Fashion mavens strut their stuff for non profits

Event stitches together vintage designs, brooding music

She's worked as a stylist to Michael Buble, appeared on TV's Project Runway Canada and co-founded a nonprofit that diverts reams of fabric from the dump.

Now Kim Cathers has co-organized The PolyEra Spring Masquerade and Strut-Off, March 24 at the Rickshaw Theatre to raise money for Our Social Fabric and the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association.

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Our Social Fabric started in April 2009. Leandre Melancon, a set decorator for TV and film, read an article about Cathers' work as a designer who repurposed old fabric to fashion new styles and hunted her down, article in hand, at the fashion market Portobello West. Melancon had seen bolts of fabric diverted from landfills when he worked in Montreal and he wanted someone to help him do the same in Vancouver.

"He had the contacts to get the fabric donated if I could facilitate organizing what to do with the fabric," Cathers said.

Our Social Fabric receives fabric from film, TV and music sets, factories and clothing producers for free and sells it at a discount to home economics teachers, fashion designers, crafters and costumers. The fledgling social enterprise has recently produced a yoga bag that will be sold at the Rickshaw event and plans to develop other products to wholesale to retailers.

Wes Regan, executive director of the Hastings Crossing BIA, heard about Our Social Fabric when he worked for Building Opportunities with Business, or BOB, in the Downtown Eastside. When he learned the non-profit was gaining momentum he approached it about joining forces to raise awareness about, and money, for Our Social Fabric and the new BIA that is centered on Hastings Street between Richards and Gore.

Cathers and co-organizer, project manager and designer Josli Rockefella have rallied six shops that sell vintage and reworked styles to participate in the fundraiser. They'll send models clad in Mad Men, picnic and biker chic-inspired styles down a catwalk and audience members will vote on who busts out the best strut.

Audience members are encouraged to don their favourite vintage outfit and the best dressed will win VIP passes to ECO Fashion Week, April 10 to 12.

The band Prisoners will play, followed by Juno Award-winning hiphop artist Moka Only.

Cathers wasn't sure what kind of music Prisoners play.

"Apparently it's Wes's band that he plays in, so I have no idea," Cathers said. "We didn't know it was his band, he didn't tell us. He was just like 'Yeah, I've booked this local band to play,' and we're like, 'Oh, I've never heard of them.'"

Regan, who in "another life" was a touring musician who crossed the U.S., Canada and Japan playing with local bands and Australian pop singer Ben Lee, plays synths, keys and percussion in Prisoners, which he says is reminiscent of the Smiths and The National, performing "brooding but pretty songs with some edge."

Now he heads the organization that hopes to build on a rough stretch of Hasting Street's rich history and social enterprise innovation to benefit businesses and create jobs for people who live in the area.

Tickets to the masquerade and strut-off are by donation, and Cathers emphasized all of the proceeds will flow to the two causes. Those unable to attend can donate a ticket to a resident of the Downtown Eastside who may not be able to afford to buy one. Doors are at 7 p.m. For more information, see Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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