Eco Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013: Voyou

Before I begin my series of reviews of Eco Fashion Week shows this week, I want to get on my soap box and gripe a bit. You see, I've attended EFW (and eco designer shows) for a few seasons now, and after having seen the good and bad of green fashion, I have to say: I wish eco fashion wasn't so obviously "eco." Casual-to-a-fault hoodies and yoga pants; ill-fitting, drab-coloured garments; clashing outfits that look like they were patched together from the contents of a grandmother's sewing bin--these are all eco fashion clichés that make the average, fashion-conscious consumer shudder and want to shop at conventional stores instead of doing their part to help the environment. Is it impossible to design clothes that are trend-conscious and sustainably made, that prioritize fashion-forward design as much as the environment? As it turns out, no. So for this season's EFW coverage, I'm only focusing on the shows I saw which meet such criteria.

Founded in 2011 and made entirely in Quebec, designer Lise-Marie Cayer's Voyou line is all about combining comfort with a contemporary, urban sensibility. Her clothes are meant for active Canadian men and women with busy lifestyles. Although "Voyou" translates to "thug" or "hoodlum" in French, there was no note of rebelliousness in Cayer's spring/summer 2013 offerings for women. Rather, her sorbet-hued eyelet sundresses and pastel stripes were sugar and spice and everything nice. My favourite piece: a throw-on-and-go chambray dress, so perfect for summer.

Photos by Wayne Mah.


  1. I can't wait to read the series. I agree with your soap box comments and look forward to see who made the cut.

  2. I too am looking forward to your reviews, Lisa.

    One thing I like to make clear to all the fashionistas out there is that being responsible and doing your part for the environment doesn't have to mean buying eco fashion. It's incorporating consciousness into your shopping habits, which can include: bringing your own bags or at least forgoing the tissue and boxes; buying investment pieces to be worn for years to come; and disposing of no-longer-loved garments responsibly.

    It's also about recognizing that buying 10 T-shirts in every colour because they are only $5 isn't responsible and that for a T-shirt to start at $5 means that someone through the supply chain is harmed or cheated.

    Awareness is the key to responsibility.

    1. Thanks for your spot-on comments, Victoria. One of the refrains/complaints I sometimes hear is that eco fashion and buying quality garments can get expensive, and this isn't necessarily accessible for every budget. It's nice to be reminded that one can take small steps towards being green no matter what one's clothing budget may be.

    2. Lisa, I totally agree with you! I love your honest comments about "eco" fashion (the overarching presence of beige, the scratchy fabrics, the patchwork and shabby-unchic vibe, the same casual looks and statement tees over and over again), as I harbour some of the same feelings and often don't share them as a designer myself. I even cringe when I get branded as an eco designer, because I don't consider myself one - just a designer who happens to incorporate conscious values into what I do (which is what I hope eventually the entire industry will do).

      Have you heard of Fashioning Change? ( They show "eco" brands alongside conventional fashion brands, and dispel the myth that being responsible costs more money. I think typically, when consumers complain about the price of sustainable fashion, it's only because we have gotten so used to fast fashion and the prices they are able to sell their clothes for, due to the way the entire industry is subsidized in other ways (as Victoria mentioned, somewhere along the supply chain, someone is losing out). Fashion has never in history been this cheap, and incidentally, it is also the only time we have been so disposable about it.

      But fast fashion aside, eco fashion costs the same (and often less) than other similar designer brands. And as Victoria pointed out, it starts with awareness and the small choices we make do count. :)

  3. Thank you so much for getting up on your soap box and only showcasing fashion labels that happen to be eco friendly. This label is so cute! I can't wait to see more!

    Kate xo


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