Market Players June 23rd, 2021

THE CANVAS: MEET DEVIN GILMARTIN, Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Can you tell us about the collection you are presenting at White? Inspirations, key pieces, materials... 

The Canvas’ selection for WHITE Milano was curated with the idea of bringing the essence of The Canvas’ global community to Milan. We picked nine of our brands, each with a different background, focus and, most importantly, approach to sustainability. Showcasing the diversity of ways a brand can approach making an impact was our priority. There are many different ways to approach thoughtful design which considers people and the planet.
For example, ADIFF employed resettled refugees in their facilities in Greece for the collection being displayed. Reuben Oliver works with Peruvian artisans to create their garments, which are made of only natural fibers.
Geographical diversity was also part of our selection, the brands we selected include Clandestina from Cuba, Bring from Japan and BrownMill Company from New Jersey. Each of these three brands bring unique design perspectives to the show, but they all have the similar use of upcycling and reworking vintage or discarded materials and products in their design process. An emphasis on more ethical menswear is what inspired the choice of Vustra and, Hedgren and FoxyLab are unique in their ability to capture the design preferences of the moment, and deliver it ethically, each in their own way.
Finally, one very important category of product that has not typically been delivered ethically, while keeping aesthetics in mind, is raingear. Our choice to bring APĀ-Intemporal to the WHITE show was in the need to showcase the cutting edge technology and fabrics that will advance better, more ethical product design and delivery. 

Sustainability has become a crucial issue for the fashion industry (and not only). From this point of view, how does your brand stand?

Critical, as well as over-leveraged. It is now a buzzword, and so the challenge now is not just to encourage brands to become “more sustainable”, but to be able to show how exactly they are doing so. Our position has been to take the approach of nuance. That is, we look for brands who have specific approaches and can explain them in detail. We then function as a vehicle for communicating this approach to the customer through our platform, both in-store and online. We are in a position of responsibility, to both our brands and customers, to ensure they have a point of communication that is transparent and trustworthy. 
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals has been our way to create a framework for describing the initiatives our brands undertake. While all of them are different, they fall under these seventeen goals for progress. At The Canvas’ physical locations, each brand has unique tags indicating which of the seventeen goals they are addressing, and on our online platform, one can view brands by the goals they address and wish to support with their purchase.

In the age of social media, non-stop communication and constant change, what should a brand should a brand focus on to carve out its own space?

Speak genuinely. Corporate-speak has been taken too far, and we all recognize it when we see it. The Canvas approach has been to speak directly, and as our own team does, to the people we wish to discuss our concepts, business and ideas with. Anything less than that has become obvious.

Is it important to emphasise the workmanship and, in general, the manufacturing production process? 

It is critical. We are always looking for ways of storytelling that will emphasize, transparently, how a product is made and who is making it. A partnership we are very excited to develop is with ROOTIP, a company that allows customers to see the story or a product and the individuals involved, and to tip them directly into a digital wallet that removes any third party and further enables trust. This is all with the scan of a QR code in-store, and a single click online. Seamless storytelling is the ultimate mission of the platform. Furthermore, we are excited about the Milan-based IDEE Brand Platform, which has created an amazing process and algorithm for assessing brands’ sustainability.

Any new projects on the way?

The Canvas is launching a new website this summer, which includes a brand portal and a rebranding of our platform and visual identity. The primary features of The Canvas Portal will be a custom software allowing transparency in inventory management, day to day performance and communication. Our intention is to make it easier for our brands to make data driven decisions on our collaboration.  Over the months of July and August, this will be happing online on our website, thecanvas.nyc, in tandem with our conference of global leaders in fashion, design and social impact. We will have more details on this very soon. 

 

 

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