April 22 is International Earth Day and this year we’re celebrating not just sustainable fashion but those who are doing cool sh*t in Regina and for the sustainable fashion industry.
What is sustainable fashion?
Put simply, Sustainable fashion is fashion that is ethically made and environmentally friendly. There’s four genres in which we can break this down:
- Ethical Fashion: This covers production, working conditions and Fair Trade practices. Ethical fashion surrounds the values and practices a company takes to ensure no human beings or animals are hurt due to their manufacturing processes.
- Circular Fashion: This idea advocates that all materials and products in society are used and circulated among people for as long as possible, in an environmentally safe, effective and fair manner. This encompasses things like recycling, upcycling, and thrifting.
- Slow Fashion: Slow fashion is the antithesis of Fast Fashion, taking a long-term view and considering the whole product lifecycle. This includes sharing or renting clothes as well as the quality of garments to help them last longer and thus reduce the need to buy new ones.
- Conscious Fashion: This is more of a message or movement, explaining and encouraging people to not just buy eco-friendly pieces but consciously think in regards to their shopping and consumption.
In Regina we see this in many ways , one being our vintage fashion scene. In the last 6 months, Ty Strawford of Utopia Vintage has begun a series of what he calls, “Last Chance Vintage Market”. With a few markets already under his (thrifted) belt, we sat down to ask him more about these markets and the work he is doing in the vintage and sustainable fashion scene.
Old is the new, ‘new’. Breaking the traditional marketing strategy of new and shiny, Ty’s markets focus on the old and the unique.
Owner of Utopia Vintage, Ty began these markets as a way to bring other vintage re-sellers and local businesses all under the same roof. As we’ve all heard an ‘umpteenth’ number of times, “Regina’s a big small town”. Call it what you want, but this is the place where it’s collaboration not competition – this is the place where the people ‘get it’.
In the vintage scene, there’s so many people trying to dip their toes in and it’s hard to stand out. These markets really help to bring exposure to so many businesses and in turn create that much more exposure for the markets as a whole – we all benefit”. Ty Strawford, Utopia Vintage
Making prairie waves, Ty’s markets speak to the classic saying, “one tide all boats rise”.
Not only showing support for local, these markets are simultaneously also supporting sustainable fashion and new ideas of shopping. These markets, while not a new idea entirely – Ty aims to do them differently. Bringing in live music with local eats, treats and drinks, these markets aren’t your regular old flea markets but rather an entire shopping experience – that’s what we like to call, cool sh*t.
While Ty has put forth a lot of conscious thought in how he’s executed these markets, the markets also speak to the conscious thoughts of shopping. When speaking to his work in sustainable fashion Ty explains, “Unlike the trendy fast fashion giants, vintage fashion retains it’s same quality and value, there’s a much longer circle of life with vintage fashion”. Trends are fleeting, and are thus what fuel the fast approaches and insane abundance in clothing production, consumption and waste. Vintage fashion on the other hand:
“You can’t find in the same typical stores. A shirt you find in these markets, I promise you won’t find anywhere else. What I love is the amount of uniqueness and the personality vintage pieces have”. – Ty Strawford, Utopia Vintage
While we know not everyone is concerned about what they wear, there’s this unique experience and power in developing one’s personal personal style through shopping Vintage. Your choices are reliant on a natural and organic attraction to designs, fabrics, colors, shapes – unclouded by the influences and pressures of what’s in ‘trend’. When asked about one of his own favorite purchases, Ty was quick to tell us about the, “Crazy Toronto Raptors starter jacket” he had found. Again – pieces you won’t find in the same typical stores. This new or rather ‘old’ way of shopping simply reduces overconsumption (and waste) as you are purchasing clothing that is authentic to you and not solely motivated by ‘what’s trending for fall 2023’. While the pieces are sustainable in of themselves in the ways of how they have been thrifted, recycled, and upcycled – the longevity that’s created in consciously purchasing within your personal style further fuels the life cycle of one’s wardrobe and thus the sustainable impact.
While the gross environmental impacts of fast fashion garners a larger conversation, it’s reality that not all journeys towards a sustainable wardrobe will be solely motivated by environmental concern. Enticing people to shop consciously and sustainably through the added appeals of uniqueness, a sense of personal style and new shopping experiences are what has converted and will continue to convert the people who otherwise would not have been enticed through the environment alone. Vintage fashion is truly what we call a win – win.
Check out Utopia Vintage and stay tuned for the next “Last Chance Vintage Market” – you’ll likely find much more than what you’ve ‘bargained’ for.