Sustainability for Breakfast

On Friday March 27, I attended my first Sustainability for Breakfast event, put on by Reap Calgary. The topic was Sustainable Style. I really wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t sure how it would fit into who I am. I have never thought of myself as a crusader for a cause. I tend to listen to information about a topic then notice my response to that information and make choices in my personal life that reflect the things that matter to me. The overall message that was presented at this breakfast was of identifying the things that matter to you and basing your decisions about sustainable style on that and letting go of the guilt. Well, this made sense to me and I was definitely interested to hear more.

At the breakfast I was lucky enough to share a table with Neetu Sidhu from Revival Style. I very much enjoyed her take on sustainable style. She endeavors to provide jobs to women utilizing skills that they already have and that are part of their culture. Rather than viewing overseas production as all made up of sweat shops that we should not buy from, she has heard their true story and found a way for them to utilize the skills that they already possess in a positive way to enhance their lives. This was a message that I could get on board with. I think empowering people in their own lives and with their own skills is so important and has the ability to make real changes in the world

I was also able to hear from Chantal of Studio Intent, which is a local Calgary boutique shop. Chantal has made the choice to research Canadian designers, she visits their production facilities before deciding to bring them into her boutique. She knows that she can answer any questions about the design and production of the pieces that you are considering purchasing. She also works with her clients to ensure that they are only adding the pieces to their wardrobe that they really need. She builds relationships with her clients and keeps track of the items that they already own so that she can advise them on how to combine new pieces with existing pieces. I think that is a wonderful way to promote sustainable style, rather than trying to upsell clients to a complete outfit that they don’t really need. These are just two of the examples of the ways that people are making their own choices about Sustainable Style.

Both of these people also spoke about slow style. I don’t think any of us can keep up with the fast pace of the fashion industry nor do we have the money to spend every 6 months on lots of new items for the latest season’s latest trends. We all want to be current, comfortable and stylish. The idea of slow style is very appealing, as I believe that if you make the right choices for yourself initially then you will have a wardrobe and a style that is enduring. You can add small items and make small shifts that keep you current but there is no need for a complete overhaul every 6 months.

I recently heard an interview with Kim Newport-Mimran the designer for Pink Tartan. There is a pair of pants that she has produced for every one of her collections; it is washable, durable and travels well. She herself also is a collector of clothing and has many vintage pieces. Many things created by the fashion industry can be timeless and enduring. I think that following trends is not the best example of sustainable style.

What does sustainable style mean to me? I like to support local boutiques, I do not like to shop at malls or large retailers. I find it fascinating to hear what those boutique owners are able to tell me about the lines and the designers that they carry, I like the story behind the creation. I love to meet local designers and producers to hear their story directly and see how they create. There are such a wealth of stories out there. I have had the pleasure in the last few months of meeting a few local designers and producers. They have been kind enough to show me a bit about their processes and I want to share some of their stories.

One of the biggest messages about Sustainable Style was to start participating in the conversation, you may not know right away what has meaning to you but as you hear and talk more about it, you will know the choices that you want to make. Consider what Sustainable Style means to you.

There is another Sustainable Style event coming up on April 15 in Calgary and you can find out more details on the Reap Calgary Earth Week website.

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