This past weekend, I attended a few events that were part of Toronto Women’s Fashion Week. And I’m very excited to write that they were all ethical fashion events!
Less than a year ago, IMG Canada pulled the plug on their Toronto Fashion Week due to a lack of financial backing. However, less than two months later, the organizers of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week announced that they’d relaunch women’s fashion in Toronto in the form of Toronto Women’s Fashion Week.
This season, the ‘week’ was really a four day affair that followed immediately on the tail of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week. But for me, the most exciting part of the relaunch is the fact that the organizers included ethical fashion as part of the conversation.
In many ways, this is long overdue. A couple years ago, when I attended the Mondor show as part of the now defunct IMG Fashion Week, I was shocked at how far behind Toronto seemed to be when it came to ethical fashion. The city has been a mecca for all things green beauty and lifestyle for some time, and it’s poised to be the same for ethical fashion in Canada and North America, but seemed to take its cues from larger fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris and Milan in that it stubbornly stuck with the status quo.
All that seems to have changed in 2017.
The first ethical fashion event that I attended was a panel on Thursday evening, co-hosted by TW-FW and Ecosessions. It was an important discussion about all things ethical fashion between Miriam Laroche, founder of Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week, Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks who designs Peggy Sue Collection, and Karen Quirion who designs KQK Clothing (an entirely new label for me). The panel was really enlightening and touched on all the different concepts around ethical fashion: eco-friendly, fair trade, sustainable supply chains, and even resale fashion.
VV by EB
And speaking of resale fashion, the second event that I attended was the VV by EB 81 lb Challenge:
This is the first time that Miriam has brought an Eco Fashion Week from Vancouver to Toronto, and I hope it won’t be the last. When I discovered Eco Fashion Week in 2014, it was what really drove me to discover ethical fashion and get serious about my blog, Sense of Aesthetic. For this collection, Miriam partnered with Value Village and Evan Biddell, the 2007 winner of the short-lived Project Runway Canada. And the collection was amazing. It had a very 70s vibe to it, with retro school uniform details, lots of leather and tons of fringe. Many pieces looked as if they’d been designed and sewed using virgin materials, and others were unique reconstructions of jackets to pants. But for me, the best pieces were those with ruffles. I love a good ruffle and these were painstakingly handmade using garments found at Value Village.
The only thing that I would have changed about this runway show was what happened to the clothes afterward. During her panel talk, Miriam LaRoche mentioned that the collection will be touring New York and other cities before settling down in the Vancouver City Museum. Many Eco Fashion Week 81 lb challenges have had similar fates, and its important that the collections are accessible to many consumers and fashion insiders who are not yet aware of how creative ethical fashion can be.
But I think the next step for these collections is to make them available for purchase. They are beautiful, one of a kind pieces that I believe should be seen worn and enjoyed as fashion rather than just museum pieces.
It was super ironic that I chose this outfit, then. I had this ensemble picked out ages before the show, so it’s crazy how on the nose it was for the VV by EB show:
It’s also crazy that this vintage 70s coat was a piece that I found at my local Value Village. It’s also a locally made item, created and manufactured by a Belleville, Ontario company that no longer exists. My Doors tank is also technically vintage, although it was ‘hand destroyed’ by No Name Saint, a clothing company based in Peterborough, Ontario. This particular piece was from their Zero Dollar Collection, through which you paid them back for their work by paying it forward with a private act of kindness.
The aviators are also a Value Village find, and I paired this outfit with a Matt & Nat bag, Zara Join Life Collection jeans, and booties from my own closet that are some of my winter faves and are totally beyond #30wears. For makeup, I decided to go with Bite Beauty’s Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Eggplant.
Peggy Sue Collection
The final event that I attended was the Peggy Sue Collection runway show on Sunday night:
This was an amazing runway show and it was super surprising for me! I first heard about Peggy Sue Collection when I attended the Fashion Takes Action Design Forward show last June, and I thought I had the label pegged (no pun intended). The line was all about knits, in my mind, and that’s what I expected to see on Sunday night’s runway. I was so pleasantly surprised by the use of denims and 100% organic cottons – sans dyes – this time around.
I also really loved the pre-order feature of this show. Similar to the trend of ‘see now, buy now’ on runways around the world, but with an ethical twist. Peggy Sue made sure that every guest had a pamphlet listing the items featured complete with pricing and a production date of May 15th. I think it’s an amazing way to get ethical fashion into the hands of fashion influencers and consumers, and I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I have my eye on more than one piece!
For the Peggy Sue Collection show, I went with something a little more formal, but almost entirely resale:
My Cynthia Rowley dress and Marciano by Guess shoes are both Value Village finds, as is my fave white faux fur coat. I also found this super chunky necklace at the Kind Exchange, a cool girl thrift chain in Toronto. My tights and sunnies are from my closet (but were not originally resale), and this teensy backpack is from Fluf Designs, a Canadian company that creates organic cotton goods. It’s the Lil B Emoji Backpack, and it’s possible that it was originally conceived as a little kids’ lunch bag. But I’ve never been about marketing labels and so it’s quickly become one of my fave ‘throw your life into it’ purses.
And for this outfit, I went with Eternally Yours, Fuchsia lipstick from Saint Cosmetics.
Your turn: How do you feel about the state of ethical fashion as it relates to fashion weeks today? What would you love to see more of? Leave me a comment below!