8 new eco-friendly Canadian brands working to keep our planet safer
Thinking sustainably has never been more important
Beyond just a trend, it's almost table stakes these days to serve up natural, organic and recyclable options when creating a new label or product — millennials and Gen Z-ers are demanding it. As far back as 2015, Neilsen reported that 73 per cent of millennials worldwide were willing to spend more money on a product that was sustainable. Today, those numbers are likely even higher.
We found eight recently launched local brands that are incorporating sustainable fabrics and materials into their wares, while being thoughtful about their effects on the environment. From clothing to housewares to self-care and beauty brands, here are a few of the latest eco-friendly companies that we love.
Launched in 2017 by Laura Nezri Chetrit, this Montreal-based bedding brand has its roots in Canada (everything is designed in Quebec), but also partners with sustainable textile manufacturers in Europe.
The brand's source of cotton, for instance — a decades-old, family-run business in Portugal — is part of the Better Cotton Initiative. Maison Tess. bedding also comes with an Oeko-Tex certification, which means all fabrics and dyes are free from potentially harmful chemicals.
Sheets, pillow shams and duvet covers come in three fabrics, including washed linen, percale cotton and coco-linen (a blend of percale cotton and linen), and colours like faded grey, pale rose and soft mint green — basically an Instagrammer's dream palette.
eco + amour
Toronto's zero-waste beauty and wellness haven opened in September 2018, featuring a plethora of products like refillable containers, and bulk shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, plus a selection of housewares and baby essentials.
eco + amour, which has an e-commerce site, also sells an in-house brand that consists of bamboo hair brushes, toothbrushes, produce bags and more.
Having worked for companies like Aritzia and Joe Fresh, Soft Focus founder and Ryerson fashion design grad Sammi Smith knows about relaxed, cool-girl style. But it was her decision to become a freelance designer that proved to be the impetus for her future brand.
"Working from home was a huge lifestyle change that affected my personal style, so the question of 'How do you get dressed for the day when your office is your living room couch and a laptop?' became a key raison-d'être in creating Soft Focus," Smith says.
The line consists of super soft robes, lounge pants, scrunchies, tees and undergarments, taking the idea of wearing #pjsallday to the next level. Making items from plant-based fabrics like Tencel (a cotton-like fabric made from sustainable wood cellulose) and saving fabric off-cuts to make the aforementioned scrunchies, are two of the ways Smith aims to keep SF as sustainable as possible.
The vegan leather handbags from ai (pronounced ah-ee) are streamlined and chic, made from sustainable and recyclable polyurethane, and handcrafted by artisans in Seoul, South Korea, in small batches. The label itself was founded in 2018 by a mother and her three daughters, all of whom are based in Toronto.
Although the women only came to fashion accessories in the last two years, the leap into designing was an easy one. "We grew up with women in our family who love fashion, including my 90-year-old grandma," says co-founder Hannah Kim. "Growing up we used to watch Fashion Television with Jeanne Beker with our grandma and mom every Sunday."
Currently an online-only venture, the brand has just launched a faux-croc, cross-body, belt-bag hybrid that will likely sell out fast.
Taking a more natural approach to false lashes, Lithe Lashes — which just launched this year — offers a range of falsies that can easily go from minimal to night-out worthy, without looking overdone.
Brand founder Linda Secondi believes that most false lashes look too uniform, not like how our natural lashes grow. So she created versions that have lashes of varying sizes and curl in order to get a more realistic yet still beautiful look.
The brand does not use mink or silk in their reusable lash strips, which is what most lashes have been made out of until now, meaning these are a great vegan option. Lithe also uses FSC-certified paper for their 100 per cent recyclable packaging.
Incorporating the Japanese word for "nude" in its name, Hadaka Beauty produces all its organic, fair-trade beauty products here in Canada. New to the market this year, the brand relies heavily on its staple ingredient: wild-harvested marula oil from Africa.
The company's Butterful body lotions are luxuriously thick, yet don't leave a greasy film after application. Hadaka just launched a body oil and a hair oil, which both come in recyclable glass containers. Its other products come in white plastic, which are more easily recycled.
The brand, which aims to be unisex, first launched with ecommerce, and now their products are available in locations across Canada including specialty spas, like The Ten Spot.
Turning the idea of a subscription box on its head, Dresst is a new venture created by two young Canadian women. The brand points out that women only wear about 80 per cent of what's in their closet, yet they still purchase an average of five garments per month. This adds up quickly, with the average North American throwing away about 81 pounds of clothing per year — which is alarming to say the least.
This might be just the option for you if your job requires you to "dress up" or if you find you need to replace your wardrobe each season. At Dresst, you can select three items per month (at a cost of $99) from their "closet" to wear as your own. Brands in said closet include Ted Baker, Diane von Furstenberg, Equipment, Theory and Free People.
Once your month is up, you send back the items — free of charge — to the Dresst closet. With a roster of blouses, dresses, pants and blazers, you can freshen up your wardrobe each month without putting down your credit card to purchase any items at full price. Dresst also takes care of dry cleaning and any repairs that may be needed.
Launched in June 2018, Ūnika is a sustainable swimwear line — the brand uses Econyl, a nylon textile that comes from waste and can be recycled multiple times over, and is handmade here in Canada — that aims to update classic bathing suit pieces for all body types. The range includes bikinis, one-pieces and cover-ups, in hues from hot red to bright blue to subdued beige and crisp white.
We also love that founder Betsy Campos believes women should feel comfortable in their swimwear, and that her brand's site and Instagram account — which now boasts close to 7,000 followers — feature images that feel refreshingly real and un-Photoshopped. .