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Métis Fashion Designer Leads Circular Economy by Design

Contemporary dancer turned fashion designer, Métis leader Anne Mulaire sees sustainability as an intrinsic part of her lifestyle brand.

In the age of throwaway fashion, where the lifespan of trendy clothes is measured in weeks, Anne Mulaire is forging a new path, inspired by her Métis culture, based on natural fabrics and local manufacturing. Since 2005, already focused on principles of sustainability, the company is now aligning operations to participate in the circular economy.

When founder and CEO Andréanne Mulaire Dandeneau began the company, she was already asking fundamental questions about its environmental impact:  “I realized the fabric was not sustainable. What am I doing? Am I creating a brand that is just clothing, or am I doing something more than that? I decided I wanted to keep my production in Winnipeg, I needed to be in control of it. I wanted to use natural sustainable fabric, and I wanted to tell the story of my heritage. Today, we don’t just want to be a clothing brand, we want to make the brand part of the circular economy.”

For Anne, crediting her Métis culture, resiliency is a way of life, stating: “It’s fun and challenging to strive to overcome challenges, finding new ways to save on waste. We don’t create our own recycled fabric, but recreate products from remnants. It takes effort and time, but it has to be done because it’s our responsibility to look at the waste that we create.”

During the pandemic sales went online and Anne used the opportunity to pivot the organization, “We ended up changing our entire business model. Instead of large quantities of clothes produced for trade shows, we could focus on ‘just in time’ orders. This allowed us to offer customized clothing, like changing the hem length or colour of the garment, which means you buy better and buy less. You wear clothing that is tailored for you.”

For Anne, engaging in circular economy practices is an investment. The supply chain of materials was critical, with local sourcing providing a higher degree of control to design out waste. And because of her focus on zero waste, Anne Mulaire is catching the attention of other like-minded fashion leaders, collaborating on remnant-based designs.

Working without the R&D budgets of larger companies, Anne relies upon collaboration, “I hope the government will provide some kind of help. It is amazing to see Supply Chain Manitoba support this path, helping create a better planet for the next generation. I know people want to support us and buy into the model where your purchase is an investment and will inspire others.”

To learn more about Anne Mulaire’s sustainability initiatives and their Return to Nature program, please visit their website: https://annemulaire.ca/pages/sustainability

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