Canada’s Top Eco Designers: The Pioneers And Emergents

Canada’s sustainable fashion growth is a healthy sign of the times.

With easily more than 50 Canadian designers now working various sustainable practices into their collections, it was difficult to highlight just these five. Canada has seen tremendous growth in the number of eco fashion designers over the past few years. The following designers represent both those who have been leading the movement in Canada, and also some up-and-comers that you should be watching. Their A/W 2011 collections are sure to impress even the most discerning.

Nicole Bridger, Vancouver

Nicole was the first winner of Canada’s Fashion Takes Action award, Design Forward. Her A/W ’11 collection is entitled “Safe to Love,” aptly named after a personal experience she recently had. “Every season I reflect on life lessons that I’m learning”, Bridger says of coming out of a painful relationship. In addition to earth tones, we can expect to see passionate colours from Bridger this fall including reds, purples, and blush pink.

Thieves, by Sonja den Elzen, Toronto

Continuing on the theme of consciousness, Thieves’ A/W 2011 is entitled “Reflection,” which according to designer den Elzen is the embodiment of seasons layered and loved.  “It is about the seasons and years blending together, erasing the lines of time and offering genuine lifelong pieces that become the foundation of a wardrobe for those who are reflective and conscientious of their surroundings.”

This fall, we can expect to see more of the highly tailored look den Elzen achieves with beeswaxed organic cotton and hemp/wool/tencel suiting blends, combined with soft draped jerseys, organic wool knits, and lush, hand-knit wear.

Adhesif, by Melissa Ferreira, Vancouver

Newer to the scene but becoming known for their use of reclaimed and recycled materials, Adhesif recently rocked the runways at Vancouver Eco Fashion Week . For A/W 2011, we can expect to see more vintage tweed, wool suiting and printed cotton twill.

“The colour palette reminds me of a sunset on an open field in the Prairies,” states designer Melissa Ferreira. “Many pieces have a draped feel to them but I have added in some pieces that have a ‘sack’ or box-cut look as well”.

 Harricana by Mariouche, Montreal

For more than two decades, luxury fur designer Mariouche Gagné has been ethically recycling fur made in Canada. She claims to have recycled over 50,000 coats, saving 400 metric tons from landfill. The Harricana A/W 2011 collection features three themes: Femme Fatale, giving rise to elegance and femininity; Military, urban, unisex and streamlined; and Timeless, evoking the wild and untamed nature of the great Canadian outdoors.

Device by Melanie Ferrara, Toronto

Since 2008, designer Melanie Ferrara has produced a series of vintage-inspired modern classics, made in Toronto using tencel, organic wool and organic cotton. For inspiration for her A/W ’11 collection, she looked to the period of the 1940s. “Fashion at that time was influenced by wartime austerity measures, and was characterized by tailored silhouettes with an emphasis on the waist and shoulders,” says Ferrara who adds she used a neutral color palette of navy and black as the base, paired with greys, cream, plum and plaid.  “The result is a collection of timeless, wearable pieces which range in style from modern casual to sophisticated elegance.”