But does it spark joy? Slow fashion in a high-paced world

How you can squeeze yourself and your ethics into a nice pair of jeans

But does it spark joy? Slow fashion in a high-paced world

There are few things that spark more joy in my life than fashion. It’s been my passion, identity, and therapy. I live for the next piece of clothing that I can get my hands on, roam malls until my feet ache, and follow every fashion show with an unrelenting dedication. I saw my future in an episode of Sex and The City when Carrie Bradshaw realized that she had no money because she spent it all on shoes.

However, as fashion month and the Global Climate Strikes intersected in September, it seems necessary to look at the everyday practice of shopping in order to better understand its impact on the environment.

Like many markers of climate destruction, the fashion industry saw a major boom after World War II. Advancements in technology meant that brands could use synthetic fabrics, efficient factory lines, and outsourced labour for mass production.

The expansion of the global middle class, which has only risen since the advent of the twenty-first century, created a captive market to buy these clothes, fuelling both the economic growth and pollutive nature of fashion brands. According to a 2018 article from Nature Climate Change, textile production now emits 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year — more than international flights and maritime shipping.

The main culprit of this crisis is fast fashion, which is the equivalent to fast food in the moral hierarchy — meaning it barely scrapes the barrel of decency. Large clothing brands, like H&M and Zara, seek capital above all by ensuring that you buy new pieces every season, and they don’t care about the negative effects of this consumption pattern. Actually, they count on you brushing your hands through racks of clothing while disregarding the negative effects.

Slow fashion is designed to help you consume mindfully in response to fast fashion. It’s epitomized by the ‘capsule wardrobe’ — the idea that closets should contain timeless pieces with a limited amount of seasonal variation. The assumption is that the lack of sustainability comes from overconsumption, and that clothing is overconsumed.

I’m not in a position to prescribe the capsule wardrobe. I currently have 222 pieces of clothing in my closet — without counting dirty items, undergarments, socks, winter apparel, shoes, bags, jewelry, and the pieces at my childhood home. It’s foreign to me how a person could own less and still get dressed in the morning.

That being said, our world is on fire. And this scientific reality forces us to consider how to tackle the climate crisis within the parameters of our social reality — what we can give up, for the ability to change our lifestyle intersects with a host of other social justice issues, making it so that certain populations actually can’t give up everything.

Since it would be absurd to ask low-income families to invest in more expensive, higher quality clothing without trade-offs, and we remain far away from eco-conscious brands becoming accessible options, it is the responsibility of wealthy consumers and nations to make sacrifices for change.

I can’t incentivize slow fashion because I’m not a policy expert. What I can do is appeal to shopaholics, like myself, who have the means to alter their consumption patterns.

We must build a relationship with clothing that emphasizes how fashion expresses personal identity and cultural values, not material wealth relative to others. This can enable a balance between sustainable behaviour and human culture. So before you buy that next item, consider whether it’s absolutely necessary, where the clothes originate, and whether there are better alternatives.

I don’t want to throw your favourite French army jacket into a dump with half-eaten McDonald’s burgers. Slow fashion doesn’t have to mean purge and abstain. I only ask to break the awing hypnosis induced every time you enter a store. Stop dragging your hands through that endless array of clothing and take the initiative to resolve your dangerous shopping habits.

This can include prioritizing brands with an ethical, eco-conscious mandate; Marie-Kondo-ing your closet in minimalist terms. Shopping vintage, upcycling, or looking for clothing with non-synthetic, organic ingredients are also admirable efforts.

However you approach slow fashion, just try to crack the surface, because once you have your footing, everyone can move forward.

Innovation shines bright at inaugural U of T Fashion Week

Three-day series closes with a fashion show, seeks to encourage creativity at the university and beyond

Innovation shines bright at inaugural U of T Fashion Week

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On the evening of March 30, the inaugural 2018 U of T Fashion Week (UTFW) closed its three-day event series with a fashion show in the Hart House Great Hall, bringing a fresh mix of style, culture, and diversity to the campus scene. UTFW was part of University Fashion Week, which consisted of similar, simultaneous events at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia.

UTFW is the product of a vision held by Creative Director Dejanée Mikylah Bowles, a second-year student at the University of Toronto, as well as the hard work of her nine-person executive team. UTFW was designed to be a social enterprise that promotes awareness of important causes in the community, while also fostering entrepreneurial skills for grassroots designers within the Canadian fashion industry. In line with this vision, UTFW’s closing show was the capstone to other events and workshops held earlier in the week.

Speaking to her own creative passions as a musician, poet, and YouTube videographer, Bowles told The Varsity, “I would say that my favourite part in preparing for this event was being able to work with all the different creatives… Just being able to meet other people like myself and do something this grand and bring it all together was really beautiful.”

