Vancouver was abuzz on Day 3 of EcoFashion Week in anticipation of collections by Jason Matlo and Evan Ducharme. Matlo, celebrating his 10th year in the fashion industry and presenting his latest collection ‘Babe’, and Ducharme, the young upstart who showed his Spring/Summer 2015 ‘Saudade’ collection.
After the evenings packed pre-runway reception, there were three collections of international eco-designers of which Fesvedy, Passport2Freedom, Murva and Tuschimo caught my attention with their designs and passionate video messages.
The ‘Saudade’ Collection by Evan Ducharme enticed and teased at the audiences with beautifully tailored pieces of darkness. Garments resplendent with sheer panels, sleek draping and jock straps which revealed tattoos and swaths of nudity.
Jason Matlo’s ‘Babe’ collection was chic, elegant, body flattering and not trashy. The colour palette was deep blacks, muted gold, animal prints and snakeskin patterns. His introductory video was racy and macabre, beautifully shot and captured the wild passion of the dark-lidded, red lipsticked woman that lives in all of us.
I had the pleasure to meet with Jason Matlo at his Atelier in Gastown. A beautiful workspace that is laid out for efficiency and surprisingly quiet for being in the heart of the city. The collection from EFW was available for viewing and we spoke about his ten years in the fashion business and how producing his garments locally creates employment, allows for diligent production oversight, his dislike for waste and passion for creating and operating responsibly. The Matlo Atelier avoids fabric waste by incorporating dead stock, remnants and many times the previous season fabrics into the new collection. It is a sustainable way to work and provides an interesting design challenge.
Jason explained the fabrics used for this collection must be easy to care for as his clients are not interested in high-maintenance fashion. They are on-the-go women who need flexibility and ease of care but also demand beautiful design and presence. Most of fabrics include a touch of polyester which is desirable for its ability to hold colour vibrancy, ease of cleaning (hand-washing is an option for those so inclined) and helps with the retail price.
The current line is very wearable and convenient to maintain. Is it important for you to design for the modern active woman? What is the range of sizes that your garments are available in?
I always design half way between the catwalk and the real world. I want women to wear my clothes so an integrated wardrobe is always on my mind. If my designs only live on runways and in pictures they are art pieces. We cut in sizes 2 to 16. I want women to know you are not required to be a model to wear my designs.
You recently added another facet to your brand – teaching. Tell me a bit more about this decision and what are teaching? What are you learning from your students?
I started off in the education system and left in 2004 to focus on my company. Literally a decade later I returned to teaching at (VCAD) the Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver. I teach portfolio, design, drafting and sewing in a capstone class. I wanted to bring the knowledge I have gained in the fashion industry and running a business and mentor the next generation. I am learning about how younger people communicate and share information and images. I am learning creativity and imagination.
Unlike other fashion weeks, EFW offers events that are not runway oriented. EFW paired up with Metro Vancouver for a mid-day offering called the Future of Region Sustainability Dialogue which seeks to shape the future by sharing thoughts with other local experts on innovative solutions to challenging regional issues. A key component of Metro Vancouver’s outreach and stakeholder engagement, these sessions have facilitated dynamic discussions on key regional issues over the years, from housing to transportation, livability to waste and social connectedness.
Two years ago, on April 24, 2013, 1,133 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Social and environmental catastrophes in fashion supply chains continue and the Fashion Revolution movement says enough is enough. EFW recognized Fashion Revolution Day with an informational event at the VanCity Theatre which was co-produced with the VIFF. Screenings of ‘Traceable’ and ‘Hand Made with Love in France’ book-ended a panel discussion where everyone was encouraged to wear their clothing inside out so as to initiate dialogue on the origins of our day-to-day garments.
Congratulations to the dedication of Myriam Laroche and her devoted team for putting together a week of must attend events that cover the whole spectrum of fashion – from the clothes we put on our backs to the backbreaking labour that created them to the labour of love that is EFW.
All images by Kuna Lu Photography and EFW