Tag Archives: Eco Fashion Week

Eco Fashion Week 2013: BHANA Design

After watching the BHANA show at Eco Fashion Week, we decided we wanted to get to know the brand a bit better. We bring you a Style by Fire exclusive interview with two-time Eco Fashion Week designer Trisha Rampersad of BHANA Design.

What does the name BHANA mean, and how does it influence your brand?

BHANA is my maternal grandfather’s last name. He was a well respected business man and had great personal style.  He was also a man of integrity and was known in the community for this. When I started my business it made sense to me that I should name my business after this great man. Because of this, integrity in my business and [in my personal life] has always been a strong foundation for all I do.

We love the theme of this collection, “Embracing the Goddess Within.” What tips do you have for people to embrace their higher being?

The answer is just, love.  Love yourself for all that you are. Accept what you see as short-comings and free yourself to love yourself and your surroundings. When you love yourself, you actually free yourself and you are able to be the best version of yourself. And if you always live in that personal greatness, then you are being your own god or goddess!

What kind of eco-friendly fabrics did you use for BHANA?

For this Summer 2014 collection we used light, airy type fabrics. There is organic cotton, silk, linen, and a hemp/silk blend.

You mention the collection was inspired by Vancouver’s blue skies and ocean breeze – was that the inspiration behind the shiny sateen-like fabrics? Tell us more about the choice of fabrics and colour palette.

It was really important that fabrication be light and breezy. I don’t like it when fabric becomes so heavy that its wearer becomes lost.  Clothing should always uplift it’s wearer and enhance the human spirit. That ‘shiny’ fabric was the hemp/silk blend I mentioned earlier.  It is such a luxurious fabric!

What’s in store for BHANA next? Will you present at EFW again?

Who knows what the future holds for BHANA in the way of fashion shows!  I would love to present on the EFW runway again. This is absolutely the best team I have worked with. You really feel the love for what they do. I would love to get some celebrity endorsements for BHANA, and as you know, we have an online shop:  www.bhana.ca. The future for BHANA is all about sales. Let’s hope people love embracing their inner goddess with BHANA!

Photos by Aurora Chan

Interview by Miranda Sam


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Eco Fashion Week 2013: Cornelia Guest at Holt Renfrew

No week of amazing eco fashion would be complete without a fabulous party to cap it all off.  Holt Renfrew was host to a lively soiree Thursday evening at its downtown store, complete with hors d’oeuvres, open bar, and DJ.  It was lovely to see all the talented faces we have come to know over the week, from designers and stylists to bloggers and industry supporters.

There was also a trunk show featuring the beautiful handbags by New York socialite and philanthropist Cornelia Guest.  Her line of upscale bags, wallets, and dog accessories are 100% cruelty-free and use vegan alternatives rather than leather.  Her products are sold in Holts, Bloomingdale’s, and various other high end retailers across North America.  Guest herself made an appearance at the party, adding a touch of high society to the room.

Style by Fire had a blast attending the 7th season of Vancouver Eco Fashion Week and can’t wait for the next one in six short months!

Words and Photos by Aurora Chan

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: My Sister’s Closet, TildArt, Twigg&Hottie

My Sister’s Closet

My Sister’s Closet first opened in the 1990s as a means to connect with community —providing free clothing to women and families escaping domestic violence, unable to return home and needing to start anew. They return to eco-fashion week for the 3rd time this season. The collection titled,“Fearless,” was curated by nine women, including two artisans who have designed unique pieces for the event.

I must say, I was super impressed with the styling. The ladies curated such a creative collection, and I had overheard many conversations during and after the show that would support my personal opinion. The stylists were smart to style the vintage pieces with a rebellious theme, that way they were able to layer in pieces in unexpected ways. The last look was a wedding gown paired with body and face chains. Who would have thought that such a look could be pulled off elegantly? A wide variety of cheery pop-rocker songs, like “I Love Rock n Roll” and Pink’s “So What” played in the background. I felt the styling was done to perfection even more so when I saw the collection afterwards on hangers. I simply could not have imagined styling the outfits like that. Great work, ladies, and we hope you show at Eco Fashion Week next year!


