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Photo from the Either/Or Indiegogo campaign page.

Either/Or: No need to choose between ethics and beautiful clothing

By Alison Larabie Chase on March 29, 2016

Alison Larabie Chase is a freelance writer and editor, an avid cook and baker, a shower singer, a cat wrangler, a world traveller, and an Ottawa native.

Malorie Bertrand wants to help women buy clothes – but not too many. Oh, and they’ll all be ethically and sustainably made by Canadian designers. That’s the mission of Either/Or, a new online shop launching this fall that will be created and curated by Bertrand, a local fashion blogger, stylist, and communications professional.

Since 2008, Bertrand’s been blogging about sustainable and eco-friendly fashion on EFmagazine, a project that began as a school assignment and turned into a labour of love.

“When I had to put together this alternative media project together I thought, what do I love? I love fashion, I love environmentalism, so let’s see if I can put together my two loves,” she says.

She began styling fashion shoots for the blog, and fell into a second job as a stylist, helping clients weed out their wardrobes – “most people don’t wear 80 per cent of what they have”– and advising on the purchase of new items.

Bertrand’s boyfriend suggested she create an online store for sustainable, environmentally-friendly fashions. She’s taking the leap, with help from an Indiegogo fundraising campaign that hopes to raise $20,000, but intends to grow her business slowly, so that it remains manageable for her to “make a living but still honour the idea of consuming less and not promoting waste.”

There are 15 days left in the campaign and perks include items such as a dozen flour-less chocolate cookies, gift cards to the store and various other eco fashions.

She plans to create two capsule collections a year, composed of pieces by several different designers. It can be tedious and time-consuming for shoppers to scour dozens of websites to find the few pieces that work for them, so Bertrand will do that work on behalf of her clients, who she sees mainly as women between the ages of 30 and 55 who are either “converted or thinking about” sustainability in fashion.

“As a stylist, I have the experience, time and knowledge to find what I think people will like. The pieces are versatile, work with each other and with people’s existing wardrobes. People will appreciate not being overwhelmed with choices,” Bertrand says.

Some of the designers represented in the first Either/Or collection are Toronto’s Jennifer Torosian, British Columbian Sunja Link, and Dunrobin’s own Megan Duffield. Jewelry and accessories will also be sold through the shop.

Bertrand plans to photograph women with different body types and at varying stages of their lives wearing the clothing, so that online shoppers have a clear idea of how the pieces move and look on bodies. In future, she hopes to design her own pieces to be sold in the shop, as well as adding menswear and showcasing the work of Canadian design students.

Either/Or is slated to launch in September 2016. Bertrand is planning a pop-up shop and party to celebrate the opening. Visit Either/Or to sign up for notifications about the event and the launch.
Follow the shop’s progress on Twitter.