Updated: May 7, 2019
Victoria Eco Fashion Week was held at a church in Victoria, British Columbia’s downtown core from April 25th-27th, 2019. The creator, Kenneth Kamero, originally created the event in Kenya before he emigrated to Canada just over 1-year ago.
A Rags-to-Runway competition during the event showcases local eco-conscious fashion brands that strive for sustainability. Brands such as Chai Fashions and designers such as Ruth Monegro who have integrated social and environmental goals into their brands.
What materials are used in this article?
Waste - bicycle tires, signs,
Reclaimed copper, brass, silver and aluminum
What is eco-fashion?
Eco-fashion (also known as sustainable fashion) is the method of creating fashion brands that are not harmful to the environment. It is known as clothing that is designed for lifetime use. Businesses such as Patagonia, a global designer of outdoor clothing and gear for the “silent sports”--climbing, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, fly fishing, and trail running-- have carved a name for themselves in social and environmental initiatives. Victoria Eco-Fashion Week focuses on local players, grassroots, social entrepreneurs, greenfield, and “green” designers.
In “Eco-Clothing, Consumer Identity and Ideology,” by, Kirsi Niinimäki at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, she approaches eco-fashion by asking three relevant questions: “what are the internal drivers when consumers make ethical purchase decisions in the apparel field; why an attitude-behaviour gap exists in eco-fashion purchasing decisions and how eco-clothing intertwines with consumers’ identity and ideology.”
Niinimäki believes, “manufacturers need to find new ways to address consumer commitment, wishes, needs, values, desires and emotions as a key starting point for design process in eco-fashion.”
Ethical attitudes tend to be positive, but the actualization of ethical decision-making is difficult. We are collectively choosing to activate altruistic social norms so long as there is an individual or collective benefit. Social motivators are a strong influence on lifestyle, culture, and social value.
Ethical markets are growing slowly due to low-cost, high volume, economies of scale. “Desirable” brands are routed in consumer identity and consumer ideology. “Window-dressing” (the mere appearance of sustainability) has been coupled with the desire to renew personal appearance, following changing fashions and identities-Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes, Beyoncé, and Kim Kardashian, have recently played heavily into consumer identity. The underpinnings of mass media show their face in very limited, emotionally unsatisfied, buyer’s remorse that can only be renewed with the purchase of the next wave of fashion.
The construction of “self” with fashion has social upsides. Communities of businesses are gathering together in progressive steps for human rights, justice, and environmental protection, such as TenTree, Allbirds, and Patagonia. Sustainability standards such as the B Corp community that has rigorous self-regulation in their governance structure, workers rights, community engagement, environmental protection, and customer service.
Who is affected?
Stakeholders are those that are immediately affected by a business/organization. The immediately affected groups of fashion are those purchasing unethical and environmentally unfriendly products as well as those buying eco-friendly and sustainably made products. Brands that walked in the Rags-to-Runway competition are openly antagonistic of mass-produced and unsustainable brands.
Younger generations have developed a passion for sustainability. According to the "State of Fashion 2018" report by BoF & McKinsey, "66% of millennials actively search for social and environmentally progressive companies." According to a recent IPCC report on climate change, we have until 2030 to make major changes. Canada is warming at twice the rate than any other nation.
Victoria Eco-Fashion Week is a vision for owning sustainability language. The fashion industry may experience “green washing” (the appearance of sustainability rather than the practice of it), due to the lack of clarity in terminology. The designers at Victoria Eco-Fashion Week have products that scream environmentalism. A staunch contrast to businesses that simply use words such as “eco” or “sustainable” to attain sustainably conscious consumers.
Consumers are affected by the marketing of sustainable products. Sue Thomas, a professor at RMIT University, states that the “green blur detracts and confuses consumers from understanding sustainable products." Too many words are being used to describe eco-friendly products (this paragraph uses 3 - sustainable, green, and eco). The same issue occurs with the fashion and news industry. Two different industries. Although fashion-news is popular, it is not as popular as fashion and news on their own. Precision with eco-brands is necessary for consumers to find and use their purchases.
The following brands are examples of sustainability precision.
Who are the designers?
Rags-to-Runway Challenge, run by Sewlutions, showed a mix of styles on April 25-27 with a broad sense of sustainability. Sewlutions is a program for marginalized immigrants and women in Victoria to learn meaningful skills in a safe space without stigma and other barriers. The program includes social sewing, upcycling, basic sewing, and workshops.
Founded by Jakelina Listes, Stone Threads is an ethnic-inspired jewellery and accessory brand, strives for originality because they are not afraid to stand out.
Originally a home-based business upcycling cow horn, Southern Winds, founded by Valeria Martinez, has developed a business with new techniques and material such as silver, copper, brass and aluminum to hold sculpted cow horn.
Boutique fashion company MahaDevi Design, founded by Jules Marie Emmerson and Freyja Skye, has created a sustainable athletic wear brand that is flattering to all body shapes.
Providing work for marginalized people in Thailand and India, Chai Fashions, founded by self-taught designer Lindsay Jones, who has built a brand on conscientious fashion. Chai Fashions has an unwavering commitment to the human rights of their suppliers and runs a tight-knit production to ensure quality, detail, and beauty.
Dellis is run by D. Ellis, a Jamaican-born designer who emigrated to Canada as a child. The product sells for both the male and female figure as unisexed, fashion-forward, designs.
Locally-designed and manufactured in Victoria, Danzi, founded by Eun Choi who studied design at Berlin University. Designs are a mixture of Asian and European influences meant to subvert fast fashion.
In an attempt to divert pollution, Ash & Grove, founded by Asha Singh, is part of the ZERO WASTE FASHION community. They believe that zero waste can be attained without compromising style.
In the Igala language Udamma means “Synergy”, which is a pillar of the company, founded by Emmanuel Okee, in promoting community, culture, and diversity through the fashion industry. Udamma’s products are a mix of Canadian and Nigerian influence.
Founded by Tracy Yerrell, Bat-Fish Studio diverts all supplied materials from landfills and creates new and upcycled products. A line of jewellery made from bicycle tire tubes is a great example of how Bat-Fish helps to eliminate waste.
Lamm Fibre is an influential brand using natural fibres. Flora, fauna, and poise are pillars to the successful coexistence with nature. Founder Lydia AM Miller pays respects with Lamm Fibre to the lush west coast Canadian environment.
Handmade all natural products locally made, Oxford pushes the boundaries of sustainability so customers have a better selection of “green” products.
A free-flowing brand for women, Poème is ethically sourced and carefully crafted. Founder, Connie Howes, is growing a purpose-driven business with roots in Africa. Poème uses ethical products made with sustainable materials that are functional, beautiful and empowering.
Founded by Nicole Rodgers, Arianrhod Designs is an eco-friendly brand with a hand in the custom clothing industry.
Beating with an African soul, Ruth Monegro is a sustainable brand that is influenced by Haitian and African cultures.
Joshua David Joseph is our founder and main contributor at Sustainability: Through The Looking Glass. He is passionate about global business, sustainability, and culture. Find more from Josh on our members page.