fashion magazine
Echo-Rain - Under the West-Coast Umbrella
By NATASHA BHATNAGAR
Photography by KELLY JILL - www.kellyjill.com
Styling - COREEN MILLER
Make up/Hair - TALYSIA AYALA for MAC Cosmetics and TRESemmé Hair Care
Model - DARIAN @ Key Model Management

Jewelry provided by Aroha Silhouettes
What is practical, versatile and cutting-edge? Quintessentially west coast and appropriately named - Echo-Rain has made their footprint on the Canadian fashion scene by reducing their ecological footprint. From designing to creating to manufacturing, the life cycle of an Echo-Rain garment is produced in-house under one `umbrella,' right here in Vancouver. Started three years ago as a division of already established textile manufacturer - TNT Garment Manufacturing - Echo-Rain focuses on giving women sustainable clothing without breaking the budget.

What is admirable about the company is its strict adherence to "Bluesign" certification. At every step of a garment's life cycle there's an approval process that happens, ensuring the production is harmless to people and the environment. The huge building which houses the entire operation is quietly tucked away in industrial East Vancouver. Under one roof ideas come to life: from the sketching of an inspired garment to the choice of Eco-friendly textiles - it is home to yards of materials such as bamboo, tencel, merino wool and organic cotton - to the actual production and finally distribution of the finished product.

Savvy designer Phalyn Turcotte, now the creative force behind Echo-Rain, started her career in fashion as a model at age 15. She loves every aspect of the industry and went to several design schools in various cities across Canada and Europe. Included are LaSalle College in Montreal for fashion merchandising and the University of Manitoba where she earned a degree in textile science. Shortly after, the hopeful designer landed an assistant merchandising job with Silver Jeans in Winnipeg and stationed there for awhile.

In between, the ex-model spent time in France studying fashion, but it was Barcelona that captured her heart. She fell in love with the mountains, ocean and relaxed lifestyle and finds the European city comparable to Vancouver. Of course, when she finally visited Vancouver, it was an instant love affair. Turcotte bravely quit her job at Silver Jeans and took a chance on the Wild West. A posting on Craigslist peaked her interest. "I applied and when I came [to the Echo-Rain Studio] and saw what they did and how committed they were to the environment and how everything was made right here in Vancouver, it struck a chord with me. I felt it was a really good match"

The 27-year-old believes in the practicality, versatility and longevity of a garment and creates pieces that are made with quality textiles to withstand season after season, yet still maintain that trendy appeal at an affordable price. She explains "Our customers are primarily between the age of 20 and 40. They have a career going and are busy on-the-go type of people yet still have a concern for the environment, but don't have a ton of disposable income. We just want to give them really easy to wear clothes. Something they can wear to the office and at home" The ever changing weather in Vancouver and its easy going pace is reflected in the practicality of Echo-Rain Apparel without losing that trendy edge.

Inspired by the mountains, the ocean and the west-coast lifestyle Echo-Rain proves to be a model brand. With a sparkle in her eye, Phalyn Turcotte reflects, "being an Eco-friendly designer has its limitations making the process a lot more challenging, but at the same time is so much more rewarding when you make something that is really cool and Eco-friendly." How wonderful Vancouver is home to such a pioneer brand in social change.

Echo-Rain's Fall 2011 Collection can be seen at www.echorain.ca.