“We wanted to make something that was wholly made in Canada from sustainable fabrics.”
Toronto-based designer Hilary MacMillan, who in the past has used sustainability-focused materials including vegan leather and faux fur, just dropped a new capsule of biodegradable loungewear crafted from Tencel™.
“We wanted to make something that was wholly made in Canada from sustainable fabrics,” MacMillan says about how the idea for designing the six-piece collection started. Comprised of elevated separates and sets (which come with a matching face mask, which you can also purchase separately), the loungewear pieces were designed, cut and fitted in MacMillan’s studio with sewing done at the homes of local contractors and manufacturers.
MacMillan says it was also important to “find something that wasn’t your typical sweatpant material, like fleece” to use in the offering, which includes a high-waisted skirt, cropped hoodie and leggings that come in three colours. She landed on Tencel™, a fabric derived from beechwood that’s known for its moisture absorption; it also has the ability to break down when composted properly after approximately a six-month period.
Since launching a biodegradable blouse line last year, MacMillan says her knowledge of eco-minded materials has grown significantly – and now she must impart this education to her customers. “It’s a very cool science and it’s getting better and better,” she says of the expanding innovations in textile creation, adding that “hopefully it’s all not too little, too late.”
This hits on a key factor when it comes to sustainability measures being taken in the fashion space–one that’s compounded when you consider that it’s indie brands like MacMillan’s who are leading the way when it comes to reconsidering everything from material use to how a product is brought to market. For example, to minimize waste, MacMillan is selling this capsule, which runs in sizes XS to 4X, as pre-order items which will begin shipping next week.
She highlights how consumption habits have increasingly shifted this year, pointing to the fact that brands are “moving away from the regular fashion cycle” more and more, and focusing on “drops” and other ways of selling that make sense for the designers and the planet.
But she rightly notes that it’s also the job of the government and mass market brands to take up the mantle of moving the dial, mentioning how “heavily reliant” on international trade Canadian brands are in terms of fabric availability with so few mills left in the country. “[We should be] investing in local manufacturing and technology,” she says, adding that “unless the whole community” embraces new, better ways of operating that “it’s harder for small businesses to do it.
In the meantime, MacMillan chooses to focus on positive change and looks to promising consumer habits as a source of optimism. “I walked into 2020 kind of terrified,” MacMillan says about the initial first months when the COVID crisis took a hold that is still largely in full force given recent lockdown measures in Toronto and the Peel region. “It’s been a very tough year for a lot of small businesses, but it’s also been a time where people are engaging with their community and supporting local stores,” she says. “People want to buy from Canadian brands.”