The fashion industry is notorious for being resource intensive. From water usage, pesticides, sweatshops to textile waste -- we are tearing at the seams when it comes to sustainable concerns associated with the world of style. Yet surprisingly, it's not uncommon to get an eye roll or glazed-over gaze at the mention of eco-fashion. Why?
Never mind that we are living in the era of Trump -- when political correctness and caring for the environment are suddenly sore points of scorn -- but many simply see "sustainability" as yet another buzzword, something too leftie tree-hugger for their liking.
There's also this perceived workload in buying sustainable clothing and joining the movement which deters many people away from it -- too daunting a task to neatly fit into one's stylish sensibility. That's two strikes against the sustainable style movement and we're barely getting started. Tough sell -- literally.
Admittedly, I didn't pay much attention to sustainability in fashion until a couple of years ago when I started forging closer relationships with more Canadian designers and really understanding exactly where and how my clothes were being made. And full disclosure, I still don't have an exclusively eco-fashion wardrobe, but I am certainly more conscious of my choices, and that's a start.
According to Myriam Laroche, the founder of Vancouver's Eco Fashion Week:
"Eco has held a heavy, all-inclusive concept to date but we need to understand there is a spectrum and we don't have to be 'completely eco.' Every little bit helps... Taking action is what we need to do even if we are still trying to figure out how to create a healthy fashion industry, because it is the first time we are challenging the way it's always been done."
How you can support sustainable fashion
Just the way we play with new looks and don't always jump in both feet wet, same goes with eco-fashion. You can make small changes towards sustainable style. Every action has impact.
A few simple ways to work sustainable fashion into your look are:
1. Buy natural fibres: Cotton and bamboo are two examples of natural fibers that make great fabrics and clothes.
2. Upcycle: Re-fashion your apparel. Little Grey Line takes old men's work shirts and remakes them into adorable dresses for little girls. You can also give it a try at home. Just find a great shirt and create your own custom design for your mini-me.
3.Do some DIY: YouTube lately? Even those that can't work a needle and thread for the life of them (myself included) have learned some pretty cool hacks and can work magic on old wares with some viral video inspiration
4. Shop and swap your closet: Whether it's a swishing party with your colleagues or swapping pieces with your sis, a simple closet swap instantly adds new life to your wardrobe. You can also take it to the next level by renting pieces from your closet. East or West, you got options. Take My Sari is a new app dedicated to renting as well as buying and selling Indian fashions.
5. Do some research: There are so amazing eco-friendly brands out there. Get on Google and find something that suits your style. You may find that even one of your favourite designers, like Stella McCartney, has an eco-chic line.
Canada's Sustainable Fashion Awards
There is a steadily growing group of talented eco-friendly designers in Canada, and celebrating them is a step in the right direction. Fashion Takes Action's Design Forward, a sustainable runway show featuring the top designers in Canada puts them to the test for the first time this year. All of the designers featured beautiful workmanship. The three finalists included Peggy Sue Collection, Triarchy and Omi Woods.
Know who made your clothes
Part of better understanding sustainable style is getting to know the designers behind the brands and what they stand for. Ethics play a key role in many of these brands' philosophies. From the use of eco-friendly dyes andusing natural, local materials to their fullest extent to working directly with the farmers and artisans involved in making the clothes to ensure fair wages, strong ethics are at the core of many eco brands. Many do not mass produce. They keep a small inventory and only make what is ordered so your product is that much more unique and their manufacturing practices have less of an impact on the earth. Knowing how and where your clothes are made is all part of making you a more conscious consumer.
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