In Vancouver, multiculturalism is fiercely embraced, and the natural setting of the Cascade Mountain Range towering over the city and the Pacific Ocean flowing around the peninsula of the downtown core makes thinking green a given. Globally-minded, eco-friendly fashion flourishes here, and Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week (EFW) is a platform for seasoned pros to share their knowledge as well as for new designers who are up for the challenge of making daring and wearable sustainable fashion.
This spring, from April 9–14, designers will not only be showing on the runway, but will be called on to limit their parameters by participating in events such as the 81lb challenge, where students, stylists, and renowned designers re-imagine clothing that is otherwise headed to the trash, or “Chic Sheets” where designers must choose an era to replicate using only recycled hotel bed sheets.
Up-and-coming new designers who are eco-minded have gotten their start at EFW, such as Evan Ducharme, who started as a student in the 81lb challenge and went on to show collections in 2014 and 2015 that landed his garments on the runway of the Toronto International Film Festival and in the pages of Fashion Magazine. “Showing at EFW was easily the turning point in my career,” says Ducharme.
Ducharme, who identifies as gay and is Metis with Cree and French backgrounds, believes “since Vancouver is quite multicultural, that lends itself to the broad range of backgrounds of designers; each with their own cultures to draw from.” His runway shows are androgynous, techno-futuristic, and they pair sharp and bold lines with purposeful drapery. If you think eco-friendly fashion looks like tie-dye and raw hemp, Ducharme’s collection easily flips that notion on its head.
What’s in store this season? Look for minimalism-meets-texture play with Mishel Bouillet, who values the slow-fashion movement of made-to-order garments in her collection, or the internationally-retailed bright patterns of Sonam Dubal, who collaborates with weavers and Kantha embroiderers from West Bengal. There are panel discussions with fashion pros such as John Fluevog, Founder, Head Designer and Owner of quirky Fluevog Shoes and Kyle Rudzinski, who is the Sustainability Manager of iconic Levi and Strauss Co.
Thinking of visiting Vancouver for Eco Fashion Week this April? Visit the Tourism Vancouver website to find out what else is happening (hint: there’s also a cherry blossom festival, a photography festival, concerts, plays, and parties.)