EF: Have you always been interested in designing sustainable fashion? What was the appeal of designing? What is ‘right for the Earth, its People and Spirit’?
Nicole Bridger: Yes, in university there was a small group of us that all ate organic food and used natural fibers in our collections just because we knew it was the right thing to do. That was long before there was such a term as “eco-fashion”. That slogan, ‘right for the Earth, its People and Spirit’ came about just from my own values. I feel that this is the right way to do things and why not?
EF: After graduating from Ryerson University, you interned with Vivienne Westwood in London. How has interning with the fashion powerhouse influenced your designs?
NB: It was very inspiring and I learned a lot from being there. I learned the art of sculpting fabric, which you can see in a toned down version in my own work. I saw that I could use my creative talent as a vehicle for the positive change I wanted to create in the world. I also saw that I needed to be on top of the business side of my company in order to stay successful.
EF: What did you learn from your time working with Lululemon on the Oqoqo line? How did that collaboration/partnership come about?
NB: I had worked a few summers for Chip [Wilson] and when I graduated I was considering starting a company with a friend of mine and asked him for advice. Instead he asked me to start one for him. It was perfect; I wanted to start my own company eventually and was looking to learn the business side of things. I ran Oqoqo like it was my own. I created it from scratch so I got a kind of crash course on how to do that. Chip is brilliant at seeing potential markets. I learned how to market my line and how to mass produce and essentially how to make money in this industry.
EF: In 2010, you were the first recipient of Canada’s first Eco Designer of the Year Award, what does this kind of recognition mean to you?
NB: It means that society is starting to get it. The movement is happening and people are becoming aware. It was such an honour to receive it and it has really helped to encourage me to keep doing what we do.
EF: Last year you opened your flagship store in Vancouver’s West 4th neighbourhood, how did achieving this milestone make you feel?
NB: Amazing, I love having the store. I really love having an intimate relationship with our wonderful clients; this just provides a beautiful space to house those relationships. It has been so easy; the whole thing really flowed together nicely.
EF: You’re a fixture on the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week runway, why do you choose to showcase there each season?
NB: I believe in what they are doing and feel that they can be very successful. I really enjoy fashion shows, they are a lot of fun and a kind of time to relax and celebrate.
EF: Your last Eco Fashion Week runway show featured models breaking out into yoga poses. Where did this idea come from?
NB: I’m a yogi and really see the benefit of regular practice and meditation. I’ve always been inspired by music and dance and I kept having visions of dancers and yogis on the runway. It is the perfect way to tell a story and to draw a certain emotion out of the audience. Each collection has a story and a life lesson to be inspired by.
EF: What are some of the trends we can expect from the F/W 2012 collection from Nicole Bridger?
NB: A bit more [of a] cleaner, classic aesthetic, a bit more tailoring paired with the classic draping. Deeper tones. New fabrics. Mixing textures.
EF: Who/What influences you?
NB: In my designs, I would say my clients. Who else am I making these clothes for?
EF: What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years?
NB: Opening a second boutique. Start a men’s line.
EF: What are your hopes for the eco fashion industry in the next few years?
NB: For it to just become the norm and not a niche.