Sun’s out, hat’s out! As we head (pun intended) into spring and summer, we’re donning our favourite chapeaus along with our SPF to protect ourselves from UV and keep chic and cool. And there’s no better way to do so than with a selection from Canadian Hat and Harricana, where style and sustainable is top of mind (pun intended, again). Read our Q&A with artistic director Mariouche Gagné, and enter to win! —Vita Daily
Bonjour Mariouche! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start. What is Canadian Hat, and when, where, why and how was it founded?
I have an atypical background. Ecologist, tree planter, snowboarder and sailor, I wanted to redesign technical winter ware for women since, 30 years ago, all that was available was a smaller version of bulky men’s wear. I was a huge fan of Patagonia and Kanuk but thought their garments were not feminine and appealing enough. I went in to fashion school in 1988 and was lucky to win one of the biggest fashion contests in the world in Paris in 1990. I won a job as a stylist in Paris. I loved Europe so much that I wanted to go back for my university. The fashion foundation of Montreal helped me pay for my new school in Milan. After a few months in the bachelor’s program, they accepted me in the master degree of a better school, Domus Academy. But I had a big problem: I ran out of money one year later since that wonderful university was really expensive. I asked my mom to go to my fashion school in Montreal to try to make money by putting an ad and selling all that I owned: sewing machine, snowboard, mountains bike, etc. She instead saw a fur design contest and faxed it to me. I was against furs and didn’t know what to do. I decided to design ski wear in recycled furs. I was lucky my design won second prize and I could complete my master’s degree. My teachers and designer friends all loved the idea of my mom and my grandmother’s coats in warm mittens, long boots and funky back packs. The concept of Ecoluxe—Harricana was born. After being invited to the fur School of Copenhagen and the fashion contest in Japan, I came back and started the business in 1994. Two years later I had 25 employees and was selling in Nordstrom and Fred Seagal in the U.S. I had so many good and bad experiences in 27 years and I am glad I have now a great businesswoman as a partner in Harricana. We merged with her second business Canadian Hat 1918 four years ago. We have wonderful project to grow both brands in respect for the craftsmanship and the planet.
Has the company always believed in recycling materials to make its hats, from the very beginning? How has the recycling aspect changed/evolved over the years, and what does it look like today?
Yes, it is really in our values our mission our blood; we love nature and want to offer trendy creations with as little impact on the planet. We recycle jeans, wool, cashmere, silk, etc., and the longest-lasting material, fur coats.
What are your favourite materials to recycle into stylish chapeaus, and why?
Jeans is great because it is fun and long lasting; we also love wool and cashmere.
This summer, which style of Canadian Hat will you be rocking on repeat?!
All the styles! I like to change hats and accessories every day.
Win! A Canadian Hat Of Your Choice!
Congrats Cheryl G. of Nanaimo, B.C., who will be able to choose a Canadian Hat of their choice (some exceptions apply)! Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.