Vancouver's interest in sustainable design has taken root in the fashion industry, but concentrated investments need to be made in order to maintain the eco-friendly community

 

I wanted to like Eco Fashion Week (EFW), a parade of environmentally friendly frippery, which took place at Gastown’s Storeyum October 5-7. The event, now in its third season, combines runway shows with presentations on sustainability and best practise methods in eco-conscious clothing design and production.

 

Given that the textile industry is one of the most toxic, the need and desire for more eco options is very real.

 

Despite a few shining moments of eco glam, both Eco Fashion Week and Vancouver’s eco designers would benefit from a chic, green puppet master pulling the event strings—or, at the very least, a stronger organizational machine.

 

It’s impossible to launch an eco initiative from chaos. It’s also impossible to properly support and market the new talent an edgy event like Eco Fashion Week attracts without the necessary resources in place.

 

Perhaps most unfortunately, the quality of Eco Fashion Week has declined. In terms of presentation, participation and panache, Eco Fashion Week Season 2 outshone Eco Fashion Week Season 3.

 

Eco Fashion Week Season 3: what worked

Nicole Bridger Spring/Summer 2012 runway show (Image: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven)

 

Myriam Laroche, EFW President

Even when designers turn up 20 minutes late for a panel discussion, Laroche can still mitigate an awkward situation with cheeky lines like: “I will be scandalous during this Eco Fashion Week; you will see me wear stuff more than once.”


Vancouver Talent

Vancouver’s dominant eco name, Nicole Bridger, put her heart and soul into a moving show with memorable choreography. Other strong Van City designers who participated include Adhesif, Sofia, Misty Greer, Daub + Design and Anna Kosturova, all of whom Citizen Style has covered in the past. Finally, I was positively surprised by newcomer Anna Talbot’s ephemeral-romance look.

 

Titania Inglis Spring/Summer 2012 collection. (Image: Evan Browning)

 

International Talent

My favourite import was Brooklyn-based designer Titania Inglis, who showed after Bridger. Inglis describes her eponymous line as a study of contrasts: tough, yet feminine. Modern, yet rooted in traditional handwork.

 

“The Window” Trade Show and Boutique

For the first time since EFW launched, designer eco ware was on sale in a pop-up shop at 142 Water Street.

 

Eco Fashion Week Season 3: what didn't work

Lead time

The event site, including the show/workshop schedule, did not go live until days before the event, reducing the possibility of strong advance coverage.

 

Competition

I was accosted by reps from competing Vancouver Fashion Weeks as soon as I entered the pop-up shop wearing a media pass. Even a global hub cannot support coordinating and hosting multiple fashion weeks. In Vancouver, this division between multiple parties undermines the entire apparel industry.

 

Conversation

During the designer panel on green design, four designers (Nicole Bridger, Jason Matlo, Adhesif’s Melissa Ferriera and Misty Greer) talked about sustainable practices. While each individual had a compelling and distinct set in place, the EFW moderator kept repeating, “Perfect,” instead of making the effort to seek overlap or generate discussion.

 

Branding

EFW markets itself as green, but many of the brands who participated don't market their products as eco or green because they don’t want to limit their customer base to environmentalists, leaving one to wonder if EFW had difficulties getting enough designers to show.