I was introduced to EITHER / OR rather randomly via my childhood sweetheart who happens to work out at the same gym as its owner, Malorie, in my nation's capital, Ottawa, Ontario. The communication between Malorie and lasted a few weeks and I was initially hesitant to work with her due to the fact that some of the brands she carries are not completely eco-friendly under my newly discovered standards. Rather than just submitting to my reactive response, Malorie continued the conversation which moved from a pleasant pitch to an in-depth discussion about the transparency and development of my own compatriots.
It re-instilled me of the power of open, honest exchange and of the importance of circular communication over triangular. Something I preach when it comes to politics but am often less open to when it comes to ethics and ecology due to fast fashion’s habit of taking leeway and turning it into abuse. I feel I need to act as the protector of ideal morals and behavior when I myself have yet to reach such an 'enlightened' state of righteous, persistent kindness and innocuous action.
I was once told by a wise friend that when we become too set in our ways, too knowledgeable of how things should be done, we become hindered by our own belief systems. It's hard to learn or listen when you feel you already know the solution to the problem discussed, and it is in that sense of confidence, one misses the most important details, speaking to rather than with their peers; stunting continued growth and remaining stagnant in true discovery of the reality of things.
Perhaps this is it is the difference of connection between idealism and realism. An idealist seeks only the best, which is a beautiful thing, while the realist realizes that it is on the road to betterment that lessons are learned and the true hardships of the journey are battled are experienced. Whispers from the wise throughout my life have reminded me continuously that 'life's a journey, not a destination' cautioning me to live without blinders lest I miss a brighter path by focusing only on the one before me.
When it comes to sustainable fashion, the balance between the vigilant idealist and the righteous realist rings true. There are so many factors which have to be considered when it comes to ecology and ethics, especially when it comes to small brands. It's not a simple black and white story as I like to tell it. There is a clear story of what's best in a circular sense for sure, and there are sustainable solutions to most problems found, but that's looking from the top of the hill down on what's below, not standing alongside it to see the reality of this less traveled road. And it is on the road less travelled that the grey area exists, an area in which profit over planet or people can occur, but also an area where small brands find opportunity and space to tentatively sow their seeds and grow.
If your apathy reaches far enough within you, then there are no real repercussions for choosing to manufacture abroad, nor pay factory workers an unethical wage (unless you count Karma), so in this world of entrepreneurship and pressure for profit, it is mostly those with sound morals and empathy that bother to take the road less traveled, and that pilgrimage, if done with transparency in the name of development, should most definitely be consequently commended. It's kind of like when someone reduces their meat and dairy consumption to a few times a week or month for the sake of the planet but doesn't become a strict full-on vegan (for reasons of budget, health or preference), it may not be the absolute ‘best’ choice for the planet, but it is a vast and inspiring improvement which has a huge positive impact and thus should be soulfully celebrated.
EITHER / OR embraces this positive impact, reexamining the way we consume, focusing on quality over quantity, and carefully curating its collection around the idea of sustainability. Of small independent labels from across Canada selected, each is made ethically from the heart and made to last. Many use organic, non-GMO, recycled, durable or renewable materials, non-toxic or natural dyes, Canadian crafstmanship, and versatile designs.
This allows for the reality of the sourcing issues to be acknowledged, which is one of the prominent challenges for Canadian designers sourcing Canadian-made materials. There are fewer than a handful of manufacturers in the country and only one or two that make organic/renewable textiles. These materials are pricier and they have minimum orders that often make it hard for small labels to purchase anything at all. To compromise, many designers source from Italian suppliers to ensure quality and durability, which is in itself sustainable, but the origins of the fabric are unknown and the circular story may be incomplete, but if it is an item made to last generations, it matters less than that of an item produced speedily under greenwashed tactics.
It is with positive intention that these creators commenced their collections, and it is with commitment to sustainable and realistic support of growth that Malorie chose them; creating an opportunity for Canadian sustainable and ethical designers to move a few steps further on their path towards a greater state of eco wisdom and ethical awareness.
- 9 Ethical Brands Made in Canada By Canadians -
The creator of the show-stopping burgundy dress you see pictured, makes clothing to last using the best quality fabrics sourced from Italy and Japan. Each piece is cut and sewn in her Vancouver studio in a collection of loose-fitting classic cuts which will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
SHOP SUNJA LINK HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
Considered the gold standard of ethical and sustainable fashion in Canada, Megan Duffield creates her own collection from start to finish in her home studio in Ottawa, Ontario. She uses ethically sourced sustainable fabrics such as organic natural fibers, bamboo blends, and modals sourced from Canadian and American manufactures in all of her designs.
SHOP DUFFIELD DESIGN HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
Chayle Cook handmakes each quality jewellery design in her home studio in Ottawa, Ontario, using silver and gold responsibly and ethically sourced and refined from 100 percent recycled sources, fair-trade gemstones, and Canadian diamonds.
SHOP CHAYLE JEWELLERY HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
Using deadstock upcycled fabrics, Devlyn produces her collection of comfortable and sustainable clothing from her home studio in Toronto, Ontario using imported fabrics from guaranteed ethical manufacturers with high labour standards.
SHOP DEVLYN VAN LOON HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
Manufactured in Gatineau, Quebec, this collection of staples is produced with high quality European fabric and made with love.
SHOP JOSAINE PERRON HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
This Canadian ready-to-wear brand is manufactured in Toronto, Canada with fabrics sourced from Europe.
SHOP JENNIFER TORSAIN HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
This Canadian-made knitwear brand creates its beautiful simple pieces with care in Vancouver, Canada using fine Italian yarns.
SHOP ERDAINE HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
This Toronto brand is focused on creating wearable, ready-to-wear designs. Each piece is designed and manufactured in Toronto, Ontario and made with European sourced fabrics.
SHOP KAZZ CLOTHING HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
made up of a trio of young Torontonians who traveled to the Nile Delta and learned that Egypt was cutting subsidies to its independent cotton farmers. They had plans to produce a line of luxury essentials, starting with t-shirts and they decided to support the Egyptian cotton industry with subsidies for seed and fertilizer. Each piece is designed in Toronto and manufactured in Alexandria, Egypt with transparent ethical and environmental standards.
SHOP KOTN HERE > http://bit.ly/2gduDUb
|SUNJA LINK Gathered Yoke Dress|
|DEVLYN VAN LOON Seamed Pants|
|SUNJA LINK Highwaisted Pant|
|DUFFIELD DESIGN Sphinx Top|
PHOTOS: Shane Woodward
SPONSORED POST: This post is sponsored. I only work with brands if their morals on ecology and ethics align with mine and if I do / will genuinely use their products as a part of the green lifestyle I'm doing my best to live. I don't receive any editorial direction from brands I work with, opinions and story direction is all mine.