Shanda Jerrett, CEO and head honcho at GumDrops Wet Weather Boutique, models the Liz Trench at her store in Kitsilano.
Vancouver rain gear that's not only water-resistant, but waste-resistant as well? Try these companies...
Affectionately refered to as Raincouver—or perhaps more aptly, Vaincouver—this city loves to rain. Those who love living here are happy to settle for the wet stuff in lieu of cold and snow to keep things fresh and green, however the rain isn't so fun when you're not dressed for it.
So how can we equip ourselves against the rainy season without looking like androgynous human garbage bags? Can function and style in our urban rain gear meet as equals? And can that functional, stylish rain gear be eco-friendly to boot?
We scoured the city for Vancouver businesses selling Canadian raingear that's not only water-resistant and easy on the eyes, but waste-resistant as well. (Let us know if we've missed any in the comments section below! Sign in first...)
Echo Rain's brand new Women's Recycled Raincoat is made of 100 percent recycled polyester from post-consumer recycled plastics.
1. Echo Rain Eco Apparel rain gear
Echo Rain ECO Apparel, and its online retail arm Boardroom Eco Apparel, is inspired by the West Coat experience, melding contemporary style with green choices. What is Echo Rain's idea of green? Echo Rain gets that green is not an idealistic blanket satement backed up by "don't ask, don't tell" policies.
"It’s the entire life cycle of the garment that needs to be addressed," said Mark Trotzuk, CEO of Boardroom Eco Apparel. "And by thinking about all these steps I can help mitigate the impact."
A leader in developing sustainable fabrics and upholding high environmental standards to provide cutting edge eco-conscious fashion, Echo Rain practices fair trade, transparency, accountability, Bluesign Technologies standards (the highest standards of environmental, health and safety standards) and 1 percent of their profits are donated to environmental organizations. Not only that but Echo Rain is committed to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions in their Vancouver factory, where most of their apparel is produced.
Echo Rain is setting the bar high with their green business choices, and just as important, their rain gear is high quality: I purchased the Ladies' Stow Away pictured below in April 2009 and it's still in the same condition as when I purchased it.
Boardroom Eco Apparel's blue ladies' Stow-Away is made of 100 percent recycled polyester and is detailed with a white-contrast stich chest accent, white drawstring and white zippers.
Hatley's Watermelons girls' raincoat features a soft cotton lining, stylish gathers, front snap closures and a comfy terry lining, plus it's 100 percent polyuerthane and PVC free.
2. Hatley rain gear
Hatley is a family-run company based out of Lasalle, Quebec, that helps people get "clothes to nature" with eco-minded apparel and rain gear. Using vibrant prints of nature, wildlife and clever puns, Hatley may not take its designs too seriously but it does strive to be eco-friendly by creating long lasting products from natural fibres and by monitoring its manufacturing processes by developing relationships with industry partners.
Hatley seeks to constantly improve its practices, which already include using azo-free dyes (azo is a carcinogen), compostable bags, non-chlorinated bleach and closed-loop dryers to ensure its dyeing processes don't contaminate water systems. And the company is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification for its office and warehouses.
Hatley specializes in children's rain gear and also carries adult umbrellas and rainboots.
Visit the Hatley boutique in Whistler, or find Hatley gear in Vancouver at Currans of Kerrisdale, Capilano Trading Post, Canadian Crafts, My Little Green Shop, Scallywags, France's Hills, Aunt Em's, Gumdrops, Active Baby, Dandelion Kids and other locations.
Hatley's new Later Alligator Boys' Umbrella.
The GumDrops Liz Trench is a breathable, waterproof coat with a detachable hood.
3. GumDrops rain gear
Located on West 4th in Kitsilano, GumDrops has an impressive supply of rainboots, umbrellas and other rain gear. Originally from Australia, Liz Jerrett acquired a taste for the Vancouver rain and created GumDrops to help people get wet in style, bringing colour to rainy days while keeping one eye on becoming sustainable.
GumDrops uses energy efficient lighting, salvaged construction waste for storage shelving, reusable bags and has designed its own line of waterproof trenchcoats that are made here in Canada.
Kamik's recyclable Heather rainboot is made of waterproof rubber and has a removable Kamik footbed.
In other eco-efforts, GumDrops donates part of its proceeds to a variety of environmental causes; they also carry a line of repairable umbrellas and recyclable rainboots by Kamik, a company based in Lachine, Quebec, that manufactures its products in Canada.
Rain Co. carries this ladies' vinyl rain hat by Vandica, which has a buckle, a warm fleece lining, comes in white or black and is made in Vancouver.
4. Rain Co. rain gear
Ladner's Christy Pagani and her business partner from Kent, England, Jennifer Illsley, have learned to love the rain through their online business, Rain Co., located in Delta, BC. Offering a rainstorm of rubber boots, raincoats and waterproof accesories, Rain Co.'s selection of funky rain gear from around the world is overwhelming to say the least.
Rain Co. currently features a line of rain hats that are made locally in Vancouver by Vandica, and they plan to produce their own Rain Co. line of rain hats and rainboots in the future. Rain Co.'s garments are made of natural rubber that breaks down over time, steering clear of PVC because it's not biodegradable.
The online company makes an eco-effort by using reuseable shopping bags and making sure not to over-package items.
But if you're looking for a natural rubber rainboot made in Canada, you may be on a neverending search:
"There aren't any Canadian manufactures that produce natural rubber rain boots," Christy Pagani told us, explaining that Canada can't currently compete with China's manufacturing prices.
Rain Co.'s high-heeled rainboot by Dav has arch support and a textured sole to prevent slipping.
Dallas James' rain jackets and pants are windproof and waterpoof and come with safety reflective trims, jam-resistant zippers and elastic-lined hoods.
5. Dallas James Adventure Wear for Kids
Cyndi Schuring and husband/partner Burke Tanner spent almost two decades in the apparel business before starting Dallas James Adventure Wear for Kids, named after their son, Dallas James Tanner. Dallas James rainsuit sets are gortex-style garments made from laminated, breathable nylon fabric, and some items, such as the Dallas James mirco-fleece, use post-consumer recycled plastics.
Thoroughly tested by Dallas James Tanner, the rain gear is durable enough to be passed down from child to child once outgrown.
Dallas James Adventure Wear for Kids is made in Vancouver in an ethical sewing shop that offers fair wages and flex time.
"Many garment factories in Vancouver don't pay hourly," said Burke Tanner. "This forces the workers to put in extra long hours and take home work in the evenings. Many home or 'garage sewers' end up paying their own overhead within or from their wages creating a false reality for the worker and contributing to an underground economy."
Dallas James hoods don't droop over little heads, and elastic storm leg cuffs allow for increased mobility while puddle jumping.
Michelle Kay is a citizen of the world. Aside from creative writing, she has an affinity for activism, concept art, film and choreography. Read one of Michelle's short stories here.