Each year the billion-dollar fashion industry results in over 90 million items of clothing in landfill sites globally. This, along with a laundry list of other assorted harrowing industry statistics, moved Myriam Laroche (pictured above right, with Jeff Garner of Prohpetik and a model in one of his designs) to launch Eco Fashion Week in Vancouver, Canada’s greenest city. Started in 2009 and expanding admirably with each passing season, Laroche developed the event to bring change to the fashion industry. In the process she and her (all-volunteer!) team are bringing some splendid sustainable design to fashion fans and consumers alike. Says Laroche,
Held twice annually, the runway events (along with seminars and panels) feature some of the globe's most progressive eco-fashion designers. This season saw 17 designers showcase on the runway; along with the local Vancouver designers, others hailed from Sweden, Poland, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Tennessee, and Seattle.
Instead of ‘eco’ I want to bring in the words ‘conscious’ and ‘responsible’. Responsible fashion is about the treatment of people and the earth during the entire garment-making process. There's so much fabric waste, and damage from the chemicals used in textile manufacturing.
There were many, many great looks and concepts that passed by the standing-room-only crowds under the tent in Robson Square. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Vintage Runway Show
The show opened with the Vintage Runway Show, wherein a number of designers were given a budget of $500 to create 15 looks using items exclusively from Value Village, the Canadian vintage/thrift empire that has donated $1.5 billon to non-profits over the past 10 years. Above, the styled handiwork of Myriam Laroche. Vintage off the rack never looked so good.
The dramatic styles created for Fall by Eason Wang for Unlokk were all designed using scrap, remnants, and stock that the designer had in his studio. The looks managed a perfect balance of glamorous and just a little (delightfully) scary. Some of the men's looks were a perfect marriage of Lord Fauntleroy and Edward Scissorhands, while the women's styles brought to mind 1960s glam Countesses gone goth.
From Kreati-ka came high-end cocktail and evening styles that all sang of elegance. A lot of black, layers of lace and glitter, some burnt orange--all beautiful. The women’s private label collection is created by Kathy Sabin-Mensah, a French designer living in Seattle.
4. Standing Armed
Standing Armed by Lindsay Walsh also featured layers with lace, with many of the looks having a really nice balance of both vintage and modern statements.
Representing Sweden at the show, Svevsk produces all of their pieces with materials that are organic and rely on eco-friendly production. They work with cooperatives of artisans in South America that consist of large and small alpaca breeders and individual artisans who knit their products from home. The results? Fun, flirty looks that are sustainable and so very soft to touch!
6. Adhesif Clothing
Adhesif Clothing showed a collection that defied the expectatons of what can be done with reclaimed vintage bits and pieces. The poster girl for sustainable fashion, label founder and designer, Melissa Ferreira, tirelessly combs thrift shops and warehouses for the fabric and notions which comprise 90% of the materials that make up her wares. Men's shirts are turned into peplums, sweaters are patched into perfect color-block looks, orphan buttons are adopted into eccentric yet harmonious families...needless to say, no two pieces are alike.
7. LRMA x London Alexander
LRMA x London Alexander was the only designer to present exclusively for the gents, and present he did. Says Alexander, "I went for French Riviera with some California beach ease and missed both, and it kinda came out like this." And "this" would be really well-designed punk meets dandy, mod meets surfer. Great looks. Alexander uses sustainable materials as frequently as possible and all Lrma clothing is made locally.
Someone around here has already swooned elsewhere about Jeff Garner's Prophetik (see: Prophetik’s Hand-Dyed Fabrics and Edgy Romance Enchant at Eco Fashion Week) so you can get the full scoop there. But it wouldn't be a proper wrap-up without wrapping up with the über-eco collection that put dreamy stars in the eyes of attendees. The collection charmed with its hemp/silk blends hand-dyed with flowers, roots, and bark, and concluded with the elegant grand finale dress, above, crafted from peace silk, a quilt from the designer's grandmother, a vintage pocket watch, and naturally-shed ostrich feathers.
For more information and a complete list of all the eco-loving designers visit Eco Fashion Week.