Tag Archives: Eco-Fashion

Eco Fashion Week 2013: 68 Pound Challenge featuring Evan Ducharme

The inspiration behind Value Village’s 68 Pound Challenge is the fact that 68 pounds represents the weight of clothing and textiles that an average North American throws away each year.  Emerging designer Evan Ducharme was chosen this year to take on the creative feat of transforming this 68 pounds of fabric from Value Village into a brand new collection.  He was mentored by Kim Cathers, designer of the first two 68 Pound Challenge runway shows.

Ducharme began his passion for designing sustainable fashion early, learning how to sew from his aunt and putting on fashion shows in high school using mostly repurposed garments and textiles that were donated to him.  He studied at the Visual College of Art and Design in Vancouver and later interned at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week, which further instilled his belief in the importance of environmentally responsible practices in fashion.

His Spring/Summer 2014 collection for the challenge was entitled “Halcyon”, denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy or peaceful.  His inspiration came from a myriad of things, including the imagery of 1960’s French films, as well as the need to design clothes free of excessive detail and embellishment.  Being his first foray into menswear, Ducharme aimed to connect his already established vision of the Evan Ducharme woman with that of the man.

Ducharme’s creative vision resulted in an exquisite collection of whites, blacks, and greys.  With clean lines and attention to detail, the minimalistic pieces were both modern and very wearable.  My favourites were his dresses, which were feminine in a non-fussy way and flattering for all body types.  Ducharme successfully transformed thrift into high fashion; I would buy the entire collection if I could!

Words + Photos by Aurora Chan

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EP!C 2013: A Look at Sustainable Fashion

Tees & Sunnies

Two Birds Eco-Luxury Apparel

Daniel and Tiffany of Two Birds know a thing or two about casual luxury. Their eco-friendly line of organic cotton and bamboo t-shirts are silky soft to the touch and make their customers feel indulgent without looking it. They also carry a line of eco eyewear called Sire’s Crown. According to their website, each pair is “handcrafted in LA using sustainably forested and reclaimed woods.” In addition to the stylish Wayfarer-esque look, the glasses also come in an equally sleek case too.


Frocks & Gowns


Designer Leanne McElroy was at a sustainable employment sewing cooperative in Indonesia at the time I had wanted to interview her. Not only does she help develop communities through the co-op, she also uses organic, sustainable or upcycled fabrics, sourced from the Indonesian communities. But this established Vancouver designer needs no introduction; the clothes speak for themselves. Her contemporary West Coast stylings are well suited for an evening out or for professional day-to-day wear. Elroy definitely had one of the busiest booths at EP!C.

Pure Magnolia

Pure Magnolia is a dream come true for brides who opt for eco-weddings to suit their eco-lifestyles. Designer Patty Nayel sources fabrics such as organic cotton sateen, hemp silk satin, and modal knits. The team collects and refashions vintage wedding dresses,  as well as create new styles; one of my favourites being the diamond back styles. The designs even inspired a 3 year old boy, who pointed to the tulle wedding dress on a mannequin and said, “When I get married, my bride’s going to wear this dress.”


Purses & Handbags

Love Me 2 Times

Featured in the EP!C preview, Love Me 2 Times is the brainchild of handbag designer, Amelia Shaughnessy. Her bags, clutches, make-up bags, and coin purses are all made from recycled leathers sourced from local vintage shops. Her latest collection of fringe purses are are flirty and fun; simply perfect for summer.

Cork by Design

The Portuguese designed and crafted cork handbags by Cork by Design could easily pass for leather. Instead, the husband and wife team, Martha and Jack Vainer, have used cork, sourced from the cork forests in Portugal. Bark is stripped from the cork trees, and the renewable resources “regenerates itself after each extraction.” The Style by Fire team’s favourite eco-design of EP!C is definitely the Cork by Design iPad shoulder bag: how modern and sustainable!

Coming up next… A Look at EP!C from a sustainable living point of view

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EP!C Preview: Amelia Shaughnessey Loves Leather 2x


Amelia Shaughnessy started making bags from reclaimed leather 3 years ago while working full-time. But at her day job, she says, “All I was thinking about was making bags!” So in January of this year, she opted to make Love Me 2 Times  her full-time work. Although every new business can be a struggle to get off the ground, Amelia confidently says, “It’s worth it to do what you love.”

Her bags are all made from vintage leather jackets… and pants! Apparently there’s quite a high supply of leather pants in the thrifting markets. Pants also offer a much wider range of colour choices for the designer, as most leather jackets she finds are brown or black. What is now a teal handbag was once a pair of pants, and a current blue purse was a former leather skirt. Amelia never knows what to expect when hunting for new materials;  it’s certainly always a surprise.

Because of the panels on these garments, she often takes what may seem like an awkward piece and turns it into a focal point in her designs. Oftentimes, jacket pockets are repurposed as a bag’s external pockets. Perhaps it would act as an easy go-to area for lipstick? Love is literally infused on Love Me 2 Times bags: a little stitched heart makes an appearance on the products.

Look inside the recycled leather bags, the brightly patterend lining you see was made from a vintage dress. In addition to speaking to the environmental awareness she creates, Amelia says she “really wanted to something so each one is unique so that people felt it was something really special.” The uniqueness factor is something that runs throughout her business and personal style. When asked which fashion icon she admires, she doesn’t take a moment to hesitate, and mentions Emilio Pucci. “My entire wardrobe is vintage dresses,” she laughs.

Amelia Shaughnessey

Amelia will be at the EP!C Sustainable Living Festival this July 6 – 7th at the Sustainable Living Marketplace. Check out Love Me 2 Times along with Elroy, Dahlia Drive, and other eco-fashion designers.

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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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BE SCENE : Shakti Fashion Show – tonight!

Shakti Fashion Show

Eco-friendly designers Baljit Rayat and Nektar Designs will showcase their clothing collaborations along with fashions influenced by sacred geometry and fractal energy. More information at 604-688-3714,  bkrayat@yahoo.ca

Aug. 20, 2008 , 7-9 pm

Le Marrakech Moroccan Bistro @ 52 Alexander St

Free admission

Source: Georgia Straight Time Out Events



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