Men’s

Q&A with the duo behind Gather&See

May 1, 2015

gatherandsee mainI feel as though within just a year or two, there has been an explosion of online boutiques offering the most beautiful ethical and sustainable fashion. I couldn’t be happier for the turning tide within the fashion industry and the “always looking to the future” part of me can’t wait to see what ethical and sustainable fashion designers and brands have in store for us down the road.

One of the quality e-boutiques out there right now is Gather&See, a collaborative effort led by Alicia Taylor and Stephanie Hogg. They have differentiated themselves from other online boutiques by offering more colourful, patterned pieces – a departure from the popular offerings of a more minimalist and neutral fashion.

From Osei-duro to A Peace Treaty, Gather&See is the go-to e-shop for spring and summer clothing and accessories. The site carries a stunning range of summer dresses (maxis, minis and everything in between) in colourful patterns and flattering silhouettes. The whole site oozes summertime days on the beach, you won’t be disappointed.

Fashion Revolution Day has come and gone, but I wanted to ask Taylor and Hogg for their thoughts on the global campaign and for their philosophy of fashion. I was curious to know how they, personally and professionally, would carry the day’s values throughout their life. But before you skip down to the interview, take a look at the outfits that I put together using only eight Gather&See pieces. I could’ve made a few more combinations but I figured you’d get the idea.

I was never very good at permutations in school but fashion permutations, now that’s more my style. I’ve been donating even more pieces from my spring/summer wardrobe right now, even more determined to reduce and have only key, versatile pieces with which I have endless (well, almost endless) outfit possibilities.

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Q&A with Alicia Taylor and Stephanie Hogg of Gather&See

EF: How did Gather&See recognize Fashion Revolution Day this year?
Alicia Taylor and Stephanie Hogg (T&H):
Our focus for Fashion Revolution Day (FRD) was to introduce the people behind our ethical brands to our customers, under the FRD strap line of “I Made Your Clothes”. We profiled seamstresses and designers and they talked us through what a day in their life was like, how they feel about working in the garment industry and about their own connections to the products they make. We presented it online and in a small brochure and have received a great deal of interest in their stories. Once again, proof that there’s an increasing interest in fashion from consumers in the provenance of their clothing. We backed this campaign up with plenty of social media activity to help spread the word and a promotion offering a discount to customers in honour of FRD.

EF: What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of the campaign?
T&H:
It was great to see #WhoMadeMyClothes and #FashRev all over Twitter and Instagram. It really did feel like there was a genuine buzz around the campaign. It was also good to see people asking the question to brands directly. It would be interesting to know what proportion responded!  High-profile supporters such as Stella McCartney absolutely help the cause as well and we think it is this amplification of the message which has made it an effective campaign this year in terms of awareness building. We were also happy to have attended the Business of Fashion (BOF) debate with Livia Firth, Andrew Morgan and Lucy Siegel. Having big name fashion titles such as BOF support and address the issue is a positive thing.

EF: How was it received by your peers in the UK?
T&H:
This year being the second year, we have found there to be more interest and recognition from our peers about what FRD is all about. We have had several friends and customers contact us to find out what they can do to get involved and know several people who have nothing to do with ethical fashion directly who still chose to wear their clothes inside out and pose the “Who Made My Clothes?” question.

DSC_3264EF: What would you like to see done differently next year?
T&H:
Of course, there is still a mountain to climb.  Turning the social media campaign into something more tangible is a challenge. Awareness building is key but it would be great to see more mainstream brands getting involved and standing up and answering the questions we are asking of them. The mounting pressure of more and more consumers becoming involved in the campaign and demanding better rights for garment workers can have an effect. We would also like to see more coverage on FRD in the media. Whilst there has been the odd mention and list of ethical brands in online editions, it is quite baffling that some of the big supplements in the UK did not give the story a bigger airing. In fact, one had a huge profile feature on Zara’s success and financial investments this very weekend but not a single nod to Fashion Revolution Day and the human cost of fast fashion. Choice timing indeed! The media need to take some responsibility just as brands, governments and customers do.

