Piece from Nicole Bridger's Spring 2011 line.

Piece from Nicole Bridger's Spring 2011 line.

Smart Styles

Young Vancouverite has designs on making a difference

For conscientious consumers, there’s no shortage of eco-friendly options on the market these days – from hybrid vehicles to solar-powered patio lights, it seems there’s a green alternative to almost everything.

And lucky for Lower Mainlanders who strive to keep the environment in mind while staying fashionable and trendy, Canada’s top eco-fashion designer is right in our own backyard.

Vancouver native Nicole Bridger has become a familiar name in the local fashion scene, since launching her eco-fashion line, Nicole Bridger Designs, in the spring of 2007.

With pieces she describes as “effortless and luxurious,” Bridger is tapping into a niche market within the fashion industry and finding plenty of demand from eco-conscious fashionistas.

Her penchant for sustainable design started when she was studying at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“In university, I was always using natural fibers, and that was long before there was even a term called ‘eco fashion,’” Bridger, 29, explains. “We just did it because we thought it was the right thing to do.”

All of the pieces in Bridger’s line are made from sustainable fabrics – including organic cotton, linen and silk – and finished with low-impact dyes.

The majority of the clothes are manufactured in Vancouver, and whatever is made overseas is produced following fair-trade standards.

The approach of environmental and social consciousness is all a part of the company’s mantra – “do what’s right for the earth, its people and their spirit.”

Each piece of clothing has a tag sewn to it with the affirmation “I am love.”

“It’s a reminder to speak kindly to yourself and kindly to others, and to help spread positivity,” Bridger says, noting her fashions aren’t just about the environment.

“You can’t have the environment without its people, and you can’t have people without their spirits,” she says. “There’s no point in making something sustainable if we’re making it in an unethical way.”

While Bridger’s work has made an impact locally – she’s set to open her flagship store in Kitsilano May 7 – she has also made a big splash across the country and into the U.S.

Last year, Bridger received the first-ever Canadian Eco-Designer of the Year award, celebrating her green approach to fashion design. In addition to being a huge honour, Bridger says the award also opened doors for her across the border.

“It was really exciting that the award even exists – it’s a sign to me of the progression of things and where things are going,” she says.

“I felt really proud to be Canada’s first and to get a chance to go to New York and show them what we can do.”

To find out more about Bridger’s designs and philosophies, visit www.nicolebridger.com

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