Workspace of the Month: Inside the Minimalist Studio of Sustainable Apparel Brand Ecologyst

The recently opened workspace serves multiple purposes and is open to the public
Ecologyst's Victoria-based studio space. (Photography: James Jones)

In our Workspace series, CB is featuring interesting, smart-designed and one-of-a-kind spaces across Canada. From innovative home offices to out-of-the-box co-working spaces to unconventional setups—like this beauty company run out of a rural farmhouse—we are looking to showcase the most unique and beautiful spaces from all industries. This month we are profiling sustainable clothing company, Ecologyst.

Ecologyst, based in Victoria, B.C., opened its new headquarters in July 2021 after relocating from a smaller space on the island. Located in a heritage building dating back to the late 19th century—which was once a power station—the facility serves multiple purposes: It’s a combined retail showroom, factory and warehouse. This means customers can browse and purchase the very items they see being made on sewing machines right in front of them. The building also houses a media studio where Ecologyst Films—the brand’s independent nature-films production company—works, as well as an office space for Ecologyst employees, including its product team, marketing and retail team and CEO, René Gauthier.

Founded by Gauthier in 2002 as a surfing brand, Ecologyst has evolved into an eco-friendly outdoor apparel company. The company, which rebranded from Sitka to Ecologyst in 2019, brought all its manufacturing back to North America from overseas factories in 2014 to better align with the company’s green ethos. Now, all the garments are made either in Canada or the U.S. from more sustainable materials.

The inspiration behind the 4,500-square-foot space, designed by Colin Harper Architect, was to expand local production, provide transparency on the manufacturing process and facilitate relationships between shoppers and the craftspeople making Ecologyst’s clothing.

Here’s a look inside, photographed by James Jones.

Before shoppers enter the showroom, they can read about Ecologyst’s story and company ethos—an element inspired by gallery exhibits.
The building’s foyer leads into the warehouse and factory space where the shoppable showroom also lives. Customers don’t need to make an appointment to visit, they can just walk in.
The multi-use facility is housed in an 1892 heritage building, which Ecologyst took over during the pandemic. Upstairs is used as an office.
The minimalist space has lofty ceilings and whitewashed brick, evoking a modern industrial aesthetic.
Above the samples on the floor are storage boxes where additional product is kept.
To encourage sustainable consumption, Ecologyst offers a lifetime guarantee on its products. Items are fixed on-site.
Shoppers can try on designs they like from the floor.
Clothing is made from natural and biodegradable materials, like organic cotton and merino wool.
To support local jobs and sustainable manufacturing practices, clothing is made on-site in the Victoria workspace or in other factories in Canada and the U.S.
Visitors can meet the sewers making the clothes on the sewing machines (left) and see the designs come to life.
A pattern and sample of the brand’s new quilted jacket. The design was prototyped, tested, fitted and finished at the factory.

Think your workspace is worthy of a spotlight? Please send a short blurb describing your setup and a few photos to [email protected] with the subject line “Workspace of the month” for consideration.

CB Staff
CB Staff