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Eco-friendly designs seek to leave stylish green imprint on fashion industry (Eco news)


Eco-friendly designs seek to leave stylish green imprint on fashion industry
Global Toronto reported

It may not be easy going the green route in the fashion world, but advocates for eco-friendly designs are forging ahead with efforts to build awareness and help take the niche business mainstream.

A studio space in Toronto's historic Distillery District is home to what's being billed as the city's first eco fashion showroom. Designers from Halifax, Montreal and Toronto are among those currently featured, with sustainable creations spanning the vast spectrum of style.

Fair-trade footwear with recycled tire soles and vests fashioned from secondhand clothes are showcased along with jewelry, organic cotton skirts, and wraps and scarves made from Tencel, a biodegradable fabric.

The new showroom is spearheaded by the members-based Canadian organization Fashion Takes Action, which seeks to make a positive social and environmental impact on the style industry.

"Though eco is a defining factor for them, they do consider themselves first and foremost designers," said Fashion Takes Action founder Kelly Drennan. "It's always about the style and the progressiveness and innovation ... in some ways more than it is about the fabric or their eco story. And that's an added bonus.

"Sustainable clothing shouldn't look any different. It's the story behind the garment where you actually discover that it's sustainable," she added.

"To the naked eye, just looking at it, it's no longer that burlap sack of 10 years ago and hippie frocks — (they're) actually stylish, quality garments."

While people are now seeking out ethical products, Lara Bazant says there weren't many fellow ethical and eco-jewellers when she started her business, Bazant Unique Adornments.

The Toronto-based Bazant, who has been designing for 20 years, creates handcrafted pieces from beads and silver sourced through fair trade or recycled from older pieces.

"I really had to make sure the esthetic of the pieces, the design of the pieces, were eye-catching, so that's what led people to it, and the eco-ethical aspect of it was the bonus," she said.

"It's always been the most important thing to me. But for my customers, whether or not it's the number 1 thing for them, that's their choice."

Myriam Laroche, founder of Vancouver's Eco Fashion Week, said the concept of green fashion doesn't rest solely with products, and that there needs to be a rethink of the way clothes are marketed and sold.

"If you go to your store and we wrap the organic cotton T-shirt in three papers plus a sticker plus a box plus more paper plus a bag, you're not eco," she said. "It's about attitude, it's about behaviour, it's about packaging, it's about sustainability."

Laroche said she created Eco Fashion Week in part to generate discussion on how to make more educated decisions surrounding shopping for and creating clothes. She's also made a concerted effort to change her own habits.

"I was shopping big stores and big brands back in the day. Ten years ago (buying an) $800 purse for me wasn't a problem," she admitted. "Now I'm happy to find that unique piece at Value Village from the '70s."

Efforts to widen awareness of sustainable fashion isn't restricted to the grassroots.

In January, the United Nations announced a partnership with Nordic Initiative Clean & Ethical (NICE), a project under the Nordic Fashion Association. The collaboration involves the launch of an initiative specific to the fashion industry focused on funding sustainable solutions to social and environmental challenges.

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