By Cecelia Feor
When it comes to shopping for the latest fashions, today’s customers are looking at the tag for more than just the price. A growing distaste for fast fashion has given rise to rising interest in sustainable fashion and the label dangling off that pair of jeans helps customers discern whether their purchase is helping or hindering the planet’s health.
Many clothing brands and stores are responding to this earth loving sentiment with new collections or complete brand overhauls. Local fashion brand Lemonwood has a holistic approach to sustainability.
“We have this mantra of slow fashion,” says Lemonwood founder Christine Peters. “We value timeless pieces.” It’s a stark contrast to the quick fix of uber trendy apparel that may come and go within a few weeks, and result in a landfill top up.
Peters has travelled extensively to ensure her brand’s materials and makers meet her standards, which include using the right dyes on textiles, ethical working conditions for employees and embracing natural materials and methods.
“Finding pieces that are naturally made is like looking for pearls,” explains Peters whose efforts balance ecological integrity and social good. “I think people want to hear the story of where their clothes are made, how they’re made, and who is making them.”
The fashion industry is seeing new brands emerging on the scene that have sustainability baked right into their missions and is integrated into their business models. Ingrid Evans, manager and buyer at Sienna Boutique in Oakville, is adding such clothing brands to the store’s selection in response to the increase in shoppers are seeking high quality apparel from brands that align with their personal values.
“We are endeavouring to source more ethically produced brands,” she says. The boutique carries Ecoalf and Ética – both well known for their sustainability-driven missions that integrate 100 per cent recycled fabrics in their collections as well as use drastically reduced water and chemicals in the production of their goods.
The burgeoning desire for sustainable fashion has been a tremendous boon for consignment shops. A pioneer in Toronto’s sustainable fashion scene is the founder and CEO of Preloved, Julia Grieve, who started her business selling upcycled clothing at a shop on Queen Street in 1995.
“The idea of creating a sustainable line was never at the forefront of Preloved ever,” says Grieve who started the business out of a personal love for picking unique finds and transforming them into stylish pieces. “Back in those days, we had no idea.” Today, Preloved uses vintage fabrics along with deadstock or overrun fabrics to create unique garments that are now sold online through her ecommerce site.
Referring to herself as the accidental environmentalist, she says, “We are learning as fast as everybody else out there, and inspiring everybody to do their part.“ Her go-to is to thrift, and emphasizes, “We need to normalize second-hand clothing.”
With more options than ever for fashionistas looking for the perfect second hand find, there’s nothing like hitting a consignment shop for the true thrifting experience. Posh Couture, located in downtown Burlington, is a consignment boutique that carries exclusively upscale brands – making the job of finding high quality previously loved clothes and accessories easy – and more affordable.
“Consignment keeps luxury items in circulation which extends their usefulness,” says owner Kim Roefe. “Consumers save money while helping the environment.” It’s a win-win.