Socially-Conscious Style

Sustainable Fashion at the Ethik BGC Show

A model wears the “Sophie” skirt, which is made from recycled sweater fabric. Photo by fmjva (aka Frederick Mfinanga)

In a time when fast fashion and sweatshops have stained the clothing industry Montreal’s Festival Mode & Design is presenting Ethik BGC, a show dedicated to ethical stylings.

But with so many facets of the fashion industry drawing mainstream ire, the definition of ethical fashion is open to interpretation.

“Some designers are really concerned about the environment,” said Concordia grad and rising designer Agnieszka Koziol. “So they would more likely go into the direction of making recycled clothing or out of more eco-friendly fabrics, like hemp, as opposed to cotton which uses a lot of water and pesticides to grow.”

Koziol’s new company Moda Avivada works in clothing and accessories made of reclaimed fabrics. Her collection is set to officially launch in September.

The Saturday show will bring together over a dozen designers who follow the same ethical mandate in their work. And while some focus on the environment, others look at the social impact of making the items.

“There are some designers who are more interested in developing the craft of making clothing,” Koziol said. “They wanted to make clothing made abroad but not in a sweatshop way – a fair trade way. Instead of having a long chain and the people making clothes getting nearly nothing, they’re getting a fair wage for their work.”

This is the second year Ethik BGC has been part of the festival, and created by FEM International which works to promote socially and ecologically responsible entrepreneurship. The not-for-profit also teaches women entrepreneurs to incorporate socially responsible practices into their business model for the benefit of their communities and environment.

Most of the runway designs will land in the typical calendar of Fall/Winter styles, but some, such as jewelry designers will be displaying year-round pieces.

Saturday is the final day of the festival. It starts at 2:00 p.m. with Atelier B presenting their Fall/Winter collection and ends with a 10 p.m. Bollywood blowout with dancers, music, and performers.

Ethik BGC at Montreal’s Festival Mode & Design (Scène Sélecte, McGill College) / Aug. 4 / 5:45 p.m. / Free