Love & Repair What You Already Have - Guest Post by Hilary Lewis

I live in Calgary Alberta. When I mention this fact to individuals not from Calgary one of three points of conversation typically come up 1) the mountains 2) the Stampede 3) but isn’t it cold there in the winter? My answers are typically 1) super beautiful, super awesome but not actually in Calgary. Still oh so nice 2) it’s okay, but Calgary is so much more and better than the stampede 3) yes, but that’s okay!

I’m not originally from Calgary, and although I’ve always experienced winter throughout my life, I haven’t always enjoyed it. It has only been within the past two years of living in this mountain(ish) metropolis that I actually understand it and love it. Nothing gives me more joy then bundling up in the winter head to toe in my warmest clothing and going for a walk. Habitually I dawn my grandma’s cream cable knit sweater, wool socks from Reykjavik, Iceland and my puffy winter parka that I’ve had for over 5 years. If you were a passing stranger, only my eyes and maybe my nose would be visible, but underneath all those layers I’m grinning ear to ear. The snow and cold have this dreamy way of absorbing all the sound in the city so that everything is quiet, crisp, and truly beautiful. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t cold outside and that I can’t last more than 30 minutes at -20°C while walking as fast as I can.

Needless to say, winter is a serious business for me, so this year I wanted to take my winter game to the next level. I currently have a Community brand parka from Aritzia which is made of hemp, and recycled materials. As I mentioned, I’ve had this coat for over 5 years and it's starting to show some wear & tear.

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This year my goal was to get a super-powered winter coat from MEC for temperatures of -30°C and have it last another 5 winters, so I did some preliminary research online and found the top contenders. I wanted a coat that was warm, ethical, and semi-fit me. I’m 5’2 and very petite, finding a winter coat that doesn’t look like I’m going outside in sleeping bag is a challenge.

When I left MEC, I purchased no winter coat, had an anxiety attack and learned some valuable lessons about retail and myself.

I’ve learned that the price range for a -20°C weather vs. -30°C weather coat is very, very different; At least $300 worth of difference, but I guess you are paying for the warmth of two coats in one?

Unfortunately, all the coats I really liked online were around the $550-$600 range; yikes bikes. Some may shake their heads at me and say, “it’s only $600”, but to me that price makes my armpits dampen, and I begin to question my decision-making skills.

Regardless, of the price, though I was committed to getting my super powdered winter coat, and viewed it as a 5-year investment, so this I could semi rationalize.

I also learned that winter coat shopping at MEC is competitive. I was followed by the same shopper trying to take the last XS from me, as I carried it around, not sure if I was going to buy it.  At the end of the day, all of the coats didn’t fit how I would have liked for the price, and it was just too much pressure. So I passed on that last XS coat to the woman who desperately needed it more than me, and left empty-handed.

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In the end I decided that I would be happier overall with my faithful Community brand winter coat for one more season. I had gotten too caught up in my want for something that wasn’t really out there or available to me. So instead, I grabbed a sewing kit from the dollar store and fixed my winter coat.

All in all, I feel like I took a step away from consumerism, made a continuous choice to only invest in something that has personal value for me, and made a radical decision to repair instead of replace. If Calgary drops below -20°C I may be slightly colder than I like, but then I’ll just put on another layer and still be extra cozy.

Movement Global

They say buy for the life you have. Well my life is mostly spent inside a cold warehouse where people prep food, so owning fancy clothes that are not warm isn’t really an option. I wanted to buy something that I thought could be dressed up but I still could also wear on a casual day. I went through my wardrobe and looked at what I wore the most and it was a black wool long sleeve that I wear almost everyday and I realized I only own one longsleeve. After that it seemed to be an obvious decision about what my next purchase would be.

I found a beautiful green long sleeve at Movement Global that is conveniently located behind my house. I immediately loved the cut and tried it on in at least 4 colours before deciding on the green (but will probably go back for more). As I was trying it on I kept thinking that this is something that my mother would wear which is hilarious because when I read the tag it was called the Belinda Ballet and my mother’s name is Belinda. Which is not like if your name is Sarah. Sarah could always find a pencil with her name on it, Belinda or Alyse could not (begrudgingly).

Wilfred Free Culottes size small.

Wilfred Free Culottes size small.

I wore the shirt that night at a family thanksgiving dinner, dressed up with a pair of “Wilfred Free” culottes that I found at a consignment store, Frye slip ons and a Mala made by my beautiful friend Krista with Chalice Grove.

It ended up being the perfect outfit as I felt stylish and fancy enough to fit in with the other fancy ladies in their fancy Vancouver houses, and I could still breath freely. Also the pants had and elastic waistband so when I had seconds of chicken, bacon yams, brussel sprouts and pumpkin pie there wasn’t any pinching, other then when my partner pinched me under the table to tell me it was rude to eat off someone else’s plate, but I think it is rude to waste food.

