Toronto clothing brand Encircled embraces slow fashion movement

You’ve heard of fast fashion, but what about slow fashion—its more sustainable, thoughtful and trustworthy cousin? Canadian brands like Encircled are leaning into the idea by using sustainable materials, prioritizing quality over quantity and considering every aspect of the environment (including people) with every design.

Engaging with the slow fashion movement has paid off for Encircled as it became one of just four female-founded apparel brands in Canada to receive the prestigious Certified B. Corp designation, which means that after a thorough assessment, the brand met some of the most stringent business guidelines surrounding environment and human rights.

The UnMoto Jacket from Encircled

The founder of Encircled, Kristi Soomer, says she was thrilled to be certified back in 2018 after undergoing the incredibly in-depth process. For Soomer and her team, the certification means she’s among other businesses looking to give back to the world and their community rather than create further destruction.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to be amongst a set of industry-leading brands, all of whom have committed to using business as a force for good in the world so that we can become better and continuously improve our business practices,” she says. “It’s also a measure of credibility for consumers.”

The idea for Encircled came to Soomer as she was getting ready to leave for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica and her suitcase broke, forcing her to use a smaller bag. She realized she had a strong desire for clothes that could be used for multiple situations and purposes, and her first product idea was born.

Encircled jogger set

“I longed for a piece that would transition from a cardigan at the airport to dress during the trip,” she says. “So, I designed it, and that became our innovative 8-in-1 Chrysalis Cardi. From that product idea, I launched Encircled.”

Today, versatility is still one of the brand’s main design pillars. They’ve come out with dozens of convertible dresses, tops, pants, jackets and more since Soomer’s revelation. For example, the dressy sweatpants can be dressed up or down for any occasion, while revolve dress can be worn not one, not two, but six different ways.

“I read this quote once, ‘the most sustainable thing you can do is to wear your closet,’” Soomer says. “Many of us are guilty of having tons of unworn items in our closet. We’re on a mission to change that by creating fewer, but better and well-loved pieces that you can wear more often.”

The Encircled Revolve Dress

Now that the pandemic is winding down and people are going to be heading back to the office for at least a few days a week, Encircled hopes to help people retain the comfort they’ve found through loungewear while elevating the silhouettes. Over the next month, the brand will be launching a comfy paperbag short and culotte, which both have a chic look but are made of MicroModal, a soft, high-quality and locally knit material.

Soomer says she hopes sustainable apparel becomes the new norm, but it’s currently not mandated or regulated at all by the government in Canada, meaning there’s little incentive for brands.

“Sustainability is important to me because we only have one world and we need to protect it,” she says. As it has been shown, there are many negative impacts that humankind has had on our planet, and it’s on us—as people—to lead the change in a positive direction and start to reverse the effects of climate change.”

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