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A Q&A with Alexandra Weston

Outland Denim is proud to be a part of Holt Renfrew's H Project - a speciality department of extraordinary products with extraordinary stories.

Standing for Humanity, Health and Habitat, H Project evolved out of the store's designer collaboration program as a way to start giving back locally and abroad.

Curated from around the world, H Project's products are all socially responsible by way of where they were made, by whom, with what materials and how they give back.

Alexandra Weston, Holt Renfrew's Director of Brand and Creative Strategy, gives us an insight into the growth of H Project at the luxury Canadian department store.

OD: Can you tell us who or what inspired you to start H Project in 2013, because at that time the words "sustainability" and "ethical fashion" weren't common parlance in fashion?

AW: I grew up with retail as part of my family, at that point through travel. I fell in love with animals, environments and the amazing people and cultures I saw around the world. I wanted so badly for all of my passions – fashion, retail, environment, and culture – to work together, not fight each other as they traditionally do. It was this desire that birthed the concept of H Project as a way to use the power and platform of retail to create positive change in the world. It came out of the belief that fashion can be a strong catalyst for good. I, now we, want to show people the positive impacts their purchasing decisions can make, and we hope this will empower people to ask more of their brands and empower them to make smarter choices.

OD: How did your customers receive H Project?

AW: Like any new concept it takes time to take hold; it takes time to get the message out and to teach customers. H Project has been around now for 5 years and each year that passes we grow a little bigger, a little stronger, and our customers and brands are starting to see us as a place to discover responsible, well-curated products. 2017 was our best year since launch, so, thanks to our customers, we are moving in the right direction.

OD: Why is Outland Denim such a good fit for H Project?

AW: When looking at whether a product is a fit for H Project we consider where and how a product is made, what materials it is made of, and how it gives back. Outland ticks all the right ‘responsible product’ boxes from its humanitarian production and give back, to its organic and toxic-free material makeup.

OD: What changes have you witnessed in luxury/premium fashion since commencing the H Project?

AW: So many changes! I used to get discouraged by the bold and shockingly negative facts around fashion production, which still happens, but I find these days I am more hopeful and excited. There is so much innovation in this sector and amazing technologies that are allowing us to spin wearable fabric out of ocean plastic or break down old textiles to create new ones. The industry is getting better at reusing textiles; recycled polyester or recycled cashmere is showing up on material labels.

Big luxury brands are now starting to make big statements – recently Valentino joined in the lineup of luxury brands, already including Gucci and Stella McCartney, that will no longer use real fur. There is so much more to do but the ball is rolling, and for the first time I feel it is actually gaining traction in what has been a ‘slow to react’ industry so far.

OD: At which Holt Renfrew stores can customers find Outland Denim?

AW: Outland Denim can be found in locations that have an H Project shop, these include: our three Toronto locations (Bloor St., Sqare One and Yorkdale), Calgary, and Vancouver.

OD: You are a fan of our Lucy jeans, even wearing them in your recent campaign with Doutzen Kroes for #knotonmyplanet. Can you tell us why you like this style particularly?

AW: I really love the relaxed fit of this style, they are a little high-waisted, which I also like. They just fit really well and are super comfortable. I am actually wearing the Lucy right now – ha!

Outland Denim is now available in select Holt Renfrew stores, click here to find your closest H Project.

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