Sunday, July 19, 2020

COVID 19: Interview with Myriam Laroche: ECO Educator

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Myriam Laroche organized many ECO Fashion Weeks, here in Vancouver! All beautiful, and all showing how we can change environmentally disastrous fast fashion making and buying practises, how we can recycle, repurpose and upcycle materials, and how we have a responsibility to make change happen. I was so impressed by her collaborations: with Designers and Science/Technology, with the Vancouver Aquarium, with Value Village and with Businesses, to discuss and plan common strategies for educating and making policy changes. In the many fashion events, I attend, I see much greater emphasis on ECO, especially on vintage and thrift and highlighting slow, hand crafted techniques to the runway. I loved how she often wore thrifted outfits and talked about their origins. Here she is just a while ago. The message continues. I thank you, Myriam for your leadership and for your thoughtful responses. Thanks, too to Marilyn R Wilson, for the COVID 19 series idea.

Here are a few articles where we have covered Myriam and her events:

ZERO WASTE and the TEXTILE INDUSTRY - Metro Vancouver In Collaboration with Vancouver Eco Fashion Week 2015

The #IGIVEASHIRT Installation and Partnership: ECO Fashion Week, Aquarium and Savers Value Village

ECO Fashion Week - Seminar: Rethinking Second-Hand by Myriam Laroche and Anny Leclerc - Value Village

ECO FASHION WEEK: 10 Seasons of Old and New: Press Preview 2016



Photo credit: Audet Photo


I reached out to her in Montreal and here are her thoughts about moving forward during COVID 19

1) Please tell us about your work, length of time, goals, audience, etc.

I am an apparel and textile sustainability strategist. That’s what I have been focusing on since the end of Eco Fashion Week in 2018. I guide and support apparel and textile brands in starting their sustainability initiatives, based on what they are already doing, and I give them tools to pursue their eco-fashion mission, grow and improve every season.

2) How has social isolation COVID 19 affected you and your work, colleagues,...

Daily wise, the COVID19 confinement did not really affect me. I work from home so that part stayed the same. But I work with retailers, and they all had to pause their activities. So did I. Not to sound insensitive, but I kind of have been waiting for an exceptional situation like this for people to start listening and understanding that how we make and consume clothes can’t continue this way. It has been a blessing in disguise for what I want to accomplish in the fashion industry.

3) How did you reach your audience before COVID 19? 

I did a soft launch of my website (myriamlaroche.com  ) right before confinement in March. I wanted to officially promote it in April, Earth Month. But with everything that was happening it did not feel right. And it was a good thing. It made me rethink the way I want to work with retailers and see where they will need my help the most. The narrative is changing !


4) What are strategies to reach them now? 

I am working on creating easy and clear packages for fashion businesses. A lot of them think that they absolutely need a degree in sustainability or to hire a big agency to develop an eco or transparency strategy. But I do not agree. If you know how clothes are designed, made, market and sold, you mostly need a tool box to start developing your eco-recipe. I believe that brands already have things in place to where they can start in a cost efficient way and build from there. It’s about doing things well and improving every season.


5) Do you have a motto, mantra, mentor, role model, book? Something or someone that moves your forward during this time?  

Beyond COVID-19 , the Black Lives Matter movement has been the biggest wake up call and inspiration to do better and acknowledge my white privilege and the reality of systemic racism, very present in Fashion.  There is a part of me that was always feeling something was missing in the eco fashion movement I was trying to lead. I was focusing on ethical labor and bad conditions (which are super important topics) but it’s about humanity every step of the way: factories, head offices, stores…  I never wanted to listen as much as I want to listen now and see my faults. I can’t be an authentic leader if I don’t own the privileges I have as a white woman. Transparency starts with me. I can create the greenest products but if I am not an ally, it means nothing.

How to find Myriam:

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