Hungarian designer Matild Janosi flew from across the pond to show TildArt, her non-fabric material collection, at Eco Fashion Week. The show was split into two distinct sections: the first used re-purposed materials that looked like rubber tires (the first model brought a bicycle with her down the runway – hint?) and the second was like a surreal film noir fantasy with looks decorated with old-school film strips. To be honest, I didn’t think much of the first collection. Call me eco fashion ignorant, but I couldn’t see how women would like to wear what looked to me like rubber on their bodies. However, I felt like Janosi really turned the show around with the film strip collection. She really worked with way how film flexes and the curved lines it creates. I thought it was creative, cute, and would have worn the dresses to a fancy event like a film festival gala.  And I’m sure everyone was in awe of the glowing jellyfish-like hats.

After the show, Marilyn Wilson asked Janosi if she had packed the film strips separately and had assembled them when she arrived in the city. Of course I had never even thought of that issue. But immediately after learning that her answer was affirmative, I felt that the collection was that much more delightful. Overall, a very playful collection, and I’d I’d like to see Janosi work with non-fabric materials as the base layers in future collections.

Twigg & Hottie

Twigg & Hottie celebrated their 10th year anniversary with the Eco Fashion Week audience as the closing show of the week. Glencora Twigg, Christine Hotten, and Jessica Vaira’s combined efforts, We3, was shown as well as a variety of other local, Canadian, and sustainable brands. The collection was divided into 3 sections to represent the boutique through The Past, The Present, and The Future. For looks in the past, a grad project by one of the owners was shown. There were some really interesting cuts in a few dresses, exactly the type of craftsmanship I expect from this established Main Street boutique. What we have listed as the 18th and 25th images were stellar. Though there isn’t a back picture of #18, I’ll let you know that the denim extends all the way up to her cover her entire back. Is that not genius or what? For #25, you definitely need to see it in action; the way the circular hem flows is quite heavenly. Congrats to Twigg&Hottie and we hope there are many more wonderful decades for you ladies to celebrate!

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: Young Oak + Park, Couture Therapy, Dahlia Drive and more

Young Oak + Park

I really loved the look, craftsmanship, and ideas behind Tammy Joe’s first Young Oak collection. Designer Tammy Joe sources vintage pieces from all over the US and locally in Vancouver, then re-constructs them into re-contextualized pieces for the modern woman. After the show, we spoke with Tammy where she informed us that the brand is homonymous with her mother’s name. The name also spoke to her because of the juxtaposition of the two words: newness paired with the imagery of an old oak tree represents her re-construction process perfectly. Park Apparel, on the other hand, is her friend’s hosiery line that she used in the show.

We were surprised to find that most of the styles were constructed from two separate pieces – even some of the jackets were made from two items. Each look was so flawless and the entire collection very cohesive. We also spoke with Tammy about the scalability of producing one-off vintage pieces, and she said she had thought about all the work that goes into producing  unique pieces, but that she loves the process so much she went with it. I love her passion for reworking vintage, love her vintage-contemporary style, and hope to see lots more of her in the future.

Cherry Blossom Design

Cherry Blossom Design is an eco fashion clothing company which began in 2004 and is based on Salt Spring Island, BC.  The clothes are all sewn in Vancouver and screen printed in the Cherry Blossom studio using screens made from reclaimed picture frames and curtain sheers.  The most sustainable and softest fabrics are used, bamboo being the favourite due to its many environmentally friendly properties.  Designer Deanna Milligan is inspired by Chinese brush paintings, as well as the many flora and fauna surrounding the company studio on the island.

Dahlia Drive

Wendy Van Riesen is the one-woman show behind Dahlia Drive. She salvages pre-loved slips, shirts, and fabrics, then brings the garments back to a colourful life by hand-dying, screen printing and embellishing them in various ways. Some printed designs included trees, the human skeletal system, swirls, and abstract prints. One of my favourite pieces was a white 3/4 length sleeve shirt-dress that had a red background and a white tree. Somehow this piece’s tree branches played tribute to the spirit of the skeleton print from other pieces, while being wrapped in a pool of blood-red colour, and in the end captured the spirit of beauty found literally on the inside (of the body) and outside (in our natural environment).

Sally Omeme

An Albertan native, Sally Omeme learned to knit in the early 2000’s which led to her studying at the John Casablancas Institute in 2011. Supported by her instructors, she decided to realize her dream of becoming a knitwear designer and showcased her first collection at the John Casablancas Institute fashion show in May 2012. Watching Kim Cather’s 68 Pound Challenge creations at Vancouver ECO Fashion Week inspired her to experiment with used fabrics to make knitwear. She considers Audrey Hepburn, Carrie Bradshaw and Sarah Burton her style icons.

