There were a number of fabulous designers at Eco Fashion Week Vancouver.  All of which to meet the Eco Criteria set by the organizing team and Green Advisory Board.   I'll admit I was naïve and thought this meant the entire process of each designer that showed at the event would be 100% sustainable.  As I quickly learnt this is a very difficult process.  I consider myself a well informed consumer and frankly was SHOCKED at how complex this issue is.  Honestly I think it will be a long time before the average consumer is educated enough to make truly informed decisions.

So what can we do now?  We celebrate those that are making smart choices and working to create change.   To me this is like throwing a small rock into the water and watching the ripples that grow from it.  Eco Fashion Week in Vancouver is one of those small rocks and we will be the ripples. 

By Jun from JAPAN (originally posted to Flickr as Ripple?- in rail)

Eco Fashion Week's mission is: To Celebrate Responsible Principles And Style - To Identify And Refine Sustainable Industry Practices - To Educate And Inform About Eco-friendly Fashion.   It isn't clear how much of criteria each designer had to meet. But here is a summary list of the eco criteria:

  • fair/ethical trade  - responsible towards human rights
  • local - designed & constructed in your local community
  • custom/tailor made - demi-couture or craft artisan methods
  • organic/natural textile and materials - woven/fabrics from natural sources without any pesticides or other toxic materials
  • recycled/reborn - created with reclaimed, recycled or repurposed materials.
  • vintage/second-hand - Second hand or upcycled clothing (articles that have been given a new life through customization)
  • vegan/animal free/cruelty free  - Involving no animal testing or unjust labour practices.
  • eco printing - environmentally responsible printing process
  • fabric waste reduction - less fabric waste in the cutting and sewing process
  • green marketing - offsets, environmentally responsible packaging, labeling, promotion, etc
  • socially responsible - promotes an awareness of environmental and/or social issues
  • resource efficiency - utilize resources responsibly to create greatest outcome with least amount of resources used
  • eco-certification - brand maintains appropriate eco certifications

If you think about all the materials that go into one pair of pants - fabric, threads, zippers, snaps, etc.  For each of those items you need to consider what type of fabric, where/how was it grown, how/where was it dyed, was their a water treatment plant in place, do your suppliers actually guarantee their eco claims, shipping energy, water energy, how/where is it produced, what conditions do the people work in, what resources are used to get the product to market, how is it marketed, etc - plus you need to have time to design a product people will love, at a price they will pay so you can run your business. 

To keep my brain from exploding I think of it like I do my groceries. Local is likely better, because it didn't have to travel as far and you know the local labour laws, and the designer is likely in the manufacturing facility regularly.  Organic uses less chemicals in its process, therefore causing less harm to the land, water and people living in the area. 

Check back tomorrow for my first in-depth Eco Fashion Week Designer Profile -- Lara Presber.  

Note - I am not an expert, in any way shape or form, in eco fashion.  So the opinions here are my own based on the bit I have learnt to date.   I try to look at things like a regular consumer, which is in fact what I am.