Slow Fashion For Our Oceans
2018.10.18Aileen Lee

Slow Fashion For Our Oceans

Promenades Sur L’eau

"Whether it is the clothes we buy, the brands we support, or the materials we wear, we wear our values on our shoulders." - Chúk Odenigbo, Victoria Lui and Jay Matsushiba.

Promenades sur l’eau is a fashion show dedicated to the health of our oceans, co-hosted by Ocean Wise and the TPTA organization. We've all heard the scary stories -- the micro-plastics poisoning of fishes, the aggressive acidification of the waters, and the ominous melting of the polar ice caps. Whether we realize it or not, the effect we have on our oceans are a reality.

When volunteers from the Ocean Bridge Cohort invited me to be a part of their fashion show at the Vancouver Aquarium, I was thrilled. And slightly perplexed. I knew that slow fashion helps our world becomes a more sustainable place -- but how exactly does it affect our oceans?

As the three organizers -- Chúk Odenigbo, Victoria Lui and Jay Matsushiba explained their cause, the link between fashion and oceans became evident. Some facts I've learned:

  • Dying and rinsing fabrics, and creating synthetic fabrics use an astronomical amount of water. A devastating amount of chemicals run through the water bodies of the main textile provinces.
  • While it is easy to place the blame on factories, factory owners are often pressured to keep up with the unrealistic demands of the fast fashion industry -- everything must be faster and cheaper, or you lose the order.
  • When it comes to washing synthetic garments, thousands of synthetic fibres are released into the waters per wash. These fibres end up in the stomachs of marine animals.

So what can Vestige do?

At Vestige, we use mainly natural or plant-base fabrics in our designs, many of which are organic and biodegradable. Each season, and we manufacture locally in very small batches.

This limits the wasteful over-stocking that often results from the attempt to lower production costs. What began as decisions to elevate our branding became something we are truly grateful for. We enjoy being able to see, chat and interact with seamstresses who are paid a fair wage. Fashion is known to be a notoriously wasteful industry, but we hope that by not cutting environmental corners, we can help reduce its consequential cost.

And what more can we do?

On top of using natural materials, visiting our factories on site and producing only what we know we can sell -- we will participate in more ethical fashion campaigns. We will also look into the certifications of our factories, and review if they hold fair-trade or environmental impact certificates.

After all, fashion is a big part of our lives. Even the least style-conscious individual need to shop for garments. As designers, we are constantly looking into the future to create better designs. Hence, it is important we also take a stance in environmental preservation, lead by example and produce products that lessen the harm on our planet.

Above photos by Aileen Lee.


Photos by Kyle Singbeil Photography

Photo by Monica Phung Photography 

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