Nicole Bridger Design
By YP Contributor

Bridging Style and Sustainability

Nicole Bridger takes her business's commitment to sustainability seriously. She uses ethically sourced fabrics in her designs, including some that are renewable and even biodegradable, and she doesn't think just big, but small as well. They use buttons made of tagua nuts, shells or reclaimed material from other sources to avoid plastics, their labels are made from cotton not polyester, and their hangtags are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. The vast majority — 90 percent — of her clothes are manufactured in Vancouver at a factory the company owns. “It's a great feeling to manufacture locally and work with skilled labourers in Vancouver,” says Kim Burden, Nicole Bridger's Sales Manager.

And Nicole seamlessly blends style with sustainability. She may be West Coast born and bred, and her brand may be seriously sustainable, but the clothes are also seriously stylish. In 2010, she won Fashion Takes Action's very first Design Forward award recognizing eco designers.

Nicole's designs, explains Kim, are “ageless and timeless. Moms often shop here with their daughters; it works for all body types and we cater for maternity as well. We even have a line of little girls' dresses that uses leftover fabrics from our women's clothes which helps with our goal of zero waste.”

It's a great feeling to manufacture locally and work with skilled labourers in Vancouver. - Kim Burden, Sales Manager
Women's clothes, ethical fashion, local fashion
It was important to Nicole to be able to manufacture locally so part of her business plan was having her own factory.

Let the Eco-Friendly Chips Fall Where they May

Nicole's commitment to the environment stems from her everyday life. “She always wanted to respect and do her best for the planet,” says Kim. “When she was at Ryerson getting her BAA in Fashion Design, she wanted to used eco-friendly fabrics. When she worked with Chip there was an eco-element to that business as well.” By Chip, Kim is referring to lululemon founder Chip Wilson, and the business she's referring to is the eco-pioneering oqoqo line they launched together in 2006.

Under her own label Nicole designs two lines each year. A fall/winter line and a spring/summer line, each with 30 to 35 different styles comprising of a mix of old favourites and new designs. "We bring back core styles every season, though we may tweak them a little," says Kim. "Our aesthetics have changed over the years — we're getting away from draping and more into tailoring."

Women's clothes, ethical fashion, local fashion
A wall of thread at the Nicole Bridger Design's factory.

Bliss, Keen, Breezy, Goddess

Perennial favourites include Nicole's Bliss Pant, an eminently wearable silk crepe pant, and the Keen Dress that Kim describes as “a dress that is ridiculously comfortable so it looks like a great shift dress but feels like you're in your pyjamas.”

Nicole comes up with the inspiration for each season, and the names for each piece of clothing (think Adore, Grace, Peaceful) by the life lessons she's going through at the time. An example is her fall/winter 2014 line "I Am Enough," which she was working on right before she went on Dragons' Den. She was feeling the pressure of going on television and was dogged by the feeling of “Am I Enough?” and out of that experience came a line of lovely clothes that proved she — and her stunning designs — were definitely enough.

Women's clothes, ethical fashion, local fashion
As the brand evolves, so do Nicole's designs, moving away from draping towards more tailoring.
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