Eliza Faulkner Talks Ethical Fashion

Eliza Faulkner’s ethically made gingham off-shoulder dresses are on trend for Summer 2017 – and they were a happy accident!

“Some people call it ‘ethical fashion’ I call it common sense,” says Eliza Faulkner. But like common sense, ethical fashion is far from being mainstream. This is where Eliza is the exception. She designs and produces Summer 2017’s most covetable pieces – gingham off-shoulder dresses, wide legged linen culottes and billowy floral tops  – all in her studio in Montreal.

“Manufacturing my clothing in Canada means that my clothes aren’t made by overworked, under-fed women and children,” says Eliza. “I ensure my clothing is ethically made because I know the people who are making it – often it’s me!”

Her eponymous label is made by her, worn by her and based loosely off what she may be missing from her wardrobe. Take her off-shoulder tops for example, she knew they would be the perfect summer staple (it’s purely coincidence they are right on trend for Summer 2017).

Her eponymous label began when she started making clothes for family and friends. She launched in 2012 after returning to Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island from studying fashion design in London at Central Saint Martins, followed by internships with Erdem, Roland Mouret and Zandra Rhodes. While it wasn’t her choice to return to her hometown (she left due to UK Visa limitations), she is proud to write “Made In Canada” on her label.

“All I can do is encourage people to buy less, and buy better clothing,” says Faulkner as she promotes her ethical fashion brand.

What were some of the most valuable lessons learned from your time studying at Central Saint Martins and interning for London based brands like Erdem, Roland Mouret and Zandra Rhodes?
At St. Martin’s I learned how to think creatively and look at fashion from a non-fashion perspective. Their way of teaching was really just letting us do what we felt like we wanted, no holds barred. It was working for other designers like Erdem and Roland Mouret where I learned how the fashion cycles worked and how to set up a business.

What needs to change for the Canadian fashion industry? 
I think it needs a lot more focus. There are so many fashion shows here in Canada, but we don’t have enough designers to go around (to those shows). Someone with a very solid vision needs to amalgamate them all.

How has moving from Vancouver to Montreal impacted your brand? 
There’s a creative vision in Montreal that’s unlike anywhere else in Canada, it feels supportive and innovative and exciting here – and it’s affordable! I produce almost completely in Montreal now too!

Why is being ethical and sustainable important to you? 
It’s important so that I can sleep at night knowing humans aren’t being abused for the sake of clothing.

In regards to ethical and sustainable fashion, how does the fashion industry need to change as a whole? 
People need to be paid fairly so that the cost of fashion will increase, and that way people will buy less. You shouldn’t be able to buy a t-shirt for the same price as a chocolate bar, but people are so use to it now, they have a hard time paying a reasonable price for ethically made clothing.

Your SS17 features on a lot of popular summer trends, like gingham and off the shoulder. What inspired this collection? 
A lot of ideas are born from me wanting something in my wardrobe, and I wanted the off-shoulder look. The gingham was actually a bit of a mistake. I had ordered a whole lot of floral cotton and then it got cancelled, so I just bought the gingham instead. I loved it and it felt right for the season. I guess you’d call it a happy accident!

What can we expect to see for AW17? 
I’m introducing knitwear, so you’ll see some stretchy knit dresses and turtlenecks which will be great for layering all winter long.

When you first launched your collection in 2012, it was more sporty and now appears more feminine. How has your label evolved?
I think that’s just a result of what’s happened in trends. Normcore or ‘sport luxe’ was huge when I was starting and so those collections took on that vibe. The fabrics and silhouettes have stayed pretty similar through-out. I like trends though, and right now I’m really into the girly ruffles and frills – I’m sure my mood will change as I get older and my designs progress.

Who are you designing for now? 
I’m designing for people that want something unique and special that they won’t find on the high street or every other person wearing. They’re looking for quality, and to be unique.

What’s next for your label’s growth?
I really want to build up my online presence because I’d like to retail mostly online. I like being available to customers all over the world and the internet allows for that.


elizafaulkner.com | @elizafaulkner
Images courtesy Eliza Faulkner

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