Urban Hippie by Jen Lahey is published every second Tuesday at OttawaMagazine.com. Follow Jen on Twitter @Jen_Lahey.
The stereotype of eco-friendly clothes (the hemp-heavy, crunchy-granola kind of stuff worn by the hacky sack crowd) is something that Sarah Barr is out to change.
She’s the owner of Green Tree Eco Fashion,(358 Richmond Rd.) a boutique for those with a bent for both the environmentally friendly and the fashion-fierce.
The passionate fashionista, who has worked at Chanel and Holt Renfew, amongst other notable companies, describes the clothes at her store as “edgy, modern, current, and funky,” and one gets the sense that she wants customers to feel that way, too, when they’re done shopping at Green Tree.
Barr clearly wants women and men to look outside their pre-conceived notions. She encourages people to dress for their body type — which often results, she says, in customers having a new, more positive, perspective on how they look.
Barr, who grew up sewing, and still does the tailoring for the shop, says that fit is key when it comes to clothes. “Tailoring is very important,” she explains. “If it doesn’t fit perfectly, it’s just a piece of fabric.” She often fine-tunes items for customers so they fit just so.
Barr even encourages customers to bring in clothing items they already own so that she can help clients see what new items will work best with they already own. “A lot of customers will bring in a piece from their place, and we’ll tweak what they have,” says Barr.
But why emphasis on environmentally friendly wares? Barr says she “want(ed) to have a store that could be sweatshop-free, fair trade, with natural fabrics, and that doesn’t leave a footprint on the earth.” In keeping with this, the store carries only natural fabrics such as bamboo, cotton, lyocell, modal, wool, and silk, and the store’s cosmetics are organic and paraben-free. Barr’s big on supporting local and Canadian designers, but also brings in items from New York, Spain, California, France, and Italy.
So what are the trends in eco-fashion for this season? According to Barr, it’s all about colour. “If you’re not wearing bright colours, you may as well be living under a rock,” she laughs. “Bright, beautiful, vibrant colours, and that’s going to continue right into the fall.” Think corals, teals, cobalt blue, and even hot pink. Also de rigour? Maxi-dresses, which Barr says make everyone look long and lean, and are scandalously comfortable.