Designer Spotlight: Nicole Bridger
Pieces of Nicole Bridger have been hanging in the closes of ethical fashionistas since 2008. Having interned at Vivienne Westwood, then having worked with Lululemon developing a sustainable line called Oqoqo before starting her eponymous line, Nicole Bridger pieces bridge the gap between cool and comfortable, all made from sustainable fabrics.
When Nicole started in the basement of her parent’s Vancouver Canada home in 2007, she couldn’t know the tumultuous decade that lay ahead: she launched her first collection and won emerging designer in 2008; gave birth to her son, got divorced and became a single mom 2009; won eco designer of the year in 2010; opened her first boutique in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver in 2011, purchased her garment factory in 2012; moved the store to Gastown in 2015; and closed the garment factory in 2015.
And like the experience of most entrepreneurs, some of our biggest breakthroughs come from moments that seem, at the time, like setbacks. About the factory Nicole shares,
Closing the factory was the hardest thing I’ve done to date. Laying of over 20 people who had put their trust in me was devastating. It almost bankrupt the company too. Last winter was one of the darkest times of my life. The stress was insurmountable. I was responsible for all these people as well as for my son and I didn’t know what was going to happen. We have since been able to recover and became profitable in a few months time. I learned many things through that process. that if we don’t have a strong foundation as a business then we can’t move forward. that I can handle anything that life brings with grace and honour. That it will be ok whatever ok might look like.
But what has always been the base of Nicole’s inspiration is still the same. “It is always about helping people. Seeing how our clothes make people feel and how excited they are to find a brand that aligns to their values.” Using sustainable textiles, production is split between a local replacement, a new ethical factory in India and a fair trade factory in Nepal.
The tagline for the brand is we create lifestyle products and conversation that support ethical and inspired living - so we had to ask Nicole, what does it encompass? She shares,
All change begins with conversation. We are about being a part of a change that needs to happen and the clothes are just the vehicle. We create lifestyle products that will benefit your life and align to your values and will help you to live a better life.
This season’s must have? The Belief pant: a classic cigarette pant that will never go out of style. It offers great fit and comfort and can be dressed up or down, made in a fabric that Nicole Bridger had specially made: a modal/tencel/spandex crepe that will last.
Dreaming on the next decade, Nicole’s vision for the future includes 20-60 flagship stores acting as brand showcases and community building spaces. To this end, Nicole Bridger is doing more and more pop-ups (currently in Calgary and Edmonton) helping to spread brand awareness. She would also like to open a second store in the next 2 years and eventually diversify the line to include men’s, kids and home. Find the collection here.