The 7th Edition of Eco Fashion Week in Vancouver was once again an amazing display of the diversity in the fashion and garment industry. This comes from the wide range of materials, textiles and techniques, but also because I find the designers are less concerned about being on trend. This season’s event held true to themes from the past, but the maturity of the production in its seventh time through, translated into a smooth and fun event.
As with the 6th Edition in April, Eco Fashion Week began with a day of seminars. This season there was a focus on textiles and certification processes, and an open discussion on the human rights and labour issues in manufacturing. Speakers included Stefan Schlosser, Customer Relations Manager with Bluesign Technologies, Amy Roberts, Director of Sustainability with Mountain Equipment Co-op, Dr. Jean-Pierre Haug, Secretary General or Oeko-Tex, and Carol Kordich the Lead Designer of Sustainable Materials with the Ford Motor Company. The final panel discussion brought out some of the harsh realities in the garment manufacturing industry, but also some ways improvements can be made at the manufacturing level and can be an economic development opportunity.
That evening, Nicole Bridger presented her Fall 2013 Collection: You Are Not Alone at Celebrities Night Club. The show concept was designed to challenge the audience’s perception of how we judge each other, and how we judge beauty. Mostly mall models were used, styled in a very androgynous manner. A few female models were also used, but it was difficult to actually spot them! As the models entered and exited the runway they paused, looked into each other’s eyes, and either touched palms or touched hand to chest. The show was a powerful demonstration of how we are all the same at our core, and that those who struggle with acceptance are not alone.
Monday evening guests were welcomed back to the runway at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver. As with past seasons, the first day at Robson Square was once again presented by Value Village and featured runway shows using second-hand finds. The three stylists taking on the Thrift Chic Challenge, where they create a collection from Value Village finds, but make no alterations to the clothes, were hugely diverse, and all very wearable. The stylists did a fantastic job at pulling together cohesive collections with a clearly styled theme. These ranged from California-inspired androgyny, wild sweaters and mixed up patterns and textures, to clean 1940’s elegance. The 68 Pound Challenge returned this season as well, with a new designer Evan Ducharme. Evan’s style is quite different from the past 68 Pound Challenge designer, Kim Cathers. He used all of the discarded garments more as a textile source to create original pieces from his own designs and patterns. The collection was in line with the style of his own collection, classic, clean and very elegant. He achieved an impressive range that included swimwear, men’s wear, evening dresses and tailored suits, sticking mainly to black and white.
Day Three at EFW 07 had a few returning designers from last season and a few new. Returning were Sally Omeme, who turns second-hand textiles into strips to then knit into stunning original pieces, Couture Therapy, a contemporary brand aiming to create high-fashion designs using eco-friendly textiles, and the very feminine and clean designs from Trisha Rampersad of Bhana Design Company. New this season was Cherry Blossom Design featuring hand silk screened original prints on natural fibers, Dahlia Drive who hand-prints stunning colors and images on discarding textiles, turning them into gorgeous kimonos and dresses, and the Young Oak curated collection of vintage.
The final runway day of EFW 07 featured two thrift collections returning once again to the Robson Square runway. Hey Jude vintage collection was selected to fit into current style trends, and the stylists have done an impressive job at finding pieces that fit into a seamless collection of classic lines and styles that are slick and modern. My Sister’s Closet presented a collection of pieces that can be found in the social enterprise thrift and artisan store that supports the work of the Battered Women’s Support Services organization. This season’s collection was very edgy with a mix of leather jackets, funky dresses, dramatic jewelery and modern men’s wear. Matild Janosi brought her TildArt EcoFashion collection from Hungary, with stunning and dramatic use of recycled materials. Her collection was divided into two presentations, the first featuring pieces made from used bicycle tubes, the second using movie strips. Matild’s pieces were dramatic and while many are more artistic than wearable, you could see that with her creativity and skills with the materials she could make more subtle everyday pieces with these fantastic used materials. The runway shows ended with a 10th Anniversary collection from twigg&hottie, a boutique in Vancouver who started their own collection, We3, to meet what they saw as an un-met need in the sustainable fashion space. The pieces are designed as timeless “essentials”, made from sustainable fibers locally in Vancouver.
For the first time Eco Fashion Week ended with an offsite reception. Holt Renfrew hosted the event in-store as a collaboration between Eco Fashion Week and the H Project, which is a new home and accessory collection put together by Holt Renfrew that features sustainable and charitable products. For the event, Alexandra Weston from Holt Renfrew and bag designer Cornelia Guest joined in to celebrate the completion of another Eco Fashion Week and promote sustainability at the store.
Another Eco Fashion Week has wrapped up and plans will soon begin for the next one! Keep an eye out for more efforts made toward positioning Vancouver as the capital of sustainable and responsible fashion.
Jessica McIlroy is a sustainability consultant with extensive experience in the renewable energy industry, climate change policy, gender equality and community development. She has worked for a number of non-profit associations and is the founder of the BC Women in Energy Network. Jessica is also working to increase the sustainability of the garment and textile industry, working as the Chief Awareness Officer for Eco Fashion Week, and contributing eco fashion pieces to online publications. Jessica holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability, an MBA in Executive Management, a certification in Climate Change Decision Making, and has completed The Accountability Project Sustainability Practitioner Course.