How green is Ottawa’s fashion scene? EF’s editor gives us the inside scoop

From EF Magazine's latest photo shoot (Photo credit: Andree-Lise)

Malorie Bertrand (Twitter) is Editor-in-Chief of Eco-Fashion Magazine. Growing up in Aylmer, Quebec, Malorie left the Capital region as a child before moving back after university. In addition to her passion for green fashion, she loves staying active, cooking for friends and staying up-to-date on all of Ottawa’s fun happenings. 

Malorie Bertrand

I launched Ef Magazine in Ottawa last January on the hunch that this city was more stylish and more sustainable than first predicted. When I first landed in Ottawa (three years ago now), I was more focused on securing a permanent job than scoping out the city’s hidden thrift shops and vintage boutiques. To my delight, however, Ottawa’s fashion scene, and more specifically, it’s eco-fashion scene, gradually revealed itself to me without much scouting at all.

It all began with Ef’s launch party at Flock Boutique. I learned of the newly opened Flock Boutique from owners Christina Ballhorn and Bridget Remai. (They’re also owners of Workshop Boutique on Dalhousie St.) While Workshop features clothing and accessories made in Canada and by women, Ballhorn and Remai told me they were opening a second boutique with the same ‘local’ focus. This one, however, would have more merchandise made out of recycled materials – amaaaaazing.

EF Magazine's launch party last January

These lovely ladies graciously shared their fabulous new Flock space with Ef for the launch party. There, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a whole slew of beautiful, talented fashion bloggers and eco-fashion enthusiasts who were eager to learn that an online publication, based out of Ottawa, was focused on promoting sustainable style. Quelle belle surprise.

Even since this initial event, Ottawa’s green fashion scene has blossomed before my eyes. The people I have met and the connections I have made through the launch and subsequent local fashion events have shown me all that this city and its talented community has to offer an eco-fashionista such as myself.

Now for the good stuff. The following are lists to help you navigate your way to the city’s green gems.

Here are but a few second-hand stores in and around the Ottawa that I highly recommend you visit:

  1. Value Village (multiple locations)
  2. The Salvation Army (multiple locations)
  3. St. Vincent de Paul
  4. The Clothes Secret
  5. May Court Bargain Box
  6. Act II Fashions
  7. My Sister’s Closet

Consignment stores offer newer, gently used clothing and share the profit from your donated clothing with you when it sells:

  1. AMH Style
  2. Rikochet Resale
  3. Heather’s Designer Consignment
  4. Clothes Encounters of a Second Time

Vintage shops cater to anyone looking for a truly unique, high-quality garment from the past, perfect for spicing up any wardrobe:

  1. Young Jane’s
  2. Ragtime Vintage Clothing
  3. Gypsy & Company
  4. Funk Your Junk

Eco-fashion boutiques typically boast products that are made in Canada, if not locally, using sustainable, recycled and renewable materials:

  1. Flock Boutique
  2. Adorit
  3. Kania Couture
  4. Workshop Boutique
  5. Victoire Boutique
  6. Green Tree Eco-fashion
  7. Clothes by Muriel Dombret
  8. Allegro

Aside from fashion businesses, Ottawa isn’t too shabby in the fashion event department either. Coming up from Oct. 6-20 is Fashion on Display, the first event of its kind in Ottawa where local artists will be creating engaging window display’s in some of Ottawa’s eco-boutiques and vintage shops to promote sustainable fashion. And Ottawa Fashion Week, starting Sept. 28, has improved its lineup of designers year-by-year and consistently features at least a handful of designers who use sustainable/recycled materials and local production.

Urban Craft is an incredibly popular monthly craft fair, featuring hand-made treasures and knick-knacks. The Lansdowne Flea Market is a real gem of a sale where you can find everything from vintage hats, costume jewelry and teak furniture to records and killer boots. Wed-by-Hand is a really great alternative wedding show where brides-to-be and their mothers can get tips on how to simplify, DIY and make their wedding as eco-friendly as possible. I do!

A behind-the-scenes look at a one of EF Magazine's first shoots in 2008

So whatever your needs — to save money, to reduce your ecological footprint, to support local designers and businesses or to just feel better knowing that the clothes you wear aren’t contributing to environmental degradation and unfair labour — Ottawa offers you a rich and varied group of eco-fashion locations for you to browse to your heart’s content. 

Wow! A way to feel less guilty about shopping. Thanks, Malorie! Are you checking out any of Ottawa’s upcoming fashion events? Tell us about it.