Last winter I got a DM from Anne Mulaire asking if I’d like to try a pair of their winter leggings. I’ve never owned winter leggings before and love a good legging for layering so said yes. I’m not exaggerating when I say that they are a game changer. I honestly don’t know how I lived without without winter leggings in Canada for so many years.
After such a fantastic experience with their clothing and learning more about the brand, their values, and ethos, we arranged a brand ambassador partnership; I couldn’t be more excited to work with them and share the great things they’re doing.
For a quick breakdown, Anne Mulaire is an Indigenous, queer, woman-owned brand with inclusivity, sustainability, and ethical manufacturing as the foundation of their business. They create what I see as ‘elevated basics’ with many pieces that can easily transition from lounging, to the office, to date night, to the weekend.
Size inclusivity is also extremely important to Anne Mulaire and they spent almost a year doing fittings and developing their plus sizing to have a range from XXS – 6X. They even created a 70″ measuring tape for customers after finding that conventional measuring tapes didn’t work for everyone!
Since all their production is done in-house, Anne Mulaire also offers customization options. For pants you can select your inseam – perfect for both tall and petite people. You can also contact them for other customizations such as sleeve length or shoulder adjustments.
I have a couple Anne Mulaire pieces now in my wardrobe and I know they’ll also be perfect for filling wardrobe gaps in the future!
Anne Mulaire Winter Legging Review
I own a pair of their winter leggings in the colour ‘charcoal’ which looks black in the photos but is actually a dark, slightly blueish, gray. The leggings are a soft, fleecy blend of bamboo and organic cotton. They’ve been amazing for layering under dresses and skirts or wearing as comfy pants — I especially love the look of pairing leggings with a chunky sweater.
The fit is honestly perfect. I have no riding up or sliding down issues and the wide waistband is comfy and snug without digging in anywhere. Definitely note that their size chart tends to run larger so be sure to compare your measurements with the chart, read any fit notes, and don’t be afraid to contact them and ask about sizing — they were very helpful with finding the right size. The inseam customization was also a huge bonus; being petite, my leggings are always too long and I usually can’t be bothered to hem them; it’s lovely to finally have a pair without scrunchy ankles!
The fabric quality is also excellent. Pilling is generally something I’m quite concerned about with bamboo viscose, but after months of wear there are no signs of pilling on the inner thighs. I’m so pleased with the leggings, I’m going to get a second pair for next winter.
For spring and summer I also got one of their zero waste crop tops made from scraps and remnants from their production. It’s a super cute piece with a unique design from the patchwork, and I love how they’ve found create ways to use up their textile waste.
(psst – if you are interested in shopping from Anne Mulaire you can also use coupon code MYGREENCLOSET for a free headband!)
Interview with Anne
I recently had the opportunity to visit Anne Mulaire’s studio in Winnipeg, take a tour of their production, and sit down with CEO and Designer Andréanne (Anne) Mulaire Dandeneau to learn more about the brand, her inspiration, and what it’s like to manufacture in-house in Canada.
(Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
Erin: It’s so lovely to meet you and have a chat in person! Can you tell us how Anne Mulaire started?
Anne: I started Anne Mulaire in 2005. I was coming from a dance background, and had shifted from making costumes for dance to creating a yoga line. Then just it just evolved — I would hear from customers that they wanted different options, so the brand evolved into something you could wear for work.
From the get-go when I started my company, I always wanted to have these core values of mine present:
- Keep the manufacturing in Canada, which I wanted in Winnipeg specifically so I can be there and see what’s happening.
- Produce with sustainable fabrics. I was brought up wearing natural fibers, so that was embedded in me and very important to me.
- I am Anishinaabe French Métis, so I want to keep my heritage spirit alive through my collections. That is brought with a heritage collection that I put out every year. It’s classic pieces with some really nice prints and embroidered pieces that tell the story of Indigenous peoples in Canada and also Métis peoples.
We didn’t always own our manufacturing. In 2005 I used to get some of the products made in manufacturers in Winnipeg, but slowly the manufacturers closed. So I had to shift my production to somewhere else, to the point where the last one closed up. I took the sewers because they no longer had jobs, and said, “I think I can do this.” So we started all together and it is where we are today.
I had just 400 square feet for probably seven or eight years. Only last year we doubled the space and even doubled the staff too, which is exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time because you’re running a bigger operation. But it’s pretty cool to see this boutique clothing manufacturing exists in Winnipeg. I don’t think there’s a lot out there that runs a full production line.
Because you have everything in house you’re able to do just-in-time manufacturing. Can you explain what that means?
Anne: When somebody places an order we are able to produce it right away versus having bulk orders stocked. Doing it this way, we’re able to give customers the opportunity to customize their products, such as customize their length — if they’re tall and they want a 34 inseam, we can cut and make it. When they want a shorter pant, or they want longer arms or shorter, we do that before we cut the product. Then the customer [can come in to our boutique] and try the garment on. If it works out awesome, if it needs a little bit more, we do alterations on the spot.
