Meet Canada’s new eco-friendly outerwear player: Norden
In the design world, there’s no doubt that Canada is recognized as a major outerwear player. As home to internationally renowned labels like Canada Goose and British royal favourites Sentaler and Mackage, the country’s designers have earned their global reputation.
New labels launching amid such fierce competition would need to have a special something – and that’s where Norden comes in, a new vegan outerwear line made out of recycled plastic that has the environment top of mind.
Owned by Montreal-based parent company, Better Narrative, Norden was born out of a mission to “inspire change through clothing made from repurposed waste” and a vision where “everyone is making better choices to reduce waste for a cleaner planet”.
After launching under the wing of co-founding duo Michael Eliesen and Mayer Vafi in fall 2018, the label has since released its first collection, consisting of six women’s and six men’s styles retailing from CAN $325 to $485. Each jacket is made with anywhere from 25 to 99 recycled plastic bottles and without any animal by-products. The jacket manufacturing process consumes 45 percent less energy, 20 percent less water and 30 percent less green gas emissions compared to regular outerwear, the brand says. And now, having partnered with stockists for select offline distribution at locations in Canada including Sail, Sports Expert and La Maison Simons, the brand is ready for the next step: a global online launch at Nordenproject.com.
For the occasion, FashionNetwork.com sat down with Vafi, an ex-Pajar director with over a decade of experience in the apparel industry, to find out how Norden is building the next generation of outerwear.
FashionNetwork.com: Why did you decide to jump into the outerwear arena?
Mayer Vafi: I know outerwear; that is my specialty. In 2012, I took on the role of sales and creative director of Pajar outerwear and grew that into a decent business. So, we decided to implement our better business practices into outwear and create this product that is made entirely of recycled plastic.
FNW: Why recycled plastic?
MV: I was sensitized to the plastic problem in 2015 when I experienced first-hand its scale. I was sensitized to the marine life problem, the environmental problem and the fact that it takes 450 years for a single plastic bottle to decompose and we produce 1 million of them a minute. I wanted to create clothing from plastic and when I realized I was able to make something out of it, I went back to my roots in outerwear.
FNW: How do you make outerwear out of recycled plastic exactly?
MV: What we’ve done is we’ve collaborated with two companies: Repreve and Polartec. Through this strategic partnership, they take post-consumer plastic bottles, shred and sanitize them, and convert them into pellets that are then converted into yarn. We take that yarn and we weave different types of fabrications that have been narrowed down to three shell fabrics and one liner, and created the Norden brand.
FNW: What is your target market?
MV: We’re targeting the future consumer. Our business is catered to millennials, and Gen Z, and everyone and anyone who is vegan and that is looking for ethical and sustainable brands.
FNW: How do you plan to compete in the outerwear market?
MV: Our focus is our competitive advantage. We offer best in class products that are PETA-certified, made from recycled plastic. Tomorrow’s consumers will hold the other outerwear brands accountable to the fact that their raw materials are made at the cost of animals and planet! We show that going sustainable doesn’t mean sacrificing style.
FNW: How would you describe the future outerwear industry?
MV: Outerwear is a necessity. It’s a category that will not go out of style... Everyone needs a jacket. We wanted to show that better business practices can be applied. In the near future, the consumer will demand products that are made without the harm of animals, and they will want to know about the environmental impact of the products they buy.
FNW: What’s next for Norden?
MV: It’s an on-going process. We will continue to market, do cross-collaborations, co-branding and educate the masses on the effects of plastic. We will also be launching new product categories every year up to 2022 including a full apparel line, cold weather accessories and footwear.
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