Power duo Kat Ferneyhough and Kat Kozak (yes, they have the same first name) have made it their mission to give voice to fashion’s underdogs. Their event VALT, otherwise known as Vancouver Alternative Arts and Fashion Week, is unlike any other exhibition in the city. Standing out against world-renowned events like Vancouver Fashion Week, it focuses specifically on underground artists “who are either just emerging in Vancouver with a wholly new perspective or have worked in the fringes of their scene with unusual concepts, materials, or style for years.” Also marking VALT as a groundbreaker in the art world is their diverse selection of exhibitors, which is inclusive to creators of performance, music, and visual art, as well as fashion designers. This coming together of great creative minds city-wide results in an incredible melting pot of original and exciting work, which will be open to the public from the 20th to the 22nd of November this year.

“To us, alternative fashion means to take fashion out of industry and treat it as the art form it is,” said Ferneyhough, about how she defines the term. “[In comparison, industrial fashion] is trend-driven and cyclical to the seasons. It involves a series of financial tiers… Underground fashion is an unbridled revolution of self-decoration and expression, free from the constraints of a traditional production schedule, seasonal trends, or planned obsolescence. Garments are made to be worn by the enthusiasts who will recognize their value and love them as their second skin. They are not simply meant to be purchased, worn, and disposed of by the next fashion cycle. It is meant to be a revelation of character, to be treasured and lived in for years.”

Promotional photo from VALT 2014

In summary, Kat Ferneyhough and Kat Kozak respect fashion as a permanent expression rather than a fleeting statement. They believe that “it is those who take the path less followed that change the world,” and invite such trailblazers to be a part of VALT. Every year, they “make it into a cohesive experience by thematically preparing each evening, and encouraging attendees to dress to theme.” This year’s overarching theme is “Wild Spaces”, with each of the three nights having its own, more specific sub-theme Terrestria will be on the 20th, Celestia will be the 21st, and Aquatica will be on the 22nd. “It is sort of a tongue-in-cheek reference to what many love about Vancouver: land, sky & sea,” Kozak explained.

Unsurprisingly, VALT grows larger every year, and a bigger crowd demands a bigger venue. As a result,
#VALT2015 will be held in the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, located at 50 East Pender Street. All of the funds raised from ticket sales will either go to supporting the event itself or SEAMS, the Style, Entertainment, Art & Media Society of Vancouver. SEAMS is a not-for-profit organization that “focuses on developing local arts programming for emerging and fringe artists…while fosterin a community of cultural appreciation.” The two organizations share the same end goal: giving creators the resources they need to create. Therefore, ticket sales ($25 per night and $60 per weekend pass) go directly to VALT and SEAMS, allowing them to continue their support of Vancouver’s vibrant, local art scene.

Promotional photo from VALT 2014

“We are pleased to present #VALT2015 as an immersive art experience; a cavalcade of spectacular garments by a diverse group of exceptional local designers,” Ferneyhough described. “It will be a myriad of distinctive musicians, extraordinary performance artists, intriguing short films and captivating visual art. Each evening includes at least five hours of non-stop arts-focused entertainment.”

Experience VALT yourself by purchasing tickets in advance on their website (tickets are only available in advance this year, so the sooner they’re purchased, the better)!