Victoria-based clothing line opens combined factory and downtown storefront
A Victoria-based fashion line breaks with industry standards and invites people to take a close look at how their clothes are made.
Ecologyst, a company founded in 2013 under the Sitka name by René Gauthier, is expanding downtown with a new outlet that serves as an all-in-one factory and storefront.
At their new location on Store Street in the historic Powerhouse building, Ecologyst’s cutters and sewers will be visible and visible, making products sold in store and shipped worldwide.
This visibility is a business practice which, according to Gauthier, consists in making people aware of the origin of their products.
“A lot of what we’re trying to solve with this space is that people are very disconnected from most of the products they buy, but clothes, in particular,” he says.
“And therefore they’re willing to pay $ 20 for a t-shirt, aren’t they?” But they don’t see the real cost of it.
About eight full-time workers will be employed in the new store specifically to manufacture clothing. Gauthier says the profession requires a lot of training to become proficient, with thousands of hours required to become an expert.
In addition to creating the clothes ecologyst sells, these employees will also provide repair and maintenance services for the company’s products once they are in the hands of the customer.
This is part of a philosophy of sustainable development which is at the heart of Gauthier’s activity.
“Your average garment, we say in North America today, lives two years between purchase and landfill,” he says. “This is something that we are trying to change as well.”
The CEO of Ecologyst says his view of the world was deeply affected by an accident that nearly cost him his life in 2013. Gauthier was riding his motorcycle on Bay Street and Douglas and was hit hard.
He lost consciousness in the incident, but miraculously escaped without any physical injuries that could change his life. His outlook on life, however, has been changed for good.
“One of those areas was about business and the way we did it, and how my values and those of our company just didn’t match the way we made our products,” says Gauthier.
“At that point, we were protesting against a pipeline… Yet we were making clothes with polyester and nylon. These two don’t go together, do they?
Ecologyst now uses all-natural materials, sourced from places like New Zealand, Ireland and the United States. In addition to their factory / storefront in Victoria, they also produce products with partners in Ontario, Quebec and the United States.
But perhaps more importantly, Gauthier believes this new store can be an example for the industry on how to conduct ethical business in fashion.
“I’m pretty proud of it,” he said. “Our industry is really in a mess right now. I think people know the solutions, but it’s so embedded in a way of doing things. We are proof that it can be done in a different way.
Ecologyst’s new store and factory opened to the public on Friday July 16 at 2110 Store Street.