A North Vancouver fashion designer has been recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme as a Young Champion of the Earth.
Kaya Dorey was honored for her unique sustainable apparel with an urban style focused on an eco-conscious generation. Kaya, 29, is one of six young winners – each representing a region of the world – being awarded a prize by the United Nations Environment Programme and polymer-producing giant Covestro.
The award support outstanding individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 who have big ideas to protect or restore the environment.
Kaya began her label, NOVEL SUPPLY CO., after her hunt for clothing that both suited her style and was made sustainably from natural fabrics failed in her local shops of Vancouver, according a profile featured by UN Environment. Her ‘conscious apparel company’ produces garments free from toxic dyes and synthetics, instead sourcing hemp and organic cotton and environmentally friendly inks.
The business is based on the ‘closed-loop’ philosophy of production, which strives for sustainability by improving economic and environmental goals simultaneously, according to the profile. Kaya, it continues, is creating a ‘take-back’ programme so that the company takes responsibility for the garments it produces.
Along with sustainable fashion, Kaya’s dream is to establish an automated manufacturing hub for other local clothing labels. This automated process will have machines that both manufacture apparel and facilitate research on the composability of fabrics and the innovation of new, more sustainable fabrics.
“No one really thinks about their $5 t-shirt and how that became $5. Garment workers are getting paid lower than livable wage and in terrible working conditions. We have this fast fashion problem, it’s made people think they’re going out of style every single week so they need something new,” Kaya told the UN Environment’s head of news and media, Robert Few.
“My vision goes well beyond just a clothing line; I really want to make sustainability cool. I want the aesthetic, the design, the creation of the garment to go beyond just a t-shirt,” she said. “Going forward we need to start caring about what is going into the actual product, that’s why I’m pursuing an automated manufacturing hub locally in Vancouver where we’ll be able to create more product and pay people more – it’s more ethical, it’s more just, and more efficient for businesses, she told Fey.
“I want to create a model that can be used all around the world so that we wouldn’t be taking away jobs, instead we’d be creating different, safer more ethical ones. We can’t do it on our own, it’s just about coming together to make these changes in the world.”