Fashion: Canada’s Top Eco Designers: The Pioneers and the Emergents, by Kelly Drennan
Canada’s sustainable fashion growth is a healthy sign of the times. With easily more than 50 Canadian designers now working various sustainable practices into their collections, it was difficult to highlight just these five. Canada has seen tremendous growth in the number of eco fashion designers over the past few years. The following designers represent both those who have been leading the movement in Canada, and also some up-and-comers that you should be watching. Their winter collections are sure to impress even the most discerning.
Nicole Bridger, Vancouver
Nicole was the first winner of Canada’s Fashion Takes Action award, Design Forward. Her collection is entitled “Safe to Love,” aptly named after a personal experience she recently had. “Every season I reflect on life lessons that I’m learning,” Bridger says of coming out of a painful relationship. In addition to earth tones, there were some passionate colours from Bridger this fall including reds, purples, and blush pink.
Thieves, by Sonja den Elzen, Toronto
Continuing on the theme of consciousness, Thieves’ collection is entitled “Reflection,” which according to designer den Elzen is the embodiment of seasons layered and loved. “It is about the seasons and years blending together, erasing the lines of time and offering genuine lifelong pieces that become the foundation of a wardrobe for those who are reflective and conscientious of their surroundings.”This fall, we saw more of the highly tailored look den Elzen achieves with beeswaxed organic cotton and hemp/wool/tencel suiting blends, combined with soft draped jerseys, organic wool knits, and lush, hand-knit wear.
Adhesif, by Melissa Ferreira, Vancouver
Newer to the scene but becoming known for their use of reclaimed and recycled materials, Adhesif recently rocked the runways at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week . Her winter collection included more vintage tweed, wool suiting and printed cotton twill.
“The colour palette reminds me of a sunset on an open field in the Prairies,” states designer Melissa Ferreira. “Many pieces have a draped feel to them but I have added in some pieces that have a ‘sack’ or box-cut look as well.”
Harricana by Mariouche, Montreal
For more than two decades, luxury fur designer Mariouche Gagnéhas been ethically recycling fur made in Canada. She claims to have recycled over 50,000 coats, saving 400 metric tons from landfill. The Harricana collection features three themes: Femme Fatale, giving rise to elegance and femininity; Military, urban, unisex and streamlined; and Timeless, evoking the wild and untamed nature of the great Canadian outdoors.
Device by Melanie Ferrara, Toronto
Since 2008, designer Melanie Ferrara has produced a series of vintage-inspired modern classics, made in Toronto using tencel, organic wool and organic cotton. For inspiration for her collection this winter, she looked to the period of the 1940s. “Fashion at that time was influenced by wartime austerity measures, and was characterized by tailored silhouettes with an emphasis on the waist and shoulders,” says Ferrara, who adds she used a neutral color palette of navy and black as the base, paired with greys, cream, plum and plaid. “The result is a collection of timeless, wearable pieces which range in style from modern casual to sophisticated elegance.”
Kelly Drennan is a true social entrepreneur, devoted to making change within an industry known for its many negative social and environmental impacts including labour, energy, waste, water, and the use of toxic chemicals.
Kelly has successfully aligned her company Fashion Takes Action with many leading businesses and ENGOs including Fashion Fights Poverty, Social Alterations, Environmental Defence, Earth Day Canada, Change for the Environment, FEM International, Vancouver Fashion Week, Green Enterprise Ontario, Toronto Greenhouse and Fashion Group International.
As a media “go-to” expert on sustainable fashion, Kelly has been featured in top media outlets including the Globe & Mail, Fashion Television, Metro, Breakfast Television, Toronto Star, Virgin Radio, Green Living Magazine, UK Times and Flare Magazine. Kelly also writes the “green” column for Canada’s fashion industry magazine, Trends,and is a contributor to two of the top US blogs in the “green” space, Elephant Journal and Eco Salon.