Myriam Laroche – Fashion shows for a cause


Closing show at Holt Renfrew Vancouver (Megan Renaud)

Myriam Laroche, from Quebec City, has had a hand in the fashion industry for many years, doing anything and everything she could. After moving to Vancouver five years ago, she noticed the lack of community within the city’s fashion scene.

Around the same time, the City of Vancouver was making it known it wished to be the world’s greenest city by 2020. Laroche took this information, and her own fashion background, and created an event to help the city meet its goal, and to draw the fashion community together.

Laroche founded Eco-Fashion week, currently on its seventh season. On the evening of Oct 10, I sat down with Laroche at Eco-Fashion Weeks closing show, a trunk show in Holt Renfrew, and discussed how Eco-Fashion week was created and what she is trying to achieve.

Megan Renaud: How did you get started with Eco-Fashion week, because you’ve been in fashion for like 19 years, right?

Myriam Laroche: Almost 20 now! So when I started, I did almost all jobs. I was a buyer, a journalist, I taught fashion merchandising for five years at a college and I was a sales rep. You know, I moved here five years ago and I needed a change. I came to realize that there’s no strong fashion industry in Vancouver. There is one, but there’s no community. Everybody is kind of struggling by themselves. You can’t [make an industry] if you aren’t working together.

I lived in Montreal for years. Does the entire fashion industry love everybody? No, but when there’s something, they come together, there’s a community. So at the same time that I was kind of analyzing what was going on in the industry, I learned that the city wanted to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. And it clicked. I said okay, the fashion events here aren’t really working because they are trying to be Toronto, they are trying to be New York and they are trying to be Montreal. But we’re not. Sorry Vancouver, but you’re not those guys, we’re us. So I think that’s how it happened. I wanted to give a Vancouver its own identity in the fashion industry.

MR: What else are you trying to accomplish with Eco-Fashion Week, other than make Vancouver the greenest city by 2020?

ML: Well, I want to position Vancouver as the Green Capital of Eco-Fashion on the planet. We have also done, for the first time this season, a tour. We brought five buyers to visit different factories here. We have a very healthy manufacturing industry in Vancouver, so I think it’s the city that could become a North American centre for more local [production], no across the sea travelling. This means a smaller carbon footprint. There are different options. That doesn’t mean you stop making things in Asia, but at least you have the option to make things more local to balance it. I don’t believe in being radical, no this or no that. It’s about, I think, finding a balance.

MR: You’re just in Vancouver, right now, with Eco-Fashion Week. Are you looking to grow bigger?

ML: I want to have a complementary event in Quebec. Not outside of Canada yet; baby steps. We have spoken to people outside of Canada though, for example, people in Australia, people in Sweden, but most of us are still volunteering for Eco-Fashion week. We need to be financially sustainable, which we are not yet. That’s first, let’s make that work. Let’s be ourselves first, and then yes, we can expand, but yes, Quebec for me. It will be more Quebec City, rather than Montreal. Working with Montreal Fashion Week for sure, you know, I know them. But Quebec City, the oldest city in North America, it’s vintage, there’s something about that city that I love.

MR: How do you find speakers for seminars and designers to showcase their collections in Eco-Fashion Week?

ML: Oh! Internet! We Google and we hear about them. The people hear. That’s what happens after four years. People come to us as well, “Oh have you heard about this?”. So I think it’s the easy part, finding them. It’s convincing them that’s the hardest part.

MR: What traits do you look for in designers to have runway shows with you? What makes them eco-friendly enough to feature?

ML: There’s a lot of stuff. Of course, making and producing local. You know, reducing the carbon footprint – producing local. The type of fabric; the amount of wastage. Yeah, the type of fabric, it could be recycled material, it could be organic. The type of packaging, the type of shipping. Even the type of manufacturing studio or boutique they have. For example, they could have LED lights and all of these types of things. There’s multiple ways to be responsible. Are you giving back to a charity? Are you helping others? That’s another way.

MR: How would someone get involved in Eco-Fashion Week if they wanted to make an impact?

ML: You can volunteer. You can be a designer and present a fashion show. We have positions as well. Everybody goes through the first season being unpaid, and then we can sometimes find a symbolic budget. We are looking to have a paid team, so we do have some positions available. There’s the sponsorship department, there’s the production department, fashion department, PR department, so it’s really big. We have approximately 30 people working for Eco-Fashion week, plus 45 volunteers.

Megan Renaud

Journalism student trying to make it as a fashion journalist.

1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Reply October 25, 2013

    Alexandra Hawley

    I don’t read many fashion articles, but your intro enticed me and I’m glad because I really enjoyed this one. I love it hearing about people who are pushing the boundaries of their field. The use of fashion to create and support a community is really cool.

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