Sustainability has never been more in style! For 12 seasons, Eco Fashion Week has been challenging and inspiring the public and the fashion industry to think more critically about the environment when it comes to clothing. This year, Eco Fashion Week’s Chic Sheets Challenge and 81 Pound Challenge showcased fashion-forward eco-friendly designs, demonstrating the true potential for upcycling.
The Chic Sheets Challenge, in partnership with the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, tasked local fashion students from LaSalle College in Vancouver with creating their own runway-worthy fashion designs, created entirely from Tintex dyes and recycled sheets supplied by the Fairmont Waterfront. The theme for this year’s challenge was “What does Canada mean to you?” in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday.
The students did an incredible job of incorporating the Canadian theme, and created unique upcycled designs that no longer remotely resembled old sheets. Jinju Ha took away the top prize of $1000 presented by OEKO-TEX for her northern-lights inspired design, as chosen by a jury of industry experts.
Designers left to right: Ryan Li, Ana Lisboa, Hailey Yoon, Rodica Goreea
Designers left to right: Christa Granneman, Jaspreet Kaur, Yan Tong, Jinju Ha
The second challenge featured during Eco Fashion Week was the 81 Pound Challenge, presented by Value Village. The resulting designs were originally debuted on the runway at Toronto Women’s Fashion Week (pictured below), before being presented in a showcase-style event at Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week.
Each year, the average person in North America throws away 81 pounds of textiles. It’s a startling amount, which has only grown: the challenge used to be called the 68 Pound Challenge just a few short years ago. To showcase the amazing potential of upcycling, designer and winner of Project Runway Canada Season 1, Evan Biddell, was challenged to create this year’s runway collection using 81 pounds of recycled textiles from Value Village. Below are just a handful of the high fashion looks Evan designed as part of the challenge. It’s hard to believe these runway designs were all created from discarded clothing: something that will hopefully inspire more Canadians to consider thrift shops as an eco-friendly and fashionable alternative to shopping new.
There was a definite theme to Evan’s upcycled collection, with leather and fringe featured prominently: very rock and roll. While thrift shop finds have historically been associated with tacky Christmas sweaters and the like, each of these pieces instead exuded a chic, runway quality. Evan successfully breathed new life into these once forgotten fabrics!
We also spoke with ET Canada while on the ground at Eco Fashion Week, and shared some thrifting hacks, along with other Canadian style stars. If you’re looking for some tips before you hit the thrift stores to find your own eco-friendly chic outfits, watch the video below!
Britta is the founder of VancouverVogue.com, a fashion and beauty blog based out of Vancouver, Canada. Britta is a prominent member of the Vancouver fashion and beauty community, and is also a luxury and lifestyle brand PR specialist with White Rabbit Communications.