PARIS–Canada is traveling to Colette. On September 7, Toronto-based leather goods brand Roots will launch a collection designed in collaboration with Vancouver-raised writer Douglas Coupland–whose dry humor and honest style have found immense success through books such as Generation X.
The retro-future line–simple apparel and bags–simultaneously evoking progress and tradition, explores Canada’s complex identity.
Fashionista.com met up with Roots founder, Don Green, and chatted about Canadian pride today.
Fashionista: How did the collaboration with Douglas Coupland come about?
Don Green: Last summer, Chris Nanos, a film producer who had made a film with Douglas Coupland, contacted me about a possible project involving Douglas and Roots. Douglas had expressed an interest in designing a clothing line and discussed it with Chris. Given the heritage and reputation of Roots, both thought we would be the logical choice to approach with such an idea.
In the first meeting, Chris showed me examples of Douglas’ work and I very much liked his modern, contemporary and artistic style and his boundless, creative interest in Canada. I was intrigued with the idea of collaboration between Douglas and Roots and so we set up a meeting with him to discuss the possibilities.
Why was it appealing to collaborate with someone like him?
Fellow Roots co-founder Michael Budman and I welcomed the prospect of working with such a creative talent and explorer like Douglas who shares our passion for Canada. This was the first time in our history that we stepped back and left the design to an outside designer. We liked the idea of someone with such diverse talents and who clearly understands and appreciates Roots, bringing a fresh outside perspective to this kind of project.
How would you describe the result?
Visually, the collection is strong but beyond that, Douglas has once again shown his trademark humor and brilliance in exploring a new medium, in this case fashion. He puts forth a hopeful and positive message about Canada and the results are impressive.
What are message are you trying to communicate about Canada today?
It all stems from our love and appreciation of Canada. We have always liked exploring new ways to express a sense of place and paying tribute to this country.
Canada today has a much greater sense of itself than it did when we started Roots in 1973. The country is more worldly, has more self-confidence and is more diverse and prolific in its achievements, whether it’s on the cultural level or in the spheres of business, fashion and technology.
What does it mean being Canadian today?
To be Canadian today is to be part of one of the world’s great human success stories of the 21st century. One that entails bringing together immigrants from all over the globe in a place of First Nations people and the two founding –English and French-speaking –communities, sharing the values and ideals of freedom and democracy amidst such breathtaking physical beauty.
To be Canadian is to be part of a country where despite all the ethnic and religious differences, people live largely free of the tensions and strife so endemic to most other places in the world. It is an incredible example of diversity and tolerance in action. As a relatively young country, Canada is still very much a work in progress but one that gives tremendous hope and inspiration for people all over the world.