The DIY, thrifting, and up-cycling movement that is pervasive in emergent creative culture has inevitably contributed to the slow-but-sure growth of the Eco Fashion movement. In commercial industries, these practices would be described in such terms as ‘research and development’ and ‘iterative design’. Yet regardless of how street culture and commercial culture labels this practice, the process is essentially the same – taking existing concepts and making them new again.
It’s no wonder that the slow fashion movement connects deeply with up-and-coming generations of style-conscious consumers looking to establish their presence in a grown-up world. For some, it is a moral issue and their spending habits must match their ethics. Millennials, for example, are reportedly known to be more skeptical of big brands and commercial globalisation than preceding generations. They are more willing to buy local to reduce natural resource depletion, take a stand against unethical manufacturing, or to support regional economies and artisans. Success stories like Etsy.com alone is proof of this multi-billion dollar market, which is predominantly driven by Gen-X and millennial consumers.
For others, it is a matter of resourcefulness. Not everyone can afford a thousand-dollar sweater and pay off a student loan debt, the rent, and daily costs of living. What is possible, however, is to re-find, re-mix, and re-master existing garments at a fraction of the cost of high-end brand items. These are the 3 R’s of the eco style movement.
Simultaneously, the Instant-Information Age – enabled by a global scale of social network sharing – has changed public behaviour from naive consumption to a more savvy, curatorial and calculating consumer mindset. Where second-hand clothing used to be considered shabby or dull, it has since become an accessible resource for budding designers, emerging stylists, and trendsetters. This, of course, is not even close to being a new idea. It is only now that the movement has gained serious recognition, thanks to the ongoing visibility created by events like Eco Fashion Weeks, which are staged around the world along with alternative slow fashion events such as Fashion Art Toronto, whose mission is to provide a holistic platform that showcases multiple disciplines that contribute to local fashion culture, from design, to photography, to fashion performance.
Billed as the world’s largest sustainable fashion event, Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week hosts a Thrift Style Challenge, in which designers present a collection made of remastered second-hand garments. Inspired by this challenge, stylist Allison Chow skillfully curates and remixes a selection of pre-loved finds from Value Village for this editorial.
From Allison Chow, fashion stylist:
“Within the mixed selection of Value Village, there is the flexibility and excitement afforded to these in the highest levels of haute couture across the world. Beautiful Indian silk saris with labels I can’t read beside extinct Canadian brands. There are unusual colours to accentuate, shapes to punctuate and statement textures to mix and match until I have made my point. All, of course, without the elitist price tag.”