Dream Come True
Three years ago when I first transitioned Sense of Aesthetic to a focus on ethical fashion, I could only dream of live streaming a runway show from the front row. But last Saturday night, that dream came true.
And yes, I’ve done it a handful of times. But for some reason, the Design Forward 2017 semi-finalist runway show felt different for me. In mid-July this year, I’ll be moving to Manitoba – far, far away from Toronto. And so this likely the last time I’ll be able to blog about a fashion show for awhile. I’m so grateful to have met so many amazing people who make up the ethical fashion community in Toronto, and for the opportunities that those connections (and my own writing) have afforded me. So while I look forward to the opportunity to establish an ethical fashion community on the prairies, I couldn’t write about this particular show without acknowledging the bittersweet feeling I have about leaving.
Behind the Scenes
For the event, I did an Instagram takeover of the Fashion Takes Action feed, and I also streamed a Facebook Live session of the runway show. Because of that, the event was super busy for me! And there was tons happening! Fashion Takes Action hosted a Green Carpet Challenge: attendees were invited to contribute textiles to sponsor H&M’s recycling program. There was also a silence auction, and an award for Fashion Vanguard which was presented to designer Annie Thompson.
But between mingling during pre-show cocktails and instagramming like a fiend, I did manage to get some behind the scenes footage of the runway walk through:
I also have to admit that because I was working (and driving home at the end of the night), I avoided faves Beau’s organic beer and Ernest’s Cider and went for the Pure + Simple mocktail instead. Is it strange to admit that it was a highlight?
Of course, the most important part of the event were the designers competing for one mother of a career-making prize, worth $50,000! They are all considered sustainable designers for various reasons. Here’s what we saw on the runway and why each designer qualifies:
Omi Woods was part of the Design Forward runway showcase that happened last year, and ever since then I’ve loved the line’s use of florals, the garment shapes, and the fact that they are available in sizes XS to 5X! It does make me wish that they’d sent diverse models down the runway to show that strength of the brand. The line is also zero waste, low impact, and offers fair wages. The dyes used throughout are eco-friendly, and the price point is certainly not discount, but wallet-friendly for such special garments.
A new designer for me, Jennifer Glasgow Design takes inspiration from nature itself while also promoting fashion sustainability through the use of organic fabrics and locally made garments that have a minimal carbon footprint. The palette is natural and neutral: a minimalist’s dream and includes wearable pieces that can be incorporated into any capsule wardrobe. Check out the designer’s site for from truly gorgeous day dresses, tops, and skirts that are also priced accessibly.
I love Stevie Crowne’s aesthetic, from the ‘Crowne’ branding to the grungey, youthful upcycling. His mini collection may have been my fave! He’s a young designer and I think that shows through in his energetically creative take on sustainable fashion. He takes upcycling to the next level by turning vintage and thrift garments into fashion forward designs, making him a designer to watch!
Peggy Sue Collection
If you follow me on Instagram, it’s probably no surprise that I’m already a Peggy Sue Collection fan. We’ve been at so many of the same events this month that (spoiler alert) I have a dedicated post about this designer planned. I first heard of her during last year’s Design Forward runway show, when her collection was all about wool, alpaca, cashmere and mohair knits. This year, her collection focuses on organic cotton and upcycled denim in many forms (I mean, don’t you just love the cropped jeans above?). What makes this designer different is her focus the entire supply chain: how the fibers are grown, harvested, processed and sewn, all with an eye on ethical, sustainable practices. But more on that in a future post! 😉
Another new designer to me, TJ Indigo does some interesting things with eco-friendly dyes using a Japanese dying style called shibori. If you’re like me and you love anything as long as it’s blue, you’ve got to dig through their Etsy page. I especially love a certain ombred denim jacket from the line.
I love the parasols, don’t you? And just like that finishing touch, Noémiah garments and accessories are charming and feminine. The pale palette which features pops of pastel, like the gorgeous robe pictured, is every Instagram girl’s dream! I especially love the adorable heart-shaped bag featured on the site. The garments are handmade in Montreal, where the designer is based.
Unlike many of the designers featured in the Design Forward semi-finalist show, Eliza Faulker’s designs play with bold colours. This is relaxed, easy dressing from the Montreal-based designer, and all of the garments were ethically made in Canada. However, ethics are not the main focus of the line, as the London trained designer prefers to put the focus on her use of colours and unique shapes.
For me, top marks go to Triarchy for most creative makeup. It took me a few minutes, while I was streaming the Facebook Live session, to figure out what was donning their faces, but I love the exaggerated, cartoon-like glitter lips. I also love the reworked denim. Triarchy sources vintage denim and reworks it into truly unique, fashion forward pieces. Based in Los Angeles where each garment is handmade, they have a focus on limited environmental impact. When we’re talking about denim, which has one of the highest impacts of any piece of clothing, I think this designer’s efforts are timely and needed!
I have to give props to Lisa Aviva for representing sizes 10+. For me, inclusiveness of body size is an ethical issue for the fashion industry, and any ethical fashion endeavour should take this issue into consideration. And while the ethical fashion industry, in my experience, is much more inclusive of body size than the conventional industry, that fact is so far not reflected in its aesthetics. For this particular issue, I feel that sustainable fashion lags behind the conventional fashion industry. And beautiful clothes like those from Lisa Aviva help to make sustainable fashion accessible to everyone!
Finally, we have the last semi-finalist: Browyn Seier, who represented one of my fave designers in the show in terms of aesthetic. I love the delicate, sheer layers and how her focus on changing the fashion industry for good is represented within the designs. Embroidered slogans (some of which I am familiar with such as ‘80% of garment workers are female’) and clothing tags create embellishments for the pieces that turn them into wearable works of art. I’m not a judge, but if I was — I know this collection would make my top three!
Whether you were able to attend the show or not, I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments. Who do you think should make it into the top three finalists? And if you’re interested in knowing more about who’s in the running for that prize, you can attend the finalist presentation at the Expo for Design, Information & Technology on October 5th, 2017. That same night, the panel of judges will announce the grand prize winner. Can’t wait!