From The Straits Times    |

One person’s trash can be another person’s stunning fashion statement as seen at Lendlease’ unique trash-to-couture show on 11 May 2023 hosted at 313@somerset. With its You Won’t Believe It’s Trash (Y.W.B.I.T) campaign, Lendlease is on a mission to turn the tide on wasteful fashion habits and inspire local shoppers to intentionally recycle their threads. 

Putting a spin on previous iterations of the Y.W.B.I.T campaign, this year’s rendition hosted a creative fashion competition to transform “trash” into wearable treasure. More than 100 aspiring couturiers narrated tales of environmental consciousness, inventiveness, and imaginative flair with materials such as carton boxes, plastics and old outfits.

In front of an illustrious panel that includes Singaporean couturier Alfie Leong, 10 finalists of the trash-to-design fashion competition flaunted their stylish visions of Singapore’s zero-waste future. Alongside them, renowned Thai sustainable designer Apichet ‘Madaew’ Atirattana unveiled 5 specially curated designs on the runway, as a brilliant ode to upcycling and zero waste sustainability. (Pictured below: Host Naomi Yeo wears an original design by Madaew at the Y.W.B.I.T runway show on 11 May at 313@orchard)

Host Naomi Yeo wears an original design by Madeaw at the Y.W.B.I.T runway show on 11 May at 313@orchard

Hoping to inspire and encourage others to join her efforts in upcycling, Madaew says “I am very glad to be invited by Lendlease for this collaboration because we share the same vision in sustainability,  and it excites me to know that we will work together to transform trash to couture, which is something that I  have been doing for as long as I can remember.” 

“My designs are a celebration of individuality but also purpose. Just as Lendlease strives to create a more  sustainable tomorrow through this campaign, I hope my designs are a catalyst to inspire and encourage others  to do the same in Singapore and elsewhere,”


We interviewed Madaew for her take on trash-to-couture sustainability. 

Growing up, how did you discover your love for fashion?

Madaew: When I was young, I loved going to the barber’s to get my hair cut, and I would always flip through the magazines at the barber shop to look at the beautiful dresses the models would wear. The fashion magazines helped me awaken my interest in style and fashion, and the beautiful styles are creative inspiration for my work today in upcycling trash-to-couture.

Are there any designers you look up to? 

Madaew: I love Issey Miyake’s designs. His designs are so effortlessly smooth, but it shows a quiet luxury and expensive taste which I’m really inspired by. His style also has very uber-modern influences, and I like having that avant-garde edge in my designs. I’m also inspired by the way he uses pleats in his styling, and I try to include that in my work as well.

How do you hope to educate consumers about recycling and upcycling?

Madaew: I always say, sustainability and recycling are about beauty and making things beautiful. Beauty is our value, and everyone can be beautiful wearing fast fashion. But I believe the lasting beauty in taking care of nature and in the way we use our resources is more valuable than the outfits we wear. And it’s more than that, as upcycling will make us beautiful as well and we can help the world be better.

What are some of your favourite looks you’ve created? 

Madaew: I don’t have favourites, because I love everything I do. Even when I was young and I didn’t have the money to buy expensive fabrics to make beautiful dresses, I would walk around my hometown to see what is there, and take my inspiration from the things around me. What is around you, or what may seem to others as “trash” can still be beautiful, as long as you put your creativity into it, and come up with exciting ideas to make it look unique.

Are there any looks you hope to create in the future that you have not attempted yet? 

Madaew: I’m actually thinking about making a dress with metallic materials like aluminium foil. I’ve got some naughty ideas as well, which I’m not afraid of making, but it’s really a taste that must be acquired, and not for all.

What’s your advice for future designers who are keen to take this recycling/upcycling journey?

Madaew: I would say just do it. Do something new. Don’t be afraid that other people will think it’s weird, or that other people will judge you for it. It doesn’t matter what others think, we just need to feel good doing it for ourselves. It may be a long and slow process when you’re just starting out, but by learning from others you can improve. Don’t give up.

The most important thing is to be yourself, and shine! Make something new, make something iconic; develop your own signature style, and put your personal spin onto the designs.


In the Y.W.B.I.T 2023 fashion competition, out of over 100 participants, only 15 were shortlisted. They spent two months exploring the potential of transforming so-called “trash” scraps into high-fashion couture. The results were stunning, with three winners taking home trophies and prizes worth a whopping S$18,000 in cash and Lendlease E-vouchers.

Grand Winner: Ms Jamela Law Hoi Shan, 30 years old, fashion technologist and founder of Baëlf Design

Emerging as the grand winner to Lendlease’s You Won’t Believe It’s Trash (Y.W.B.I.T) competition, Jamela Law Hoi Shan, 30, a fashion technologist, wowed the judges with her intricate use of Tetra Pak drink cartons and recycled thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). (Credit: Lendlease)

Ms Jamela Law Hoi Shan said, “I would like to express gratitude to my family and friends for their immense support. Without them, this dress would not have come to life. More than 200 Tetra Pak drink cartons were collected for the making of this dress within two months! As a Fashion Technologist, I have always been passionate about sustainability practices and experimenting with new materials. This year’s You Won’t Believe It’s Trash campaign allowed me to meet like-minded key players in the industry such as Jasmine Tuan, the co-founder of Cloop, and Madaew from Thailand.”

First Runner-Up: Gini Ika Jayanti, 40 years old, domestic helper

Awarded as the first runner-up, Gini Ika Jayanti, 40, a domestic helper, showcased her innovative design symbolising a creative interpretation of Rihanna’s ‘Omelette Dress’ at the Met Gala 2015 with a meaningful twist. (Credit: Lendlease)

Ms Gini Ika Jayanti said, “When I saw Chinese designer Ms Guo Pei’s work for Rihanna, I was in awe. After seeing the call for this competition, I knew that this amazing look had to be recreated and I was excited to challenge myself to make it happen with our day-to-day waste. It only became possible with a close network of friends and neighbours who helped to source used coffee capsules. As I see my design on the runway, I am very excited to have shown that anyone can contribute toward a healthier environment through this campaign.”

Second Runner-Up: Andrea Angelique Karundeng, 21 years old, student at Raffles College of Higher Education

Inspired by organic shapes and textures found in nature, Andrea Angelique Karundeng, 21, a student, beautifully brought her concept to life, placing her as the second runner-up in this year’s You Won’t Believe It’s Trash (Y.W.B.I.T) competition. (Credit: Lendlease)

Ms Andrea Angelique Karundeng said, “As a fashion design student, I participated in this competition to advocate sustainability and zero waste to the public through a creative and interesting way. It is meaningful to witness how transforming trash into wearable garments can inspire people to practise sustainability by doing simple actions such as upcycling your trash. This is what I hope to convey through my design by using simple products like cardboard boxes.”