Gunny Sack (small) in Caramel
How long have you been in business?
What does “sustainable fashion” mean to you?
My budget! I worked as a vintage picker most of my adult life. I would be buying and selling, so when I started going to school for leather work, it was easy to source vintage or reclaimed and recycled leathers, and it was fun to have everything one of a kind. It was an obvious move for me, I learned so much just about colour theory, matching all of those colours. I think its good for your brain!
Bucket Bag in Forest
What inspired you to start a sustainable fashion line?
I sort of started out of my backpack, in London, in 1999, and in Melbourne but officially I started in Vancouver in 2002.
Who is your customer?
I am pretty lucky to have a broad customer. I keep away from obvious trends and try to keep things simple, timeless, and good quality. I like that someone knows it’s an Erin Templeton bag. I was in NYC and someone asked me if I was from Vancouver, and I said, “Yes! how did you know?” and she said I “had an Erin Templeton bag!” It was a sample from my new collection, and I was surprised, but she was originally from Calgary and worked in a shop I sold at, so she was very familiar with my bags. Still, it made me realize even when I try and do something different, they still look like me. Oh well!
What is something you wish people knew about recycled leather?
Well, locally made is important, and recycled is ideal. Nowadays, it seems like vinyl/plastic bags made in China with good marketing can be considered sustainable and I just don’t get it. So yes, “vegan” leather is plastic, it is terrible to work with, has side effects for the people working with it, and terrible for the environment, but yes, it’s not from an animal. Also “veggie tan” leather is just a type of leather that’s all, it’s not dyed, so that’s good, but it is processed like all leather, and it’s not vegetarian! Recycling leather is twice the work, but worth it, I love that I can recognize a purse years down the road, they are like wonderful little markers.
Straight and Narrow in Veggie tan and black, Straight and Narrow Round in Chocolate
What’s the most challenging thing about running a sustainable business?
Sustaining it! I should have started a non-profit! ha
Other than your own, which sustainable fashion brands do you like?
As a vintage picker, I love brands like Eileen Fisher, or really any of the brands that have stuck with what they do, and keep their fabrics natural, and simple timeless silhouettes. I have always worn vintage, so I love fabrics first. Osei-duro has put so much energy into making sure everything is on the level on every level, it’s very impressive.
Just For Fun
What’s your spirit animal?
Someone told me its a bear or a wombat. I like to sleep, pick berries, and I’m grumpy when hungry.