The Victoria College Environmental Fashion Show (VEFS) held its first virtual show over YouTube livestream on March 28.
VEFS, as a club, “uses re-purposed and vintage fashion as a medium to promote social responsibility and individual expression on campus.” The show itself is meant to “develop a culture of sustainability” among community members, and was developed out of a sense of alarm over the waste created by the fashion industry.
The club modified its focus for this year, augmenting the original goals of the show to include sustainable fashion from home.
Organizers wrote to The Varsity that this year’s theme, “In Sync//Out of Touch,” was inspired by fashion’s cyclical nature. They noted that many popular elements in today’s fashion zeitgeist are inspired by the 1990s.
“Going forward in fashion often means going back in time, so, in a sense, being ‘in sync’ with fashion and being ‘out of touch’ with the times do not necessarily stand on dialectics,” they wrote.
The show this year was accompanied by a 1980s synthesizer-infused soundtrack, and opening graphics featured clips from the 1982 film Tron.
The stream itself was textured, with filters that gave an impression of graininess and editing techniques that felt reminiscent of old film. Interspersed amongst the retro themes were elements of modernity, including Mac toolbars framing the models. Film and photo were manipulated to give a dislocated, out-of-time feel.
The backgrounds behind the models included real-world settings, cartoon graphics, and short animated clips à la TikTok. One of the interesting things about the editing was that you were never 100 per cent certain if the backgrounds were digitally created or filmed in a real space.
Among the opening designs was an outfit with a jacket, a black-and-white grid-patterned tube top, and a pair of ripped black jean shorts. Another ensemble contrasted a blue-and-white striped corset over a black dress.
Some designs featured bright colours and patterns — for example, a lime-and-green design, with wide legged pants and ribbed-stitch sweater. A different design featured ripped, high-waisted blue jeans, a sequined leopard print top, and a black PVC jacket.
Another piece, reminiscent of the late 1990s, consisted of a handkerchief blue top and leather skirt.
Overall, what seemed to unify all the pieces were the callbacks to the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s.
Following the show, the organizers held a question-and-answer period with the show’s designers and models. I asked designers how their thrifting experience was affected by the seemingly never-ending cyclical lockdowns during the year.
Designer Emilie Tamtik replied that “quarantine and lockdowns have really encouraged creatives to think outside the box as well as use materials you already have at home.”
Designer Zara Mian agreed and said that places like Plato’s Closet would “catalog all their items… and then you could go buy them online and pick it up in person.” Mian noted that this could be very limiting because you cannot tactilely interact with the clothing before purchasing it.
Like the show itself, collaboration and meetings preparing for it were held online. The club noted in an email to The Varsity that it was up to designers and models to choose a method of communication. It said that photoshoots were a hybrid of screenshotted video calls and models taking photos of themselves.
The club mentioned that “it will definitely be a relief once designers can actually interact with models during fittings and photoshoots again.”
Mian explained there are normally multiple interactions between models and designers. Measurements and alterations are integral parts of a design process. However, this year they “[had] to really trust that what [they] created is going to fit, it’s going to look good” without any in-person adjustments.
The final question that I had for the club was regarding sustainability — specifically, about the sustainability lessons they had learned through the lens of COVID-19.
“The pandemic has really helped us identify the essential parts of our life and more specifically, our wardrobes,” they wrote. They noted that searching for pieces had to be “really intentional” and that “it wasn’t feasible to make multiple trips to the thrift store for the clothes.” It also meant that wasted materials were reduced.
The club “[hopes] that everyone can learn to adapt some sustainable fashion habits into their lives.”