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Day 1 of Eco Fashion Week in Vancouver
Written by Jessica McIlroy - Monday, 22 April 2013


Nicole Bridger (Photo credit: Peter Jensen)

For the first time, Eco Fashion Week in Vancouver kicked-off the event with the Seminars; a speaker series focused on building discussions around sustainability issues, challenges, opportunities and innovations in the fashion industry. The Seminars were moved to the beginning of Eco Fashion Week partly so there would be an educational and awareness context built as guests then go on to watch the runway fashion shows; helping to continue to build the story behind the clothes. Also for the first time, the seminars were live-streamed, and recorded for posting online.

The first session had speakers, and a Greenpeace International Detox Campaign video that drew attention to a couple of the areas where the garment industry is most damaging. Wes Baker from debrand Services spoke about textile waste, what is creating the overwhelming amount of clothes and textiles entering our landfills, and where other textile wastes are turning up. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest issues right now is the result of the fast fashion industry, the dramatically increasing amount of poor quality clothing being discarded in unwearable condition. But textile recovery and recycling efforts are increasing and laws against textiles entering landfills are coming into place.

Mary Hanlon of Social Alterations spoke about overcoming the negativity we see with images and media coverage on textile toxicity, garment factory fires, and piles of waste, to look for how we can make a difference. The message was to choose what you stand for and become part of a movement that can create change.

In the second session, Jason Neve from eco Apparel gave a good overview of the textile recycling opportunities and challenges, especially with polyester fibres. He also highlighted how corporate garments, such as uniforms and branded shirts represented a huge area where recycled fibres could and should be used, and how the technology could then transfer to other areas of the fashion industry. Shannon Whitehead provided her experience with the creation of a small sustainable clothing company {re}volution apparel and their Versallete, a garment that can be worn over 20 ways. Shannon now works as a consultant, helping other companies find ways to be more sustainable in their design and production, and focus on opportunities for versatility, and modularity.


Nicole Bridger (Photo credit: Peter Jensen) 

The third seminar session had two local Vancouver designers, who are also both showing at Eco Fashion Week this season, Lincoln Heller of fiveleft leather and Nicole Bridger. They both gave an open and honest discussion around how they started as a designer, incorporated their values into their product and business, and some of the challenges they face in continuing to grow their brand while remaining true to their sustainability beliefs and goals.

Returning once again to speak at Eco Fashion Week, Carly Stojsic from WGSN provided a fascinating presentation on the global style, design and fashion trends coming up for the next season. There was an interesting theme pertaining to the geological history of the Earth.


The last session focused on rethinking second-hand clothing. Anny Leclrec from Value Village, along with Myriam Laroche of Eco Fashion Week talked about breaking the stereotypes around thrift shopping and used clothes. Myriam, a second-hand devotee, also gave some ideas on what to look for when thrift shopping. How you can look for quality goods, discover designer vintage pieces, new items, and just start to change your outlook when shopping for clothes.


Nicole Bridger (Photo credit: Peter Jensen) 

The first day of Eco Fashion Week, the 6th Edition, closed out with another unconventional fashion presentation by Nicole Bridger. This season she showed her current collection (she always presents the collection currently available) at the Portside Pub. Models stood on pedestals, changing “stations” throughout the venue. A make-up and hair styling demonstration took place up on one of the tables, with a final line-up of all the models.

Nicole’s clothes, like her collection presentations, continue to remain unique and true to her character. She is fashion forward at the same time as standing out from the crowd, not following trends. Her clothes seems to add more dimensions each season and remain very wearable.

Three more days of Eco Fashion Week remain, with runway shows on the evenings of April 22 to 24, each of them live-streamed. Check the website for ticket and live streaming information.




Jessica McIlroy is a sustainability consultant with extensive experience in the renewable energy industry, climate change policy, gender equality and community development. She has worked for a number of non-profit associations and is the founder of the BC Women in Energy Network. Jessica is also working to increase the sustainability of the garment and textile industry, working as the Chief Awareness Officer for Eco Fashion Week, and contributing eco fashion pieces to online publications. Jessica holds an MSc in Environmental Sustainability, an MBA in Executive Management, a certification in Climate Change Decision Making, and has completed The Accountability Project Sustainability Practitioner Course. 




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