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Eco-fashion show highlights Ottawa designers

The second-annual show has added a vendor's market this year so guests can take the fashion home with them.

Robin Whitford creates scarves out of old t-shirts, clothes and found fabrics.

Robin Whitford

Robin Whitford creates scarves out of old t-shirts, clothes and found fabrics.

Ottawa loves to shop local, and area designers hope that applies to sustainable fashion, too.

EcoEquitable, a social enterprise that offers sewing courses and trades training in sustainable fashion, will host its second annual Metamorphosis Eco Fashion Show on Oct. 26. But this year it’s adding a vendor market for emerging designers, students and designers to showcase and sell their sustainable wares to willing customers.

“There really hasn’t been an eco-marketplace or eco-fashion event in Ottawa yet, so this is going to be a fantastic opportunity to feel that out,” said organizer Kelly Sannes.

Ottawa isn’t known as a fashion hub like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver.

But it has a ravenous appetite for shopping local, and that’s half the battle, Sannes said.

“We’re hoping to carve out a space for local eco-fashion designers,” she said.

Twenty emerging and established designers will model their creations on the runway. Others will set up pop-up shops to sell their sustainable clothes, bags and accessories.

Of course, the definition of sustainable varies from designer to designer. Some use “upcycled” materials – old clothes turned into new, or discarded bolts of fabric that would otherwise have been tossed away.

Others source ethically-made fabrics and focus on creating durable, classic pieces that can add to a minimalist wardrobe.

“More and more people are trying to simplify their life,” said Malorie Bertrand, owner of Either/Or sustainable fashion boutique. “Its better to buy something that’s made to last you. That’s far more sustainable.”

The market begins at 6 p.m. at the Horticulture Building in Lansdowne Park. The fashion show begins at 7 p.m. For tickets visit


Sew Crazy
Robin Whitford, owner of Sew Crazy, has a knack for finding new life in old items.
Having left a career in crisis management several years ago, she now combs through second-hand shops and bags of donations to find fun and funky pieces she can turn into clothes and scarves. She sells them through craft shows and a local boutique.
She said Ottawa consumers, while not ravenous yet for sustainable fashion, are coming around to idea of “upcycling”– repurposing a discarded item into something else.
“At first, I had a few people like, ‘This was someone’s T-shirt?’ That ‘ew’ factor,” Whitford said. But at a craft market last month, “not a single person commented negatively. That little switch seems to be improving.”
Duffield Design
Megan Duffield has been making sustainable fashion at her Dunrobin studio for five years now.
“In every facet, as much as possible, there is a sustainable and ethical code that we run by,” Duffield said.
That could look different depending on the piece, and the fabric available at any given time.
Duffield sources organic cottons, eco materials like bamboo, upcycled materials or fleece made out of pop bottles.
But she also tries to design clothing that is durable, long-lasting and classic – the opposite of “fast fashion”– so consumers don’t have to buy as much as often.
Michelle Ferranti
Michelle Ferranti arrived in Canada from the United States this summer, with a background in theatrical design.
With some encouragement from the EcoEquitable team, she’s now working on her first fashion line of women’s active wear, which uses reclaimed fabrics and, surprisingly, some vintage fabric, too.
“You don’t think of vintage fabrics in active wear … but the vintage comes in as a little accent here or there,” she said.
The pieces are mostly loose, comfortable cover-ups designed for middle-aged women who appreciate a bit more coverage when heading to the gym or yoga class, Ferranti said.
“I think I’m onto something good, I think its stuff women can wear every day.”
House of Jaunaii
Shirley Jaunai, founder of House of Jaunaii, has created seven winter coats for women out of upcycled ripstop nylon.
The nylon, which is called ripstop because it’s virtually impossible to tear, was given to her and she felt it would make a perfect outerwear line.
Five of the jackets will be for sale at next week’s show.
But Jaunai is also working on a larger winter coat project, which will create a piece-meal jacket that can replaced in pieces as it wears out or styles change. The coat can be matched with a removable hood, skirt and pants.
If the pants wear out but everything else is fine, you can just replace the pants, Jaunai said.
“It’s fully interchangeable.”
Inbar Paor
Emerging designer Inbar Paor came to Canada from Israel a year and a half ago, and she brought her haut couture training with her.
She uses bold, colourful and flowery fabrics sourced from vintage and upcycling shops to make dresses that will make women of any size feel sexy.
“My vision is to make clothes that everybody can wear, petite to plus size,” she said.
And they can embrace their joie de vivre while they’re at it.
“My fabric is really flowery, it’s happy colours, more summer than winter,” said Paor.
Five models will showcase her dresses and a large kimono on the runway next week.

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