A Sustainable NYFW Hosted by The Canvas & FABSCRAP
Sustainability probably isn’t the first adjective you’d use to describe fashion week. Clothing trends come and go, but once a fabric is produced, it’s here on Earth for the long run. FABSCRAP is not interested in throwaway fashion culture, but rather, its opposite—namely, searching for a solution to the ever-growing problem of pollution and waste within the fashion industry as a whole. And by partnering with The Canvas, a space dedicated to stylish sustainability, it seems that fashion week has met its match. We popped by the FABSCRAP 2nd anniversary party, hosted at The Canvas, to take a look behind the curtain at what both companies are working on and how they party after hours. Plus, check our interview below with co-founder of Querencia Studio, (which powers The Canvas), Devin Gilmartin.
What is The Canvas experience? As in, what do you hope visitors take away from the space?
The Canvas by Querencia Studio, formerly Hunter College’s bookstore, is a sustainable fashion hub. We wanted to continue using the space in a way that weaves together education and community. The Canvas experience is one that facilitates gatherings with a focus on sustainability and solutions for a more environmentally and socially just fashion industry. It is a blank slate for progress oriented ideas to come to life.
To accomplish this, we have put together key resources for designers and artists to use when they participate in our community. Within The Canvas we have workspaces, a photo studio, sewing machine, heat press and the essential ingredient that brings a space to life: a community of ambitious young creatives.
Our hope is that visitors will leave with a different perspective of what fashion, and the typical retail experience, could be through collaboration across fields and expertise.
How do you hope to enlighten, inform, and/or inspire people?
Enlightening, informing and inspiring people are three key ingredients for a better fashion industry.
Enlightening people to understand the impact of their decisions on the world happens when people are shown the damage the industry is doing. We are beginning film screenings to show some of the films that have shined light on these issues with unbelievable journalism and investigative research.
Informing is the next step and, as it pertains to fashion, it starts with transparency and access to information. Within Querencia Studio, we do this through our Know Your Clothes campaign, which details the pros and cons of any material we use. We are starting to print those details directly on our clothing in the hopes of setting the tone. Within The Canvas, it is information trading, a sort of fashion diplomacy. When access meet ideas, and information is traded, collaboration is bound to happen. Our hope is that The Canvas can be a place to both give and get information.
Finally, inspiring people to realize there are indeed alternatives, many of which are matters of personal initiative, is key. As a brand catering to a broad audience, we are always looking for new ways to do that through combining sport, a new take on luxury, and the lifestyle of one who considers the impact of their decisions, while getting the attention of those who do not.
What role do you think sustainable fashion plays in the larger fashion landscape?
To understand the current role of sustainable fashion in the larger fashion landscape, it’s critical to understand the fashion industry’s role in the global order. From agriculture to transportation, clothing has huge footprint on the environment and is a major player in the global economy.
Larger brands, while in positions to initiate change, have a tremendous hurdle in front of them. Their strategies and operations are deeply ingrained in company culture. Upending systemic flaws is difficult, no matter how much one cares. Emerging brands must carve a new path and do so with flexibility and the future in mind. Sustainable fashion plays the role of guide to those who are slow to accommodate their business to a rapidly changing world.
How do you guys hope to make an impact that has power and weight beyond fashion week?
Fashion week and the immense hype which surrounds it directly correlates to the fast fashion consumption and impulsive purchase culture we live in. In a way, fashion shows metaphorically represent the reality of the life of a garment. The clothes are worn and presented within a specific context, then disappear. It surely contributes to the mindset we’ve established as consumers.
Our collaborators FabScrap and Goodwill, who have a presence within The Canvas, are both changing the fabric upcycling and recycling systems of New York City, and doing it in innovative ways. Last week, we kicked off NYFW hosting FabScrap’s two year anniversary party and annual data presentation at The Canvas.
How do you plan on curating the space (with the U.N. goals in mind)?
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals reflect a global consensus on the world’s most pressing and critical issues. We believe businesses should be taking this into account in their day to day operations. When we curate a space like The Canvas, it allows us to shine a light on the goals in a unique way. Hunter College, which houses The Canvas, pushes boundaries and develops future leaders. Their motto is Mihi Cura Futuri, which means the care of the future is mine; this focus and a strong commitment to community is what makes our visions align well.
The Canvas is a space for conversation in which all ideas and perspectives are respected and taken into account. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are our guide in this regard. We ask that any and all collaborators within the space identify at least one goal they are pursuing through their product or business.
What’s next for The Canvas?
Growing our community and engaging the students at Hunter College. Every day we speak with someone new here, whether a professor interested in the potential relevance of fashion in his syllabus or a student looking for a place to learn about fashion and even design a piece of clothing.
The Canvas can and will apply to places where a desire for, and interest in, sustainable fashion is growing. New York City is just the start. We are beginning to look at expansion opportunities, both within the United States college community, and globally, in places like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
We want to invite all creatives, regardless of artistic focus or expertise, to come and participate in bringing this space to life. We welcome anyone with an interesting idea to reach out.
Images courtesy of Pedro Damasceno
Stay tuned to Milk for more fashion week events.