Jennifer Lynes is associate professor and director of the Environment and Business program at the University of Waterloo. She is also the chair of REEP Green Solutions. Her research focuses on the intersection of marketing and sustainability. At a young age, she developed an interest in alternative fashion. In fact, one of her first jobs was working at an independent clothing boutique in Markham, Ontario, where she got scolded by the owner for continually trying to change the window displays to something more exciting. Today the staple of her wardrobe is a series of wool skirts upcycled from pieces of old sweaters – made by one of her favourite Etsy stores, Sew Oiseau.

Why does fashion matter?
Fashion matters because it defines who we are. Logo or no logo, what we wear tells a story to others and we can decide what story we want to tell.

Should you ever wear socks with sandals?
I believe there is a little-known law that was passed in 1991 that banned the wearing of socks and sandals together (with stiffer penalties for sandal and white sock combos). That being said, I have been known to break that law on a cool August night in the depths of Killarney, away from prying eyes.

What's your favourite piece of clothing that you've had forever?
My favourite piece of clothing that I’ve had forever is something that hasn’t fit me since about 1979 – a pink dress hand-smocked by my grandmother. She made them for all of her grandchildren and I can only imagine the amount of hours that she spent hand sewing the detail. I have fond memories of my cousins and me wearing them at family get-togethers. No one makes dresses like that anymore. But they should.
 

Kelly Drennan is the founder of Fashion Takes Action (FTA), Canada’s only non-profit organization devoted to sustainability in the fashion industry. Kelly has worked with more than 300 designers and brands to provide resources, build capacity and inspire responsible business practices. Kelly and FTA also work hard to raise awareness with consumers about the negative impacts of the fashion industry and the positive steps they can take to change it. With 14,000+ followers on Twitter as @ecofashionista, Kelly is a social media maven and ranked in the “top 75 environmentalists to follow” by Mashable. She has received Treehugger’s Best in Green Award and called one of the “30 most influential Canadian women to watch” by Flare Magazine.

Why does fashion matter?
Fashion is a fun expression of ourselves. And what better way to make a statement about our values and beliefs? If we dress to express our mood, emotion and lifestyle, then those who care about human rights and the environment should think harder about what they are wearing and make a statement that they can feel proud of. When we use the term fashion at FTA, we don’t refer to runway. We mean all clothing, including our undergarments. Feeling good about what you are wearing not only because it looks great, but also because it was made fairly, can have a much longer-lasting effect over time.

Should you ever wear socks with sandals?
Absolutely not.

What's your favourite piece of clothing that you've had forever?
A pair of pants by Toronto designer Annie Thompson, which I have had for 13 years. I paid a lot of money for them at the time, but because they are a classic design (and black) I wear them all throughout the year, and often. When I am speaking publicly about slow fashion I wear these pants to demonstrate how investing in our wardrobe is so critical. Buying clothing that falls apart after we wash it a few times, or that was über trendy at the time and becomes outdated in a few short weeks, should be a thing of the past.

 

Genevieve Fullan earned a degree in English (McMaster) and a diploma in Pastry Arts (George Brown) before starting her master’s work in Environmental Studies (York). While attempting a sociological approach to food-system research, she realized she’s really a literature student at heart. Now her research focuses on stories about food and, of course, telling some of her own. When not testing muffin recipes, she can be found making a case for the importance of stories in building a better world.

Why does fashion matter?
Fashion is a form of self-expression. It’s art that you wear. It can be fun and silly, but it also has the potential to be political, whether through a slogan on a t-shirt, a refusal to wear real fur or a decision to construct your wardrobe using mostly second-hand clothes. But the fact that it’s fun is vitally important. We often take ourselves too seriously and fashion can be a way to let loose.

Should you ever wear socks with sandals?
Isn’t the point of sandals that you don’t have to wear socks? I’m not going to tell anyone what to do with their footwear, but one of my favourite things about summer is ditching the socks. Socks just mean an extra step between kicking off your sandals and walking barefoot in the grass. If it’s too cold for sandals, throw on a pair of boots. It’s impossible to go wrong with boots.

What's your favourite piece of clothing that you've had forever?
This is going to sound heinously boring, but a navy blue cardigan from American Eagle. I’ve had it since high school, I’m pretty sure, and it’s just the most perfect cardigan: not too thin or too heavy. It’s kind of a grandfather-style sweater with outside seams, and the sleeves are long enough to pull over my hands, but also look great rolled up. It’s held up really well over the years and it goes with everything from dresses to jeans.

 

If you liked this article, please subscribe or donate today to support our work.

A\J moderates comments to maintain a respectful and thoughtful discussion.
Comments may be considered for publication in the magazine.