Here's a look at some Vancouver-based designers who have found their own unique ways to be sustainable and fashionable.
Katherine Soucie is a reuser, or maybe a repurposer. She takes hosiery waste from a Montreal manufacturer who would otherwise throw it out, and creates spectacular pieces for her label Sans Soucie. Using a process she developed while at Capilano University's textiles program, she creates pieces for clients aged 30-75 and all sizes. Some are casual, some formal. Sometimes she gets a lot of ultra-sheer hosiery, sometimes it's opaque. What she gets defines her designs. This spring, she got small pieces.
She stabilizes the nylon in the (non-toxic, metal-free) printing and dying stage. When the inks cool on the fibre, it gives it a sense of structure and reduces the stress on it, she says.
"Nylon is a really strong fibre, she says. "It's a petroleum byproduct, so it lasts a long time, but if it runs or pills, we toss it out after one wear. I thought, 'That isn't right.' It made me take a disposable non-functional textile and make it into something functional."Sans Soucie's lines look different every season, but this year, due to a collaboration between Capilano University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design, she has access to a digital embroidery machine.
"It completely changes the fabric," she says, adding she's excited to see her work evolve. ÒThere is a lot of waste in the textile industry. Hopefully, it won't always have so much garbage, but as long as it is wasting, I will be producing work with it. It is my responsibility to give back."
Soucie says her clients like the pieces, because they're so comfortable and figure-flattering. As a size 12 herself, she attests to its plus-size wearability. She loves to see how women integrate the pieces into their own wardrobes, layering and accessorizing or wearing it alone as a statement.
Sans Soucie is available at several stores in Vancouver and Canada. www.sanssoucie.ca
Jada Lee Watson
Jada Lee Watson started her sustainable line, Nixxi, four years ago, but was working with eco fabrics for two years before that and conventional fabrics before that. She remembers the old hemp days, but she also remembers how well using environmentally friendly fabrics sat with her.
"As soon as I sourced those fabrics, knowing they came from a good place really resonated with me," she says. "It works with my lifestyle. I believe in taking as gentle a step as I can."