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"One day, when people think ecofashion, I want them to think Vancouver."
Myriam Laroche has always loved fashion, and until about two years ago, one may even say to excess.
“I was the girl with 100 pairs of shoes,” she laughs.
Laroche used to be quite the voracious consumer, bent on accumulating what she now calls a “super saturation” of trendy threads. Then one day she took a pause and began to ponder how her fashion statements may be leaving some heavy-duty carbon heel prints on the planet.
“I started asking myself, ‘Why do I need so much? How can I make a difference doing what I love?'”
These thoughts led Laroche to explore the world of vintage fashion, and she was soon amazed by the range of beautiful finds that she could reuse and re-create into stylish, contemporary looks. Laroche now works as an eco-stylist and sells her own vintage line, Myriam’s Closet.
And now she’s ready to take it up a notch.
Drawing from her 15 years of experience working in the fashion industry in Montreal and New York, Laroche is determined to not only promote ecofashion in Vancouver, but also to position our city as the ecofashion capital of the world.
“One day, when people think ecofashion, I want them to think Vancouver.”
Thus was born the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week.
According to Laroche, the goal of Vancouver Eco Fashion Week goes beyond celebrating the tremendous local design talent—what she really wants is to educate those in the industry on sustainable practice.
“People don’t know the details. When they think ecofashion, they think ‘organic cotton.’ And that’s fine, to start,” she notes. “But what about the way the cotton is dyed and processed? What about wastage in fabric? We need to continue to explore ways to make clothes in a truly eco-friendly way.”
To that end, an integral part of the Week will be conferences with international expert panels aimed at educating designers, manufacturers and buyers.
At the moment, Laroche is still hammering out the specific selection criteria for the trade exhibitors, but she does confirm that while Vancouver talents will play a central part, it will be open to Canadian and international participation. And even though she envisions a significant part of Vancouver Eco Fashion Week to be aimed at industry insiders, Laroche is also planning an opening fashion show for the public.
The current plan is to hold the Eco Fashoin Week every February and September. But this year, because of the 2010 Olympics, it will take place from April 20–22, concluding on Earth Day with a charity gala to benefit Our Social Fabric, Global Peace Hut and the David Suzuki Foundation.
Laroche also looks to make the Earth Day gala an annual event.
Given that even Vancouver’s regular fashion industry is struggling to amass a strong public following, propelling the ecofashion scene into mainstream consciousness appears to be a Herculean feat. Laroche concedes that this will be a long-term project, and she has her work cut out for her.
“Some people have been skeptical. Basically they think I’m crazy,” she laughs. “But that’s not going to stop me.”
But even as there are detractors, Laroche is also receiving enthusiastic support from important allies, among them city councillor Andrea Reimer—a key player in spearheading Vancouver’s initiative to become the greenest city by 2010—whom Laroche met at the past EP!C conference, and Phil Heard from the Vancouver Economic Development Commission.
Reimer and Heard agreed that ecofashion could be positioned as an important cultural facet of the city’s overall green initiatives, and while local fashion is currently a relatively small market in Vancouver, the potential to develop it into a successful niche market with an environmental focus is huge.
“Right now they’re busy with the Olympics, of course,” Laroche says. But she expects to be working with them more closely afterwards in gearing up for the main event in April.
Another helpful factor I think lies in Laroche’s inclusive approach. By opening up the event to international designers, this will be more an ecofashion week in Vancouver than a week of Vancouver ecofashion. As our local ecofashion scene is budding and may still be finding its financial foothold, it is a sound strategy to rally other Canadian as well as international labels to come together in generating the inspiration and momentum that one hopes will translate back into greater public support for our local ecofashion community.
While Vancouver Eco Fashion Week isn’t on til April, Laroche is putting on a launch party on February 19 to raise funds and to start generating buzz—and what better time than during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when the world’s gaze is trained on our city?
It promises to be a wonderful night, featuring dynamic live musical performances headlined by seasoned Canadian singer-songwriter Jill Barber, live art by Caroline Weaver, and of course a fabulous show with the local ecofashion heavyweights, including:
Nixxi (pictured at top) – A beautiful collection of minimalist designs with fresh, clean lines that are also flirty and sweet, using natural fabric like organic cotton and woven bamboo voile.
Adhesif (pictured at right) – Bold colour juxtapositions and texturized designs in one-of-a-kind garments that incorporate recycled fabrics.
kdon – Outside-the-box designs from Project Runway Canada contestant Kim Cathers, who utlizes materials from the textile recycling initiative Our Social Fabric.
Ashley Watson – Absolutely gorgeous handbags crafted with recycled leather.
Dotted Loop – Glamorous statement jewelry made with reworked antique materials.
We3 – Basic essentials and great layering pieces made from eco-friendly fabric.
With the help of the City of Vancouver and the passionate leadership of Laroche, Vancouver Eco Fashion Week looks poised for an auspicious inaugural year. But your support is crucial too! Come cheer on eco-style at the launch party and help make Vancouver Eco Fashion Week a success!
A fundraiser for Vancouver Eco Fashion Week
Friday, February 19, 2010 at 8 p.m.
Vancouver Public Library, Promenade
350 West Georgia St, Vancouver
Tickets are $45 and available online
A portion of the proceeds raised will benefit the David Suzuki Foundation.
www.vefw.com | Twitter
Davinia Yip enjoys discovering new things, especially ones that she can eat or wear. She feels lucky to be living in Vancouver, and even luckier to be able to write about it from time to time. Twitter