Words:: Sarah Bulford
In an increasingly complex world, we find ourselves in dire need of change: socially, politically, and environmentally. With scientists and the United Nations estimating the world has little over a decade before it’s too late to avoid total environmental devastation, we need to start acting intentionally in all aspects of our time here on Earth.
As garbage islands pile up, fish filled with plastic microbeads flood our waters, and our beloved glaciers melt, will subtle changes like banning straws and plastic bags, save us? In everyday life, we continue to produce mass amounts of waste. Our consumer habits of buying new and one-time-use items contribute to environmental destruction in such a huge way.
But one Coast Mountain local wants to change that. Pemberton-based Melanie Parent started Aparent Clothing in hopes of changing the way people think about buying clothing. She creates garment with environmental impact in mind and works towards something she calls, “Slow Fashion.” Mountain Life sat down to get the scoop:
Can you explain the concept of “slow fashion”?
Basically “slow fashion” is creating products that aren’t just trendy for a season and won’t go out of style. That doesn’t mean the product doesn’t look flattering or cool, it just doesn’t fall into a specific style.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I attended two years at CPIT Polytechnic college in Christchurch NZ. I studied fashion design and technology after being a ski bum for ten years. I launched my hoodie designs in late 2014, a collective art project that was initially funded through Kickstarter. I wanted to create a hand sewn product that would make people think about environmental impact.
How do you construct these jackets? What material do you use?
I draw each pattern on paper–which is kind of an old-school way of doing it. I source the fabric from a supplier in Vancouver. The material is a polyester made of recycled pop bottles. I have a personal connection with each jacket I sew. I also love working with local artists and photographers to create timeless pieces. I’ve made 550 hoodies and jackets and they’ve sold for around $150 to $250 each.
Tell me about the environmental impact of outdoor clothing manufacturing?
When I attended school, there was a lot about the way materials are sourced and processed that bothered me–things like working conditions in India, Monsanto’s involvement, chemical finishes, and microplastics. The way some companies ignore material production and sourcing is really hard for me to see. People should always do research to ensure the clothing is ethical and eco-friendly.
Do you think there is a lack of information out there for buyers who want to know how their clothing is made and how materials are sourced?
Yes. And it all comes down to a lack of honest advertising. This is why I am doing something different: I want to be completely transparent with my product.
What’s next for you? How do you plan on reaching more people and helping to change the way people consume fashion?
I want to keep producing jackets and hoodies, sharing them at markets, and having quality face-to-face conversations with people about consumption. I want to teach people the value of buying slow fashion:, knowing where the materials come from, who made it, and what their environmental footprint looks like. Let’s change our habits and hopefully our future.