EFW - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Takes Centre Stage

Image by Ed Ng
I usually try and do an event write-up within no more than 2 weeks, but the fall season always seems to get away from me.  With 3 fashion weeks, 3 student grad fashion shows and numerous private events, it can all become a blur at times.  So while I do rue the lateness of this Eco Fashion Week write-up, it comes at a time when I can look back thoughtfully on the event.

October 2012 was the fifth season for this Vancouver event.  I missed the first season, but was there for the second. It was held in the SALT Building in the Olympic Village.  This beautiful space had lots of room to mix and mingle between shows.  A New York Fashion Week style tent provided an elegant setting for runway viewing.  Classy, well-run and full of intriguing eco-fashions, it was a great addition to our local scene.  The third season exploded into a enormous event in Gastown with a softer, more inclusive definition of Eco. There were a large number of booths set up for the designers so those attending could have immediate access.  The last two seasons have been offered at Robson Square.  It is back to that New York Fashion Week style tent and a more honed and mature focus on the Eco movement.

Images by Peter Jensen
Day one was a grand theatrical opening. Nicole Bridger is someone I first interviewed way back in 2008 and I have been a fan ever since.  She is a wonderful designer who makes easy to wear clothing  from beautiful eco fabrics that are perfect for today's market. She is also a truly nice person. This evening had it all. It included live music by jazz vocalist Jaclyn Guillou; inspiring talks from Aaron Smith of GoVoluntouring, Mark Brand who reopened Save-On Meats and Madeline Shaw of Lunapads International; and then a unique fashion show where Bridger along with Mala Imports melded contemporary dance (dancer's of course outfitted in Bridger designs) into their runway show. It was an uplifting evening and a perfect start to the week.

Photos by Peter Jensen

The second day of fashion shows really took me back to my first one-on-one with founder Myriam Laroche.  As she shared her passion for the Eco movement, one strong direction for her was the reuse of clothing.  I did a quick search and found this statistic on Earth Easy  - "12 million tons of textile waste is generated each year in North America amounting to approximately 68 lbs of waste per household per year! An astounding 5% of all landfill production is textile waste."  The negative impact the fashion industry has on our environment is huge. She wanted to encourage everyone to consider options such as vintage stores, thrift stores and Eco designers that make use of discarded textiles when looking to expand their wardrobe.

Image by Peter Jensen
In EFW's fifth season there was a strong return to this mandate, especially in day two's shows.  The Value Village challenge gave 3 stylists - Nicolette Lang-Andersen, Mimi Lauzon and Tony Vu - $500 to create a runway show from top to bottom - including shoes - from the stock found in these thrift stores. Vu shared the shoes were the toughest and it took many visits to fulfill that requirement. While my personal favourite was the tropical theme offered by Nicolette Lang-Andersen because I adore vivid colours, all 3 striking collections were well thought out and clearly showcased the potential of the clothing offered.

Media wall images feature Lang-Anderson - top, Lauzon - middle, Yu-bottom.

This was followed by the 68 Pound Challenge (the amount of clothing and textiles the average North American throws away each year).  Designer Kim Cathers of kdon had a brief 5 weeks to complete an entire collection of 30 designs from 68 pounds of Value Village recycled clothing and fabric (curtains, tableclothes, etc.).  What she was able to create in that short space of time was truly a surprise. Some were just minor changes to create a new look, some required completely taking apart the old garment and starting over. A great video on how this came together is available HERE.

Images by Peter Jensen
Day three took a wider direction.  First was a great group of designers from Quebec who brought their own unique selection of eco garments and accessories to the runway. Included were looks by Myco Anna, Ressac, Respecterre, Voyou and C5H8 and atelier b. It was a wonderful opportunity for the audience to have a chance to see what was happening outside of our local market.

Photo by Peter Jensen
Next was Vancouver designer Lindsay Walsh of Standing Armed. This season her classic and timeless aesthetic showcased the influence of a recent trip to Dubai. I love the note on her website talking about this collection's inspiration - "The expanse of desert lies before us, broken by the occasional mirage; only on the rarest of occasions by a true oasis.  An opulent haven amidst the bare landscape.  Nature flourishes; the lure inescapable."  Surprising was a new and daring sexy cut to several of the garments. Her looks have always been feminine, but previously it was with a subtler voice. The collection was strong.  I loved the flow of the garments and the unique fabrics incorporated. To learn more about Walsh, you can read two previous articles by clicking HERE  and HERE.

Images by Peter Jensen

Closing this season's runway was a designer I have known for a long time - Melissa Ferreira of Adhesif Clothing.  She was my 3rd interview ever when I began my writing career and it has been a joy to watch her mature as an artist over the years.  Last fall I wrote a retrospective of her work called Adhesif Clothing - I Remember!  It was great to see her close this season's shows as she embodies so much of what Laroche promotes.  The materials for her garments come from vintage garments and textiles.  For Ferreira, the unique characteristics of these materials add a distinctive personality to each garment. Add in a good dose of quirky fun and energy and you'll get a feel for both the designer and why her brand enjoys such a loyal following. If you haven't been there yet, I would suggest a trip to her boutique at 2202 Main Street, Vancouver.

Image by Peter Jensen
This season closed with a great selection of seminars - Textiles and Manufacturing, Labour and Manufacturing, Industry Trends, Consumer Behavior and Awareness and Upcycling and Recycling. Knowledge is power, so a focus on education closed the week with all "i's" dotted and "t's" crossed.  For more information on Eco Fashion Week, check out their website at www.ecofashion-week.com.