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Victoria designers make sustainable duds fashionable

Adhesif Clothing encourages “conscious consumerism”

Ali Omelaniec
The Martlett (University of Victoria)

VICTORIA (CUP) — Eco-friendly clothing is becoming more than a trend, especially for local designers. Melissa Ferreira of Adhesif Clothing is one local who’s doing her part to save the planet through her designs.

When we met, the 26-year-old Ferreira looks like a 1930s fashionista, wearing a handmade, slim-fit vintage vest and wool beret from her fall/winter 2010 line. It takes a second glance to realize these pieces are actually made of recycled materials.

Ferreira proves that going green doesn’t mean losing your fashion sense with her one-of-a-kind pieces. She brings conscience into her garments by incorporating her passion for nature while creating an identity for her customers.

“I’ve just always had a huge love and understanding for Mother Earth,” Ferreira said.

Experts say that our current clothing industry, known as “fast fashion” by retailers, is leaving a large ecological footprint, causing environmental damage and even health issues.

Modern fabrics such as polyester require large amounts of energy and petroleum to produce. Even cotton production, which many people think of as natural, relies on pesticides that can cause problems in human and animal respiratory systems.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, cotton production accounts for 24 per cent of global sales of insecticide and 11 per cent of global sales of pesticide.

Ferreira is helping combat issues associated with modern fabrics by using post-consumer materials and limiting her use of new fabrics. Not only are her items recycled, but all of the materials are “sourced from vintage fabrics, textiles and second-hand clothing at local thrift stores.”

To top it off, all of Adhesif’s garments are produced by local seamstresses.

“What we’re doing is very grassroots. Everything is handmade,” Ferreira said. “[We] go against the grain of any corporate company.”

The majority of the materials used at Adhesif are 50 to 100 per cent recycled.

“Even our buttons are vintage or found,” Ferreira said proudly.

Ferreira says she believes it’s increasingly important to customers whether clothing is eco-friendly or not.

“People ask now, ‘Is it recycled?’ It’s becoming a huge demand. It’s not a trend; it’s a movement,” said Ferreira. “People want to have a consciousness in their consumerism.”

Ferreira isn’t the only designer incorporating sustainability into her designs. Shirra Wall, a 39-year-old Victoria designer says she has always been interested in a sustainable earth and has also incorporated it into her creations. Her pieces are 100 per cent recycled.

“[It’s something] you get to feel good about,” she said.

Wall sources all of her materials from used clothing, fabrics and even curtains from thrift stores. She creates a large range of products, from circle scarves to pillows, complete with appliqués and screen prints.

Wall believes this trend is encouraging a healthier planet and says using second-hand clothing in place of new materials is an affordable strategy for designers.

“Material is a lot less expensive when it’s recycled,” she said. “It takes more effort as craftspeople, but it’s worth it.”

Ferreira’s and Wall’s items are proof that eco-friendly clothing certainly doesn’t have to be grungy.

“It’s sexy to be sustainable now,” said Ferreira.

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