EcoFashion: Urban fashion scavenger hunt

Love fashion but don't want to shell out the big bucks?

Credit: Courtesy and Nicole Miller

Five Vancouver fashion-philes comb the racks of the city’s consignment boutiques, from Main Street to Point Grey, to recreate a Nicole Miller runway look

Glamour, inspiration, expression. High fashion on and off the runway offers many things: a feast for the eyes, fodder for the imagination, an eloquent expression of the contemporary cultural climate, a nifty diversion. But because the price tag of the craft’s most elevated examples (namely, haute couture) is often as breathtaking as the design, and its knockoffs (hello, H&M!) are anything but sustainable (i.e., low-wage labour, fossil-fuel-heavy transport, low quality that breeds high waste, and so on) most of us must resign ourselves to hankering from afar.

Or must we? Surely there’s a way for us to make designer style statements that are kind to our wallets and the planet?

Nicole Miller look
Photo courtesy / Nicole Miller

To put this into action, we assembled a team of local fashionistas and enlisted their help for our first-ever urban fashion scavenger hunt. The team includes a fashion blogger, a local designer/boutique owner, a fashion student and Granville Online’s editor and ecofashion editor.

The challenge:

To reinvent, according to our individual styles, an upscale designer look with either locally designed pieces or items available in vintage and consignment stores.

The inspiration:

(Pictured at right) This comfortably elegant winter ensemble from Nicole Miller’s pre-fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection suggests boho chic and casual sophistication. Extrapolating from items currently featured in the Nicole Miller online store, this outfit—with the knit beret, patterned sweater tunic dress, black tights, leather tote and wedge pumps—would retail for approximately $900… Not exactly affordable.


The look book:


Click on any image above to see details about the outfit, including shop info and prices.


Hilary Henegar, Granville Online editor

Hilary's look

Hilary decided to make the look her own, opting for flats (her new favourite: oxfords!) instead of wedge heels and no hat; the glasses and tights she already owns. Even with individual customizing, Hilary’s final outfit comes the closest to the original inspiration. The dress really is an incredible find!

And she says she had a blast trying on dresses at Bohemia Gallery, where she got the dress—plus three others, a pair of boots, two sweaters and a scarf… “So many good finds,” she said, blushing to be caught splurging. “But I got it all for under $200!”

The Dress: Bohemia Gallery, 3243 Main St, Vancouver, $17

The Bag: Deluxe Junk Company, 310 Cordova St, Vancouver, $20

The Shoes: Burcu’s Angels, 2535 Main St,* Vancouver, $45

* Burcu’s Angels has since moved and has a new name. Find them at Pesky Peacocks, 221 E. Main St.

Hilary's accessories
Bohemia Gallery insideBohemia Gallery outside


Jiamei Bai, fashion student


Jiamei's lookJiamei's look on hangerWoo Jiamei's shoes and bagJiamei's bag (detail)

Jiamei struck gold (or rather, eye-popping red) at Woo Vintage, instilling the look with some ’60s flair. “I can’t tell you how many wonderful things I had come across, some of which I purchased for myself!” Jiamei enthuses. “Vintage shopping is perhaps a more challenging experience, but it allows one’s creativity to blossom and once a while, the surprise of finding something amazing makes the effort worthwhile!”

The Dress: 1960s-style hand-crocheted wool dress; likely homemade, as there is no label. $48

The Bag: 1960s–70s-style leather bag with red leather lining. The bag is also labelled with the original shop name (Pinia) and the store address (in New York, NY). $42

The Shoes: Classic Italian-made Mary Jane with stacked heel and leather sole. Beautifully perforated detailing can be found on the toe side. When worn out, the leather sole can be replaced many times over, thus increase the life of the shoes extensively. $38

Jiamei Bai is an engineer in training who is also pursuing part-time studies in fashion and merchandising at Vancouver Community College. With fashion as her fire and math as her water, Jiamei carries out the life of a Libra, swaying between the fine lines of art and science.


Vanessa Choot, fashion blogger


Vanessa's look
Vanessa's bag detailVanessa's shoes

Vanessa assembled her take on the Nicole Miller look at Changes Clothing and Jewelry Bar, her go-to store for one-stop new and like-new fashion. With the help of Emma Pritchard, the sales manager who has worked at Changes for eight years, she came up with a breezy, textured interpretation:

Changes Clothing and Jewelry Bar

The Hat: Slouchy knit hat by local knitter Lynn Meacham. Black with a white/grey border; also available in other colors, including purple. $10.50

The Dress: Brown-and-tan striped dress with scrunchy sleeves and a brown satin collar trim. Consigned to Changes Clothing from the boutique Out of the Blue, located in Winnipeg. $19

The Bag: Leather Roots bag with an interior pocket and zippered pouch. $99

The Leggings: Black leggings with bronze sparkles. $23

The Shoes: Dark brown peep-toe pumps. $29

Vanessa Choot

Vanessa Choot is a graduating UBC Commerce student and the vice-president of the UBC Marketing Assoc. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Mix Vancouver, a current events and lifestyle website/blog covering the arts, fashion, dining and nightlife. It won the “Best New Blog (2008)” award in the Best of 604 Metro Vancouver awards. Vanessa loves to connect with her readers so drop her a line any time.


Davinia Yip, Granville Online ecofashion editor


Davinia's look

Except for the beret, I found my pieces at C’est La Vie, one of many eclectic consignment boutiques on Main Street. I paired the tunic with a black turtleneck worn underneath. The ever-versatile black turtleneck is one of my essential closet staples, along with the black tights also worn here. Instead of a tote, I went for a low-slung bag that can be worn across the body. It adds a playful element to the outfit and, more importantly, leaves my hands free to cradle my matcha latte!

The Hat: Brown V. Fraas popcorn-knit beret from Mintage, $20

The Dress: Tunic dress by Precocious, handmade in Canada with repurposed fabrics, $40

The Bag: Low-slung black leather bag with adjustable strap, $25

The Shoes: Black Mary Jane pumps with double-straps, $30

Davinia's dress (back)Davinia's bagDavinia's shoes

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Erin Templeton, designer and shop owner


Erin's look
Erin's bagErin Templeton Shoppe

Erin put together her outfit with items from her store, Erin Templeton Shoppe, which stocks vintage clothes she finds as well as her own creative designs. The chapeau and glasses she already owns. “I don’t buy new clothes, only vintage for me,” she says. “It was fun to create the same look, but I think the beauty of vintage is that you aren’t necessarily trying to recreate a look, you are just finding something that looks good on you and is timeless.”

The Dress: 1980s knit Spanner, $70

The Turtleneck: (worn under dress) 1960s vintage cashmere, $39

The Leggings: 1980s stretch jeans $35

The Shoes: velvet platforms, early 1992 Fluevog, $95

The Bag: 2008–09 black leather palooka by Erin Templeton (can be worn two ways), $295

Erin Templeton

Erin Templeton gets her creative inspirations from pieces with history and takes pride in her efforts to make her designs look unique. Erin Templeton Designs include bags of all shapes and sizes, belts, sandals and spats. Both new and old leather are used in Erin’s pieces. All production and manufacturing take place in Vancouver.