It’s not easy to spark a movement, especially given that UTFW was in its first year. Bowles acknowledged some of the logistical challenges that her team experienced trying to pave the way for a new initiative on campus. Nevertheless, with all tickets sold out for a runway space accommodating roughly 200 audience members, it was clear from the series’ grand finale that UTFW’s inaugural year was a resounding success.

The first half of the fashion show opened with a star-studded street style lineup. The shredded pieces and safety pins that adorned garments in the LFNT collection brought new meaning to the evolution of denim, 2036 presented a unique take on military-inspired wear, and Steezy Fresh showcased a series of structured bomber jackets and tees printed with their signature logo.

Post-intermission, the runway was overtaken by a mix of casual and luxe sportswear, featuring collections from the likes of AT, 6SIDE, and NIKE. Noname wowed the crowd with a striking collection of custom hand-painted sweatshirts in striking neon tones, while bright prints and funky jewelry by Tantalization provided the perfect transition into the show’s high fashion portion. The show closed with an abstract black-and-white collection courtesy of Faces by Celia, a stunning evening gown set by Ekaj, and a sassy collection of fur and and leather outerwear by M.A SKINZ.

UTFW’s engaging fashion lineup was complemented by a stunning belly dancing set from the Diva Diverse Professional Dance Company, as well as a duo performance of “Why Lie” by Romeyo Wilson. Also encouraging was UTFW’s commitment to charitable change: this year’s show donated proceeds to After Breast Cancer, an organization that provides help to survivors during recovery from their illness.

The organizers’ efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the show’s lineup were evidenced both by the range of collections featured and by their nods to the connection between fashion and community-building. Overall, the range of UTFW’s show made a resounding impact that will hopefully propel the initiative forward for years to come.

“U of T is a school filled with talent — smart people, educated people,” said Bowles. “We need to see the intersectionality of those different things, and we need to embrace it… [We need to] have times where we can just enjoy ourselves and be happy and be around other people that are like ourselves.”

In photos: “Celestial Bodies”

Documenting the 2018 edition of the Victoria College Environmental Fashion Show

In photos: “Celestial Bodies”

The Victoria College Environmental Fashion Show (VEFS) is an annual initiative showcasing collections from student fashion designers. All pieces and outfits at VEFS are thrifted, donated, or crafted from sustainable and recycled materials.

This year’s two-part show, “Celestial Bodies,” is VEFS’ sixth edition, and it brought environmentally friendly fashion to ethereal heights in a flurry of satin and white tulle. The show’s striking collections were characterized by pale makeup, gleaming jewellery, and touches of floral, giving onlookers a taste of paradise far removed from the world of fast fashion.

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You’re hot then you’re cold

Here’s how to dress during Toronto’s sporadic weather patterns

You’re hot then you’re cold

There are some predictable phenomena in life: what day it will be tomorrow, who will get eliminated on The Bachelor, and exam season. Then there are other, less-predictable events: how much sleep you’ll get during exam season, the entire plot of Inception, and Toronto’s weather patterns.

Given that most university students have enough to worry about as they manage school, a social life, and sleep, it’s no surprise that many forget to check the weather every morning. We are taken by surprise when we find ourselves in 10-degree weather when it was -20 the day before. Luckily there are ways you can dress comfortably and stylishly, while combatting Toronto’s sporadic weather.

1. Light scarves: If you’ve spent a fair portion of your time stalking style bloggers on Pinterest and Instagram, you’ll probably have noticed how many of them wear scarves. Not only can a great scarf enhance any outfit quickly and easily, you can also take it off and cram it in your bag if you’re too warm. A light scarf protects your neck from the wind, but it’s not too dense, meaning that if the temperature starts to increase, you won’t start sweating buckets.

2. Pea coats: Investing in a high quality, stylish coat is something most Canadians are familiar with. Brands like Canada Goose and Nobus can get pretty pricey. Instead, opt for a pea coat — it’s not nearly as massive as a Canada Goose coat, but is just as effective.

3. Layer, layer, layer: Layers are a fashionista’s best friend. Turns out, they’re also great for weird weather patterns. Wear your outerwear, sweater, and undershirt in a way that is easy to remove if no longer needed. Leg warmers are also a great layer for tights, and if you’re set on wearing denim jeans on a frigid morning, you can also wear some form of tights underneath for a warm and stylish take (fishnets or other patterns work well).

4. Gloves with removable fingertips: Chances are you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing these. But trust me. Acting as the palm-equivalent of the ever-regrettable zip-off pants, this article of clothing has you covered in the coldest and warmest of times. Even better, the removable fingertips allow you to use your iPhone whilst keeping your gloves on — a perk that is nothing if not handy

5. Boots: No matter what the salesperson at Footlocker told you, Adidas Superstars are not a legitimate winter shoe. Plus, with all the salt on the ground to melt the snow, it’s best to avoid wearing sports shoes to keep from wrecking them. Donning a warm pair of winter boots – like Sorel’s or Timberlands – will save you from sitting with soggy feet for the duration of your 3-hours psych lecture in Con Hall.