion Circular Design Award is an annual design and innovation competition that challenges individuals and businesses to reimagine fashion as circular and design out waste.

Through the Circular Design Award programme, creatives are inspired to use the dual lens of our unique place in the world and the circular economy, and find innovative ways to keep materials in use.

Based on the guiding principles of people, place and nature, the Award supports entrants to explore creative ways to design out waste, weaving principles of mātauranga Māori and indigenous wisdom with industry knowledge, skills and resources.

The Award launched in 2023, and in 2024 a new category has been included to celebrate businesses taking action - the Circular Business Innovation Award.


The Circular Design Award is organised by Mindful Fashion New Zealand.

At Mindful Fashion our mission is to create an innovative, full-circle and thriving future for the fashion and textiles industry in New Zealand. This means changing the way products are designed, made, used and circulated to keep valuable materials in use and out of landfill.

Advancing a Circular Economy for fashion and textiles in Aotearoa New Zealand is one of our three work-streams at Mindful Fashion. We work with a wide range of businesses and industry stakeholders to educate, promote and facilitate circular solutions that keep materials in use, and enable circular models that create economic value to reduce reliance on virgin materials and create value for New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses.

Find out more about our work and our organisation here.


The Circular Design Award Advisors have helped guide the development of the Award programme.

Jennifer Whitty | Associate Professor of Design

As an educator, designer and researcher Jennifer aims to usher in a new era of deep systemic change for global fashion, that is expansive and diverse, rooted in social and environmental justice. She specialises in reimagining mindsets, models, and systems for fashion through the integration of theory and practice.

Trained at the Royal College of Art, London, Limerick School of Art and Design and the National College of Art, Dublin, she has worked in a key capacity as educator and designer in many leading design programmes and companies across the globe - USA, Europe, Asia and Australasia. Jennifer publishes and exhibits widely on fashion and sustainability in both academic and popular media, working with various global clients including Conde Nast, Future Learn, and the United Nations.

Johnnie Freeland | Ngaati Te Ata Waiohua, Ngai Tūhoe

Johnnie is a wayfinder, systems navigator and whakapapa centred designer.
He brings together more than 30 years’ knowledge and lived experience of serving community and in guiding and navigating a range of Iwi, Māori community and public sector organisations in working to achieve better outcomes with Māori. He utilises mātauranga Māori in designing Oranga Motuhake/well-being pathways, with whānau, hapū, iwi and organisations.

Johnnie has helped navigate a whakapapa centred response to climate change within Tāmaki Makaurau, through the Tāmaki Makaurau Mana Whenua Forum. In partnering with the Auckland Council, together they worked to harness the benefits of drawing on mātauranga Māori knowledge and western science to navigate a way forward for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland through the co-development of Te Tāruke-a-Tawhiri – Auckland’s Climate Plan.

Christina Dean | Redress

Christina Dean is the Founder of non-profit Redress and Co-Founder of upcycled fashion brand The R Collective.

Founded in 2007, Redress is a pioneering Hong Kong based NGO working to reduce textile waste and promote environmental sustainability in the fashion industry. It runs a variety of dynamic programmes which work to minimise the negative impacts of fashion, whilst promoting innovative new models and driving growth towards a more sustainable industry via the circular economy. Working directly with a wide range of stakeholders, including designers, manufacturers, brands, educational bodies, government and consumers, Redress aims to create lasting environmental change in fashion.
Through its work Redress educates and inspires the next wave of designers coming through with the global Redress Design Awards.

Why Circular?

Globally each year millions of tonnes of clothes are produced, worn, and thrown away, with more than 85% ending up in landfill. In Aotearoa New Zealand, approximately 74,000 tonnes of clothing are consumed each year, and every year 52 thousand tonnes are sent to landfill. Auckland's Redvale landfill alone receives 70 trucks of clothing waste each week.

Textiles are Valuable

Textiles are valuable resources that should not become waste. Fashion is a powerful tool that can lead change, so we want to harness this power to drive forward a circular and regenerative fashion and textiles industry.

It starts with how we design our products, materials and business models.

Around 80% of a product’s impact is determined at the design stage which means decisions made at the design stage are crucial. The Circular Design Award targets this area, and challenges designers and creatives to reimagine fashion across its full lifecycle from cradle to cradle, to reduce impact and improve the circularity of products.

The Circular Economy

At its core the circular economy is about keeping materials in circulation so they never become waste. A circular economy recognises the interconnectedness of people and the natural world, which spiral together to create cycles of regeneration.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlines the three principles of the circular economy:

  • Eliminate waste and pollution

  • Circulate products and materials (at their highest value)

  • Regenerate nature

A circular economy for fashion creates better products and services for customers, contributes to a resilient and thriving fashion industry, and regenerates the environment.

How might we redesign products, materials and business models so there is no waste? How might we use waste from the current system, and design new products? How might fashion systems in Aotearoa New Zealand be more circular and regenerative?

CDA 23

The Circular Design Award 2023 celebrated the best of emerging talent in sustainable fashion design. Designers rose to the challenge, and pushed the boundaries in their design process and use of innovative production techniques to show the many and varied ways that clothes can be designed for the circular economy.

Read more about the Circular Design Award 2023 here.

Partner with Us

Our sponsors, donors and partners help us bring important programmes to life. If you are interested in supporting our work through sponsorship, partnership or donations, please email us for more information.

As a non-profit with limited resources, we rely on the generosity of individuals and organisations to provide us with financial support so that we can run programmes such as the Circular Design Award, and work to solve some of the fashion industry's most challenging problems.