“Hey, you’re almost there,” reads the sign on the door to a studio on the second floor of 487 Adelaide St. W. Rose-gold balloons spelling out “UNCO” float on one end of the room, adjacent to a welcoming seating area and handmade natural flower wall. Everything is Instagram-approved while still on brand for Toronto fashion startup, UnCo. There to greet customers is co-founder of UnCo. and Ryerson Fashion Communication graduate, Jaclyn Patterson.
UnCo. provides capsule packages twice a year with clothing items curated to customers’ taste. Despite this ambitious enterprise, Patterson emphasizes that every piece in their seasonal collections are responsibly and ethically-made.
According to CBC’s Marketplace, on average, Canadians purchase 70 new articles of clothing per year which, contributes to 12 million tons of textile waste in North America’s landfills.
The startup was co-founded by Patterson and her business partner, Kim Kirton.
“We didn’t want to create just another fashion company…we also want to educate people on where their clothing comes from and be more mindful with what they purchase,” says Patterson. “I’m wearing a top today and I know who made it. In fast fashion, you don’t know anyone that makes your clothing, you don’t even know where it comes from.”
With over 100 items in their current spring and summer 2018 collection, UnCo. works with independent, sustainable, and locally-made clothing brands from across North America for their customers to shop from for their capsule boxes.
“Something we really value is collaboration over competition,” says Patterson. “We know all of our designers personally.”
One of those designers is Ashley Kasdorf of Kazz Clothing, a Regina-born, Toronto-based brand that started just under five years ago. Kasdorf’s father came from an architectural background, so she was always inspired by her father’s technical drawings which caused her to develop an interest in sustainability and art from a young age. In 2006, she studied fashion in Vancouver then business in Regina. From this education and inspiration, Kazz Clothing was born.
“I wanted to be close to the process of designing a garment, the patterns, and so on,” says Kasdorf. “Fast fashion launches new pieces every week and that’s not sustainable for the environment or economically and even though it’s expensive, my money is put back in the economy.”
Kazz Clothing is entirely Canadian-made and works with UnCo. as another sales outlet.
UnCo.’s capsule boxes vary between seven, 12 and 15 credits, varying depending on the number of articles customers want per box. Customers first take a survey which pre-determines suggested pieces for their capsule box. They then have the opportunity to purchase those pieces, edit the selections themselves, or build a capsule box completely on their own. Either way, each box is personalized and tailored to each customer.
“[Capsule wardrobes] addresses to the problem of excessive consumption, where clothing comes from and why it matters,” says Patterson. “It’s really choosing to consume less and do more with less.”
For Patterson, her knowledge of fast fashion came both from her higher education studies at Ryerson University, but also her own experiences and conscience.
“If I walk into an H&M or Zara, I feel guilty. Through time, I developed a moral conscience,” she says. “It was through education as well; there’s a lot more of an opportunity for students to be educated on sustainable fashion and I think Ryerson’s on the path towards that.”
On March 8, UnCo. launched their first month-long pop-up showroom on 487 Adelaide St. W. for customers to come in and shop the collection in person. They also launched their online e-commerce website. Orders for their second seasonal collection end on April 5.