Catherine Pelletier Lauzon, owner of ORA eyewear, was disappointed to learn that one of the (rare) Canadian manufacturers, Look Again, was closing its doors. But rather than mourn the weakening of her ethical and ecological boutique concept, the young woman decided to buy back her supplier’s equipment and start making her own frames.
“The disappointment turned into an opportunity,” says the entrepreneur, in an interview in her new workspace. For the past few weeks, we have been able to shop the first creations out of Atelier ORA, located in Mile End. There’s something for every face, between the more sober black frame and the lime green oval.
For now, the collection takes up the models of Look Again, with “distinctive but timeless” styles. The small ORA team already had a lot to learn without having to get into design. Fortunately, the transmission of knowledge came with the equipment, which arrived in Montreal in May 2021.
The founder takes us on a tour of the workshop and its “machines”, explaining each of the manufacturing steps. The bezel is a field of patience, calculations and precision! We try to decipher the notes and calculations of the optician Aurélie Guilhem, which are hung on the wall, but it is a waste of time.
Catherine Pelletier Lauzon “fell into optics” at the age of 19. She worked in an eyewear store for three years, then went on a long trip. Rather than undertake university studies on her return, she accepted the offer of her ex-employer, who suggested that she open a branch in Montreal. Seeing the possibility of making her mark in an environment with the potential to be much greener, the go-getter decided to follow the three-year optics program at Collège Édouard-Montpetit.
From the outset, ORA eyewear gave itself the mandate to have an ecological and social conscience. None of the glasses on sale in the Villeray store are made in China. In the workshop, supplies are also important. The cotton acetate that makes up the frames is purchased in Italy, where the highest quality is found. In Canada, Fellow Earthlings manufactures its own acetate and recycles its scraps. Prince Edward Island eyewear has agreed to recycle ORA offcuts.
Doctor of Applied Mathematics Hélène-Sarah Becotte studied the carbon footprint of Atelier Ora glasses and found that they generated 12 times less greenhouse gases than those of some online eyewear companies.
Let’s talk price now! ORA mounts are $450. It’s more expensive than in online eyewear, but less than some pairs of designer frames whose provenance is not really known. “Glasses whose author you possibly know, made in fair working conditions in the middle of Mile End, it doesn’t get more real than that!” We are in favor of responsible purchasing and slow fashion. We teach our customers to take care of their glasses, to put them automatically in their case, to have them cleaned, adjusted, re-polished, repaired. It’s a bit like a bike shop, basically! concludes the entrepreneur.
Vallier of collections in collaborations
It is undoubtedly the quality of its materials, the simplicity and timelessness of its cuts, the attention to small details and solid marketing that helped Vallier quickly establish itself in Quebec. “We are not a brand that follows trends. We do classics,” says Simon Pelletier-Marcotte, product manager for the company. That said, some of the spring pieces are right on target, such as the Riverdale short-sleeved blouse and Niagara shorts set, to be worn lounge at home, out in the park or on a chic terrace. The cropped Arendel fleece jacket is also a hit. We won’t want to let go until summer arrives. A last proof of flair? “There is a bit of unisex in this collection, explains Simon Pelletier-Marcotte, then the “men’s” and “women’s” pieces share colors. »
Although the brand mainly dresses outdoor enthusiasts for the city, it also dresses urbanites for the road bike this spring. You can buy jerseys, shorts and other pieces designed in collaboration with the Castelli brand on the site of Altitude Sports, which is also the parent company of Vallier. How about a sailor top with green stripes with the Breton brand Armor-Lux? The two pieces from this surprising marriage will be on sale in May. But it will be necessary to wait until the fall to be able to buy the jacket made in collaboration with the emblematic Roots Canada.
Lafaille in Euphoria
It went a little unnoticed, but connoisseurs will have recognized Montreal designer Lafaille’s Scrunchie tee in the third episode of the new season of the series. Euphoria. It was the costume designer of the cult teen show, Heidi Bivens, who had the idea to wear the t-shirt to the character of Jules, played by Hunter Schafer. Although this model is unique and therefore unavailable, a long-sleeved version can still be found on the upcycling king’s site. We also really like the Zeal Tee cut-out t-shirts which reveal the upper chest in a just modest enough way and recall the time when the avant-garde brand Preloved had a store in the metropolis. To alleviate some of the production challenges of pieces created from old t-shirts, jeans, etc., Benjamin Lafaille is starting to incorporate something new into his collections. “But I still work with verified materials, which are ethical and ecological,” he says. This week, for example, we saw the arrival of the hoodie Lafaille in the online store. A “new” t-shirt will also be released in the coming weeks. Afterwards, we will have to wait until autumn to see new pieces from the designer who always manages to surprise us.