This year we’re proud to see JCI Fashion graduate, Jason Pillay, take part in Eco Fashion Week’s Thrift Style challenge, happening on Monday, April 11th. Three participants are challenged to create an entire runway collection from Value Village pieces. With a focus on restyling, this event combines fashionable and conscious in a fun way! We got to speak with Jason as he prepares for the big event.

How did you first get involved with Eco Fashion Week? Is there an application process?
There is no application process. The stylists are selected through the Eco Fashion Week team. I met with the creator and founders of Eco Fashion Week when I attended last year’s season and while I was at a fashion conference in Seattle earlier this year. I remember when I first heard about the Thrift Challenge. I loved the concept behind it and since then, have always been interested in participating in it. I didn’t think I would ever be able to showcase a collection and have it live on a runway! I’m so excited and nervous.

How are you preparing for the Thrift Style challenge?
There is A LOT of preparation involved. The sound of the challenge sounds wicked but when you’re actually a part of it, there’s a lot of work involved. We are given $500 to create a collection involving a minimum of 10 looks, from head to toe including shoes and accessories. I have full control over the creative direction of what I want to showcase. I’m incorporating my personal aesthetic so most of the collection are pieces I would wear. Besides the garments, I have to select my hair and makeup looks, runway choreography, music, models, etc. It’s finally all coming together so I am very excited to see the outcome.

What are some challenges you face while preparing for the Thrift Style?
There are a few challenges I’ve faced but nothing that has took me over the top. I love facing new challenges so my plan for this was not to plan anything haha. If that makes sense. I’ve been thrift shopping for quite some time now and what I’ve learned is that you can’t go in with an expectation. I know some people would sit at home, brainstorm, create a concept board, and go from there, but I literally just took my wallet and myself. It’s just the way I wanted to work. I went in with a blank mind and had some sort of  that I wanted to use as an idea and just explored various Value Village locations. I went in and filled up carts of clothes, and then would narrow down to the pieces I would actually wear. Another challenge is shoes which I’m still working on completing. You aren’t given model measurements right from the beginning since the casting doesn’t happen till closer to show dates, and everyone’s shoe size is different. The challenge here is that I want to have a cohesive collection of shoes, but we’ll see what I end up with.

Do you have any tips and tricks for someone who wants to start thrifting?
Have patience and go in with an open mind. The best experience for me in thrift stores is when I have a free day and can spend time in the store. My friend’s spend about 15-20 minutes and they are done. I can stay for about 3 hours and still be looking. You have to be really patient with going through aisles of clothes. Thrift shopping to me is quite therapeutic. I don’t know why, but it’s relaxing and peaceful. Another tip would be to go early in the morning as new pieces are generally put out first thing. Most of the best pieces in my closet are from thrift stores.

Eco Fashion Week
 is a week where the fashion-conscious and sustainable-minded get informed and inspired through speaker seminars, industry panels, and collaborative fashion shows. This event runs from April 9th to the 14th at the Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver BC.