Blog Post: Green Is the new little black dress

“Fashion is not something that exists only in dresses.  Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
          –Coco Chanel

From the words of Coco Chanel to the local designers it’s clear that fashion is a reflection of ourselves and our lives, ideas, and innovation.  The catwalks of Milan to Paris, New York and even Hong Kong are a buzz of innovative thinking and everybody seems to be talking about “Eco-Fashion”.
But what does Eco-fashion mean?  How is it defined?  and more importantly what are the benefits of embracing new innovative ideas and trends that promote Ecological thinking?
Hi I’m Stephanie, a New Englander currently living in Vancouver and these are just some of the questions I will answer it my blog on Eco-fashion. I hope you like it and encourage you to share your ideas about what Eco-fashion means and some examples you may have come across from your city.
Eco-fashion takes into consideration the environmental and social impact of their products by using organic materials, recycled materials, safe dyes, or fair trade practices, among other things.  It’s a great concept that is becoming more and more popular, but is still in it’s beginning stages.  To learn more about it and what’s going on in the fashion industry in terms of sustainability, I thought I would consult someone in the industry.  I talked to former fashion-model Rya Berkelaar, now a modeling agent with Vancouver-based Richards Models, about what is going on in the world of fashion.  Read on below to hear what she had to say!
What is your history in the fashion industry?
I started as a model and Richard was my agent, he sent me to Paris and New York, did runway, print and then came home and did some local stuff, but I took some time off.  I came back as a booker and I’ve been a booker here for 10 years.
As someone who works in the fashion industry, have you ever worked with any designers or brands that are eco-friendly, or at least trying to work in that direction?
Yes, we have participated in Eco-Fashion Week since they started in Vancouver, we support by providing models.  So all of the designers that participate in Eco-Fashion Week obviously have some component that is environmentally friendly.
I found there was a really big divide between the mainstream designer labels and the eco-friendly designers.  Do you know of anybody who is trying to bridge that gap and blend the two?
Stella McCartney does.  I have heard that she uses vegan leather and tries to incorporates a new eco friendly element in each collection, and that is the only person  comes to mind.
Yeah, she was the only person I could find too who is a well-known designer who is actually trying…
Yeah, openly (laughs) promoting that. She’s the only mainstream one I can think of.  There's Prophetik who participated in Eco-Fashion Week for a few years.  He also showed in London, as well as Eco fashion week.  He has had celebrity attention, I believe that Colin Firth's wife wore one of his gowns to the Golden Globes one year, saw that in People magazine.
Do you see eco-fashion growing and becoming big in the future or do you think it’s a trend that will die out?
I don’t think it’s a trend that will die out.    Sustainability can be a lot of different things for example supporting your local supplier & designer .  People are more environmentally conscious than ever and they are putting pressure on big companies to have cleaner practices.  I think we are seeing that in all industries, as the consumer becomes more educated on environmental responsibility  is that the industry will provide what the consumer demands.  
Just like how people put pressure on the cosmetic industry to not do testing on animals.  If people are aware of it and start purchasing other brands that don't test on animals, then animal testing is going to stop if no one’s buying their product.  That’s just the way it works.  It just feels better to support brands that adopt cleaner practices, fair trade and cruelty free research and it's in the power of every consumer to choose. 
Do you think Eco-friendly brands sacrifice style and comfort to be sustainable?
I think a designer has a standard for themselves and they are going to find a way design up to their standard of quality and style that they’ve already set for themselves.  I don’t think there’s any need for [that sacrifice], I think the innovations that are continuously happening are making the materials better all the time.  Stella McCartney’s able to do it, so it’s possible, I think it’s just in it’s infant stages, and there's a huge business opportunity there.
What is the current attitude of the modeling industry on wearing eco-friendly clothes?
Models don’t have an opinion really. I mean, that’s their job, not to have an opinion but to show the clothes.  Seriously though, they are happy and proud to support the movement.
Ok, because I found that there are some models like Gisele Bundchen…
Gisele, actually designed the bottle for the first Eco-Fashion Week.  Yeah, she’s the top paid model in the world right now, so that’s a pretty big.  The celebrity models have the power to influence people, and they’re promoting good things.  That’s where it catches on with the influencers , right? And it is in it’s infancy as far as bringing labels that are mainstream.  And I applaud people like Stella McCartney who just do it, and she can, right? Because she’s Stella McCartney.
Do you have any favorite Eco-fashion lines or brands?
They're all great, just because they are doing it! 
 photo credit: Megan Turcotte