On Tuesday, April 12, we hosted a luncheon and think-tank titled “Second hand is my first choice” during Eco Fashion Week, alongside VancouverConsignment.ca, on the topic of re-used and recycled clothing.

The panelists included Myriam Laroche, Founder of Eco Fashion Week, Jigme Nehring, Founding Partner of Mine & Yours, Chloe Popove, Founder of My Modern Closet, and panel moderator, Fiona Forbes, host of Urban Rush on Shaw TV.

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From L to R: Myriam Laroche, Jigme Nehring, Chloe Popove, Fiona Forbes.

The luncheon was conveniently held at the Fairmont Waterfront, where many of the Eco Fashion Week events were being hosted, and we had a lovely meal provided by Panago Pizza, with refreshments from Dry Sparkling.

Elletourage was on hand to check guests in, and answer any questions guests may have about our networking platform, including our online marketplace.

Janis Behan and Leanne Wang representing Elletourage

Janis Behan and Leanne Wang representing Elletourage

Fast Fashion vs. Sustainable Fashion

After enjoying some soft jazz music from the live band and grabbing a bite to eat, we sat down to listen to the panel. There was much discussion on the growing problem of “fast fashion.” With the average North American throwing away 81 pounds of textiles per year, it is the third most environmentally damaging industry in the world.

Forbes questioned the panelists on how they got into their current careers. It was interesting to hear their different backgrounds.

Myriam wondered what fashion leaders were doing to promote the kind of sustainability necessary for long-term viability, and she wanted to put Vancouver on the map for fashion, like New York, Paris, or even Toronto. Thus, Eco Fashion Week was born. Jigme had lived abroad in Paris, Monaco, and Los Angeles, and wanted to create something special and unique in her hometown. Mine & Yours is inspired by the curated boutiques in Paris, and laid-back vibe of buy-sell-trade shops in LA. Chloe had worked in retail for 15 years and saw first-hand what mass consumption looks like. My Modern Closet came to be because of her love of organizing clothing swaps, and realizing that one person can create change.

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The attentive crowd.

How to get started

The panel also discussed the stigma around second-hand clothing, and how some can feel like used clothing is dirty or covered in germs. For Myriam, who comes from a family of 26 cousins, she grew up wearing hand-me-downs (hey, me too!), so doesn’t think twice about it. But she had some advice for those just stepping into the world of re-used and recycled clothing: start with one piece. And start with an accessory–like a belt, a bag, a wallet, or a piece of jewelry. And if you are in the habit of purchasing 5 or 10 pieces of clothing or accessories per month–make just one of them a second-hand piece. I think that’s a great place to start.

Favourite thrift finds

One of my favourite parts of the talk was hearing about some of the ladies’ favourite second-hand purchases in the past. For Myriam, it was a red Dior jacket from the 80’s that cost her $9.99 from a thrift shop, and she still owns it to this day. Jigme scored a Diane von Fürstenberg silk wrap dress in California for $40, and in true eco-fashion, re-sold it after she had gotten her use out of it. For Chloe, it was a no-name-brand summer dress that she found at a garage sale for a whopping $0.05. It sure makes you think: do you have any special place in your heart for that dress you got at H&M, or that sweater you got at Forever 21? Probably not.

The group talk was finished off with a few insightful questions from the audience, and a bit of time for networking. I think for some, it was an eye-opening conversation, and I heard from several people that they wanted to immediately go home and clean out their closets and start regularly purchasing second-hand. A successful think-tank in my opinion! Thank you again to everyone who attended; you sure made it worthwhile.

Here’s a little sizzle reel from the day’s events: