Sometimes, I stumble across an artist that I think I really should have known about before.
Voila par/by Andréanne is one of those times. Hailed as one of Canada’s up and coming designers, and proudly representing her Aboriginal heritage, Andréanne Dandeneau’s eco-friendly and fair-trade clothing is beautiful in all the best ways. From start to finish, her clothing line is made in Winnipeg and the 2013 Spring/Summer collection is full of flowing fabrics, lace details and original screen printed artwork.
Some of my favourites…
And this one… the one that grabbed my attention in the first place. Oh, that jacket. I love the story behind the “Catherine’s Vine” pattern that wraps around the jacket as well. Andréanne was inspired by embroidery work done by one of her Métis ancestors in the Winnipeg area. Read more here and see an example of the original embroidery here.
I love the versatility of the 8-way Nova! Shawl – I think this “belt in front” is my favourite version, but being able to wear it as a shirt, shawl or even a skirt makes this a bargain 8-in-1. The ‘Northern Willow’ print also has a tie to Andréanne’s Aboriginal heritage and was created by a Métis artist.
Check out the rest of the Voilà par/by Andréanne collection online, in her Etsy shop or at one of a few select boutiques. If you don’t want to shop online, you can see her at one of the many shows around Western Canada that she will be attending in the coming months: Winnipeg Folk Fest, Edmonton Folk Fest and the Regina Christmas Signature Show to name a few. Those of us east of Manitoba will have to see her pieces in person at the Christmas One of a Kind Show in Toronto.
Leave us a note in the comments – we’d love to hear what your favourite piece is!
P.S. This Feather Skirt in Tangerine is ON SALE! Grab it now for a summer wardrobe boost!
If you’re looking for something unique and a little romantic to wear this summer, look no further than Edmonton-based Pondhopper.
These gorgeous dresses and accessories are all made with reclaimed, previously- loved garments and bits and pieces of textiles and sparkle. The many layers and overstitching are Pondhopper signatures, and lend even more texture to these pretty pieces.
The dresses in particular, with their jagged hemlines and almost patchwork effect, remind me of some long-ago (and imaginary) Shakespearean wood-nymph!
Something as simple as grey and white t-shirts can become… this breezy little number:
This Promenade Jacket is In.Credible. Incredible!
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d say: These spats are so pretty!
You can find out more about Lorraine and her creative, organic pieces on her blog, her Facebook page and you can certainly do some shopping from this Edmonton based artist at her Pondhopper Etsy shop!
I get a little thrill when I discover someone who’s doing something different – and I had that feeling when I saw the work of Heidi Denessen in her HD Art & Apparel shop.
First up, I saw the Big Thaw Tunic dress… and then discovered that it is her own artwork, printed on eco-friendly fabric, that adorns the back scoop of this reversible piece. Love it!
And this – the reversible Deep Lake Tunic dress:
I really do love the idea of “wearable art”, and I like how Heidi has incorporated it in a more subtle way – a splash of colour at the neckline, or a peek along the hem.To see where the fabric inspiration comes from, I checked out some of her original artwork pieces and these are a couple of my favourites:
(image source: HeiditheArtist.ca)
(image source: HeiditheArtist.ca)
Heidi was born and raised in BC, and now makes her home in North Vancouver with her fellow artist husband and their little boys. Her artwork is focused on mixed media work, with bold colours and detailed collages incorporating paper and other materials. You can visit her website to see some examples of her work – it’s obvious that she is inspired by the gorgeous landscapes around her Vancouver home!
Through the fog of a not-very-fun spring cold, I spotted the colourful, bold prints of Toronto’s Schoolyard Studio. And I immediately felt better! Amazing what good design, cheerful graphics and a little nod to Canadian content (oak trees!) can do for a girl :)
I was so pleased to learn that the design team of Katy Chan and Hilary Dennis has always focused on making Schoolyard Studio an environmentally friendly company – their products are all made locally and printed in Toronto with water-based inks.
This pretty acorn print tea towel would look lovely in our red/white/black kitchen (nudge, nudge for Mother’s Day, husband!)
Katy and Hillary also have a baby line, including onesies, bibs and blankets all made with those safe, non-toxic inks and eco-friendly fabrics.
*All images from SchoolyardStudio.com
If you’ve been reading C+H for a while, you likely know by now that I live in Alberta – land of the oft-repeated “Sure, our winter is cold, but it’s a DRY cold!”. Well, it’s April and there’s still a ton of snow in my backyard, but the sun is shining and the kids won’t stay in the house anymore. We’re spending a lot of time in the chilly spring air, and a cozy hoody is required. So… I think one of the fabulous, 100% Canadian-made Clothing Brand Experiment (CBE) hoodies belongs in my spring wardrobe – check ‘em out:
The very cool Clothing Brand Experiment hoodies are fantastic, and made entirely within the Toronto area. The fabric is milled locally, and all of the fabrication and production is completed within 50km of Elly Green’s CBE studio. I met Elly at the Vancouver OOAK show, and she was super passionate about her business – with every right. Her vision of creating a 100% locally made garment, that is high quality and still affordable, can’t have been easy to realize. There’s a reason why all those other manufacturers go overseas, but Elly is bucking that trend and we’re right there with her. The fabric is gorgeous – soft and cozy, and the fit was great when I tried one on!
CBE hoodies come in a couple of styles, but the colour combinations are what make them so fun. There’s also the option to choose your own lace for the hood, so you can spice it up a bit if you need even more colour in your life!
Now, CBE is not just about hoodies. It is a true experiment, and when you visit the site you’ll see a section in the shop for amazing “Limited T’s” with artwork by local independent business-people and artists, and the more recent BY KIDS 4 KIDS project with the kids of Regent Park.
This week, I checked in with Elly to learn a little more about CBE, her collaboration projects and to ask her to share some of her thoughts and processes with us. Read on to learn more, and be sure to visit the CBE Facebook Page and follow Elly’s Twitter feed @CBEClothing, too!
C+H: When you have 30 seconds to explain CBE to someone new, what do you tell them?
Elly Green: CBE stands for Clothing Brand Experiment, we specialize in deluxe hoodies! Everything we create is made locally within 50kms of our studio downtown Toronto – from the milling of the fabric to the printing of the hang tags. We have perfected our hoody and now also make t-shirts, sweats and various limited lines.
Why did you initially want to start CBE?
I love quality and I love consistency and I also love specific details. I was shopping for a hoody, over 3 years ago and I wanted it to include a few details and be in yellow. I looked a bunch and didn’t find it so I figured I would put my sewing skills to use and make one. I went to Fashion school for a year before dropping out and moving to Toronto to go to OCAD and I had also sewn a ton while growing up outside of Collingwood so I knew I could make the hoody I wanted. I did just that and then the compliments came in along with some custom orders from friends and then friends of friends and so on.
CBE began as a custom hoody business and I made just over 100 hoodies out of my apartment. Eventually I recognized a pattern as many customers would state the colours they were thinking they wanted and then would follow up with questioning me on what I thought would look best. With this I realized it would make much more sense to make small runs in colour combinations I liked and sell the finished hoodies, this would allow customers to try on the hoody completed instead of trying to envision what the custom order might look like finished. And so CBE began and still operates in a similar fashion making small runs each season in different colour combinations.
When you made the decision to source the entire production locally, were there obstacles to getting that done?
When CBE moved from custom orders to short runs I knew it wouldn’t be worth making anything out of fabric I purchased from a store or wholesaler if I didn’t know every detail of the fabric blend. I had made a few custom orders that ended up shrinking or piling and I was extremely frustrated to have put so much time and work into finishing the garment for the quality of fabric not to match-up to the quality of sewing. And this is when I began searching for fabric suppliers and after a few months I found a Mill just north of the city that made premium cotton blends for high-end companies across North America – I was thrilled to find it! It did take a while to find and the cost is a little higher than other options from wholesalers but the quality is well worth it.
As a very small business I was a little intimidated to approach the mill but I did and a good relationship started out and I purchased ends from them to make my first few runs. Ends for them could be up to 100 meters per colour which was plenty for me to work with. CBE now orders our own fabric blend from the mill for each line and the weight and soft feel of the fabric definitely stands out to all our customers.
Cut & sew, dyeing, pre-washing, embroidery, tags, printing and so on, where each a little easier to find in the city since there are a handful of places to go for each. CBE now works with a good mix of these other businesses to make each line. Contrary to production over seas we are with our line each step of the way and each step is done in smaller businesses that each take care of one step in the production process. We are able to deal with problems quickly and efficiently since all our production is done within 50 km of our studio, the furthest location is a 40 minute drive away.
I love the way you integrate local talents into your projects – especially with your limited t-shirt line last year and this spring with the BY KIDS 4 KIDS line. Why is this so important to you?
CBE COMMUNITY is a new wing of CBE that we have launched this past month which is geared towards partnering with local communities in the city to create limited lines or inspirational projects. This is a natural branch of CBE’s care in production – since we care about the people that make our clothing it only makes sense to care as well about the community that wears it.
CBE BY KIDS 4 KIDS is a partnership with an Art Club at Regent Park/Duke of York public school. CBE worked with the grade 5 & 6 students to teach them how to turn their drawings into screen printable two colour images and then took them on a field trip to a printing studio to see the line printed. With the sales of this line we are actually going to outfit the kids in the club with hoodies for them to have as “team gear”. So the Regent Park students may not already be CBE wearers prior to the project but they will at the end.
Right, so why is this so important? Well I could go on a social justice rant but let me boil it down – CBE is extremely concerned with what we make as well as how we make it. There are many ways to create clothing – quickly, efficiently, profitably, ethically, organically and so on but we would like to keep our focus on making things locally and experimentally which allows us to continue learning and growing in our city.
[Ed. Note: Click here to see some AMAZING videos of the creation process for the Limited T-shirt line - My favourite is the first one, called "Chia"]
What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
I love to be busy and I am pretty hands on when it comes to my creativity. Since I was really young I have always come up with wild project ideas with entrepreneurial twists. From selling handmade bracelets to sewing wacky pants from vintage fabrics to making guitar shaped birthday cakes, I am always up to something – ideas never stop flowing through my mind. I went through school at OCAD as a sculpture major because I wanted to learn more skills to implement my ideas, there I learnt – how to build, design, paint, weld, print and most importantly risk creatively…
I am less poetic and more of a productive risk-taker. To date I often rush through my preliminary sketches and on to the next steps because I am both impatient and curious about the process and I can always envision the finished product I am making. CBE is a big leap for me because it is much more fine tuned. The Classic and Slim fit hoody patterns I worked on for months, making samples and re-drafting the patterns to perfection. Learning how to run a business involves many details beyond the actually hoodies – a lot of thought, perseverance and patient but most of all risk is need to push through the day to day and keep a business alive. I think my creativity is an outcome of the risks I take and the risks I take lead me to more creativity.
What is the best (and worst, if you’d like to share!) part about owning your own business?
CBE is going into year number four of business so it is still small and things are tough. Balancing funds and debt is tricky while maintaining creativity and time off. Yet it is amazing to have the small flexibilities of working for yourself – bringing my dogs to work with me everyday is great – determining my own business focus and values is exciting. The most important thing CBE has caused me to realize is how much more CBE is than just me. Friends, family, neighbours, customers all play a big part in what CBE was, is and will become – this collaborative reality keeps me grateful and inspired when it comes to CBE work.
What part of creating your clothing gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
I actually like to problem solve so as the surprises and challenges apart of each production come about and I think I am about to loose it, I learn something new, find a new technique, meet a new person and some how it always works out – it is a great process. I also love once a new line is finished, picked-up and in the studio and I get to pull out a brand new garment and try it on – this is satisfying every time.
Do you feel that living in Canada has influenced your work?
For sure. if I hadn’t grown up in small-town Ontario I would never had the chance to explore and become creative in the same ways. I also aim one to love the winter and snow and have made CBE hoodies beyond cozy to enjoy such Canadian weather. I also feel very fortunate to live in a country that values the arts and believes that “Canadian Made” means well made.
Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship in terms of business or your creative journey?
I do have a business mentor who has worked many years in the clothing business and has been an amazing sounding board and motivator to conquer daunting challenges. I also am fortunate to be surrounded with many creative, intelligent and honest friends who are glad to lend a hand or begin a discussion with me on day to day CBE projects.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as an independent creative selling their work?
You are going to need help – you can’t do it all – so be sure to surround yourself with friends, family and others that you can ask for a helping hand. And very practically – find a banker you like and get yourself a good rate line-of-credit because you can’t pay your rent with a credit card.
Do you listen to music or have another way of getting “in the zone” when you design? Do you have a favourite book or other inspiration that you turn to?
Most of my ideas come to me while doing something else, walking, driving, hanging out. I don’t actually sit down to design or create. Once I have an idea I am often wrapped up in it quite intently that I don’t always listen to music or even remember to drink water or even go to the washroom – it becomes like a marathon I am determined to finish.
I know it’s a bit like choosing a favourite child, but do you have a favourite hoody or piece that you’ve sold through CBE?
A few hoodies stand out amongst the pack to me. The Slim fit Grey and Black hoody with the Neon Yellow hood panel from Winter 08/09 was the first hoody made into a small run that I personally was very excited to wear. It was amazing to pick up that order and put on the finished hoody that had been made by others but was so much my own.
Also, the Speckled Trout Hoody was a pretty risky project, where I wondered for a moment if we had just destroyed 60+ hoodies or whether we had just created the most amazing vintage washed one-of-a-kind design – it was a very hands-on, DIY production which I believe created an amazing line.
When you’re not working on CBE, what is your favourite way to spend your time?
I love my dogs, I now have two! Theo was my first dog – I got him once I had started CBE and realized I need a buddy to remember to get outside for a break and some fresh air once and a while. I now have Sofia too and enjoy running around with them in the park. I also love to cook and bike and enjoy a dark americano.
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Note: All images courtesy of CBE.
Everyone has different aspects of their personality, even if they don’t often get to see the light of day. Right now I am usually wearing my “busy working mother” hat, with the occasional “goofy friend” or “cheesy romantic wife” thrown in for good measure. But lately I am missing a few other sides of myself. I am currently working on re-introducing myself to the “adventuring traveler”, and maybe someday I’ll have the time to get reacquainted with the “wistful daydreamer” who used to hang out for hours in the branches of a favorite tree.
It is she, the wistful daydreamer who would feel perfectly carefree and at ease in the beautiful bohemian inspired clothing from the Barefoot Modiste.
Milli is a self-taught seamstress who calls Edmonton home. She started sewing at the tender age of eight, and hasn’t looked back since. You can sometimes see the influence of her African roots in her work, and there is a freewheeling gypsy vibe that brings to mind music, laughter, and stories around a campfire.
Milli has a mild obsession with fabrics, and is always on the lookout for fabulous finds that make their way into her pieces. Many of the materials she uses are reclaimed from thrift store or garage sale finds, so you can be sure that anything she makes is truly one of a kind.
~Here’s to embracing all the different sides of our many-faceted selves!
Everyone has a favorite outfit (or two) that never fail to make you feel spectacular, highlight all your best features, and project your personality without saying a single word. Wouldn’t it be great if every piece of clothing we own could make us feel the same way? If I was building this dream wardrobe for myself, there would definitely be several items from Montreal’s Sweetmeat Clothing. The clothes have such a sense of fun, interesting lines, and the soft, stretchy fabrics are comfy enough to wear every single day.
Lucky Montrealer’s (Montreal-ites?) can head to Perfide at 4217 Notre-Dame West for an up close and personal look at these cool threads. The rest of us must content ourselves with visiting the Etsy shop.
My wish for all of you today: May your closets be filled with clothes that speak to you, and make you feel confident and amazing!
I met Christine from Sugar Soul Studio last year and have made it a personal goal to buy one of her hats this year. No, really, they are that cute!
Lots of people make the “Oh, I’m not a hat person” claim, but I personally think everyone can be a hat person, they just aren’t used to seeing themselves wearing the RIGHT hat. Maybe a fab Sugar Soul cloche is your style – like this one:
Or, the inspired Cadet - a little touch of femininity goes a long way! There are sparkle accents on that bow, friends!
With the change to a new year, Christine decided to challenge herself to work on a 365 Hat Project. She’ll be making and posting a new hat to her blog (and to her Etsy shop) each day. She’s on day 11, and it’s been fun seeing new fabrics and styles pop up every day. You can check out her blog here.
