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GTL hosts first ever Circular Fashion Festival

'Fashion can be something that is circular,' said Steph Clarke, Guelph Tool Library program coordinator
A previous clothing swap held by the Guelph Tool Library. An all-day clothing swap will happen at the Circular Fashion Festival.

A new event wants residents to cut out consumption and get the most out of their clothes.

The Circular Fashion Festival is a one week event hosted by the Guelph Tool Library. The event will have a mix of virtual and hands-on workshops, including a dinner and fashion show. At the end of the week there will be an all-day clothing swap and sale. The festival starts Oct. 17 and runs until Oct.23. 

Steph Clarke is the program coordinator at the GTL, said the GTL had been wanting to do a clothing swap for about a year and worked with the city on a couple of smaller, virtual events for waste reduction week.

"We wanted a way to sort of tie in those two events, and the idea sort of grew into a week-long festival from there," said Clarke.

Clarke explains clothes became the focus of the event as clothing can be made with many materials, making it hard to recycle them. In May, she said the GTL got a lot of questions about how to recycle clothes during their Re:Purpose Festival, and knew it was an issue they wanted to tackle.

"There's no sort of all-in-one answer for recycling textiles and the best thing that we can do is reduce the number of new textiles that we're consuming to help keep things out of the waste stream longer," said Clarke.

"We all wear clothes every day and we all want to know sort of what we can do with our textiles when we're done with them, but they still have life left in them."

During the festival, residents will learn about fast fashion, microplastics in fashion, clothing repair and upcycling, sewing machine repairs and maintenance and fashion and the circular economy.

Some of the events are being held in partnership with the City of Guelph, Community FEWD and the Helper Bees. To ensure the festival is accessible for all, the GTL is also working with the Community Clothing Closet, Hope House Clothing Market, Your Downtown Guelph Friends, and the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition.

"It's something that will impact a lot of people, we've had a lot of interest from students in terms of volunteering, but really, the response we've had so far has been quite varied," said Clarke.

She mentioned all events, except for the fashion show, are free to attend. All proceeds from ticket sales for the fashion show will go to local designers participating. She hopes those participating in the festival learn that all the textiles they consume can be remade, repaired, reused or disposed of in a better way.

"Fashion can be something that's circular and it doesn't have to be this take-make-dispose, or even a take-make-donate sort of model," said Clarke. 

The GTL is also accepting donations now for the clothing swap until Oct. 15. Clothing can be dropped off during the GTL business hours and must be in wearable condition with no rips or stains. To learn more about the Circular Fashion Festival, go to