Eco Fashion Week is here!! Last year, I argued that Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week, which occurs every April and is in its 10th year, is the most important fashion week globally. And I believe that that fact still rings true. It may not get enough press as New York, London, Paris or Milan, but those more prominent events could learn a thing or two from this week, which is so much more than just fashion collection presentations.

 Eco Fashion Week 2016 | Sense of Aesthetic

Like Vancouver’s conventional fashion week, Eco Fashion Week takes place in (nearly) all the same venue, and so likely the vibe is much more chilled than conventional weeks. There’s no worry about conflicting schedules or shuttling from venue to venue, so that the public and press can focus on the clothes and their message.

Of course, those garments are presented by designers who must have a focus on all things sustainable. In an industry that is the world’s third most polluting (behind oil and agricultural), the designers who present collections at Eco Fashion Week focus on sustainable materials or upcycling old fabrics. In the fashion industry, putting such constraints on designers’ creative process is rare, but I believe that it can bring out the best and most beautiful ideas.

It’s as if they’re writing fiction within a specific genre. For most of the purchasing public, high fashion may be a bit of a mystery. But sustainable fashion collections are the speculative fiction of the style world: it has limits on its genre, but can result in wildly imaginative pieces that can be more accessible to anyone who is buying fashion. Think a Harry Potter. A Lord of the Rings.

If we think about fashion in these terms, then it’s not that surprising that much of high fashion is very similar year to year in structure, material, or color palette. Imagination unfettered by even budget results in self-restraint. But with sustainable style, where solutions to one of the world’s most pressing must be taken into account, the limit is only the designer’s only ingenuity.

Eco Fashion Week 2016 | Sense of Aesthetic

The Events

Eco Fashion Week includes, of course, the runway shows that you’d expect of any fashion week. Participants include Ethik, Canada’s first ethical fashion incubator, Prophetik, which focuses on the harm done by petrochemicals in the fashion supply chain, and Laudae, a brand new conscious bridal brand.

But more than the shows, Eco Fashion Week hopes to widen the conversation around sustainable style with events that won’t be found during conventional fashion weeks.

Chic Sheets

It’s only fitting that since the venue of choice for Eco Fashion Week is the Fairmount Waterfront, that eight designers would have to create a collection using only old sheets from the hotel and dyes. The result is a beautiful experiment in simple, effective upcycling and an amazing way for designers to showcase their skills.

Thrift Chic Challenge

Similarly, three designers have been chosen to create a collection from $500 worth of thrift shop finds from Value Village. Showing tonight, the designers will no doubt come up with creative and beautiful that highlight just how much value there is in discarded clothing. This is so important as currently 95% of textiles make their way into the trash, and of the items that are donated, only about 10% are ever sold in North America.

The 81 lbs Challenge

81 pounds is the size of pallets on which clothing ends up, once they’ve outlived their usefulness on sales floors. And so students from the Visual College of Art and Design have been challenged to take that amount and turn it into a student runway show.  Also happening tonight, the show promises to be a creative way for students to practice their burgeoning design skills.

Lecture Series

A photo posted by Eco Fashion Week (@ecofashionweek) on Apr 10, 2016 at 9:36pm PDT


Eco Fashion Week end with a series of lectures that keep conversation and education at the core of sustainable fashion. Eco conscious designers, as well as representatives from Value Village and Levi’s, will talk on panels to keep the conversation about conscious fashion going. These events are so unique and so needed for the industry and the public to ask questions of brands and industry representatives that we rarely get to — about what our clothes are made of, in what conditions they’re produced, who made them, and how.

Update: here are highlights from Eco Fashion Week year 10:

Do you think Eco Fashion Week is important for the future of fashion? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments!


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