My favourite from the 365 series so far was Day 6′s beige and blue plaid. It sold at a local market this past weekend, I’m told, so I’m just going to have to keep watching for my next favourite!
You can see all of Christine’s offerings on her Etsy shop (she also sells bags and hair accessories), drop by her blog or follow her on Twitter and Facebook! If you live in the Edmonton area, she’s a fixture on the local craft show and market scene – even heading to Calgary and Vancouver once in a while – and has a great selection of styles and one-of-a-kind offerings! Come join me on the “hat person” team!
Ah, mais oui. Il me fait du bon quand j’ai occasion de parler francais, et à Vancouver il y avait plusieurs vendeurs Québecois tellement doué. One of those vendors from the fair province of Québec was Oöm Ethikwear.
I’ll be honest, I fell in love with a little dress that is currently out of stock (but I’m keeping my eye on it, because there are certain little people who have birthdays coming up!), but the rest of their line intrigued me as well. Lovely designs, and the fabrics were gorgeously soft!
I love that their tagline is “Ethical Organic Canadian”… and they really do stand by their clothing. Not only are they made with organic and environmentally responsible fabrics (recycled cotton etc.), but Oöm offers a $5 gift card for every piece of clothing that the buyer returns to them at the end of it’s life cycle in their closet. This means that they carry the responsibility for their products and their impact on the environment right through it’s life span and ensure that the clothing is integrated back into the marketplace by donation or recycling. It’s also nice to know that since their inception in 2005 they have donated 1% of profits to several chosen charities. All around, the folks at Oöm seem like they’ve got a great attitude about working within, and for, their larger community and environment. Plus, they make really cute clothes!
Their children’s line (Bébé Oöm!) is really adorable – I love the superhero jammies, and the designs are young and hip (although I really don’t like that word. Hip. We need to think of another word that means the same thing!) Whatever word we use, any little one sporting Bébé Oöm will be just a little bit cuter than the generic-clad youngster nearby ;) The messages passed on through Oöm aren’t just in the fabric and the business, I also love the little taglines on the clothing – positive, reinforcing, something I’d be proud for my daughters to wear.
You can find out more about Oöm on their website at www.oom.ca (mostly in French) and shop in their online boutique (which is bilingual). They are also on Facebook and Twitter, like everyone else these days :)
No, I don’t mean poked on Facebook or even Punk’d by Ashton Kutcher… I’m talking about Pook Toques.What could be more Canadian than a toque, right? Add in a great sense of humour, some classic styles like the “moose”, the “turtleneck” and the “mullet” and we’ve got ourselves a winner! You’re probably confused right now. That’s okay, so was I.
At the OOAK show in Vancouver, my friends and I almost walked right past a rather empty-looking booth with a table of grey and red sock hats on it. Until the pitch started and we were hooked… Pook Toques are all about the variety, my friends. Made out of traditional grey wool socks, and lined with a cozy fleece, the hats are designed to offer a multitude of styling options. Roll up the “ears” or tuck them into the folded toque or flip it inside out and pull the toes over your ears… the Pook Toque manual offers over 30 ways of wearing this one ingenious little hat.
Not convinced it’s possible to wear that hat 30+ different ways? Check out the manual. Go ahead, I’ll wait until you get back…
… See? Now, imagine you’re at a craft show and a guy stops you in the aisle and performs all of those varieties at top speed with full narration and explanations. It was, frankly, hilarious. My friend Shannon bought 4 hats.
Pook Toques is the creation of Tony Pook and Kevin McCotter from St. Mary’s, Ontario – it all started with a few (*ahem*) beverages, but has turned into a bit of a phenomenon to say the least. They’ve even pitched their business on Dragon’s Den! Since the initial hat design, they’ve also added Pook Dukes (mittens), the Pook Loop (a scarf), the Pookie Toquie (for the stylin’ little person in your life), Pook Boots (fleece lined socks – they sound so cozy!!) and, of course, a Pook Monkey.
For the hockey fan in your life, there’s also the Hockey Sockey, which is nothing if not arena-approved. The Hockey Sockey comes in a variety of team colours (13 NHL teams to choose from, plus Team Canada) and is made out of actual hockey socks.
And here’s the Pook Toque in action:
P.S. for anyone suffering from a case of Bieber Fever, you might want to view this particular video.