Couture Therapy

Sarah Couture was born in the small town of Merritt, BC, and has been passionately designing since the age of thirteen. She graduated from Blanche Macdonald in 2002, and after starting a family (her two very lovely little girls walked down the runway with her), she returned to fashion to start her own fashion business, House of Couture. The Couture Therapy ready-to-wear line she showed at Eco-Fashion Week was very street smart. Her ideal client is definitely a woman with attitude, and a whole lot of confidence to back it up. Models walked down the runway with t-shirts reading phrases like, “I heard that you like bad girls…” and “I am FU#@KING crazy but I am FREE.”

But the question is, who doesn’t need some Couture Therapy?

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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Eco Fashion Week 2013: Value Village Thrift Chic Challenge

The thrift retailer Value Village returned for the fourth consecutive season to present a night of fashion that strikes at the core of what Vancouver ECO Fashion Week is all about – the Thrift Chic Challenge involved giving three local stylists a $500 allowance each to create ten runway worthy outfits using  gently used clothing from Value Village.  This fun challenge tested the stylists’ creative juices while utilizing the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Kenneth Wyse

Kenneth Wyse is a freelance stylist, model scout, model, photographer, as well as current judge of the Strike A Pose modelling competition.  His philosophy towards dressing has always been one of universality, discarding the notion that clothes should be classified as male or female.  In line with this attitude of blending gender types, his collection was appropriately called “Kenneth Barbie”.  Both male and female models glided down the runway in streamlined ensembles of various shades of pink.  It brought me back to the new wave 80’s, Miami Vice, and of course, Molly Ringwald in the pivotal teen film “Pretty in Pink”.

Dandilion Wind Opaine

I had just seen Dandilion Wind Opaine’s amazing collection in Vancouver Fashion Week a couple of weeks ago and was excited to see what she had in store for this challenge.  I was not disappointed – she sent down a kaleidoscope of colourful and kooky ensembles down the runway.  A definite sense of playfulness and fearlessness was shown in mishmashing every kind of pattern, colour, and texture together, which all somehow worked beautifully.  I wanted to head straight out to Value Village right after the show; where did she find those colourful leggings, that cool hat, that funky top, I need them now!

Claire Bouvier

Claire Bouvier is the founder of The Claire Closet, an initiative that empowers girls through eco art and fashion, while helping them develop lifelong skills in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and innovative approaches to tackling social problems.  How great is that!  Bouvier made use of the many vintage dresses and skirts in Value Village and ‘supersized’ them, amping them up with accessories such as glasses, purses, and capes.  Each model sported a huge afro-like hairdo with a clothes hanger jutting out of it.  The overall look was very prim librarian gone off the deep end, in a good way.

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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Nicole Bridger’s Male Model Cast Show was ‘Supposed to be a Mind F@#$’

Nicole Bridger

I am not alone. You are not alone. We are not alone. Connect. Trust. Surrender. Each one of us on the same journey. See. See beyond form to see truth. Choose to return to love. Love is our purest state. We are not alone. These are the haunting words that pre-ambled Nicole Bridger’s Fall/Winter 2013 Show hosted at Celebrities.

Once again, Nicole Bridger kicked off Eco-Fashion Week, this time with her Fall/Winter 2013 collection titled “You Are Not Alone.” The idea behind this collection is that we tend to see ourselves as separate from one another, when in reality, we are all connected in this world in many ways. The themes of her collections definitely show continuity from one season to the next, with previous collections called “Be,” “Kali” named after the Hindu goddess of time and change, and “Allowing Grace.”

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Though this time around, Bridger posed some thought-provoking questions about gender and beauty, and challenged societal norms to the audience when she sent an almost all-male cast of models walked down the runway. She blurred the lines with androgyny. “I was hoping that the audience would go through a journey where they’d witness themselves judging, then go ‘Why do I do that? Why do I judge that? Why can’t that be beautiful?,'” said Bridger.

