Vancouver celebrates a decade with Eco Fashion Week

A city that’s still defining its fashion identity needs an Eco Fashion Week, founder Myriam Laroche says

By Laura Collins

Now in its 10th year, Eco Fashion Week returns to Vancouver with new designers, collections and speakers for its 2016 season.

Kicking off on April 9, Eco Fashion Week is set to be a six-day celebration. The week begins with an invitation-only welcome breakfast and cocktail evening, with public shows being held at The Fairmont Waterfront from April 10 to 12.

“It’s young and everyone is here to build something,” said Myriam Laroche, president and founder of EFW. She asserts Vancouver is the perfect place for an eco-fashion celebration because it’s a city that’s still defining its identity in and around fashion.

“I faced life like I never faced life before,” Laroche said, explaining that EFW grew out of her desire to continue in the fashion industry she so loved, but wanted to find a way to do it purposefully.

Myriam-photo by Alfonso_Arnold-5179
Founder and president of EFW Myriam Laroche in her natural habitat, surrounded by eco-conscious threads. (Photo by Alfonso Arnold)

She’s focused on redefining the definition around “eco.” Somewhat of a heavy word, she said, people are afraid to be eco because they’re concerned they won’t be eco enough. EFW’s goal is to make eco easier for the industry while respecting values.

“There’s no one way,” said Laroche. “Every individual has their own eco recipe.”

The famous 68-pound challenge has expanded to 81 pounds, representing the amount of clothing and textiles the average North American throws away each year. Re-imagining clothing from Value Village, a collection of students from Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver will present the line, as opposed to a singular designer in the past. Laroche said they’re working with shoes and handbags like never before.

Collective Conversations, one of Laroche’s favourite EFW highlights, takes place on April 13 at the Waterfall Building. The speaking sessions will highlight a variety of topics about eco-fashion. Speakers include Kyle Rudzinski, sustainability manager for Levi and Strauss Co., and local designers, such as Nicole Bridger and John Fluevog.

For the first time since its inception, EFW will feature aboriginal style.

At 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, Dhalia Drive showcases in collaboration with internationally acclaimed Haida artist, Reg Davidson.

“It’s our first tie with the aboriginal community,” said Laroche.

The line is based on the two main clans of Haida lineage, the Raven and the Eagle, with traditional colours used by Haida artists included in the palette. Making clothing from discarded white curtain sheers and slips, Dhalia Drive created a line with a seamless, continuous depiction of the image by first sewing the garment, and then printing. Always looking at the long-term picture with collaboration, Laroche believes “aboriginal craftsmanship can be one of the solutions to eco-fashion.”

“Numbing ourselves through shopping and other addictive behaviour won’t last,” said Laroche, noting it’s a main reason Vancouverites should care about Eco Fashion Week.

She wants the public to consider when shopping – holding that shirt they so desperately want – if they really need it.

“If you’re honest with yourself,” Laroche said, “you know.”


LauraHeadshot Collins likes people watching from coffee shop windows, drinking wine when she’s forced to cook, and is sure to be caught skipping from meeting to meeting while at work.