My first encounter with Chloe Angus Designs was back in 2008, upon first meeting actress (and now very close friend and colleague) Kristine Cofsky at the Toronto International Film Festival. A film she was the lead in, When Life Was Good, was premiering at the festival, and every night, at a different party, she was wearing the most spectacular evening wear. She told me that she had a suitcase full of clothes by Vancouver-based Chloe Angus, and I always wondered who these people were who dresses local indie film stars.
However, it wasn’t until I recently walked into the Chloe Angus shop (located on Dunbar and 27th) that I realized that Chloe Angus Design isn’t just about making red-carpet dresses, but also about making everyday wear, specializing in sustainable, eco-friendly apparel, and using almost exclusively natural fabrics.
When you first meet the team that makes up Chloe Angus Design — designer Chloe Angus (an elegant brunette draped in strings of pearls) and Director of Operations Sarah MacLachlan (edgy, with short pink hair) — it’s hard to believe that these girls have farming backgrounds. In fact, it was this commonality that drew them together nine years ago, making them one of the first designers to use natural fabrics like bamboo and wood pulp.
“My parents were organic seafood farmers on the Sunshine Coast and Sarah grew up in rural Manitoba,” says Angus. “Doing things in an organic, sustainable way was just who we were. We didn’t think about it, we just did it, naturally.”
Sustainability to them is not only about using natural fabrics, or promoting and sustaining a local economy, but also about creating pieces that you can wear for a very long time.
“We live in the age of disposable clothing,” says MacLachlan. “And we’re very much against that.” Angus adds, “And because I have such a classic aesthetic, I make pieces that you can wear for a very long time, and even pass on to your kids.”
In addition, sustainability to Angus and MacLachlan also means promoting a healthy body image to women. All their designs are meant for, and flattering to, real woman, not supermodels.
One of their most popular items is the button wrap, which comes in a variety of colours, and in both a wool blend and a bamboo blend.
“Women were often asking how to finish an outfit, so I would recommend a pashmina, but they couldn’t really figure out how to make it work. So we create the button wrap because the buttons help to wear the scarves in different ways.”
Angus and MacLaughlin demonstrate how to turn the button wrap from everything into a cape to a hood. They point me to their online video showing the multiple ways to wrap it. It’s really crazy.
Something simple like a button wrap can help update an outfit, Angus says, which is useful in today’s economy, where buying a whole new outfit can be difficult.
In addition, Chloe Angus has even partnered up with Haida artist Clarence Mills, and his patterns can be found on some of the wraps, entitled, The Spirit Collection.
If you want to check out Chloe Angus Design, they have a booth (#511) at the Circle Craft Christmas Market which is happening now at the Vancouver Convention Centre West, until Sunday. They are also participating in the fashion shows at Circle Craft today at 1:00pm and 6:00pm as well as Saturday and Sunday at 1:00pm and 3:00pm.