The symbiosis of fashion and nature

Models dressed in fake fur as as their hemlines were soaked by the melting catwalk (Photo from Wiki Commons)

Models dressed in fake fur as as their hemlines were soaked by the melting catwalk (Photo from Wiki Commons)

October 20, 2015 | by Raechel Wastesicoot

With Fashion Week coming to Toronto, Canadian designers from across the country will showcase their ready-to-wear fashions on the runways. This term, ”ready-to-wear,” means what you see on the runway can be worn in day-to-day life: in the office, out for lunch or even a night out.

But what if your average day involves birding, hiking or taking your dog for a walk through a forest?

What is nature’s relationship with fashion? Can we have the best of both worlds?

Of course being able to move freely and being weather appropriate all while enjoying nature is top priority when dressing for the outdoors. This practicality is often pushed aside in the name of fashion. I can still see Stacy London cringing on What Not to Wear as each fashion victim utters the words: “But it’s comfortable.” 

As someone who loves fashion and keeping up with looks from fashion weeks all over the world and as someone who geocaches, camps and fishes on the weekends, the line between style and wearability often seems like a mountain too steep to climb. Many people may argue that last thing on their mind is how they look when they are out enjoying nature.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t look good while doing it! It’s not about being high-maintenance either. It’s about feeling good. It could be something as simple as a warm scarf with a fun pattern, as long as it works in the field, thus bringing an element of style to your look.

While it seems like a difficult feat to incorporate fashion into nature, the reverse has been happening for years.

As humans we gather inspiration from what we see around us, and we’re surrounded by nature on a daily basis. The symbiotic relationship between fashion and nature is often overlooked.

This is evident through the spring/summer collections by Canadian designers across the country whose collections are walking down Toronto runways. From the fabric to the print, the environment is incorporated into this year’s collections.

I’m not just talking about flower-fueled patterns either, to quote the very sarcastic Miranda Priestly: “Florals for spring; ground-breaking.” The relationship stems deeper than trends. For years designers have been drawing inspiration from nature, from blooming trees to global warming. For Chanel’s Fall Winter 2010/11 collection, Karl Lagerfield lined the runway with melting glaciers and had models stepping through gaping puddles to represent the current temperature rise in the Arctic.

So I’m calling a truce on the battle between fashion and nature. Who says the two can’t go hand-in-hand? What you wear in the field doesn’t have to compromise the trends we see on the runway.

And more important than trends, field-wear doesn’t have to take away individuality! Season after season we see a nature’s influence in collections and it’s time we take fashion from off the runway and into the wild. While I’m not advocating for a stiletto-hiking shoe movement, a pop of colour in the sea of khaki would be optimal.

Raechel Bonomo (Photo by Chase Wastesicoot)

About the Author

Raechel Wastesicoot is the manager, internal communications and culture at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Wastesicoot.

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