EF: How can the message of this campaign be carried throughout the year? How can we keep it top of mind in consumers year-round?
T&H:
This is so important. With Earth Month and FRD taking place in April it has become a key time for the movement, but spreading the message has to continue throughout the year.  Gather&See follows an editorial-style calendar, so we ensure that our content on site and via our social media channels is relevant to what might be going on at a broader level. Every couple of weeks we focus on a different aspect of ethical fashion and try to convey the message in a way that it relates to what is relevant and current to customers at that time.  It is a matter of keeping a really strong drumbeat going throughout the year.

EF: How do you communicate your values to your customers?
T&H:
Clearly communicating our values, whilst maintaining a desirable and appealing online fashion destination was key to us when we built Gather&See. We explain how each of our products fit into our values on each product listing, you can then delve into more information by checking out the designer page which explains their story. Customers also have the capability to shop by philosophy, which again we explain what each one consists of.  On top of this, we highlight our values regularly through pieces on our blog, The Gatherer, and through social media. The response thus far has been great, and we have enjoyed interacting with our customers and discussing the issues with them. We hope that this is something we can do more of in the future.

k_f_4667_mid_resEF: How do you live out your values on a daily basis?
T&H:
To us, Gather&See really is a lifestyle in itself.  We set it up because we believe in the values that we present implicitly. We are very aware of the impacts our choices can make on others and the environment and try to be very conscious of the decisions we make. We both shop with great consideration, choosing vintage, other ethical brands and organic, where possible. Alicia grew up on a farm and I (Stephanie) lived in Africa, which has made both of us very aware of the environment and environmental and social responsibility from a very young age. We often retreat back to the countryside, take long walks and make sure we eat well. We believe that living your life in a way that always takes others into consideration, whether that’s buying ethical foods or supporting local farmers. As the consumer, we have a very powerful choice in changing things for the better. Doing the small things like saving water, recycling and conserving energy is so important and it is sad how many people still don’t do these things despite it being made so easy for us.

EF: What are some of the sustainable manufacturing techniques available now that excite you? Any particular brands that you admire most for their environmental efforts?
T&H:
The exciting thing about where we are at now is that new innovation and technology is making sustainable manufacturing techniques better and better. The possibilities seem to keep growing. One of our brands, Cus, from Catalonia uses materials formed from recycled plastic bottles, denims and also Tencel. We own pieces made from that fabric and are always impressed with its feel and durability.  It is also exciting to see big brands such as G-Star looking to innovation with their collection made of “bionic yarn” formed of plastic waste from the sea. Zero-carbon emissions is not new but something that in this day and age all brands should adhere to. It will be fascinating to see what the future holds.

EF: How about ethics, which brands are really carrying the torch on this side of fashion?
T&H:
Lalesso, whom we have stocked from the beginning, have always been inspirational to us. They work with craftsmen in Africa and train and pay them a fair wage.  They have really helped other brands see what can be done and the amazing positive effect they can have. Recently, Osei Duro in Ghana and Hiro+Wolf in Kenya have impressed us with their commitment to creating a better deal for artisans.

k_f_4952_mid_resEF: Any new brands you have recently discovered and that you would like to carry?
T&H:
We are always on the look out for new brands with great stories. We are going to be working with a small brand called Seek for autumn/fall 2015 who create incredibly beautiful hand-printed and hand-woven clothes using natural dyes and organic materials. The collection is beautiful and we can’t wait to get it live. We also have a new jewellery brand coming on board called Quazi Design, based in Swaziland, who create amazing jewellery from recycled paper and pulp, really innovative. There are others we have our eyes on for which you will have to watch the site.

EF: How do you think we as a whole can reconcile consumption with sustainability and ethics?
T&H:
There simply has to be a shift in mindset, something we’re already beginning to see.  Fast fashion with its vast human and environmental costs is simply not sustainable. It becomes a matter of understanding what we actually need, buying less but better. As resources continue to run out, even big-name brands will have to address the fact that we cannot go on the way we are.  Education is also key. From a young age we need to get children to understand the impact of consumption.

