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How VCC Fashion is working to address textile waste

FABCYCLE is on a mission to recycle and reuse fabric waste from cutting floors, garment manufacturers, and sewing labs. Meet three women who are helping Vancouver Community College (VCC) Fashion programs recycle textile scraps.

Irina McKenzie, FABCYCLE founder

Can you tell us what happens to the scraps that are picked up at VCC?
The sorting process is very labour intensive but it’s also gratifying when we literally pull fabric out of the garbage and match it to another maker. All materials for reuse go to our Textile Waste ReUSE Centre (268 Keefer St). Materials for recycling get shredded, fiberized and turned into stuffing and underlay for carpets and insulation. 

Why are schools important for your business’ success?
When students use our bins to recycle the scraps from their cutting tables, it often leads to questions about sustainability and waste. This leads to meaningful conversations with students who eventually become decision makers in the fashion industry.

What skills do our merchandising and design grads lend to your business?
We find that both merchandising and design grads are creative, know how to work in a fast-paced environment, are eager to learn, and be part of the team. 


Erin Gravelle, VCC Fashion alumna and FABCYCLE Studio and inventory manager

What skills that you learned at VCC are you now using on the job?
Fashion design is very useful but everything from my textiles class I use in my everyday work. It helps me assist customers with choosing fabrics for their sewing projects.

What do you love about your job?
I love seeing the direct effect we are making in diverting textile waste. It blows my mind how much would have been thrown away and is still usable, beautiful materials.

What did you love about learning fashion at VCC?
I came from a sewing background, so I went to VCC to further my knowledge and skill. I received both and so much more. Attending classes always invigorated my passion for fashion and wanting to change the way it works. I learned a lot about being patient with my process and finding what works for me.

Jocelyn Parent, VCC Fashion Merchandising alumna and FABCYCLE volunteer

What were your responsibilities at FABCYCLE?
I organized donations; measured, identified and tagged fabric inventory; and uploaded products to their ecommerce site for their weekly “unboxing” live streams. Every day was a little different and I was able to learn so much about textiles!

How did VCC prepare you for this?
While I was learning how to identify and interact with textiles at VCC, I was able to directly apply that information to my work at FABCYCLE.

What did you love about learning fashion at VCC?
The instructors all had very creative approaches to the topics that gave me a really well-rounded understanding of the industry. This also meant that I was able to flex my own creative muscles in the process!