Designer with North Bay roots wins fashion award

·3 min read

Mya Bouvier, currently finishing her third and final year at Seneca College’s Fashion Arts Program, recently took home the prestigious Sustainable Fashion Award this past April. The award was presented after the school’s annual fashion show, which highlights the lines of upper year design students.

“It was a pretty big deal for me, I pride myself on trying to stay sustainable,” Bouvier said. It’s no easy task, she admitted, as “the fashion industry isn’t the most sustainable industry.”

“Fast fashion is so cheap” she said, which accounts for its popularity. Not everyone can afford smaller run clothing items or afford sustainable fibres. This is especially true for students, and even more so when designing a line of clothes destined for the runway. “Not everyone has the money to be sustainable.”

See: Fashion show diverts quality clothing from landfill

Creating her line took months, and “during the designing stage, the goal was to have zero waste.” This meant she had her bag of fabric, and she would “grab it from the bag until it was empty.” It also meant searching high and low for material – preferably natural or sustainable fibers. She limited herself to end of the roll fabric, or “dead stock,” which is fabric that is out of season or no longer popular.

She mentioned it was difficult designing a winter-themed line with spring on the distant horizon. The fabric of winter had already mostly disappeared by second semester. However, she forged on with her quest. She noted that in her work she often upcycles materials and clothes she sources from second hand shops and from the closets of friends and family.

Her winning collection “was based on winter,” she said, “inspired by the arctic,” which allowed her to contemplate on how greenhouse emissions due to the fashion industry are affecting the climate. She learned to knit and quilt from her mother, and she uses those skills in her designs.

As for those designs, she drafted over 170 illustrations, and then the sewing began. Quilted coats mix with lighter materials to create a “light reflecting on ice” effect, and she “accessorized everything with pearls to represent snow and ice.”

There were two fashion shows for the Seneca students. The first was for those in the industry, and the second was for family and friends. “But a lot of industry people came out to the second one as well,” Bouvier said.

“It was amazing to see the turnout.” This was her first show, and the first time she worked with models as well. Although the showcase is an annual event, she “started school in the heat of Covid,” so this was the first time it was offered to her since she started.

Bouvier attended West Ferris Secondary School, “and they’re very big on theatre” and productions, and these high school experiences helped to propel her toward a career in design and fashion.

Her work was evaluated by over 25 judges, and since sustainable fashion is currently so fashionable, there were other designers competing in her category. As such, the award means a lot to her. The entire experience was challenging but rewarding. From sketching designs to hemming models’ skirts moments before they hit the runway, the experience was one she will not soon forget.

“To say the least, I had many tears that day,” she recalled.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,