Eco Fashion Week – good thing or fad?

the Eco Fashion Week tagline

the Eco Fashion Week tagline

Eco Fashion Week begins this coming Sunday in Vancouver. According to their website, its mission is:

…to educate the Apparel and Textile industry on how to shift towards more healthy ways to design, manufacture, distribute, market and sell their products. EFW also informs and educates the consumer on how to buy, use and dispose of the clothes & accessories in an ethical manner by incorporating a non-patronizing education aspect into each brand.

eco-fashion-week-ss12-mhm-01The week includes fashion runway shows and seminars, including a “Thrift Chic Challenge” seminar hosted by none other than Value Village, in which 3 designers are given $500 and the challenge to come up with several chic outfits from VV boutique. I’m not totally opposed to that idea, though I am not a fan of VV since it’s retail (that is often confused with charity) and is over-priced as far as thrift goes. At least they’re thinking thrift, which isn’t something I’d have anticipated.

In a Vancouver Sun article about the event (which includes a good little video about shopping thrift, even if it is at VV! is my bias showing here?)  one intriguing component leapt out at me.

US RETAILERS BLACK FRIDAYSwedish retailer H&M – recently famous for committing to paying garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia a living wage – are apparently working on an end to “linear fashion”- where garments end up in a land fill after their owners are done with them. They’ve begun a Garment Collecting Initiative where customers can dump their used clothes at any H&M (no matter what brand they are) and the company will “recycle them into new fibres or new energy.” Check out their promo video.

landfill-1-537x402At first I thought that was kinda cool but as I think on it more, I’m not sure if it really solves a problem or not. Certainly it helps to keep clothing out of landfills like the one above. What it also does, is gives us as consumers an excuse to keep on consuming because now we can feel virtuous about our consumption since it’s being environmentally friendly. I suppose that can also be said about donating your unwanted garments to a charity thrift shop – but there, your donation supports the work of a charity overseas. I don’t know, am I making excuses?

What do you think? Am I being overly critical/hypocritical or is H&M’s initiative a really good one?

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6 Responses to Eco Fashion Week – good thing or fad?

  1. Melanie says:

    Great post. I like the concept of the thrift chic challenge with Value Village but did you know that tickets are $60. !!! Are you kidding me? Last year they didn’t give you paper tickets, too eco-unfriendly – you had to present your ticket on your cell phone at the door. I don’t have an energy-sucking cell phone.

    • Yes, I noted the irony of a $60 ticket for a thrift-themed show. I guess they have to pay for stuff somehow but you’d think that maybe VV could subsidize the show since they’re getting all that free publicity. and as for tickets, at least you can recycle paper…

  2. Kathryn says:

    I agree with you that we here in the west buy way too many clothes based on a good price. I would sooner have fewer clothes, made really well out of quality materials. Too many tops I buy don’t look too good after a few washes or are poorly shaped around the neck or hips. I get many cast offs from a certain clothing seller that fit poorly hence, they come to my thrift store.

  3. Diamond says:

    I don’t think you are being overly critical at all…all initiatives of this sort need some form of critique to help them (and us) be honest and reflective about what we do, sell and buy. Just a quick thought…a lot of consumption is driven by the decline in garment quality (closely linked to price). Not sure how we deal with this but quality is definitely something we should all factor into our buying and selling.

    • It is interesting that both you and Kathryn commented on the decline of garment quality. I have to agree – even some of my favourite retail shops/labels have started using inferior fabric and it just doesn’t last: it pills in the wash or stretches out like Kathryn indicated, or shrinks. very frustrating. I think that part of the answer may be exactly the idea that we buy less and buy better quality. Even when I buy thrift, I try and find better quality clothing – which is usually vintage stuff (that says something right there, doesn’t it?) Somehow we need to get the message to the fashion industry that we want better quality items but unless we’re willing to pay for those, i don’t think it’ll happen any time soon!

  4. I don’t think you can be too critical about this subject. It’s scary to think of where all of our castoffs are going. The whole paper versus electronic thing is crazy. I think the waste from factories etc. that make electronic products must outweigh the paper problem. Especially at the rate some people trade in their “old” electronics as soon as a newer version comes out.

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