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Ottawa’s vintage boom spurred by fast fashion backlash

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So instead of sending these objects that still have so much life to landfills, we move them and give them another life.

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Growing demand for sustainable fashion is boosting a colorful sector of Ottawa’s second-hand economy, led by a grassroots community of stylish vintage clothing sellers who seek out well-made clothes.

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One such thrifty fashionista is Ingrid Daniel, 40, who started her business, RiNude, about nine years ago. The daughter of a seamstress, she saw the declining quality of fabric and construction of new clothes and discovered that items made in previous decades were made to last.

I grew up making clothes so I was all into well-made clothes as opposed to new things that aren’t cut well or sewn properly, said Daniel, who has a day job as a civil servant. provincial. I like to find high quality things, and my sister thought I had an eye for that, so I went with it. Plus, it’s fun.

While thrift stores have been around for decades, Ingrid Daniel believes the current boom is driven by a backlash from fast fashion, especially among younger shoppers concerned about abusive labor practices and environmental cost.
While thrift stores have been around for decades, Ingrid Daniel believes the current boom is driven by a backlash from fast fashion, especially among younger shoppers concerned about abusive labor practices and environmental cost. Photo by Errol McGihon /.jpg

Over the past decade, it has seen the growth of the vintage scene in Ottawa, growing from a handful of physical stores to dozens of online businesses and regular pop-up markets such as the popular 613Flea Markets and those run by the Vintage. Collective pop-up 613.

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While thrift stores have been around for decades, Daniel believes the current boom is being driven by a backlash from fast fashion, especially among younger shoppers concerned about abusive labor practices and environmental cost. It’s not hard to find social media coverage depicting giant piles of discarded clothing from the western world being burned in developing countries.

I have observed that people are now much more aware of fast fashion and the pollution that is happening in the industry, Daniel said. We can see what’s going on in the countries we send clothes to and it’s a bunch of cheap polyester stuff. They used to take old things that were good and sell them, but now they burn them or they end up in landfills. There is no durability.

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Some things suit the younger generation and some things suit the older generation.  It all depends on how you wear it, says Silvia DiNardo.
Some things suit the younger generation and some things suit the older generation. It all depends on how you wear it, says Silvia DiNardo. Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

Another saleswoman, Silvia DiNardo, who has operated Vintage Vibe for almost five years, loves when she can change the stigma of second-hand clothes. His Italian mother is a convert.

My mom came to Canada with nothing and she’s proud to be able to afford new clothes, DiNardo said, but it’s not about affordability. It’s the fact that you bring to life an item of clothing that has 80 or 90% of its life, but someone got rid of it because it no longer fits them or they changed their style or he’s worn it 10 times and are sick of it in their closet.

So instead of sending these objects that still have so much life to landfills, we move them and give them another life.

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Unlike the consignment market, which relies on the resale of items for individuals, these sellers source their supplies from thrift stores, charity shops, church basement dig sales, estate sales and moving or online ads. DiNardo, a former model who lived in Europe in her twenties, looks for clothes made from beautiful fabrics such as silk, wool and cashmere, and unique, often hand-sewn, dresses from the 1960s and 1970s .

I don’t have any rules for what I buy, she says. I buy what I like and my customers are between 18 and 70 years old, and I love it. Some things suit the younger generation and some things suit the older generation. It all depends on how you wear it.

Other sellers specialize in certain styles, such as streetwear, denim, band t-shirts, or blockbuster items from their favorite decades, and most use Instagram, Facebook, or Tik Tok for promotion, styling, and modeling. often the clothes themselves to inspire vintage enthusiasts.

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Yuan Tan, a science-minded immunology doctoral student at the University of Ottawa, says she doesn't like mass-produced items.  I want something curious and unique and I'm very drawn to color.
Yuan Tan, a science-minded immunology doctoral student at the University of Ottawa, says she doesn’t like mass-produced items. I want something curious and unique and I’m very drawn to color. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

For Yuan Tan, 30, this is the fun part. A science-minded doctoral student in immunology at the University of Ottawa, she satisfies her creative side with her Instagram store, House of Curiosity, one of the newest outlets in the industry.

During COVID, when everything shut down, I wore pajamas for three months, she said, and then I got really bored. I don’t like mass-produced items. I want something curious and unique and I’m very drawn to color.

The Toronto native discovered the bright colors and funky patterns of vintage clothing and launched her Instagram account last fall. She quickly started selling items. M Most of her clients are college students in their teens and twenties who are well aware of the environmental cost of the fashion industry. As a scientist, sustainability is a big part of her motivation, but she also considers it an accomplishment when she can convince someone to add color to their wardrobe.

Ottawa is very beige, neutral, she says, so I was quite surprised that there were more adventurous people. I thought no one would buy me because I’m weird; it’s as if a paintball had been thrown at my rack. But some of the really weird clothes sell out pretty quickly.

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