EF: What does the future fashion industry look like to you from a manufacturing, design, commerce and consumer perspective?
T&H:
That is a huge question! We know that there is a long way to go but believe that there can be a better future. In manufacturing, the exploitation of garment workers simply has to end. Enough is enough and governments, trade unions, brands and customers all have a responsibility to make the future better. In terms of design, innovation and technology will play a massive role in creating more sustainable designs.  Online commerce will continue to dominate but we truly believe fast fashion has seen its day and we will go back to a slower cycle, with consumers questioning the supply chain and holding brands accountable, just as we have seen with the food industry. Transparency will be key, it is already a buzzword for retailers. Yes it is a big ask, but we simply have to make change for the better. This is non negotiable.

Gifts for your (vegan) loved ones

December 10, 2014

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By Sarah LaBrecque

While there are lots of food options for vegans, those who abstain from wearing clothing which may have harmed an animal in its production, might have a tricky time finding suitable threads, or have questions about what constitutes a vegan closet in the first place. Leather, fur, wool and even silk (because it’s made from silkworms), is out. So where does a vegan fashionista go for ideas?

Vegan Cuts, an online curator of vegan products, recently produced a vegan fashion guide and lookbook which, according to Vegan Cuts co-founder Jill Pyle, has something in it for everyone. “From glimpses into the industry to inspire the vegan curious,” she says “to quick speaking points for explaining why cruelty-free matters to you when you face inevitable questions about your animal-friendly stance,” the guide is there to help.

One of my first questions after perusing through the guide was, where can I get these items and are they going to cost me an arm and a leg? (not ideal for a vegan). Says Pyle, “We feature a whole range of items in the lookbook, but these specific brands are mostly available online. Generally, it’s possible to pick up vegan pieces no matter where you are, you just have to know what you’re looking for.” Enter the pocket guide (included in the lookbook) of fabrics to avoid, their “Label reading like a pro” tip sheet and a full vegan shopping directory.

Common fabrics like cotton and acrylic are animal friendly but there are a host of others which should be avoided, such as pashmina, suede and shearling. Knowing which materials to be wary of means that a simple check of a garment label makes it possible to shop vegan, without blood, sweat or tears (literally).

And the common impression people have that it’s expensive to be vegan (both in diet and attire), isn’t necessarily true. “For those pieces that are on the expensive side, I’d recommend looking at them as an investment,” continues Pyle, “a pair of Nicora John’s and a Vaute Couture jacket will last way longer than a cheap pair of flats and a jacket picked up at a big box store.” It’s not only an investment for your wardrobe but also for these ethical designers and companies, whose designs will only become more affordable if they can reach a wider consumer base.

So as Christmas approaches — and consumerism inevitably heightens — and you’re stuck for gift ideas for your vegan friends and relatives (or anyone really), look to Vegan Cuts and their fashion guide as a springboard for inspiration.

My picks

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Cork clutch – $70.00

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Transformative serum – $55.0000003386_l

Deodorant cream – $13.0000003693_l

Chickpea Magazine one-year subscription – $60.0000003965_l

Mala beads – $36.0000004071_l

Hand-crafted bar soap – $11.0000004074_l

Lip balm – $9.5000004115_l

Gourmet chocolate bar six-pack – $20.0000004367_lCanvas bag – $33.00

EF + MADESMITH GIVEAWAY

November 1, 2014

madesmith main imageThis blog of mine is a hobby, a creative side project that has been the one constant project in my life for the past seven years. For someone as flighty and indecisive as I can be, EF has always been there, the one tool I use to share my passion for ethical and sustainable fashion, new designers, ideas, concepts and more.

One of the many advantages of running this blog is the chance to meet (mostly virtually that is) and collaborate with my favourite companies. Madesmith is no exception. Madesmith is a storytelling platform that helps people discover well-designed, sustainable objects made by hand in the USA. It features exclusive collaborations with artists and makers that create fashion, beauty and home goods in their own studios or small manufacturing facilities.

Most recently, Madesmith launched Madesmith Academy, an online school where product designers, makers and your average “Joe/Joanna” can learn sustainable craft and business skills from top experts who have built successful brands.