From Nicole Bridger's Facebook page

From Nicole Bridger’s Facebook page

There came moments during the show where I was truly confused with the androgyny. I questioned the gender of a few models, and found myself focusing more on the models than what they were wearing. I was curious, so I asked Nicole whether she had hired an all-male cast. “I chose to put 3 girls in there just to f$#@ with your head a little bit more; it was supposed to be a bit of a mind f*$%,” she said.

Nicole Bridger-transition

The transitions between each look included a moment of connection between the models, whereby the model leaving the stage would extend a hand to connect with the next model through a palm-to-palm touch or a soft brush at the shoulder. The touching represented ‘I see you, I acknowledge you.’ Her “we are not alone” philosophy extends to a world greater than a fashion runway. She talked about how necessary it is to dissolve fear, figure what it is you truly are, allow that love in, and connect with one another in your truest being.

Congrats to Nicole on another great collection, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of Eco Fashion Week has in store for us!

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Catch the closing walk for Nicole Bridger’s “You Are Not Alone” FW2013 collection.

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A Conversation with Wes Baker, co-founder of de-brand

Wes Baker, co-founder of Debrand ServicesThe story goes that Wes Baker and partner Amelia Ufford got the idea of recycling corporate textiles while surfing in Sri Lanka. They saw the masses of “brandfill” float ashore and decided to do something about it. Thus began the concept of Debrand, a company that recycles textiles while offering brand security to businesses such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and lululemon, who require brand security for their products as well.

The business had originally started out as a creative design firm called Cinder Creative. After establishing a solid client base, it allowed them to “spark the dialogue with [their] clients about the idea of ‘debranding’.” Once the resource recovery side eclipsed the creative side, the company fully rebranded as Debrand.

They first hosted Debrand in a warehouse in Yaletown. Rent was minimal, and they “constructed” it as they needed the space to work for their business. At the time the whole building was under a facelift; jackhammers were used the whole time, so he figured that they might as well jackhammer their place to outfit the space for their specific business needs too!

Wes definitely piqued my interest by doing what it takes to run a business, so I asked him about whether he believes entrepreneurship can be taught, as he holds a degree in it from the University of Victoria. He said he learned the basics of everything from his education: he can read financial statements perfectly well, can do operations, and of course the marketing. But the bottom line is that it takes a certain low-risk spirit and a leap of faith to be an entrepreneur. Or, says he likes to say, just “know enough to fake it.”

When we talked, what I noticed about Wes was that he was very multi-faceted; I think it comes from being an entrepreneur that requires one not only to juggle many tasks at once, but to see things from many perspectives. I brought up an issue about how it’s sad that clothing and apparel businesses churn out so many items that go to waste, basically I labeled it “bad,” but somehow he managed to look at it from a different angle.

He explained that it’s just a necessary evil because companies experiment with better ways of applying technology, similar to how nowadays consumers do much testing of beta software. I guess that’s just how the mind of an entrepreneur works – always seeing the opportunities.

Then we touched on some big issues in the fashion/sustainability world. “The fundamental of your business is to make more stuff and sell more stuff,” he said. We talked about how our economy is based on a consumption cycle, but just like the issue of skinny models ruling the runways, it’s really difficult to pinpoint where we can find a leverage point to create change. I also learned of an outdated part of our duty system, where it’s financially more sensible for companies to destroy clothing instead of recycling them because “destruction” warrants companies to regain its duties. We both agreed the whole situation is very grey.

So, instead of donating your old clothes to the nearest clothing collection bin, either give it to someone you know or leave it in your closet for a few more seasons. As he mentioned in his speech during the Eco-Fashion Week seminars, 95% of the clothing donated doesn’t make it back to a thrift store. In fact, most of it ends up as unwanted waste in third world countries.

Just take one of his examples – Wes was about to donate a jacket that had been sitting in his closet for a while but decided to give it one more go. Four people complimented his “new” jacket that day. So maybe it’s not so much that we need to find where the root of our consumption patterns lie, but rather, for us to view our wardrobes through a wider perspective. Just as an entrepreneur would see the many possibilities.

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Eco Fashion Week x Nicole Bridger Contest


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April 12, 2013 · 12:00 am

Vancouver Eco Fashion Week

Eco Fashion Week‘s fifth instalment started yesterday. One of my most anticipated shows is the Value Village styling project happening tomorrow night. What a great way to show that your shopping activity is helps the environment when you fine one woman’s “trash” and make it your treasure.

Also looking forward to Trade Day on Friday. Updates to come :)

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