Thrift-shop finds hit the runway at Eco Fashion Week
On opening night of Eco Fashion Week (April 10 to 12), founder and president Myriam Laroche is wearing a minimalist black dress, floral-pattern fishnet stockings, and black pointy-toe pumps.
“It’s all from Value Village,” the Quebec-raised, Vancouver-based fashion insider announces during a news conference held at Robson Square (800 Robson Street)—EFW’s new venue— right before the evening’s festivities. “These shoes are Stuart Weitzman, but I got them at Value Village.”
Laroche, who has worked in different areas of fashion including buying and styling, reveals a knot on the bottom left side of her dress, creating an asymmetrical hemline that gives the thrifted find a modern, avant-garde update. Her adoration for second-hand clothing seems to go beyond her keen eye and deft hand at combing through racks at Value Village and other thrift stores and putting together runway-ready looks.
“I think it comes from when I was a child. I have a huge family. My mum has 14 brothers and sisters, so I always had older cousins, and we were always shipping clothes and wearing hand-me-downs. That’s what we did,” Laroche tells the Straight while perched on the steps that lead down to the open-air ice rinks that’s been converted into a fashion runway. “For me, second-hand clothing is a joy. That’s why I want people to understand my passion and see why I’m like that and why I’m doing that.”
For the first time in its two-and-a-half-year existence, EFW has partnered with Value Village to present a vintage fashion show. Laroche and local stylists Sarah La Greca and Deanna Palkowski were each given $500 to style a fashion show, where models walked the runway dressed head-to-toe in Value Village finds. EFW is also hosting a Value Village donation box onsite so that attendees can drop off unwanted clothes. Laroche says that recycling and buying second-hand clothing is one of the easiest ways to update your wardrobe in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way.
“We have to change the way we manufacture, the way we distribute, the way we market clothes. It’s a priority. Our planet is screaming for help,” she says.
Another new addition to the fourth season of EFW is a partnership with eBay, which will auction off designs from Jeff Garner’s eco-label Prophetik and a dress worn by jazz singer Esperanza Spalding at the 2012 Academy Awards.
“His stuff is hard to get in Canada,” Laroche says. “He’s going to auction the dress on eBay after the show [auction starts April 15].”
Laroche is hoping that those who attend EFW’s three-day event—which includes runway shows by designers using natural dyes, organic fabrics, and producing zero waste; an eco-fashion panel that includes local designer Nicole Bridger, Value Village’s Anny Leclerc, Garner, and Laroche; and a full day of industry seminars that teach companies how to reduce waste and use social media—will leave with more than just an idea of what “eco-fashion” means.
”I hope that they’ll take information when they buy, and ask themselves, ‘Do I need it?’ It’s in every aspect, not just in fashion.” Laroche says. “I feel good wearing Value Village as much as I used to feel good going to Holt Renfrew and buying the latest Gucci bag.”
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.