TORONTO — Thanks to goalkeeper Erin McLeod and friends, Canada will look sharp off the field as well as on it at the Women’s World Cup.
McLeod has an interest in Peau De Loup, a Vancouver company founded some 18 months ago by designer Adelle Renaud that is helping clothe the Canadian women as a form of sponsorship.
For Canadian supporters, Peau De Loup has also created the so-called Unity Scarf. Designed by local Musqueam artist Debra Sparrow, the scarf is reversible with a design on one side and Canada on the other.
“You can wear it and have it look cool and then you can take it off and show your support for Canada during the game,” said Renaud.
The company’s Canada Soccer collection also includes two shirts: the No. 1 Oxford and True North flannel. The Oxford shirt, designed with McLeod in mind, will be worn by members of the team.
The Unity Scarf sells for $32 with the shirts each priced at $78.
Renaud, 28, describes herself as a tomboy who always loved the men’s section but couldn’t find anything that fit properly so she had to settle for “the least girlie items in the women’s sections.”
Her design business started with shirts. Renaud, like McLeod, preferred men’s button-down shirts but couldn’t find ones she liked that were tailored for women.
“We took everything we loved about a men’s button-down and put it into a women’s button-down.” said Renaud.
McLeod wanted a complete outfit for the team so Peau De Loup designed a custom suit: blazer, No. 1 Oxford shirt, pants and skirt. The hope is the company will be able to continue its partnership with the Canadian Soccer Association after the tournament.
Many men’s teams have long had custom-made designer suits, said Renaud,
“For us it was really important to supply the suits to the team just so that they feel special, that they are just as good as the men and we want them to look and feel that way,” she said.
The women’s suits are black, made out of four-way stretch recycled polyester made in Vancouver, and they won’t wrinkle.
“It looks good, feels good. They can actually do a run and play in the suit if they wanted,” Renaud said.
The company hopes to start offering such suits in its clothing line.
Renaud used to work with clients like Tommy Hilfiger and Billabong in overseas production, usually in Bangladesh. They would often ask mills to over-produce fabric by 10 per cent, in case something went wrong.
“Well, 90 per cent of the time nothing goes wrong so you have beautiful fabrics that sit and kind of go wasted, they either get stuck at the back of the factory or some might get sold off to a market.”
Renaud asked one of the factories if she could have the extra fabric.
“They laughed and they gave it to me,” she said.
Peau De Loup has grown ever since, currently offering more than 69 different fabrics for its shirts. It still uses leftover fabric but “now of course I have to start paying for it,” she said with a laugh.
Still, it’s a saving.
The company has found a niche, with 50 per cent of business repeat sales. Hot sellers right now are printed chambray shorts, according to Renaud.
And the company recently appeared on “Dragons’ Den,” with Renaud sworn to secrecy until the episode airs later this year.
Renaud said the idea to strike out on her own came one night watching “Oprah’s Lifeclass.”
“One of the things that the people were saying over and over was you’ll never truly be happy until you’re being authentic-self. And that kind of like sparked something in me: Well like who am I?”
Renaud started looking around and found plenty of women had the same frustrations as her towards clothing, as well as blogs offering tips on how to buy a men’s shirt and tailor it to fit a women’s body.
“At that point I just kind of got mad,” she said. “I was like ‘Man, out of the billions of garments being produced every year, there’s nothing for this demographic? Like that’s insane.'”
Renaud had the interest, drive and connections to change that.
“It was who I was, so I just did it.”
The name is French for wolf’s skin. For Renaud, it’s a riff on wolf in sheep’s clothing — menswear for women.
The clothing line, co-owned by Renaud, Beccy Anderson and McLeod, is sold in a few boutiques in Canada but mostly through the company website (www.peaudeloup.com).
‘The company also has a conscience, working with a foundation called The Freedom Factory. A portion of sales goes to an all-girls school in Bangladesh, with the company also working to help the girls’ mothers.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press