Since I wanted to put together a Christmas gift guide using their products, they’re showing their gratitude by giving all of you 25% off of your Madesmith craft and business courses. I really can’t think of a better gift than the gift of learning, can you? Well, OK, so the products below would be pretty schnazzy too. Yes, I made that spelling up but I’m going to say it’s probably similar to something Yiddish?

USE PROMO CODE “EFMAG” TO RECEIVE 25% OFF MADESMITH ACADEMY COURSES

madesmith gift guide-small

HOME

Tapestry | Rachel Duvall Textiles
Pot | Wind & Willow

THINGS

Skateboard | Loyal Dean
Pouch | Specialty Dry Goods

KITCHEN

Oil | Blackcreek Mercantile
Knife | Chelsea Miller Knives

FASHION

Clogs | Bryr Clogs
Portfolio | Katrine Reifeiss

ADORNMENTS

Hat | Derby Hats
Barrette | Canoe

JEWELS

Earrings | Aili Jewelry
Necklace | Gamma Folk

BODY

Room + Linen Spray | Oille Naturals
His + her soap | The Greater Goods

Have a HUMANOID summer

June 30, 2014

HUMANOID came onto my radar just a few weeks ago, via Totokaelo (thank you!). I’ve seen a lot of wonderful eco-fashion lines focused on designing functional, stylish, detailed pieces that pair seamlessly together and stand alone too. This is yet another great brand that I would love to tackle with my imaginary millionaire wallet. The fabrics seem so light and summerlicious; the muted tones are flattering to all skin tones and everything just makes me want to sigh…ahhhh.

Leafing through HUMANOID’s 26-year anniversary publication, it’s over 30 years by now, you see a women’s label maturing in the big world of fashion without so much as a step astray. Without screaming for attention. HUMANOID’s identity feels familiar. That pleasantly unruly early 80s feel always remained: expressive, creative, authentic, but always functional and contemporary. Human-oid, literally: like a human. And very much like founders Sandra Harmsen and Hans Boelens, creative and financial director respectively of this proto-Dutch global brand.

But just the same like the current designers who joined the design team since 1998. HUMANOID’s strength is that it is a brand like a wonderful person. Two feet on the ground, feeling completely sound and comfortable with yourself, doing what you feel you have to do and above all, having a great time. Freedom. Quality. Here and now. Every HUMANOID collection originates from this gut sense of freedom, and the feel of the materials. The way they drape, move, how it behaves while treated and how it caresses the skin. Soft, lush fabrics, great qualities.

They appear to be worn in and washed, they all match in shades, structures and in layering. Fine cashmere, unstable cotton, suede and leather. Earthly, feminine, comfortable and contemporary. Every collection a continuation of the previous one. A large luxurious wrap scarf, symbolizing the HUMANOID feel, has been a staple from the start. Over 30 years of HUMANOID. It appears so self-evident, which of course it is not.

What started with the new wave gut feeling and fun punk attitude of a small collective around Sandra Harmsen and Hans Boelens in Arnhem’s Weverstraat has steadily blossomed into an international fashion conception.

Mrs. Mo Veld | fashion writer

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Is Ottawa a tough fashion crowd? Words with Babes & Gents

May 28, 2014

Ottawa isn’t exactly the capital of fashion in Canada. The people of this town have a reputation for dressing conservatively. I’d argue that we do have style, but that we don’t look for it here. Our economy is strong and salaries are steady but we’re more likely to travel to Montreal or even the States for good fashion finds, and less likely to look in our own backyard. This isn’t an easy city for budding designers, but if anyone can make their line successful, it’s Amir Zargari, owner and founder of local streetwear line, Babes & Gents.

We haven’t officially met in person but from our email correspondence, creeping him out on Facebook (you have to know who you’re writing about!), and word of mouth, Amir is a passionate entrepreneur with a big heart. His clothing, much like him, is youthful, patriotic and fun. The experienced retail worker and current student of Business Management & Entrepreneurship at the University of Ottawa has launched a line of simple wardrobe pieces (manufactured by American Apparel) infused with his own art. More artist than designer, Zargari has targeted Ottawa’s student population, offering them affordable and unique designs on much-loved styles. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll expand his artwork in the coming years, perhaps to other media too. After the jump, read my interview with Zargari about his line and launching in Ottawa.

