Sustainable style gets a makeover at Fashion Takes Action design forward 2016

Soiree for the nation's most progressive designers takes runway at Artscape Sandbox tonight with a focus on the next generation of eco-conscious fashionistas

What gets you hot (and bothered) about opening your wallet for an item of clothing? 

The sustainable fashion industry has spent years marketing green designs inside out and putting their planet-friendly textile cred front and centre. Fashion Takes Action Design Forward fashion show, happening at Artscape Sandbox (301 Adelaide West, doors open at 7 pm) Thursday, June 16, plans to flip the script, hitting the runway with Canada’s top fashion designers that have made a commitment to ethical practices, while giving style top billing. 

“We’ve come full circle and realized there’s still a stereotype associated with sustainable fashion – that it’s not fashionable,” says Fashion Takes Action founder Kelly Drennan. As a result, she says, there’s a move away from using terms like eco and green. “Designers are feeling like it hurts them,” says Drennan.

This year’s event is being billed as the soiree for the nation’s “most progressive designers” with well-constructed “slow fashion” that’s got a back story to tell about being local, fair trade, recycled, organic or zero waste. 

Established eco-conscious Canadian designers like Toronto’s own Preloved (made in part with upcycled vintage fabrics), will share the stage with Miik and Annie Thompson and innovative new talent like the Peggy Sue Collection with its “farm-fiber fashion,” winner of Toronto Fashion Incubator’s new label 2016 award. The collection only uses North American-grown fibre handwoven and sourced from farmers of wool, alpaca, organic cotton (even cashmere and mohair), and accented with naturally fallen deer and moose antlers and wood. 

The next generation of fashion design students are being showcased, too. Among them,. Bellantoni, Nancy Mac, Julia Yeh.

Despite the de-emphasizing of green on fashion labels, most fashion schools are now weaving sustainability into their curriculum. Word is George Brown is planning a sustainable fashion post-grad program.

The big chains won’t be on the runway, many brands like Levi’s and La Senza having abandoned their green branded lines pre-recession. Magnifico author Kate Black has noted that several big name brands are “greening through the back door” through programs like the Better Cotton Initiative. But Conscious Collection pioneers H&M will have a recycling bin on site and will be giving $1 to Fashion Takes Action for every pound of clothes brought in for recycling. 

Considering Canadians throw out on average 32 kilograms of clothes a year, designing for end of life, says Brennan, is the next big opportunity for the industry. | @ecoholicnation

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