By Jenica Chuahiock
After all the usual commercial fashion weeks, once again it is time for Eco Fashion Week (EFW) to step up. Setting the standards towards sustainable fashion is not an easy mission. Yet, EFW founder, Myriam Laroche, and her team have been doing just that since 2009, constantly reminding us every year that it is possible to be both eco-friendly and stylish.
This season EFW begins with the annual gala, graced with an opening fashion show by local designer and EFW veteran, Nicole Bridger. Bridger’s fashion show is entitled, “You Are Not Alone”, a statement of unity that sets the tone for the next few days. The collection itself features apparel that is typically loved in Nicole Bridger’s brand: basic yet flattering cuts, neutral-friendly colors and ultimately very wearable pieces. But on the runway, Bridger surprises crowds by having male models walk the runway for her womenswear.
The procession involves androgynous-looking models walk, but not before holding hands and looking into the eyes of another model. This repeated gesture of hands and eyes, of seeing and acknowledging the other is the mantra for Bridger’s collection. “ ‘You Are Not Alone’—meaning you are not alone in spirit. You are also not alone from each other,” says Bridger. “The purpose was for the audience to go on a journey, where I provoke them to pass judgment and witness themselves doing that. At the end of the show, I want to dissolve that and have them think, ‘well, why can’t that be beautiful?’”
Beauty is certainly a challenge that the fashion industry has embraced. But now, how to have it all, beauty and sustainability? It’s a complicated matter, one that would take milestones of remodeling industries and fashion standards. And yet, that is exactly what EFW is hoping to start. EFW founder, Myriam Laroche, certainly knows the amount of dedication involved. She and her team have been consistently organizing eco shows and sustainability lectures annually. “After seven seasons, what I want people to remember from this event is simply what EFW has been wanting to achieve: we want to open discussion about how the apparel and textile industry is [hurting our environment]. We have reached a very unhealthy place, and we want to present solutions.”
What does it mean for fashion to be “eco-friendly”? Many people have asked Laroche, and she responds quite frankly, “We are still trying to figure it out.” Because the hard truth is, sustainability and eco-friendly production is far more complicated than we can fathom. But the key word stressed by Laroche is “solutions”. “Every brand or company in the industry has to find their own special ‘eco-recipe’, depending on your values, human resources and financial resources. Everybody is different. There is no right or wrong in these discussions.” Everyone is encouraged to come up with his or her own eco-friendly solutions. After all, every change begins with the little things we do. If you need any ideas on how to go eco-friendly, then check out EFW’s special fashion segments: The Thrift Chic Challenge and the 68 Pound Challenge.
As a constant partner to EFW, Value Village supplies the clothes for the Thrift Chic Challenge, in which stylists are made to complete several runway looks using only reclaimed or recycled clothes. This season, the Thrift Chic Challenge welcomes stylish participants Kenneth Wyse, Dandelion Wind Opaine and Claire Bouvier. And yes, that is all reclaimed clothes from Value Village.
Meanwhile, the 68 Pound Challenge is a designer’s challenge, in which designers are set to make a whole collection out of 68 pounds of fabric and textile. It has been estimated that the average North American throws away 68 pounds of clothes each year. Quite a significant waste, and designer Evan Ducharme is out to prove how much fashion can be produced from merely reusing fabrics.
Are you inspired to be thrifty yet? So whether you choose to reuse your fashion, or completely recreate your own wardrobe, it is all part of working towards a solution. Because at the end of the day, your own simple, eco-recipes add up.
Have a lovely (eco) week to all! 🙂
For complete videos and photos of EFW, visit the EFW website!
Photos are a courtesy of Eco Fashion Week and Ed Ng Photography.