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d9281ffedb7dd578dfc76f70e2270f06 f3f8080002f1cdb7158689d41bbd738aEF: What is your background and why did being a designer appeal to you?

Amir Zargari (AZ): I come from an art background (painting). I got into designing clothes because a friend of mine suggested that I put my art on shirts and sell them. I have always loved fashion and I shop a lot, but I hadn’t thought about creating my own line. The spark went off with my friend’s suggestion. It wasn’t about being a designer – I actually wouldn’t call myself a designer. I wanted to make clothes that I loved and hoped that other people would love them enough to buy them.

EF: What have you learned during the process of launching Babes & Gents that you didn’t know before?

AZ: I learned a lot about everything! I’ve learned about the legal side of registering a business, about all of the different types of businesses, about taxes, etc. I’ve also learned about marketing and branding, and how to utilize those tools on social media in order to convert them into sales. I’ve learned about different methods of printing, different types of fabrics, garments and manufacturing methods. Running a business is a true learning experience.

EF: What void does your line fill in the street-wear market?

AZ: Babes & Gents is a combination of fine art and cool CANADA which are both missing in the street-wear market right now (especially the cool CANADA one).

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EF: Where do you source your fabrics from and where is everything made?

AZ: I buy the tops from American Apparel’s Montreal headquarters (they make all their products in a sweatshop-free factory in Los Angeles), and I have them printed in Ottawa. I sourced the drop crouch pants and long t-shirts from South Korea.

EF: There’s a very patriotic spirit to your clothing, is this something you want to define your label?

AZ: Yeah, for sure. Again, I truly believe there is a lack of cool Canadian clothing. I really want to fill that void with my brand while still producing art pieces that align with brand.

EF: Ottawa isn’t known for its fashion. Why did you decide to launch the line here?

AZ: I really had to think about whether I should launch the brand here or in Toronto. I decided on Ottawa simply because I saw huge potential for the market and the culture here to grow. I think I can gain my true fan base in Ottawa, which would ultimately make it a lot easier to break the brand into other cities.

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EF: Do you want to keep your line in Ottawa as it grows to help establish Ottawa as a fashion hub?

AZ: Definitely. I would like to keep the headquarters of the company here, but it’s all up to the people, they have all the power. If they support the brand and buy the products, then Babes & Gents will stay in Ottawa.

EF: How important is it for your line to support Canadian manufacturing?

AZ: Very important, but unfortunately that is not an option for a small clothing brand like me. For example, there is only one Canadian manufacturer in the GTA that provides the quality that I would like to offer my customers in the whole country. This manufacturer doesn’t even answer your calls unless you want to order 200+ pieces of one garment. For a small Canadian brand like mine that only produces five-10 pieces at a time, local manufacturing isn’t an option until my fan base grows.

b_g-lookbook-3vec-8EF: What images come to mind when you design a collection?

AZ: Every collection is different and inspired by different things, but in the Ottawa collection for example, some of the inspirations were Givenchy, Kanye West, Pyrex, etc.

EF: Where do you want the line to go in the next five years?

AZ: In the next five years I would like to have a full Canadian collection (head to toe) and also expand the fine art line into its own full collection.

OVNA OVICH

May 6, 2014

Every wardrobe has at least a handful of your “basic” pieces such as white t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, a dress shirt and a jersey dress. OVNA OVICH is a label that is steeped in simplicity but each item offers the wearer something a little different than what you might expect.

Marina Davis’s debut capsule collection ‘Escapist Society’ for OVNA OVICH, is centred around the feeling of escapism or the need to. Transforming naive art work from her kindergarten days into textile surfaces, Davis explores the idea of regression as a mode to escape. A colour palette that journeys from the serious and subdued to the more light hearted, points to the polar states of mind. Silhouettes lend themselves to a feeling of unencumbered space and offer up a sense of freedom to the wearer. Only organic, sustainable and biodegradable materials have been sourced to build the designs of ‘Escapist Society’.

