Mersedes Fashion

Mercedes-Benz awards the new Sustainability Prize to Sofia Ilmonen


“Supporting design talents on their way into the business, has been a main pillar of our longstanding global fashion engagement, because social responsibility is an integral part of our brand and company values.

Being a partner of the Festival Hyères since 2012, creates good opportunities to especially enhance sustainability in the fashion industry. Today, our warmest congratulations go to Sofia Ilmonen for winning the first ever Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize in fashion.

We recognise her/his aim to balance environmental and economic objectives for a more sustainable lifestyle now and for future generations”, says Julia Hofmann, Head of Branded Entertainment & Brand Partnerships Mercedes-Benz AG. Learn more about the winner Sofia Ilmonen on her Instagram chanel: @sofiailmonen.

The Festival Hyères on their decision: “It’s a great pleasure to meet the next generation of designers who are bringing sustainable practices to the heart of their work and philosophies. Their commitment to work in a different way, pushing the boundaries to create responsibly with sustainability being at the core of most of their collections. Sofia Ilmonen was a unanimous winner for the Mercedes-Benz Sustainability prize.

Her work utilises sustainably sourced fabrics, often using vegetable dyes to create rich intense colour. Her concept using square formations minimizes fabric waste and her approach to design reduces the need for sizing and allows garments to transform. Her workmanship is to the highest standard, with each piece meticulously finished.”

About the Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize

The Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize builds on the automotive manufacturer’s mentorship of last year’s festival fashion finalists, organised by Mercedes-Benz and hosted by Fashion Open Studio. The second edition of the mentorships underlines Mercedes-Benz’ commitment – through partnerships with industry leaders – to incentivise and equip the next generation of fashion designers with the knowledge tools they need to push forward in the field of sustainability. Mercedes-Benz creates a space whereby information can be shared, innovation celebrated, and a collective atmosphere of change fostered by those who take part.

Led by Fashion Revolution co-founder and creative director Orsola de Castro and Tamsin Blanchard, Fashion Revolution’s special projects curator, the sustainability sessions designed by Fashion Open Studio took place digitally in the run-up to the festival. This year, technical innovation, from building a sustainable supply chain to novel approaches to fabric creation, recycling and retail, was a main focus. A look from each finalist was selected based on these learnings, captured prior to Festival d’Hyères in a shoot by photographer Fiona Torre.

A responsible future in fashion design at the 36th Festival d’Hyères: Mercedes-Benz awards the new Sustainability Prize to Sofia Ilmonen

The Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize is just one of numerous activities the luxury brand is proud to have undergone with Fashion Open Studio. In 2021, Mercedes-Benz remained committed to applying further tangible steps towards a more responsible future in design through its ongoing collaboration with Fashion Open Studio on educational events within MBFW Berlin.

Orsola de Castro says, “Fashion Open Studio is grateful to Mercedes-Benz for sponsoring this first Sustainability Prize at the Hyères Festival and providing the space for an in-depth mentoring programme. This year’s mentorship was potentially one of the most exciting in my entire career! Firstly seeing how all designers approached ethics and sustainability from the get go, and then watching them deepen their commitment after the first mentoring session. We were able to become more familiar with each of the designers’ projects and really understand in detail the processes, materials and systems used to create some exceptionally innovative and responsible solutions. This was truly an exchange of knowledge and ideas that we look forward to building with all of the finalists involved. The level of work and creative exploration was truly outstanding.”

Mercedes-Benz as a partner of Festival Hyères

This year’s edition of The Shortlisted Showroom presented by Mercedes-Benz was a visually striking space created by French design studio Superpoly, Special Jury Award winners of Hyères’ Design Parade 5 years ago. In keeping with the sustainability theme, the duo re-used elements from previous scenography and organic components such as flowers from local growers, highlighting responsible practices to celebrate the incredible scope and creativity of the designers showcased within.

As the festival’s mobility partner Mercedes-Benz provided an exclusive car fleet to be utilised by VIPs, jury, press and other selected guests. The fleet contains among others fully electric Mercedes-EQs and plug-in hybrid vehicles. A special highlight on site is the new EQE 350 (power consumption acc. to WLTP: 19.3‑15.7 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions: 0 g/km). The EQE was recently launched at the IAA in Munich.

About Festival d’Hyères

The International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères is founded and directed by Jean-Pierre Blanc, and chaired by Pascale Mussard. Since 1986, the festival has been promoting and supporting young international fashion creation, since 1997 a competition has been open to emerging photographers and this year, for the fifth time, a competition distinguishes new designers of fashion accessories. It is recognized as the oldest competition in the world for young professionals. Several prizes reward the creators in competition thanks to the endowments of the partners of the festival who commit themselves with him to support them in the long term. Practical help is provided from the selection of candidates, then over a period of two years covering many areas: financing, production, crafts, materials, publishing, legal, press, exhibition, workshop and residency.

About Fashion Open Studio

Launched in 2017, Fashion Open Studio – a Fashion Revolution initiative – promotes responsibility and transparency in the fashion industry. It was created to celebrate best practice and innovation led by a carefully chosen selection of fashion and textile designers, biotech start-ups, services and retail disruptors. We support a generation of designers who want to showcase their work in a space where conversations about supply chains, waste reduction, overproduction and materials, as well as a more respectful approach to the artisans, craftspeople and garment makers who make our clothes are taken seriously. The designers are selected for their commitment to a clearly defined criteria of responsible design and systemic innovation. Designers share best practice in a transparent and open manner, in a way that offers access and stimulates discussion and questions.

Mercedes-Benz Global Fashion Engagement

Since 1995, Mercedes-Benz has established itself worldwide as a major player in the fashion industry, building authentic relationships within the fashion community through its commitment to emerging designer initiatives, innovative collaborations, fashion week partnerships, and live events. The brand is currently active in many key locations around the world, including the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks Russia, Mexico, Madrid, Tbilisi and Berlin and also the acclaimed International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères.

A responsible future in fashion

Committed to the sustainable future of luxury design, Mercedes-Benz proactively works to future-proof the responsible growth of its fashion partnerships; highlighting best practices and aligning itself with creatives that reflect and champion values such as outstanding and intuitive design, creativity and innovation. Mercedes-Benz is delighted  to develop its long-standing partnership with Festival d’Hyères for 2021 with the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize, an evolution of Mercedes-Benz’ support of the festival’s fashion finalists which will educate the next generation of talent in sustainable best-practices. Through its Mercedes‑Benz Fashion Talents programme and creative collaborations, the luxury brand has supported nearly 170 designers in over 30 platforms around the world, including Milan, London, New York, Beijing, Sydney, Prague, Istanbul, Berlin and Accra.

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