Chartreuse Style is an eco-friendly clothing store with an emphasis on style."I wanted to open a shop with environmentally-friendly clothes that don't necessarily look 'eco,'" owner Mary-Ann Kowala tells me after we meet in her freshly opened boutique.
This one is new for the neighbourhood. While Chartreuse Style would surely be at home in Kensington, the Annex, or perhaps on a busy block in Leslieville, this recently opened green clothing store is nested among home décor shops and antique joints on Queen West at the foot of Roncesvalles.
"My husband and I actually own the space," Mary-Ann says, "so when the previous tenant decided to leave last fall, I figured I would open the store right here."
Chartreuse Style actually began online, started by Mary-Ann as a reaction to the gaps she observed in the fashion world. "My background is in fashion," she says. "And I was noticing that the fashion industry was not changing fast enough to be eco."
So she decided to take the issue into her own hands. Her eco-friendly store combines a variety of different elements of green--organic materials, recycled and up-cycled items, sustainable production, and local fashions. But the additional emphasis is and always has been on finding styles that fit with fashion and trends, and don't look exceptionally out of the ordinary. So perhaps one should stick to Kensington for a striped hemp poncho.
Second Denim Co. is one of the lines carried at Chartreuse Style, a Montreal company that makes its jeans using organic cotton and chemical-free dyes. Mary-Ann holds up a pair of retro flared jeans ($120). "These are kind of cool looking," she says, though personally, I was keener on the boot cut high rise.
While Chartreuse Style stocks many basics, including Blue Canoe yoga wear and intimates, and $23 organic cotton tees in a whole rainbow of colours, my favourite pieces at the shop were those by Two of Hearts. A Vancouver-based company, Two of Hearts uses organic cottons and sustainable materials such bamboo rayon, recycled polyester and soy in all of its designs. My pick was the organic cotton twill Pasha skirt with patch pockets in blue-grey ($98).
Chartreuse Style also offers eco-friendly jewellery and accessories including bags made from bike inner tubes and candy wrapper clutches. And practicing what it preaches, the store is equipped with bamboo flooring, recycled furniture, energy-efficient lighting, and the lake breeze in lieu of A/C.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak