Fashion as a Force for Good
The fashion industry is notorious for being resource-heavy. From water usage, pesticides, sweatshops to textile waste — we are tearing at the seams when it comes to sustainable concerns associated with the world of style. Yet surprisingly, it’s not uncommon to get an eye roll or glazed over gaze at the mention of eco-fashion. Why? Never mind that we are in a Trump era where political correctness and caring for the environment are suddenly sore points of scorn, but many simply see ‘sustainability’ as yet another buzzword — something too leftie tree-hugger for their liking. There’s also this perceived workload in buying sustainable clothing and joining the movement which deters many people away from it — too daunting a task to neatly fit into one’s stylish sensibility . Two strikes against the sustainable style movement and we’re barely getting started. Tough sell — literally. Admittedly, I didn’t pay much attention to sustainability in fashion until a couple of years ago when I started forging closer relationships with more Canadian designers and really understanding exactly where and how my clothes were being made. And full disclosure, I still don’t have a wardrobe of exclusively sustainable style but I am certainly more conscious of my choices and that’s a start.
According to Myriam Laroche, the founder of Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week “Eco has held a heavy, all-inclusive concept to date but we need to understand there is a spectrum and we don’t have to be ‘completely eco.’ Every little bit helps…Taking action is what we need to do even if we are still trying to figure out how to create a healthy fashion industry, because it is the first time we are challenging the way it’s always been done.”
Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Awards
In 2016 Fashion Takes Action re-launched Design Forward, a sustainable runway show featuring the top designers in Canada. This year an award component was introduced to Design Forward. The three finalists were announced at the end of June and will showcase on October 3rd at the Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology (EDIT) where the final winner will be announced. A prize valued at over $50,000 will be awarded to the winner in order to help elevate their business to the next level.
Here’s a closer look at Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Award finalists and how they are changing the fashion landscape for the better thread by thread.
Peggy Sue believes ‘Fashion CAN Support People + Planet’
I was first introduced to The Peggy Sue Collection at TWFW this past March. I loved everything about the collection and what it stood for. Connected. Conscious. Regenerative. While I was immediately drawn to the aesthetic, as I learned more about Peggy Sue’s brand I was lured in by her philosophy.Peggy Sue designs with respect for people, their traditions and the lands they live on. Peggy Sue works directly with North American farmers, start-up mills and artisans to design sustainable luxury garments that celebrates their skills and our lands. She is passionate about creating a product that tells a story and uses natural, local materials to their fullest extent. By building a transparent and traceable North American supply chain from the farm up, training and organizing a local labour force, she is working to grow and educate the conscious consumer and dedicated fiber industry. Every garment in the collection is made from North American organic cotton or Canadian upcycled denim. The pieces showcase effortless style and versatility.
“The world is slowly shifting to a more global consciousness where individuals are looking outside of their own lives to see just how vast the landscape of humanity is and the affects their decisions have. People wanting perspective – anything is possible when we open up our minds and eyes“. — Peggy Sue Deaven
Triarchy Deconstructs Denim into Sustainable Luxury
Triarchy / Atelier Denim has a simple approach to its style. They make use of what they have by re-purposing what already exists into new sustainable luxury. They source the finest vintage denim, then deconstruct, re-imagine, and reconstruct by hand in Los Angeles, adding high-end materials and trims to make one of a kind denim pieces. Simple, sophisticated and eco-chic all at once.
Omi Woods — ‘We Love Beautiful Clothing But We Wouldn’t Give It Up For The World’
Omi Woods is a boutique brand grounded in a love for timeless silhouettes, African and Indigenous textiles, and ethical practices.
Omi means water in the West African Yoruba language, a peoples referred to as the Nago in the Caribbean. Together with Woods, it pays tribute to Owner and Creative Director Ashley Alexis McFarlane’s Jamaican-Maroon heritage. The island’s name derives from the Indigenous Awarak word Xaymaca which translates to The Land of Wood and Water.
Omi Woods is rooted in the desire to revive the beauty, power and grace of fashion throughout the ages through the creation of unique and meaningful clothing for the special occasions in their clients lives.
Ethics play a key role in the brand’s philosophy. They use eco-friendly dyes that are 100 percent bio-degradable and require no water to print. Omi Woods sources fabrics from companies that implement sustainability measures to ensure that the process of creating them does not involve unnecessary harm to the environment. They do not mass produce. Ever. They keep a small inventory and only make what is ordered so your product is that much more unique and their manufacturing practices have less of an impact on the earth. They believe strongly in fair wages and have personal relationships with everyone that sews the clothes for the brand.
How Can You Support Sustainable Fashion?
Just the way we play with new looks and don’t always jump in both feet wet, same goes with eco-fashion. You can make small changes towards sustainable style. Every action has impact.
A few simple ways to work sustainable fashion into your look are:
1. Buy Natural Fibers: Cotton and bamboo are two examples of natural fibers that make great fabrics and clothes.
2. Upcycle: Re-fashion your apparel. Little Grey Line takes old men’s work shirts and remakes them into adorable dresses for little girls. Buy or give it a try at home. Just find a great shirt and create your own custom design for your mini-me.
3. Do Some DIY: YouTube lately? Even those that can’t work a needle and thread for the life of them (myself included) have learned some pretty cool hacks and can work magic on old wares with some viral video inspiration
4. Shop & Swap Your Closet: Whether it’s a swishing party with your colleagues or swapping pieces with your sis, a simple closet swap instantly adds new life to your wardrobe. You can also take it to the next level by renting pieces from your closet. East or West, you got options. Take My Sari is a new app dedicated to renting as well as buying and selling Indian fashions.
5. Do Some Research: There are so amazing eco-friendly brands out there. Get on Google and find something that suits your style. You may find that even one of your favourite designers, like Stella McCartney has an eco-chic line.
“Know who made your clothes. Read articles and watch documentaries like “True Cost”. We’ve been conditioned to accept the world as it is, and are seldom reminded that we have the power to help change it day by day with the choices we make“. — Omi Woods
Small steps or big strides, work more eco-fashion into your wardrobe — the world will thank you.