Stratford Trashion Week, April 15 – 21

Jessika Guy, Owner of The Green Hair Spa launches the first annual week-long celebration of eco-friendly fashion events to celebrate Earth Week. It was a natural, although ambitious extension of Guy’s existing business model. Her salon in Downtown Stratford, promotes an environmentally friendly approach to beauty and haircare, Stratford Trashion Week brings together her commitment to the environment with her love of vintage and recycled fashion helping her draw attention to and celebrate Earth Week in a cool and creative way.

Stratford Trashion Week will feature design competitions, environmental awareness, industry experts, workshops and of course, fashion shows all of which focus on promoting the idea of eco-fashion as an alternative to the fast, throwaway fashion that has become the mainstay of the fashion industry.

Highlights of Stratford Trashion Week include:

Revival House (70 Brunswick)

 

Sunday, April 15, 2018 – Opening Night Party / Thrift and Vintage Fashion Show, Revival House (70 Brunswick Street) at 6:30. Featuring fashions from local thrift and vintage shops, art auction, expert talk on fast fashion, and retro dance party. Dress to impress in your vintage best. Tickets $50 or 4/$150 are also available through the website. Fundraiser for Canadian Freshwater Alliance.

 

 

Factory 163 (163 King)

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 – Trashion Show featuring wearable creations from throw away items, Perth Pop-Up Eco Market, aerial performance artist, and presentation by Bee City Canada. No trash talking, just trash walking. Free event, 6:30 at Factory 163.

Thursday, April 19, 2018 – Beeswax wrap workshop with Upcycle Lifestyle, registration is required: email stratfordtrashionweek@gmail.com. Event starts 6:30 at Factory163 (163 King Street) Tickets $35, also available through the website.

Friday, April 20, 2018 – Community Clothing Swap and expert talk about sustainability in your wardrobe from Daniela Siggia (VP of Textile Waste Diversion) Free event, 6:30 at Factory163 (163 King Street)

Gallery Stratford (54 Romeo Street)


Saturday, April 21, 2018
– Re-Fashion Show and Design Competition. 12 designers transform new fashion from used clothing ready for the runway. Expert judges Kelly McIntosh (actor), Dana Ruby Martin (co-founder of Revival by Martin and co.), Carrie Wreford (co-owner of Bradhaws Canada), William Riquelme (photographer for Lada Magazine) & Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks (creator of Peggy Sue Collections). Gallery Stratford (54 Romeo Street) at 6:30. Tickets are $75, a fundraiser for Gallery Stratford. They can also be purchased through the website.

 

Stratford Trashion Week welcomes 2017 Canadian Sustainable Fashion award winner, Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks from Peggy Sue Collections as one of the Re-Fashion Show judges and guest speaker to discuss what makes her ‘farm-to- fashion’ approach to fashion design different and why it’s so important today. Daniela Siggia VP of Textile Waste Diversion, York Region says “I celebrate the organizers of Stratford Trashion Week, for dedicating an entire week to this subject!”

Raising awareness about the effects of fast fashion on the planet is just the beginning. Stratford Trashion Week is designed to encourage change in the way we look at our wardrobe AND give people the tools they need to succeed at making sustainable fashion choices for a healthier world. Contact Jessika Guy at 519-305-0941 for further information on this event.

Other Contacts:

stratfordtrashionweek@gmail.com
www.stratfordtrashionweek.ca
Facebook: @stratfordtrashionweek
Instagram: @stratfordtrashionweek
Twitter: @strattrashion

 

There are microfibres in your beer

You need more than “the touch test” to find ethical clothing

This week I attended a workshop on microfibre pollution hosted by The Bus Store Bookshop at  LifeSpin in London. The workshop was designed by the Synthetic Collective, a group from Western University, and presented by Kristy Robertson, who teaches there. I hadn’t planned to do another post on clothing for a while, as there are other subjects I want to cover. I’m really encouraged, though, by the amount of interest there is in this topic. It just keeps coming up, wherever I turn.

When I first got the notice I thought, “A workshop? Really? Can’t they just e-mail me the info?” But I made the trip anyway, and I’m glad I did, because you really did need to be there, to touch and see the fabrics. We started off by trying to find an article of clothing we could be sure wasn’t harmful to the environment. Predictably, we failed. The most common reason was the presence of microfibres, tiny synthetic particles found in most clothing that we buy. When clothing is washed, these particles are shed, and they are everywhere; in water, in the air, in the food chain, and yes, even in Black Swan Porter (my personal favourite). You can’t see them, but they’re there.