Belinda Ballet size small. 

Belinda Ballet size small. 

Movement Global started on Bowen Island making it local to BC. Their goal is to design eco friendly clothing that are functional and versatile.

Chalice Grove Mala - The Lover

Chalice Grove Mala - The Lover

I am looking forward to acquiring more of Movement Global’s styles. I love their designs. I can wear them casually strolling around town or I can easily dress them up and feel stylish when I need to. Everything they create fits into my mantra that I must be able to bend over, crawl, breath, lay down and squat in. I don’t feel frumpy in their designs instead I feel quite sexy. I have my eye on more of their Belinda Ballet tops in various colours, as well as their Kira Kimono, Karen Pant and they had the Jacado Dress in their window display for a while and it caught me eye every time. If I ever find myself needing a new dress this will be the first one I look at.

Novel Supply Co.

"The Forest is Home"

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I was recently at my family's cabin in the Rocky Mountains gazing at the lake and a view of a mountain called Bear Mountain, named this because it is known for its bears (surprise surprise). An hour before I arrived a momma black bear and her two cubs were on our property searching for berries. This would have been my third encounter with a black bear in less than two years. Always a frightening experience but when everything turns out OK, it is pretty cool. I've seen a baby black bear climb up a tree less than 50 feet away from me and Christmas day of 2016 a sleepy bear snuck up on my sister and me while we were hiking on Northern Vancouver Island.

I have always been a forest and mountain girl. Don't get me wrong the beach is bomb but I think I will always prefer a lake in the mountains and trees, that is so cold you lose your breath when you jump in. How amazing to wander around in the woods seeking out wild raspberries, saskatoon berries and the ultimate find huckleberries. Climbing trees that have fallen over and trying to figure out how to get across the creek without getting your feet wet.

The forest is my home and the Black Bear is my Spirit Animal. With this in mind, you can see why I was so excited to add a sustainably made, locally designed sweater with a black bear and the quote "the forest is home" to my wardrobe.

Meet Kaya Dorey the creator of Novel Supply Co. 

Design by  Christina Lehn.

Design by Christina Lehn.

"Our apparel is designed with the West Coast lifestyle in mind. We love weekend adventures to cozy cabins, exploring the local mountains, bike crawls, craft brew, seawall strolls, street art and hunting for the best cup of joe in the city. "

I don't think anyone could have said it better and it sums up everything I want in my life and in my clothes. Rad sweaters that take me from my favourite coffee shop (49th Parallel) to a cabin on a lake in the Rocky Mountains.

Novel Supply Co. uses hemp and organic cotton in their clothing and everything else is non-toxic. They team up with local artists to create the designs for their apparel and are nominated for a "Sustainable Small Business Award" at the UN. I would say you got one bad ass chick making rad clothing. Novel Supply Co. is a company you will want to keep your eye on.

Check out their website for more information, other designs or get your hands on my awesome new bear sweater.

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Here's my favourite poem about the forest, and loving yourself.

“Listen to me, your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest—thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated.”- Beau Taplin

Smoking Lily

Everyone can nerd out about something. Usually, I nerd out on Harry Potter, dogs, small odd shaped vegetables, dogs, flowers, bees and sometimes I watch ants for hours with my friend Monica with more enthusiasm than anyone could possibly imagine.

Taking the Urban Bee Sanctuary very seriously in my new scarf. 

Taking the Urban Bee Sanctuary very seriously in my new scarf. 

Recently my nerdy side came through when I saw a dress with the Periodic Table silk screened on it in a store called Smoking Lily. You can check the dress out here. I tried the dress on but didn't buy it because I didn't love the way the neck line sat on me, but otherwise, the fit through the waist and hips was great. It was EXTREMELY comfortable and I love the way they styled it on their website with bright red Dr. Martens. I can envision some bad ass scientist babe rocking it on the street or while giving a lecture if real-time cinematography of urban nature can influence city dwellers perspective of nature within city limits. (If you would like to learn more about this check out "Life in Reel Time" by Monica Gehrig.)

I did however purchase one of their bamboo loop scarves. I thought the pattern was adorable, I liked how light weight the scarf was and I imagined wearing it with my Jungmaven dress in the winter. I am very excited about Smoking Lily's fall line, particularly their Pablo Tee and their Saturday Tunic. Smoking Lily also has a cool line of accessories and pillows you can only buy in-store. They stuff the pillows with leftover scraps and their goal is to be a zero fabric waste company.

Wonderful ladies that work at the Vancouver Smoking Lily, reminding you to Chill the Fuck Out!

Wonderful ladies that work at the Vancouver Smoking Lily, reminding you to Chill the Fuck Out!

