Myriam, you are the founder of Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week. How did you get the inspiration to do it?
I was at the EPIC Sustainable Expo in May 2009 when I heard City Councillor Andrea Reimer speak on Vancouver becoming the greenest city by 2020. That’s when it clicked, fashion and textile had to be part of that plan. More specifically, I chose to create a fashion week because it was an event I was familiar with and had a lot of experience to offer when getting it off the ground. I want to open peoples’ minds and help them let go of the stereotypes of eco fashion.
Could you explain how you define ‘eco fashion’?
I like to define eco fashion as responsible fashion. As a retailer, manufacturer or editor-in-chief of a magazine: are you doing everything you can to be sustainable and responsible in every sphere of your brand and always planning to improve every year.
The next Eco Fashion Week is April 21-24. What can we expect from it?
For the first time, we will kick off Eco Fashion Week with the seminars instead of closing the week with them. We want the education portion of the event to reach the next level. The apparel and fashion industry needs as many tools as possible to make the shift towards more sustainable ways to manufacture, market and sell clothes.
The “68 pound challenge” presented by the thrift store chain Value Village is back: a world premiere challenge to show what and how much we can create from what the average American is throwing in the landfill every year.
According to the U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste, 68 is the number of pounds of clothes and textiles the average American throws away every year. Kim Cathers, took 68 pounds of discarded clothing and textile from Value Village and created an entire spring/summer collection. She is taking the challenge again for the April 2013 edition, with a twist: she will create an entire collection from 68 pounds of men’s trouser only.
intro video : http://vimeo.com/51836598
runway show: http://vimeo.com/52215915
What are your hopes for the future of the fashion industry?
I hope not to say “eco” anymore, but just fashion. Every apparel brand will have to take the green road; it will become a norm. What we have to figure out now is what are the standards. We are on the good path, but there is still lots of work to do.
Fashion and an eco-friendly lifestyle often don’t seem to go hand in hand. What do you feel could change this?
Education is the key. We need to know and see the damage that the apparel industry is causing. From there let’s find solutions. And I like to say solutions with an “s”. I do not believe there is one and only solution. I believe that each manufacturer, retailer or consumer will have to find the solutions that fit their needs, vision and beliefs, and improve each year. There is an effort that needs to be made by everyone.
What could consumers pay attention to if they want to be responsible yet fashionable?
Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Shopping can be an addictive behavior, and in order to change that, you can change the way you think about it. Also get educated and ask questions about where the item is made and what the item is made of. Getting to know your local designers and trying vintage/thrift shopping is also a great way of being more responsible. If you are new to thrift and vintage shopping, try incorporating a few second-hand pieces with new garments, like accessories.
Which designers or personalities are your eco fashion icons?
Are there places in the world, where eco fashion is already a standard?
There are no official eco-standards in the apparel and textile industry, yet most independent companies have created their own. The next step is to create that criteria. Of course Vancouver is one of the eco-fashion movement leaders, but also London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, and the US West Coast (Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles) are paving the way.
Which are other sustainable fashion projects you like?
The Green Carpet challenge, started by Livia Firth (wife of Colin Firth) and Lucy Siegle (journalist for the UK Guardian), that challenges A-listers to wear eco-friendly garments during award show season and other public events.
You are originally from Quebec City, what made you want to move to Vancouver?
I simply needed a change and wanted to improve my English. The West Coast was calling…
Did you find what you were looking for?
Absolutely, Vancouver is such a young city. Everything is yours to build. I realized that I wanted to create something, help change the industry here.
What’s your favorite aspect of Vancouver?
The nature. The outdoors. A healthy, more spiritual lifestyle.
What are three other cities you could imagine living in?
In North America, Vancouver, Montreal and Québec City are my homes. But every time I travel, I feel at home. I always find a way to live the local life, and I always bring a part of each city with me when I leave. I love to say the planet is my home. Hoping to spend more time in Europe in 2013. We have some potential projects there…stay tuned!
Interview: Lia Pack