Repurposing materials is in Sophie Blumenthal’s DNA. Her father has been in the recycled scrap metal business since he was 17. It’s a career that Blumenthal has also stepped into alongside selling vintage furniture through the Instagram account @sbexchange. “Everything – from the furniture I sell and furnish my home with, to the metals and electronics I process at work, to my car and my clothes – is recycled.”
Splitting her time between Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, Blumenthal says her outfits always begin with her accessories, a highly personal collection of vintage pieces that includes her late aunt’s Chai pendant, a Rolex Day-Date wristwatch from 1962 and her engagement ring, a gold band inlayed with diamonds that dates to the 1970s. Her daily uniform consists of black Maison Margiela slacks, Raf Simons-era Calvin Klein boots (she has three pairs in different colours) and one of her favourite shirts, from Bode, 3 Women Co., Thom Browne or her local corner store. “I think with good accessories and the right shoe, you can wear a T-shirt from the dollar store and jeans and look polished.”
To Blumenthal, sustainability in fashion means investing in high-quality pieces that are pre-owned. “Our parents aren’t joking around when they say things just aren’t made like they used to be,” she says.
“Find a good tailor who won’t turn down any project because, with vintage, sizing options don’t exist. If you fall in love with a garment, you can make it your own.”
With a TikTok following of some 380,000 users, Sara Camposarcone’s rainbow bright approach to fashion has attracted attention the world over. A marketing associate and social media manager who lives in Hamilton, Camposarcone attributes her sense of style to her creative spirit as well as time spent interning for a fashion blogger in Italy, where she was tasked with reviewing archival runway collections and documentaries. “I wore a uniform every day in school growing up, so I love having the freedom to wear whatever I want in my adult years,” she says.
To that end, her wardrobe is an eclectic explosion of colour that she describes as “chaotic,” “unhinged” and “joyful.” To find deals on bold vintage wares, Camposarcone scours thrift stores and online platforms such as Depop, Poshmark and the RealReal. Some of her favourite pieces include a 1980s Gunne Sax dress she discovered while digging through piles of used clothing. “They retail for hundreds on eBay, so finding this one for free made it super special,” she says. There’s also a Franklin Jay dress handmade out of vintage Care Bear bedsheets and a pair of gold Molly Goddard platform boots, her staple shoe for all seasons. “Always wear what makes you happy,” Camposarcone says.
“I love supporting small, up-and-coming designers who repurpose old or deadstock fabrics into something new. Even I have gotten into creating new garments from random things around my house!”
Malania Dela Cruz
For Malania Dela Cruz, learning where and how her clothing is made is part of the fun of fashion. “I am way more conscious of what I’m buying,” she says, explaining that she looks into a company’s manufacturing processes and materials to inform her purchases.
As the vice-president of Nine Point Agency, a PR and creative office in Vancouver, Dela Cruz says her day-to-day wardrobe ranges from power suits to motorcycle jackets, with plenty of black staples that offer easy layering options and a sleek head-to-toe look. Dela Cruz says she loves supporting Canadian fashion companies, adding in vintage finds and investing in contemporary pieces from boutique brands. “I am a dress-for-the-moment type of person,” she says. “I start with the mood I’m in, how I want to feel and the energy I want to exude for the day.”
Some of her favourite pieces include a hand-me-down studded belt she’s had since she was 19, a bespoke suit by Canadian tailor Philip Sparks and a pair of gold hoop earrings by jewellery brand Biko. “To me, sustainable dressing means investing in timeless pieces that you can wear over and over again and that are made with quality and care to stand the test of time.”
“I really believe that the key to living more sustainably is to become more educated, conscious and compassionate consumers – not just with fashion, but with all things in our lives.”
Calgary’s Maya Gohill uses her artist’s eye when getting dressed. A painter and multidisciplinary design professional (and the co-owner and designer of the Calcutta Cricket Club restaurant), she says that she dresses for variety and creative expression. “In adulthood, really honing my aesthetic has been a slow and gradual burn, and in the past decade I have taken a real interest in having a well curated wardrobe,” she says, adding that she resists any urges to impulse buy the latest craze. “Following trends is less important to me than following my inner stylist’s voice.”
That voice has led her to an edited closet full of eye-catching favourites including a red printed blazer by Italian fashion designer Stella Jean, a pair of peplum pants by Dries Van Noten bought at a consignment store and a Nili Lotan wool poncho. For a personal touch, her ensembles are completed with jewellery collected on her travels as well as family heirlooms passed down from her grandmother and mother. “All have a special place in my heart and wardrobe,” she says.
“Questioning our intentions for why we shop has a huge role to play in making fashion more sustainable.”
Myriam Laroche’s career in sustainable fashion dates to 2009, the year she founded Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Week, which showcased environmentally conscious fashion for eight years. Now based in Quebec City, Laroche consults as an apparel and textile sustainability strategist, sharing her expertise with companies looking to improve their environmental impact.
It’s a thoughtful approach she believes consumers can also take on by considering the effect their personal clothing purchases have on the planet, people and animals. “Before the internet, we could be blind to the damage we were causing,” she says. “Now, there is absolutely no excuse to ignore it.”
Laroche says that some of her most treasured pieces of clothing are thrift-store finds, including a Christian Dior jacket and a 1980s cashmere sweater from Simons. Preferring a muted palette, Laroche combines basics with boho influences and references to the 1970s and 80s. “I like to layer and mix textures, patterns and colours to create contrasts, even with shapes and silhouettes,” she says. “It all balances out in the end.”
“Find your own unique eco recipe following your values and based on your financial, material and human resources.”
