Sunday Sip Series - Talking Organic with Friends Made Co.

This Sunday Sip Series features Friends Made. Friends Made is an online clothing store that manufactures environmentally friendly Canadian-made apparel. They offer organic clothes that are great for year-round wear. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave and Sean from Friends Made to talk about organic cotton and organic wine. We had a great time discussing what makes both wine and cotton organic, all while eating great cheeses and sipping on Sage Hills 2013 Gewurtztraminer. 

To learn more about Friends Made read our interview below!

When and where was Friends Made born?

Dave: Friends Made was born in 2013 out of a desire to produce better tailored, more customizable clothing than what was currently available in the market. At the time, I was the co-owner of a ski and snowboard lifestyle company where we offered our logo printed on American Apparel or Guildan blank shirts. I really didn't like the limited amount of customizability. I proclaimed "these are not that complicated of a product! We must be able to make these ourselves!". Our screen printer referred me to a cutter in Montreal and I asked him all of the different fabric sources and manufacturing he knew of. I also strolled around Chabanel and would walk into places and see what they had to offer. After about two years of wandering around I am very confident in my manufacturing. I am now looking to develop clients and get the word out about how you can make clothing ethically and affordably right here in Canada! 

What was your “Ah-ha" moment that made you decide to start a clothing company? 

Dave: The ‘Ah-ha’ moment came to me when I made my first t-shirt. I really liked aspects of how the Obey shirt fit, so I bought one and deconstructed it. Then with the help of various pattern making YouTube videos and articles online, I managed to make a pattern and then sew together a t-shirt that I LOVED the fit. From there I knew it was going to be possible to repeat this process for other fits and ultimately that I could offer the type of product that I personally wanted so badly.

We love that the garments designed on Friends Made are sourced and made in Canada. Can you tell us a little more about why that was so important to you?

Dave: To me local labour is something that makes sense, then on top of that it has positive ethical implications. I had started out having to be very specific with my cutters and sewers in Montreal in order to get the product right and my policy was to always discuss specifics in person. This is a convenience that is not present or if so, very expensive when manufacturing overseas. In terms of each step of the process; from the knitting facility to cutting and sewing, I attribute a lot of the success to the fact that I was able to have a personal relationship with the person doing the physical work and could communicate directly what needed to be done. As well appreciate exactly which parts were difficult or problematic in the process. This makes sorting out issues much easier and I genuinely enjoy having a relationship with these people and experiencing them in their craft.

T-shirts and tank tops are classic staple items in our wardrobes and it can be extremely difficult when looking to find the perfect fit. What makes a Friends Made shirt different than those from your competitors?

Sean: As far as transparently produced, ethically and sustainably made clothing goes, the market is still a small one with only a few of us playing around in it. We want the clothes we make to be essential pieces – not just be seasonal pieces that fall out of fashion in a few months. We want the fit to be specific and to offer variety within a simple staple such as a T-shirt or sweater. Yes we all can buy a simple crew neck, but it’s not always that we can buy a crewneck that is going to fit loose or tighter in the places we’d like it to.

Comfort and style should go hand in hand, but we often have to sacrifice one for the other due to fit. How does Friends Made ensure comfort while looking stylish at the same time?

Dave: I take influences from what I like to wear and the fashionable people around me (and Montreal) for inspiration. My goal is not to make flashy, trendy clothes, but all season basics that everybody has and needs. Part of it is because I also believe in buying clothes that you will get years of wear out of rather than the 'disposability' of many of today’s styles and quality of garment. The comfort part goes hand in hand with that because most of these staple garments are inherently the more comfortable type. It also helps that I can rub my face against the fabric before I buy.

Friends Made has made it to the semi-finals in the Notable Ford Fusion Startup Lab to win $10,000. If you win what does the future look like for Friends Made?

Sean: Our biggest goal right now is to get the word out and ramp up our marketing. We really want to make sure that as we grow, we’re making connections with the community. This means that we want to involve local designers, start doing collaborations with larger local businesses, and be a part of local events. If we win, we want to use the money to ensure that we are able begin making these critical connections while also expanding our production to more styles and designs. We want to grow from charm, not cash – but cash helps too.

We have saved the most important question for last. If you were to share a bottle of wine with someone, who would it be and what bottle would you choose?

Dave: John Lennon and whatever he wants, he's John Lennon!

Thank you to Dave and Sean for taking the time to share their knowledge about organic cotton. If you would like to see our review of the Sage Hills 2013 Gewurtztraminer check out our Quini page!