The bad news:

  • Damage to environment: Microplastics are everywhere, making up 85% of manmade debris found on shorelines worldwide (I’m pretty sure you know this already). Microfibres are the smallest microplastic particles, and ride on the ocean, just under the surface, as floating goo.
  • Remediation is difficult: Most sewage treatment plants can capture microplastics, but microfibres are too small. There are filters that can be added to a washload, but again, microfibres are too small for them.
  • Harm for humans: We have no idea what this means for our health. The studies just aren’t there. This means that we can’t legislate against them.

The good news:

  • Front-loading washers shed fewer microfibres
  • Wool, silk and flax are best clothing choices, but watch out for dyes. Support knowledgeable clothing stores.
  • Used clothing has already had many of the microfibres washed out, so if you must buy a synthetic, try a consignment store.

Future actions:

  • Advocate for wastewater treatment reform
  • Support regulation for washing machine retrofits
  • Alter our washing machine use. No unnecessary washing, seek out better filters.
  • Look for biodegradables when shopping (not just clothing: linens, curtains, mops, cleaning accessories)

All in all, it was a great trip, and I’m really impressed with the Synthetic Collective. They have this great idea of putting their materials together in a slideshow that will be made available for community groups to use on their own. Anybody interested in doing one here in Stratford?

 

 

Downtown Fashion

https://www.miik.ca/blogs/news/we-need-a-fashion-revolution

So this week I got to check out Good on You, the new app I found that helps you select ethical clothing. It’s easy to use, easy to read, and it’s for iOS and Android. It’s pretty useful, although they need to add more designers to their list. (I’m sure that will come with time.) As it’s Christmas, and I’m going to a party, I thought I’d shop around for something to dazzle people with. I tried to visit as many stores as possible, but I didn’t get to every downtown retail store, so it’s not as if this post is some kind of scientific study or anything. It’s really just a first attempt.

I began my search at one of my favourite stores. I asked if they had anything in natural fibres or sustainably manufactured clothing. The clerk suggested I try another store.

I was crushed. I really liked that store. But that’s the thing about becoming a Greener and Completely Better Person: sometimes you have to close some doors. Not a great start, but things got better. Clerks in a couple of other shops stared at me blankly when I made my request, but some Stratford stores are really aware of the environmental damage and the unfair labour practices of the clothing industry. It really is pretty bad. Did you know that our consumption of clothing is projected to TRIPLE by 2050?? It all winds up in the landfill. And the ocean.

The first cheerful note in my shopping trip was at Resonance, on Downie Street. The clerk was knowledgeable and concerned. She showed me some really nice lines of clothing, things that looked comfortable and stylish, but wouldn’t keep you up at night worrying about burnt Bangladeshi teenagers.

So I started looking at labels, and checked on the ones that claimed to be sustainable and ethical. I did the same at Cora’s in the Market Square, and at their upscale store, Cora Couture. All the people I talked to in these shops were very concerned about the social and environmental problems in the clothing industry, and they were very helpful.

These shops have given me a good start in looking for ethical fashions. I’ve begun a list of environmentally friendly designers available through Stratford retailers, and I plan to keep checking back to update my list. Click here to see the list.

To make a long story short, I didn’t buy anything, even though I found some really nice things. This happens to me a lot these days. I read what’s happening in the world, and it just makes me heartsick. So instead of buying a new dress, I went back to to the store I started out with, Kinna Sohna, where I had seen a beautiful silk scarf. It’s sustainably made, and will last years and years. It kind of dazzles, and people won’t notice that it’s on the same dress I wore last time. And anyway, what’s so bad about wearing the same thing twice?

I’ve pretty well established my shopping mantra. Shop locally, but buy less. Think about quality and longevity. Don’t be surprised if it’s more expensive. Accessorize instead of buying new things. Check the label, do research. Think: natural and organic fibres, working conditions, company transparency.

I still can’t say I feel great about clothes shopping, but I do feel better, and this is a good start on making shopping trips a lot simpler and easier.

Ethical Threads

In clothing, as in everything else, I believe in shopping locally, and it’s not just because when you shop locally you are helping everybody out, including yourself. Nope. I shop locally because I want to look that clerk in the eye. I want to see what she does when I ask the touchstone question: “Does my ass look big in these pants?” When you find a store you can trust, you stick with them.

