Fashion Takes Action, led by Kelly Drennan, recently hosted their first Canadian designer award called Design Forward. Each designer was hand-selected by FTA based on a set of criteria including materials used, carbon footprint, ethical production practices, design aesthetics and any extra “eco-initiatives” they’ve implemented, like energy efficiency and organic hang tags.
After the first round of judging by over 4,000 visitors to the FTA site, the top three went on to an even more scrutinized judging by three judges including model, activist, writer and TV personality Summer Rayne Oakes, sustainability consultant Lorraine Smith, and yours truly.
The judges rated the top three (Laura Chenoweth, Nicole Bridger and We3 (twigg &hottie) in various categories including:
- Materials Used
- Special Features
All scorecards were then emailed to Price Waterhouse where they were tabulated. And this past Thursday the winner, Nicole Bridger, was announced.
What did Nicole win? A lot. $50,000 worth of prizes including a three-month national PR campaign, provided by Third Eye Media, participation at Nolcha Fashion Week’s Ethical Fashion Preview in NYC this September, $1000 in eco-friendly fabric supplied by Telio (to make a sample collection to show in NYC) and a look book photo shoot with full creative team including photographer, models, a stylist and a hair and makeup team.
I caught up with Nicole Bridger over the weekend and asked her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:
Being under such scrutiny suddenly as a sustainable designer, were you worried?
Worried about what? I guess that would mean no. I just do my best to make our clothing as eco as I can and I feel secure in that. I can only do my best and our motives are authentic, so what’s to worry?
Did you start out as a designer designing sustainably or was it something you evolved into?
I started out in University as a designer who used natural fibers because I was conscious of the impact synthetics have on the planet. The term “sustainable designer” didn’t come up until later on.
Do you think it’s important to be a role model to other designers, to show how things can be done? That it can be done eco-friendly but also very fashion forward?
Absolutely! I believe it will eventually be the norm. It is so important to show that it can be done and the more people that jump on board the better, the industry will grow and more fabrics will become available.
How do you feel this award will now help you?
It certainly helps with getting noticed and with the trip to New York City, that means getting recognized on a global level. Our company is ready now for growth and we are looking for more clientele.
What is your favorite part of the award?
That it exists now, it is a sure sign that things are evolving.
In a perfect world, how do you see your line evolving?
Eventually we will be a lifestyle brand that people can rely on to be sustainable and Fair Trade no matter what the product they are purchasing. We will have global retail outlets and create co-operative fair trade factories in third world countries to help those in need.