According to the About Page on Eco Fashion Week’s website, our beloved fashion industry also happens to be, unfortunately, the third most environmentally damaging industry in the world. Founder Myriam Laroche believes this does not have to be the reality and her efforts are part of a growing revolution towards more responsible production and consumption. The three-day event includes fashion shows, guest speakers and a competition involving the repurposing of $500 in Value Village merchandise. Each aspect of the event is meant to inform, inspire and encourage industry members and global citizens to consume consciously. We caught up with Laroche and asked about the strong appreciation for vintage, her next mission and suggestions for those who want to be more conscious. As a bonus, we were given a rundown of the top five reasons to the attend the event. (As if we needed them!)
FLARE: Eco Fashion Week includes both fashion shows and seminars. How has this show and tell approach inspired guests to treat fashion differently?
Myriam: Runway shows have proved to be efficient in showcasing collections for years. It’s a tool the industry has been using for decades. So to add the seminars and give information on new ways to create fashion is for now a good fit. Unfortunately, there are no ways to measure how much EFW is inspiring yet, but the media coverage we receive and the increase in our social media shows people are interested to know more. Four years ago, when we started, there were 200 eco-brands on our list, now we there is 800 names… I think it’s working well.
FLARE: How did Holt Renfrew and Ford Motor Company get involved with the project?
Myriam: We were introduced to both companies through mutual connections. I believe in timing and I think we were ready for this next step. Holt Renfrew had launched the H Project, a section in their stores that sells socially responsible brands. We are so excited to close the week in their downtown Vancouver location with a VIP cocktail featuring Cornelia Guest, a designer that creates a cruelty-free bag collection.
Ford is involved this season in our seminars. We often forget that the car industry is part of the textile industry, so we are very proud to have Carol Kordich speaking on how she spent the last 13 years on a mission to change the fabric that goes into Ford vehicles.
To have major companies like Holt Renfrew & Ford says a lot about the eco movement that is happening. We are at a time where we are still trying to figure out how to be responsible. No one has the same values, beliefs, human resources and financial resources. Each brand has to find their own “eco-recipe” and commit to improve themselves year after year. EFW is about opening discussion for the entire clothing and textile industry.
FLARE: The Thrift Chic Stylist Challenge is a competitive version of how a growing number of people shop. Why do you think there is now this strong appreciation for gently used and vintage clothing?
Myriam: I like to say that people realize it doesn’t hurt to wear it… for a long time second-hand products were associated with the lower class, which is not the case now. You do save money, you are doing a good thing for the planet by re-using and for a fashion fan like me you find treasures from early decades that are unique.
FLARE: What are your thoughts on fashion and consumerism? Is the industry improving?
Myriam: It is not about the clothes anymore but about which celebrity is wearing it. We feel that owning more clothes makes us more important… I have been there believe me. There is a lot of work to be done to find balance. But yes the industry is improving, we have reached the step where we can’t ignore it anymore. The fashion industry is damaging our planet, period. So as a fashion brand you have two choices: ignore the fact or do something about it. If you Google “eco fashion” or “responsible fashion” you can find many solutions. What is missing right now? Official international standards for the apparel and textile industry, like the food sector has. It is my next mission, I have been working on that for quite a while. Stay tuned!
FLARE: What do you suggest as a first step to fashion lovers who want to be consumer conscious?
Myriam: Get information and make an educated decision. Also, try it! For example, if you buy 10 pieces of new clothes per month, try to buy one second hand piece next month. Try it, see how it feels. I promise you will survive [wink!]. If you are not ready for second hand, ask questions about the clothes when you are in a store and read the tags. Where was it made? What are the materials? What are the care instructions? Again, nobody has the same values, beliefs or financial resources. It’s about finding your own eco fashion recipe then improving it each year.
Top 5 Reasons to Attend ECO Fashion Week:
1. Thrift Chic Stylist Challenge – For the fourth consecutive season thrift retailer Value Village returns to present a night for vintage lovers everywhere. The evening will kick off with the Thrift Chic Challenge, featuring stylists Kenneth Wyse, Dandilion Wind Opaine and Claire Bouvier who were given a $500 allowance to create ten runway worthy outfits from gently-used clothing from Value Village.
2. London Brand TildArt Turns Bicycle Parts into Fashion – TildArt is a London based brand by Hungarian designer Matild Janosi. This season at Eco Fashion Week TildArt will be showcasing their ‘Bicycle’ collection. Made from recycled bicycle inner tubes collected by the award-winning London rickshaw company Bugbugs, with whom she is collaborating to reuse tubes that have traveled thousands of miles and which are now turned into ‘edgy and fantastic’ clothing. These designs will soon be featured at the London Lord Mayor’s parade.
3. Exploring Textiles Outside the Fashion Industry with Ford Motor Company – Carol Kordich, lead designer of sustainable materials for Ford Motor Company, gives an inside look on how she spearheaded the adoption of aggressive Ford guidelines for using recycled content in vehicle fabric and helping to position the company as a leader in the use of such material, while also showing the industry how sustainable content can be used today.
4. twigg&hottie 10th Year Anniversary – twigg&hottie is turning ten years old! To celebrate the brainchild of Glencora Twigg and Christine Hotton, the girls will showcase We3, an in-house brand designed by Twigg, Hotton, and Jessica Viara.
5. Holt Renfrew Adds Finishing Touches to Eco Fashion Week – EFW’s seventh edition will conclude with a special cocktail and trunk show at Holt Renfrew featuring a personal appearance by New York-based designer Cornelia Guest, whose cruelty-free collection of handbags is carried at Holt Renfrew as part of H Project. H Project is a shop of extraordinary products with great stories, curated by Alexandra Weston, Director of Brand Strategy, who will also be in Vancouver for the evening. This event is free and open to the public!
For tickets and more information visit ecofashion-week.com.