For more about their sustainability efforts, local production, and how they got started, check their About Page or visit them in-store on Main Street in Vancouver or Government Street in Victoria. 

Jungmaven

I honestly wouldn't say I am stylish. Most clothes I look at don't interest me at all. I see them as a trend that has already lost its wind. The latest fashions often leave me thinking (especially because I live in Vancouver) "If there was an earthquake and I survived how would I crawl out of the debris wearing that, you can't even lift your arms?" or "If someone tries to assault me, will I be able to utilize my greatest strength, my speed and be able to run away in those shoes", usually the answer is no and then I have no interest in it.

What I spend hours obsessing over are basic t-shirts that always look great with a pair of jeans and shorts; or a dress I can throw on at any moment and go for a walk to the library, beach or get coffee in. If there is a natural disaster I will be thankful I am wearing something that allows me full range of my arms and legs, and I won't ever be stuck in shoes I can only walk on flat surfaces in.

This may be a weird driving force behind my fashion but it basically goes along with another personal idea of only wearing things I feel comfortable in. I take pride in my practical style and if I was ever stuck in a compromising state I would be thankful to be wearing the Jungmaven Beach Dress I recently bought.

What I love about the dress:

The length and cut - I hate walking around feeling like my butt may be hanging out, and I can easily wear shorts underneath in case I am walking back from the beach and decide I want to do some climbing and upside down hanging from the monkey bars.

The weight of the fabric - it is a perfect in between of being great for a summer day over a bathing suit, or a cooler winter day over leggings with a wool scarf.

It is made out of hemp - I won't get into why I love hemp so much on this post but you can check out Jungmaven for more of their styles and click on their About Page to find out more about their sustainability efforts and why they love hemp.

Tessa.Store

A few months back I made the decision to move from a small town on Vancouver Island, where I worked on a farm for 9 months, to the city of Vancouver. I was anxious about moving and stressed about only owning farm clothes and what would I wear to job interviews once I moved to the city. I scoured the internet to find something I thought would look professional but I had gotten used to wearing only comfy clothes that allowed me to bend and move without pinching or adjusting. I wanted to maintain this level of comfort and still feel confident while living in a cosmopolitan city. 

I stumbled upon Tessa Hughes Apparel and their Raglan Dress which fit into my demand for comfy, versatile, easy to style clothing. The apparel is loose fitting so I felt confident in purchasing it online without previously trying it on. 

Tessa has recently rebranded her company to make her clothing more affordable, as ethical fashion can be very expensive and beyond many people's price range, but she still has the same ethical and quality standards. 

Check out her website Tessa.Store for more on her story, how she is achieving lower prices, and her brand new kick ass Velvet Leggings.

How it came to be.

The substance of this blog formed while I was on vacation in Seattle drinking coffee and breaking my gluten and dairy fast while eating a donut from Top Pot Donuts, next door to our Airbnb.

Shirt from Velouria in Seattle, by a company called  Curator  - %100 cotton, made in the USA. Size Large.

Shirt from Velouria in Seattle, by a company called Curator - %100 cotton, made in the USA. Size Large.

The previous day I went shopping at a store called Velouria to hunt down hemp t-shirts made by a company called Jungmaven; a company I have been swooning over and browsing online for more than 2 years. I never purchased the shirts online because Jungmaven previously didn't ship to Canada and finding the correct size was a concern for me. Viewing sizing charts makes me apprehensive and doubtful when attempting to select the correct size. I know my body measurements, however the size guides don't provide a clear indication of how the clothes actually fit. Shipping costs combined with the weak Canadian dollar made me hesitant to purchase anything I didn’t absolutely love. My concern proved valid when I tried on t-shirts at Velouria. Per the size guide I assumed I was a size large based on my chest measurement however the appropriate size for me was in fact a size small. I also tried on their Beach Dress which online appears to be somewhat frumpy but looked fabulous on me - I will likely buy a second dress in a different colour. 

With all of this in mind, I wish there was an easier way to access local and ethically made clothing that I am able to try on before purchasing. I believe I have a talent for seeking out super cool, slightly obscure restaurants, clothing stores and local markets in my home city and when I travel. I want to share this talent with others. I believe in promoting the concept of purchasing local and sustainable goods. There is a growing movement of consumers with these same values but feel lost where to begin. My goal is to do the research for you and give you a one-stop shop to find the closest boutique in your location and also incorporate some fun adventures when you travel. This website will include a section for online companies since it is useful to pre-shop a company's products, but predominantly it will focus on storefronts you can shop at.

I hope you enjoy my efforts. If you know of any storefronts or cool online companies you would like to see featured please comment below. Currently the website is focused primarily on companies based in the Pacific Northwest but I hope to expand to a greater area within North America and potentially create an international directory.