After spending a lot of time outdoors while growing up, when Paul Long started looking at creating a clothing line, he wanted to ensure it wouldn’t cause any harm to the natural world.
“I sort of always asked myself why does this clothing have to cause damage to the places that we claim to respect or want to enjoy.”
Amid increasing struggle to find wool suppliers and wanting to ensure his items had the lowest possible impact, his Victoria clothing company, Anian, leaned into a circular model and started to transition its product line to completely recycled content in 2018.
Long said the best way to create something is to make it from what’s already out there. For Anian, that means sourcing its wool and cotton materials from excess pieces off the production line or giving threads from old clothes a second life.
The company sources its yarn and fabric from Europe – the hub for recycled textile material – before making its clothes in Canada, with most of the manufacturing happening in Vancouver.
It wants to chip away at the excessive consumption of the clothing industry, while showing there’s customer demand for ditching the fast fashion ways for more sustainable and long-lasting products.
“It’s gone quite well and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s a quality, long-lasting product and that it has a positive impact,” said Long, Anian’s president.
He said while their line isn’t crazy expensive but on the pricier end, their competitors are charging up to 50 per cent more than they are but not using recycled materials. But with one of his wool shirts still going strong in its eighth year, Long hopes to show there are benefits to not opting for the cheap T-shirt that will only last a year.
“It’s difficult to convince the customer they’ll have our shirt for five or six or seven years.”
But he added much of their growth has been because of customers, who have been wearing one of their low-waste products for years, giving glowing reviews to their friends. When people find out the items are also made from otherwise-wasted textiles, Long said it becomes a talking point.
“That’s probably where we found a ton of our success, if you get some of our products you become the ambassador,” he said. “It becomes your product and your story.”
Aside from not consuming more materials, the company doesn’t use added dyes, which Long noted have negative energy and waterway impacts in countries where environmental regulations are lacking.
It takes more time and effort to obtain post-industrial and post-consumer textiles, but Anian looks to reconnect people with where their clothes come from.
“I think it’s worth it,” Long said. “As the system of recycled goods gets larger and larger, I think the system will become easier and easier.”
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