On the other hand, if I want to become a Greener and Completely Better Person I need to identify  clothing that does the least harm to the environment and to people. My visit to Kinna Sohna was just the first trip out, and that one was easy, because Sartaj, the owner, has a face-to-face relationship with her suppliers. Not all Stratford retailers can say that. It’s not their fault, it’s just the nature of retail these days.

goodonyou
Good on You: https://goodonyou.eco/app/

I want to set up a list of local merchants who stock ethical merchandise, but I need a tool to help me be sure a label is really what it represents itself to be. So I looked around for something portable and reasonably comprehensive. I chose Good on You, an app for iOS and Android. There are others, but I like the philosophy of this app; it applauds companies that are doing well, and encourages others to do better. Really, there’s no point in being nasty about it. We’re all in this together.

 

Jennifer Fukushima Fashion
https://www.jenniferfukushima.com/

 

The app, as the name implies, is from Australia, established by the nonprofit Ethical Consumers Australia.  It rates labels for their treatment of their workers, for their attention to the environment, and for their transparency. They seem to be expanding fast, and although they don’t have some of the Canadian suppliers I looked for, they do have Canadian content, like this article on Canadian designer Jennifer Fukushima (You can find Fukushima clothing and accessories at Resonance, 23 Downie Street).

So that’s it for a start. I’ll be trying out my ideas next week with a shopping trip to downtown Stratford. There are a lot of labels, and a lot of research to do. If you use the Good on You app, let me know how it’s working for you. If you know of a better one, let me know that too. Happy shopping!

 

 

 

 

Healthy clothing, happy customer

I’ve been doing the research for the clothing part of this blog, and it’s making my head hurt. There are so many variables in finding sustainably made clothing! Seems to me that the only way I can be ethically dressed is if I  go around naked, but that’s frowned upon here in Stratford. I’ll just have to do the best I can; I need to set up a list of criteria that will help me find clothing that is the least harmful to the environment as well as to the humans who make and wear it.

I decided to start out at Kinna Sohna, the new international clothing store on the corner of York and Erie. I chose Kinna Sohna because the owner, Sartaj Kaur, stocks clothing in natural organic fabrics, coloured with organic dyes. I’ve been reading a lot about the environmental damage caused by clothing dyes and the dangers of chemicals in clothing, and I want something different.

Sartaj
Sartaj Kaur, Kinna Sohna

Sartaj has been working with naturally dyed fabric for 17 years now; she had a well-known store in Toronto before moving here. Her supply of organics varies; she  told me she would love to stock only organics, but people take time getting used to the different look and drape of the fabric, and as a small shop, there’s only so much she can do.

Some of her things are just wonderful, like this hand-stitched quilt. It’s a museum-quality piece; I can’t imagine the hours of work that went into making it. The colours are deep and vibrant, and the patterns absorbing and intricate.  She also has scarves, tunics, and dresses in colours like this, and handcrafted bags that are works of art.

Kinna Sohna is dedicated to ethical sourcing. Sartaj works with master craftspeople, cooperatives, tailors, and family businesses in places like India, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico and South East Asia.  She understands her suppliers, she knows the regional styles, and she can tell you all about the textile, the stitching techniques, and the kind of dye used. That’s important to know when you are buying quality clothing.

Kinna Sohna
Fabric by the yard at Kinna Sohna

Working directly with producers has allowed Sartaj to build a varied inventory. Kinna Sohna sells hand printed fabric by the yard, and no fabric is wasted; scraps are made into hairbands, jewelry bags, and other small items. Craftspeople from the Stratford area also sell through Kinna Sohna, and she is looking  for more suppliers.

I had a really good time at this store. Not only was I completely entertained by Sartaj’s descriptions of her sourcing trips, I just fell in love with her inventory. Sartaj reminded me that carefully crafted articles are more expensive than polyester knock-offs, but if you choose well, an article of clothing can last you for years. Believe it or not, she still has shawls her mother wore when she was a baby!

I am really trying to think carefully before I buy another article of clothing. I want to push back against our throwaway philosophy of dress. A heavy wool, conservatively cut, can last a lifetime. Cotton fabric may wear, but with every use it gets softer and more interesting to look at, and you can mend it. A good silk can be really versatile, and it will glow with age. Silk is also light, so it’s easily hand washed, and you don’t need to send it to the cleaners.

Kinna 1The thing I liked the most about Kinna Sohna is that I saw things there that you will find nowhere else. I saw some wonderful rugs and wall hangings, beautiful jewelry, and many one-of-a-kind articles in really satisfying earth colours. I also saw upcycled articles, like the exquisitely embroidered scarves made from old saris. When she gets in more of her popular upcycled silk jackets, I’m going back. I think it’s time I made a splash on the Stratford scene.