“Styling the same pair of shoes or coat multiple times on my YouTube or Instagram doesn’t bother me,” says Greg Ntore, a senior online personal stylist at Montreal fashion retailer Ssense. It’s an outlook that stimulates Ntore’s creativity but is at odds with influencer culture, where showing off ever-new clothes typically means more likes. “As a stylist or content creator, there is always a pressure to provide more outfits with different pieces. But to me, as long as I’m creating, styling and finding new ways to wear a specific piece, I find that more appealing,” he says.
He encourages the approach in his clients at Ssense. “As I develop relationships with them, I’m able to gauge what they actually need, not want, in their wardrobe,” he says. For his own outfits, Ntore, who was born in Marseille and spent time in South Africa, Congo and Zimbabwe before moving to Ottawa to study economics in 2010, begins with his trousers before choosing three tops to layer. “I love layering. In most cases it will be a white tank top – always a white one because I find black doesn’t accentuate the outfit enough – a shirt or crewneck and, to finish it off, a long coat or bomber,” he says.
His last touch is a selection of rings. “I like big chunky rings that stand out,” he says. “Especially during the summer when my style is a bit more minimal.”
“The objective is to have a select number of pieces that are consistently being rotated and to find different ways of styling them. I prefer it this way because it forces me to be creative.”
Growing up in Tatamagouche, N.S., in the 1990s, Ceilidh Sutherland and her sister would bring home second-hand clothing from Guy’s Frenchys to transform with their mother’s sewing machine. “I guess I never ever lost my love for the thrifting hunt and I think this really has informed how I feel about clothing,” she says.
Today, some of Sutherland’s favourite vintage finds include second-hand Levi’s jeans and blazers, which she pairs with band T-shirts borrowed from her musician boyfriend’s extensive collection. When she’s not shopping second hand, Sutherland looks for versatile staples from local boutiques, such as the puffed sleeved floral-print mini dress by Canadian brand A Bronze Age, which she bought at Halifax shop Slowly Slowly as a birthday gift to herself. “I absolutely dress for functionality in my day-to-day life, something I’ve had to learn through a lot of outfit trial and error,” she says.
A restaurateur, Sutherland is the co-owner of Halifax hotspot Field Guide, which is known for incorporating ingredients from local farmers and producers, and Fawn Restaurant, scheduled to open later this spring. Having fun with sartorial expression, Sutherland is never afraid to take a risk. “Exploration of self can be so fun when done through clothing if you can just be open to trying new things,” she says.
“Borrowing, especially for special occasions, is a great way to save money and be more mindful.”
With a blossoming career as a fashion stylist and designer for his namesake gender-neutral brand, Scott Wabano brings equal passion to his advocacy work in improving mental health resources for 2Spirit youth in Indigenous communities around the world. Born and raised in Moose Factory, Ont., on Treaty 9 Territory, and now based in Dish with One Spoon, Treaty 13 Territory known as Tkaronto, Wabano’s Eeyou Cree identity intersects with his wardrobe, which is filled with meaningful pieces by a range of Indigenous artists and designers.
“There are so many unique stories to be shared from many diverse Nations and you can see that through the designs of each designer,” he says. One standout is a printed windbreaker by Jamie Okuma, a Luiseno, Shoshone-Bannock, Wailaki and Okinawan designer. Wabano describes it as the “a perfect representation of the balance of both worlds urban Indigenous people often find themselves in.” Another is the Hampton x Wabano jacket, a collaboration with designer Lesley Hampton, which Wabano credits with jumpstarting his career in fashion.
Favouring head-to-toe black, Wabano takes inspiration from fashion designers such as Riccardo Tisci and the late Virgil Abloh, as well as the intricate regalia worn at powwows and ceremonies.
“Miyo-pimâtisiwin, the Good Life. We do not take more than we do not need, we always do our best give back to our Earth and our people, and we all help participate in ways that can help preserve things for our future generations.”
The founder of contemporary fashion label Batik Boutik, Maya Amoah has been working with pattern makers and tailors from West African countries to produce her Montreal-based brand’s hand-dyed cotton garments since 2017. She’s also a full-time student at Concordia University, where she’s pursuing a degree in journalism, political science and human rights.
Hailing from Hamilton, Amoah favours an eclectic mix of prints, layering necklaces and scarves or winterizing a summer piece with tights and a turtleneck. “I generally scan both closet and dresser drawers to look at everything before making my decision, then throw the things I think will look good all on the bed and try it on in front of the mirror to see if I was correct,” she says. “I usually am.”
Some favourites in regular rotation include a turtleneck from Canadian certified B Corporation Kotn in mustard yellow and a thrifted leopard-print fleece zip-up jacket Amoah unearthed at a church basement charity shop, both of which match her current hair colour . She also gravitates to pieces with longevity, including a rib-knit, scoop neck dress with blue flowers that was a hand-me-down from her mother. “It’s the perfect short length, fit – everything,” she says. “I’ve worn it every summer for over a decade.”
“Recognize that you can’t have everything you want in life. The planet can’t take it anymore.”
HOW WE DID IT
To compile this list, a group of Globe and Mail editors and contributors (Caitlin Agnew, Benjamin MacDonald, Nadia Pizzimenti, Andrew Sardone and Maryam Siddiqi) reached out to their networks of wardrobe watchers, dug deep into their social-media feeds and surveyed 2021′s honourees to create a roster of candidates from across the country. After narrowing the nominees down to the final list, photographers in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and Los Angeles were commissioned to capture the subjects’ signature styles. Have a best-dressed suggestion of your own? Post a photo of your fashionable contender to Instagram and tag the picture @globestyle and #GlobeStyleBestDressed.
Additional credits: Editing by Andrew Sardone. Art direction and design by Benjamin MacDonald. Fashion editor: Nadia Pizzimenti. Digital design and development by Christopher Manza.