“We want to be part of a positive change and improve the mood of our community.”
There has been a lot of emphasis in recent months on what we wear inside, but given how important it is to spend at least 20 minutes of time outdoors each day, the founders of Alder, a Toronto-based casual wear line, want you to think about what you’re doing, too. to go out.
“People live differently than before and use the spaces around them differently than before,” says co-founder Mikayla Wujec who, before creating Alder with marketing entrepreneur Naomi Blackman, was a National Geographic explorer and environmental scientist. .
An increase in the number of people visiting their local park compared to traveling to remote places “matches the way we are trying to change the idea of outdoor recreation,” Wujec adds. “We want to encourage people to take the performance [function] aspect out of the equation, and just step outside for peace of mind and for fun. “
Wujec and Blackman started Alder after having conversations about failures in the outerwear industry and that of other women. “There is a lot to improve in the space,” Wujec notes of the range of product offerings traditionally found in the category, noting that Alder’s business is “to have feedback. truly iterative of our community. We do a lot of surveys and engage deeply with our clients to find out exactly what they want. And [then we] fill those holes in the market. “
Blackman adds that it’s not just the garment itself that they believe had miles to go in terms of appeal. The feelings of impostor syndrome that she and Wujec experienced in that they couldn’t really identify as ‘outdoors people’ were also a key factor in how they built the Alder brand. “There is a change to be made in that mindset,” she said.
The duo highlight the dominant clothing-related images created by outdoor leisure brands, making it seem like if you don’t climb a mountain side or take a strenuous hike, you aren’t. correctly. “We didn’t start with the intention of becoming a clothing company and just making clothes, but changing the industry and making outdoor recreation fun,” says Wujec.
To do this, Alder is hiring non-professionals to model their products like the recently restocked Open-Air pants that launched in July. Instead of seeing them sweating intensely, they walk dogs, relax in canoes and really do it. Blackman adds that she and Wujec recruited their friends to be part of the first series of images for Alder, which featured women just having fun on an outing to High Park in Toronto. “It’s not that common to see photographs of women having fun together outdoors,” she notes.
Alder is certainly a pioneer in terms of a proposition that everyone should feel empowered to savor for a little time in a forest, park or wherever the wind blows; and it’s also one of the few brands in all fashion categories to be open to sharing where and how its pieces are made.
“Sustainability was a non-negotiable element for us from the start,” says Wujec. “It’s just how the fashion industry should operate.” She says that while it was not possible to travel the world to attend conferences and exhibitions to learn more about the range of materials and manufacturing processes addressing the serious environmental and ethical impacts of l clothing industry, her university career led her to delve into information. she could find it online.
Alder very kindly takes that kind of work out of the equation for you; when you visit the brand’s website, you will see information about Alder fabrics, including modal and recycled nylon, as well as the factories where its products are made. “We cannot feel that our values are not aligned with what we create,” explains Blackman, explaining why this level of transparency was essential to include in the ethics of the company.
This model proved to be a success, with Alder encouraging a legion of consumers and admirers of his approach. “We are currently at an exciting stage in the development and expansion of our products,” says Wujec. “We are working on five new products.” She reveals that one of those upcoming releases will be a raincoat and another an outdoor dress.
Having things to look forward to is certainly more important than ever, and Blackman says that while it’s hard to stay optimistic right now, Alder has a following that looks to the brand and its muse – the great outdoors – for comfort. and clarity. “What optimism means to me is that you can recognize that there will be feelings of negativity and not [being] one hundred percent agree, and that’s good, ”she said. “It’s part of a natural cycle of emotions in life…. We want to be part of a positive change and improve the mood of our community.
And of course, prioritizing vitamin D is essential for Wujec and Blackman for their own well-being. “Outdoor recreation is synonymous with happiness,” says Blackman. Thinking of the time spent away from devices, the work tasks and the dire thoughts that have come with our daily lives lately, we couldn’t agree more.