THEIR NEW ARTIST COLLABORATION LAUNCHES JUNE 14TH
Story by Erin Lucuik
Photo provided by Clothing Brand Experiment
Calling all conscious consumers! If you’re looking for original garments that mix comfort with class, then Clothing Brand Experiment’s (CBE) collections of hoodies and t-shirts are for you. Founder Elly Green and her team recognize that their growing customer-base not only cares about how their clothes look, but they also care about how and where they’re made.
With a mandate steeped heavily in community involvement and collaborative production, CBE’s unique approach results in one-of-kind pieces that are truly homegrown. All CBE pieces are produced within a 50 km radius of Toronto and are made with love in a local studio. What makes CBE particularly unique is its collaborative bent. In working with everyone from kids growing up in the Regent Park community, to a bevy of local artists, CBE has made its mark as a truly innovative clothing brand. Read on to find out what Green had to say about CBE’s past achievements and future projects.
How did the concept for Clothing Brand Experiment (CBE) materialize?
The name Clothing Brand Experiment sums up the nature of our line and its method of production. In starting and running a clothing brand, we have been determined to be experimental in our approach on all levels, from the concept and ethics of having our line totally Toronto-made, to the selection of all our collaborating partners. In our perspective, clothing can be so much more than what it often is nowadays – cheap, disposable, poorly fitting, and over run by large company advertising. At CBE we want to give another option, a choice to support local production along with good and lasting design. This is why we choose high-end fabric blends and take the step to pre-wash and dry all our fabric. We support a variety of other businesses in the city including a fabric mill, a cut-and-sew studio, and the company that prints our hang-tags. Supporting CBE supports many others. We limit all of our runs, whether they are our own collections or collaborations with others, because who really wants to be wearing the same thing as thousands of others? With all of these ideals in mind, it is very difficult to be profitable in clothing production and sales since the competition often doesn’t care about any of these elements and primarily focuses on the bottom line. Yet, CBE has a committed following which continually grows, and we know choosing to buy CBE causes our customers to think about all of these details, which is one of our favourite aspects of our brand.
To date, a handful of us work on all CBE events, lines and projects, so CBE operates in a collaborative manner. Everything we create is made locally within 50 km of our studio in downtown Toronto. We have perfected our hoody and now also make t-shirts, sweats, pet hoodies and other various limited collaboration lines.
How many artists have you worked with to date for your collaborations?
Being connected to the art scene in Toronto naturally lends to some excellent collaboration opportunities. We’ve worked with 15 recognized visual artists and a handful of other creative types.
We are working with six artists this season, with 3 launches set at ESP Gallery; Nik and Susy were the first two of the line-up and both shirts turned out exceptionally well, yet entirely different from one another. Nik’s approach was super detailed and reflective of his work, while Susy’s approach was more hands-on and free. Each shirt is numbered by the artist, and with 30 shirts each it’s a super limited line and an amazing collectable piece.
CBE has a presence in Toronto’s sustainable-design scene. How does the brand stay committed to sustainable and ethical production?
With everything we create being made locally (within 50 km of our studio downtown Toronto) we lower our carbon footprint dramatically. We stay with our production through each step, eliminating the chances of a large mistake and irresponsible waste.
CBE is actively involved in giving back to Toronto. What are some of the projects you have worked on in the past and how do they impact the direction of your collaborative lines?
CBE’s community collaborations have allowed us to partner with local community groups and businesses in the city to create limited lines or inspirational projects. We’ve worked with a group of 11 and 12-year-old kids in Regent Park on a limited hoody line; [with] dog owners in [our] neighborhood to create our pet hoody line; and with My City Lives, an amazing Toronto media company. All of our collaborations have been great opportunities to branch out and work with other great people committed to bettering life in the city.
What’s your favourite piece from the collection?
The “Speckled Line” was a pretty risky project. I wondered for a moment if we had just destroyed 60 plus hoodies or whether we had just created the most amazing, vintage washed, one-of-a-kind design. It was a very hands-on, DIY production, which I believe created an amazing line. This spring we took on another hands-on approach to distressing our “Galaxy Line”, which gets the most wear in my wardrobe at the moment.
Do you have any upcoming experiments?
Yes! We will be apart of running the Parkdale Tiny Flea: an eclectic Saturday outdoor sales market on the corner of Queen Street West and Elm Grove Avenue in Toronto, for the next four weeks. We’ll be selling beside a lemonade stand and mini-sand bar table – definitely an experimental sales adventure. It will be a refreshing start to the summer – do come by, we’ll be there 10am-6pm!
Where can people buy CBE products? Are there any plans to launch another pop-up shop in the future?
Come by the Parkdale Tiny Flea every Saturday from 10am-6pm (look for the tents in the side yard of 1273 Queen Street West), shop online, or visit Mariclaro on Roncesvalles and Model Citizen in Kensington Market, to find a handful of pieces from our summer line.
Also, our next two artist launches are set for June 14th and July 12th, both at ESP Gallery on Queen Street West. We’d love to do another pop-up shop, yet it can be extremely difficult to coordinate such endeavors with building owners…stay tuned, we are working on it!