By Rachel Rosenberg
Peau De Loup is the kind of brand that inspires loyalty in their customers. A clothing company with a mission: “It’s about creating something authentic that makes people feel the same way on the outside as they do on the inside.”
Created in Vancouver by Adelle Renaud and Erin McLeod, PDL produces “androgynous-style clothing designed for all bodies with curves” in sizes ranging from 2 to 20. Renaud and McLeod met through mutual friends and the two realized that they had “very similar visions and ethics when it came to life and business”. Their shared goal at that time was to create clothing for tomboys, items that didn’t just imitate menswear but re-envisioned it to flatter curvier bodies. Their signature Alpha fit button-downs change regularly; each one is limited edition, created from the roll ends of fabric remaining from other companies’ production.
We spoke to Renaud and PDL Brand Manager Malloreigh Hamilton about staying local, remaining authentic and keeping their loyal fan base.
Tell us a bit about being a Vancouver-based clothing business. What is the community like, and how have your found it creating a business here?
Adelle: Vancouver… can be a tough city to break into. It has been one of my slowest growing markets, but the help and support within our community is endless once you start putting yourself out there and making connections.
Malloreigh: I’ll add that our Vancouver community is incredibly loyal and supportive of PDL; they remain our biggest single-city market and we’re always looking for ways to contribute more to the city. We just started collaborating with our friend Kim Janna (of ZeroFucksLifeCoach and Cereal Thrifter), putting together monthly shop/learn/socialize events called Connecting the Dots. Local small business owners — primarily women and queer people — can come together to learn about how to grow their businesses while networking and having fun.
The models you use are really delightful — it’s rare to see a group of diverse, butchy, confident women posing cheekily for a fashion shoot. How do you find your models?
Malloreigh: You may not be surprised to learn that we use our actual customers! We are lucky enough to have a diverse and enthusiastic array of Peau de Loup customers in Vancouver who are willing to pose for us. And that’s the thing — they aren’t models. They’re real people who wear the shirts. We have them come in and style themselves similarly to how they’d wear our shirts in their everyday lives — with a bit of help from us —so the shots feel authentically representative of our customer base. Because our clothing is limited edition and we have new products in so often, we need to shoot a lot… so it’s great to have such an incredible pool of real people to pull from.
Has the company grown significantly?
Adelle: The company has changed quite a bit since [it] first started in my tiny West End apartment in 2012. We brought on an investor in 2015 and the deal was that I would help him create his vision for an underserved market (boomers) and he would help finance PDL in order for us to grow the way we needed to. Noble Motives Collective Inc. was created. Now we have a beautiful office and warehouse where we run and operate our 2 retail businesses: Caposhie, which has seven brick-and-mortar stores across British Columbia; and Peau De Loup, which has one brick-and-mortar on top of our global e-commerce platform.
You appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2015, how was that experience?
Adelle: It was a great learning experience and definitely opened up doors that perhaps wouldn’t have been opened without the program.
Malloreigh: We still get new customers coming into the store saying they saw us on a Dragon’s Den rerun.
What inspires the look and feel of the brand? Where do you find inspiration?
Adelle: Our community is a big influence. Also menswear: I am always watching what men are wearing and then dreaming up ways of making it better for our customer.
Do you have advice for other designers?
Adelle: Know your customer and be authentic. Stay true to your values. Believe in yourself and your vision.
Pop over to East Van and visit their retail store at 1245 Frances Street, near Hastings and Clark, open Tuesday to Saturday.
Rachel Rosenberg is a writer and library technician who is a proud member of the LGBTQ2+ community. She writes for Book Riot and can be found on Twitter @LibraryRachelR
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