Environmental sustainability seems to be top of mind these days, and quite the buzzword in the fashion industry, but what does it mean? With every brand seemingly having its own definition and sustainability story, what does this mean from an educational perspective? Hear from Stephanie Ostler, designer and owner of Devil May Wear, a Vancouver apparel and accessories company, as she shares her thoughts, perspective, experience, and ongoing work on this topic.
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Born and raised in Vancouver Stephanie Ostler started designing and selling clothing at a young age. From lemonade stand to plant sale every summer as a kid she started her own company at 12 with a button press. Stephanie was learning how to play guitar and wanted to buy fancy equipment but she was too young to get a real job so using her button press she made buttons for bands to resell at their concerts. She then got a silk screen and started making bands silk screened patches and buttons.
Through high school she was an active community member running youth workshops, events and concerts, volunteering at soup kitchens and park cleanup. Working many jobs focused in fashion including a dress making apprenticeship with small fashion businesses allowed her to have an insight into running a business as well as the behind the scenes of fashion.
Graduating in 2003 with a scholarship in fashion design she took a courses in pattern drafting, business and mandarin but ultimately began to sell her custom clothing designs in stores right out of high school under the name Devil May Wear making local clothing from mostly sustainable materials for creative women. From there she freelanced as a production manager for many companies around Vancouver including Movement Global, Shea Couturier, Mother Trucker, Sweet Soul Designs, and more. She ran a small fashion sales repping company called Assembly of Sales until the end of 2009 but closed it to focus on Devil May Wear.
In 2007 Devil May Wear turned it’s small Main Street studio into a stunning retail store. Followed by a store in Fan Tan Alley in Victoria which ran for 4 years and then a fabulous store on Granville Island in 2014. Devil May Wear currently has 1 retail location and still sells online and wholesales all over the world. Devil May Wear has won Best Local Designer Clothing Store or runner up in the Georgia Straight for 9 years and counting.
Stephanie was invited to do a TEDx talk in 2014 which, called The Luxury to Buy Better was meant to inspire people to make better purchase decisions and to care for what they already have. She has also done talks at a number of events throughout Vancouver about sustainability, fashion and entrepreneurship. By consulting, coaching and running classes for young entrepreneurs she helps foster the next generation of business owners to start sooner, start with support and to have the best business practices.
In 2019 Stephanie began teaching a business and design course based on the wicked problem of textile sustainability called Make Change Studio which she continues to teach today. In 2020 she also became an instructor at Emily Carr University instructing a Fibershed Field School.
Stephanie ran for city council in Vancouver’s 2018 election. She has been working behind the scenes to foster community, art and business in Vancouver for so long she decided it was time to step up, to do her civic duty and put her name in the ring by running with the YES Vancouver party
Amongst her many other projects she continues to work with local business and designers to help them get their startups off the ground, to launch their first collection or company. As the designer of a collection for SHINE on Sept 22nd in Vancouver she helped raise money for mental illness. Her art was be featured in Granville Island’s Textile Symposium in 2018 and did a custom collection of hand made lingerie for a fashion show with Porsche on November 23rd 2018, just a few of her most recent events. Stephanie has styled and sewn custom costume for many prominent members of Vancouver from pop stars to politicians. Her art and clothing has appeared in many local TV shows, movies and magazines.
She is a member of the executive committee of the Granville Island Community and Business Association, a board member of the Canadian Club, a member of the University Women’s Club, a mentor for YELL and works hard to foster inclusivity and community where ever she goes.