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—  Female -овна –ovna — Male -ович –ovich

Eastern Slavic patronymics are formed by combining the father’s given name with the appropriate suffix.

OVNA OVICH is a creative studio established in 2012 by performance designer Marina Davis. Based in Auckland, New Zealand OVNA OVICH is dedicated to being environmentally and socially sound.

The modes of music, art, video and fashion are explored to communicate OVNA OVICH collections.

Materials and processes avoid unnecessary waste and everything from fibres, to fastenings, to swing tag cords are carefully considered for their qualities and impact.

Dana Lee

April 30, 2014

I can’t always keep track of how I discover different designers to feature but I know I spotted Dana Lee via Need Supply Co. She’s a Canadian-born designer based in NYC who’s menswear collections are defined by high-quality fabrics, carefully crafted pieces and a clean aesthetic. I appreciate her unisex-friendly style, don’t you? I often wear jeans and a men’s dress shirt when out running errands. I like simple clothing because it leaves room for styling and playing around. Now if I could just get better at accessorizing…

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Charlie + Mary

April 2, 2014

I started browsing online shopping sites only this past winter. Before that the only online shopping I had done was the odd Victoria Secret bikini when I was a university student. But now that I browse fashion blogs every day, I’ve discovered a few great sustainable fashion sites you might like to know about. I just recently started blogging once a month for Modavanti, a UK-based online sustainable fashion boutique that I highly recommend for unique pieces and great accessories.

Charlie + Mary is based in Amsterdam with a lot of great pieces from the lovely folks at People Tree. Take a look at a fashion photo shoot I styled this past fall that featured some People Tree pieces. Here’s a sampling of some of my fave items.

When you’re shopping online, just as you would in person, it’s important to be prepared. Do an inventory of your closet, put some outfits together you’ll regularly wear, and make a list of items you’re missing. Personally, I’m in need of going out clothing. I have a lot of solid work outfits but no cute summer tops, mini skirts, etc. I’ll write a post later this week featuring some of my top picks for this spring/summer.

STUDIO JUX GREY OVERSIZED COAT IN DUTCH WOOL
Regular Price: € 375,00
SPECIAL PRICE: € 225,00

OVERSIZED SHORT SLEEVED PULLOVER SINOPE IN FADED SALMON PINK BY L’HERBE ROUGE – € 87,95

SKINNY BAMBOO DENIM BY MONKEE GENES WOMEN – € 79,95

WOMEN’S PLATFORM WEDGES IN TAUPE SUEDE BY TOMS – € 69,95

MALIN + GOETZ CANNABIS 67G – € 12,50

Review: New Tom’s of Maine deodorant for men

March 18, 2014

Mal was asked to review Tom’s of Maine’s new line of deodorant for men and so she tossed me a Men’s Long Lasting Wide Stick to try out for a few weeks. If you’re a lady, read her review here.

On the first application, the deodorant went on with ease without leaving any sticky, white residue. I felt clean and fresh for the majority of the day but a second application was required around mid-day. Remember, it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to a new product. The burning sensation that I have experienced in the past from other brands was nonexistent, leaving my skin without any irritation. I was very pleased with the smell because it wasn’t overpowering. Even if this is not antiperspirant, my underarms remained dry for the majority of the day. This is the winter season though folks and I don’t know the final results following a hot sunny day at the beach. Stay tuned for a summer version.

 

Canada’s outdoor gear gets a facelift

March 13, 2014

Muttonhead is a Toronto-based brand that has captured the essence of the Great Canadian Outdoors perfectly. Yet somehow, it still manages to design clothing that can easily transition not only between genders, but from camping to strolling downtown. I might be gifting some of the items below to Olivier for his birthday. Then I can wear them. Shhhh.

we are muttonhead.

we design unisex clothing manufactured in toronto, canada.

we fully control quality and guarantee fair trade practices.

our focus is ‘slow design’, a counter-movement to ‘fast fashion’.

our clothing is designed to outlast trends.

we source high quality, sustainable fabrics

we seek the best methods of production while expanding our product offering.

we know the importance of creating functional goods for people that care.

leave the campsite cleaner than you found it.

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