Kwantlen Polytechnic University - Erin Polowy

Slow Fashion - a term Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Erin Polowy has become very familiar with. Over the last 4 years she found herself increasingly concerned about global issues problematic in the fashion industry. There were moments this future designer wondered if she had chosen the right career path. Exposure to inspirational people fueled a belief the right direction for her was to find solutions by changing the industry from within. She shares, "Slow fashion looks at the entire lifecycle of the garments, making considerate decisions along the way. It encourages thoughtful purchases to combat mass-consumption." Mark your calendars for April 17th when her collection, Knead, will hit the runway.

Polowy was born and raised in Edmonton. Full of an adventurous spirit and with a vivid imagination, she spent hours playing in a ravine behind her house and at her friend's farm. She also loved fashion. "I loved finding unique clothes and using my style to express myself."  But the idea of it as a career just didn't come up. High school passions included art (drawing and painting) and music (guitar and drums), but there were no sewing classes available. After graduation she spent 3 years studying Arts Management and Business while working in media and cultural industries. Being around such creative people brought a career epiphany. "I realized I missed my own creative pursuits. Fashion design was the perfect combination of my love of clothing, business knowledge, problem solving and creativity, so I put together my portfolio and applied."  Kwantlen was the school of choice as she wanted a comprehensive degree program. Vancouver's beauty and more temperate climate were the icing on the cake.

When the time came to start working on her graduation portfolio, Polowy began with the concepts of slow fashion and simple living. Through research she found women drawn to this lifestyle who were looking for high-quality, non-trendy garments that would last. They wanted to own less and be happier with the clothing they purchased. "Making thoughtful purchases doesn't have to be about sacrificing, it can enhance people's lives." With this knowledge in hand she set out to design a market ready collection of easy to wear pieces that did as little harm as possible to people or the environment.

All-natural fabrics such as organic cotton and Canadian rare-breed wool provided the raw materials. The cotton was used to create a warm palette using natural dyes - neutral from the undyed cotton; browns from coffee and tea; grays from pomegranate rind; soft red from madder root; purple from blackberries; and golden yellow from dried onion skins. As the cotton was dyed by hand, there are slight variations in each garment. In contrast, the wool was left un-dyed to showcase the fabric's natural colour. Polowy's 2 favourite pieces are a long dress hand-painted with a technique she had never tried before and a soft, cozy sweater.  

With graduation soon behind, it's time to consider the future. Work to gain industry experience is high on the list as is earning a Master's Degree in Fashion Design and the Environment at the London College of Fashion. All goals I am sure she will achieve. When asked what fashion means to her, Polowy's answer offers a clear window into her passion, "Designing and creating clothing is only the first part. The wearer breathes life into it and finishes the story. I want people to love their clothes, to keep them, mend them, update them and pass them down.  Clothing is a part of our lives and for me, fashion design is about creating clothes that people can feel good wear and feel good about owning."  

For more information on Erin Polowy and Knead, go to her website at If you'd like to purchase tickets to Kwantlen's production - The Show 2013 - at the River Rock Show Theatre where Polowy will be presenting her line, go to There are both matinee and evening shows available.