I feel doing the customization is [part of] “buying better and buying less” because you’re getting something fit for yourself. Those who have bought something in the past years that fit them so well, I’m pretty sure you’re still wearing it today and you’re proud of it and you feel good. And also for all body shapes, all body sizes, customization is the way to create clothes. Sizing charts [do not fit most people] and you still have to do a few alterations — even I have to do alterations on my own clothes because I just don’t fit the full perfect model. The journey to keeping your clothes longer, that’s step one to sustainability.
Was there anything in particular that sparked your interest in sustainability or was it always there?
Anne: It’s always there. It’s embedded in me. I think us being Indigenous people, Mother Earth is so connected. Talk to any Indigenous person, we’re just connected this way and we think, it’s a no-brainer kind of thing.
That’s why I used natural fibers and then I went from natural fibers to thinking I need something better. So then I went to bamboo and now we’re like, okay, we need something better, so we moving on to Tencel. It’s a journey, the sustainability. It’s never going to be perfect. But I think if most companies or brands could could just tap into it and say, okay, what can we do better from where we are today? That’s the first step.
I love that you have that growth mindset versus just saying, “we use this eco friendly fabric” and that’s it. Sustainability is a constantly evolving thing and there is always new information or things to try. So on that note, can you talk about why you decided to create your zero waste line?
Anne: The zero waste collection came out in 2015. At that time, we were doing more bulk orders for trade shows, and I was seeing all these remnants I had. Every time I see waste I’m thinking, how can we deal with this? This is an issue. So I started thinking about if I could take the remnants and make a piece of clothing. I think as designers, we’re always looking for a challenge.
I started doing these [zero waste] pieces and in 2015, with my first collection, I decided to go a little bit more couture. I wanted to elevate the zero waste and for it not to look too recycled but make it look like it can be something different. But after that people gravitated towards the concept and I started creating more ready-to-wear pieces.
Today we have a really nice zero waste collection and I have a couple of people to help me. It’s fun because it pushes their creativity too. And that’s another thing with sustainability, it’s all about being creative and finding new ways.
I think that’s such a great point. It’s so easy to just go buy something new, but we need to think: is there a way that you can use something you already have? Or take something that exists and make it into what you need? That kind of mindset is so important in all areas.
Anne: You’re totally nailing it. We’ve been trained to think quick and impulsively. In the old days you would go to the tailor and you would have to wait for your clothing. Consumption has changed over the years and I think we have to retrain our minds to slow down again. I know that’s always been the talk — slow down, slow down, but it is true.
With clothing, if you have a hole you can bring it to someone to mend it or learn how to mend it, it takes time. But I think it’s a necessity. If we keep doing what we’re doing now, we’re not going to have anything to show for the next generation.
And you have a repair program too, correct?
Anne: We are launching our Return to Nature initiative and it is an aggressive four-year plan to try to keep our clothes in the loop. We’ve always done repairs, we’ve always done alterations, but now we’re actually putting it together in a package. Customers can come in and choose from the two options; a light repair, where they can repair rips or a full repair, where we can change the waistband, change the piping, the cuffs for pants or for tops. Sometimes the stitching comes undone and it is way less expensive to repair than buying a new piece, and you can give it another year of life! So that’s our ‘Refresh’ program.
Then we have our ‘Revive’ program, which is similar but where people bring in their old pieces with parts totally run out or need to be replaced. I would maybe replace a whole sleeve, keep the part of the jacket or the piece of the dress — whatever piece of the garment that is workable. Then the rest I kind of upcycle. So use my own fabric and kind of play around with that.
There is also our resale program. We’ve been wanting to do the resale for a while because clothing sometimes is expensive and we want to open up to more people. We believe if you can’t include everyone, then it’s not sustainable. People can bring back their old Anne Mulaire and we will resell, mend it, do whatever needs to be done, and then give customers store credit if they want to purchase something else later on. So that’s going to also allow customers to buy our garments at a lower cost.
For the last question, I’d love to know more about how you design. Do you draw a lot on inspiration? Is it very customer driven?
Anne: It’s definitely customer driven, but I also feel and see what’s out there, seeing what lifestyle is happening. I definitely felt it through COVID, especially for this last spring collection, not being able to travel, not being able to see people. I love to travel and I think that’s how I open my eyes to see what’s happening around me. I wasn’t able to do that for two years and I definitely felt it. My creativity was very low and I felt just not inspired as much. But sometimes [I’m inspired] just walking. It could be a person wearing something, and I’m thinking, “oh, wow, this is just so beautiful.” Or it could be the shape I love, different silhouettes inspire me. Also the customers’ feedback, a couple of customers are muses for me.
Thank you so much Anne, and be sure to check out Anne Mulaire’s lovely pieces.