Mercedes-Benz awards the new Sustainability Prize to Sofia Ilmonen

Celebrating a decade of Mercedes-Benz’ longstanding partnership with Festival d’Hyères, the Mercedes-Benz Sustainability Prize marks the first sustainability-focussed award at the festival and continues the brand’s ambition to drive responsible luxury forward. Launched together with the brand’s partner Fashion Open Studio, a showcasing and mentoring platform by Fashion Revolution, the world’s largest fashion activism movement, the prize bolsters Mercedes-Benz’ continued support of the next generation of international design talent at the festival. Winning designer, Sofia Ilmonen from Finland, was elected by the Fashion Jury featuring the likes of Louise Trotter, Ruba Abu-Nimah and last year’s Festival d’Hyères Grand Prix of the Jury winner Tom Van der Borght. Selected for her incorporation of sustainable methods into the showcased collection, the Sustainability Prize winner receives €20,000 from Mercedes-Benz.

“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.

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.”

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