For Ecksand founder Erica Bianchini, shaking up the jewellery industry was born out of her desire for high-quality pieces without the price markup that can come with a designer name. “I know quality when I see it, but I hate overpaying for nonsense,” she says. When Bianchini started her company in 2010, she focused on what mattered to her as a consumer: ethical and sustainable sourcing of high-quality materials and Canadian craftsmanship. Those values are resonating with consumers, including Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, who has been spotted in the brand’s baubles.
In December, Ecksand relocated from its original showroom on the 15th floor of a Montreal office tower to a street-level storefront in the same building as their design and production studio. While renovating the retail space, which for decades had housed the original Fournier leather-goods store, Bianchini kept as many of the original features as possible, including marble columns that date back to the 1930s, while adding fresh eco-minded design elements such as a planter made of repurposed barn wood and contemporary artwork by Tobie Giddio. “The combination is something you’re not used to seeing,” she says.
Being in the same building as Ecksand’s atelier provides a direct line of access to its signature designs, which include the Tresses Bar Earrings worn by the Duchess and the Showcase Stackable Gemstone Rings. Ecksand is also known for a custom ring program, a service that creates future heirloom pieces such as wedding and engagement rings. “It’s the reason why I love fine jewellery,” Bianchini says. “It’s that one time where we can really say, ‘This is not disposable.’”
Ecksand, 632 rue Cathcart, Montreal, 514-804-7263, ecksand.com.
Design destination Avenue Road is introducing a new collection of stylish rugs. The Endurance Collection by The Rug Company lives up to its name as it can be used indoors or out. Each flatweave rug is made with Perennials yarn, which uses 100-per-cent solution dyed acrylic technology to ensure long lasting vibrant colour. The look of the collection is inspired by Desert Modernism and the architecture of Palm Springs, a place that blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor. The colours and designs of the rugs reflect the casual yet elevated sensibility of the California city.
Canadian jewellery designer Jenny Bird has partnered with Dress for Success Canada on the latest addition to its Rarebird initiative. Launching March 1, this limited-edition pendant is inspired by Share Ryan, a Dress for Success alumna who transitioned from homelessness to university graduate with the help of the organization. Only 25 pieces were produced and a portion of the sale of each Rarebird x Dress for Success piece will be donated to the organization, which helps women achieve economic independence through a network of support, professional clothing and development tools.
For the first time, Aldo and Addition Elle have partnered on a collection that taps into their respective areas of expertise: stylish footwear and equally chic plus-size fashion. The two Canadian fashion brands recently announced that they have created a wide width footwear collection in sizes 6 to 12, including half sizes, that feature breathable inserts and padded memory foam. Launching this month at Addition Elle stores and online at additionelle.com, the collection includes on-trend footwear styles that range from casual (slide-on sneakers, flat sandals) to elegant (heels and booties) to weather-ready (rubber boots) as well as handbags.
A new Canadian-Swedish partnership is closing the loop on denim recycling. Ottawa-based Bank & Vogue, one of the largest traders in used apparel in North America and parent company of vintage retailer Beyond Retro, and re:newcell, a Swedish chemical recycling company, will be converting postconsumer denim into new, recycled fibre at an industrial scale. This fibre-to-fibre recycling process dissolves the fabric of jeans to create a natural pulp that can be respun back into textile fibre at an annual rate of 7,000 tons of discarded textiles, giving new life to around 90,000 pairs of jeans.