Q & A With Eco Fashion World’s Erda Schnarr

In the sustainable fashion blogosphere, Eco Fashion World ranks among the elite. From its educational newsletter to its outstanding guides, EFW should be every green lover’s first destination for breaking news and a consistent eco-education.

Luckily I had the chance to talk with Eco Fashion World’s Co-Founder, Erda Schnarr, who had a ton of fascinating things to say. Check out the Q & A below, because there is no doubt in my mind that Erda is an eco-fashion star worth knowing.

1. First off, if you could tell me a little bit about yourself. If you were in an elevator, what would you want to relay to someone about your background?

“I grew up in the country, with parents who had moved from the city to 
live as sustainably as they could. My upbringing has had a profound 
effect on the way I live as a adult. I moved to Salt Spring Island when 
I was 19, and further nurtured my love for nature and healthy 
lifestyle.  It is here where I taught myself to sew. Several years 
later I studied fashion design, then decided to co-create Eco Fashion World.”

2. What inspired you to get involved in Eco Fashion World?

“As a young designer just starting out, I discovered that many people 
were protective over their information. I wanted to create a place 
where people could go to learn and share with others who have a similar 
value system of wanting to support the eco fashion movement as a whole.
”

3. Are you eco-friendly in other aspects of your life?

“Definitely. I don’t even think of it much until someone points it put 
to me.  It is all I have known. I believe in a minimal approach to consumption, and I recycle everything possible (even when I have to pay 
for it myself), I eat healthy and support my local farmers as much as I 
can, I ride by bicycle to get around, I use natural body products. It 
saturates all aspects of lifestyle.”

4. What do you think sets Eco Fashion World apart from other eco-fashion websites and blogs?

“Our guide is what makes us particularly unique.  We also have been told 
people like reading our news article because they are super informative 
and not over promotional.”

5. Do you use any self-marketing tools in order to spread the word of Eco Fashion world?

“We use social media quite a bit.  Facebook Page, Twitter, Linked In, 
Ethical Fashion Forum.  We attend events to network, and do a lot of 
strategic collaborations for cross promotion.”

6. I like to think of eco-fashion as one of the many aspects related to ‘fashion that gives back.’ What comes to mind when you hear that phrase?

“Fashion that is not destroying the earth and its people.   Fashion that 
can nurture artisan skills for example.”

7. Do you think that eco-fashion has the potential to become part of the mainstream fashion industry? If yes, what will it take for that to happen?

“I think it is already starting to happen, with big companies jumping on 
board, (H&M, Nike, Marks and Spencer, Levi’s), big designers coming out 
with eco lines (like Stella McCartney) and celebrities helping draw 
attention to eco fashion.I just attended an event at Holt Renfrew who are now carrying Toms shoes, which is pretty cool. We also still have a long way to go.”

8. Why is eco-fashion a prominent thing to think about in our world right now?

“The fashion industry typically has such a high negative impact on the 
earth.  It one of the main areas we need to target.”

9. Do you think that there is enough of a market out there of people who actually want to wear/purchase eco-fashion?

“The market is growing as eco fashion becomes more popular and the word 
gets out that it is definitely cool to support the environment, and its 
people. It is really about making it easy for a consumer to make a good choice. As eco fashion gets more press, it becomes more popular, therefore 
helping inform and educate people. As it gets popular, it puts pressure 
on big name brands to start making changes too. This is a great way to 
get the message out to the average consumer that they do have options.  
People want to make good choices I think, but people need to know what 
their options are. I still get asked quite often “What exactly is eco 
fashion?” So many people have never even heard of this concept.
Sharing what you know in an excited and not pushy way is important I 
think. Take the average consumer, when you tell them of a good choice 
they can make, they sometimes become resistive to the idea feeling they 
are being criticized for making poor decisions so far. I like the idea 
of eco clothing being integrated into mainstream stores. The average 
consumer then chooses a product because it is fashionable, then they 
find out it is for example, made from organic cotton. It helps them 
become educated and makes them feel like they are doing good at the same 
time. Then, perhaps they will become more aware of their future purchases, or talk about it with their friends etc.”

10. What are some common myths about eco-fashion that you wish to clear up for the public?

“Myth 1 – Eco fashion can’t be chic.
Of course it can! The movement started with a limited supply of 
sustainable textiles, mostly knits that became yoga and athletic wear.  
As the types of textiles has increased dramatically, so have the 
styles. You can find all sorts of stylish eco clothing now, from casual 
chic styles, evening wear, to lingerie and wedding dresses.

Myth 2- That eco clothing is all made of hemp (you know that rough 
material in boring colors).
So wrong. Hemp is quite an amazing textile. Mix it up with soy and 
a little silk, divine! Now there are so many more eco textiles, including organic cotton, bamboo, peace silk, and other interesting ones like nettle, banana tree and seaweed.  Yes all these items can be made into lovely textiles!
”

11. Is eco-fashion a passing fad?

“I hope not!  WGSN’s (Worth Global Style Network, trend forecasting) 
Carly Stojsic spoke at Eco fashion Week on “Eco as Movement, Not 
Trend”. In trend forecasting, they look at what is going on in the 
world. It was very evident in her presentation that this is a movement 
and a worldwide need.
”

12. Who are some of your favorite eco-fashion designers?

“I am mostly familiar with the brands who are close to home in Canada 
some including: Thieves, Lost & Found, Melissa Caron Jewelry, Flight 
Path Designs, Emma Glover Jewelry.

Overseas – Skunk Funk (UK). I like the look of Izzy Lane (UK) and Ajna (US) although I have not had the pleasure of trying on their items – yet! Prophetik also puts on a pretty sweet show. (I just saw it at Eco Fashion Week Vancouver)
”

13. Do you have any advice for those individuals that are looking to break into the fashion industry as eco-fashion designers?

“There is so much information now online. Get involved! Check out the 
Ethical Fashion Forum, Groups on Linked In, join companies Facebook 
Page’s. Also definitely check out Source4Style, connecting fabric distributors with designers, it’s a major resource!
”

14. What do you see as the long-term future of eco-fashion?

“My hope that it will not longer need to have the label “eco fashion”, 
and that it just becomes the norm. Will we get there? I hope so.
”

15. What is next for Eco Fashion World?

“We have been collaborating with Eco fashion Week which has been 
exciting. We really mainly want to focus on growing our Guide.

”

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