Photo credit: Renata Kaveh
Beaufille quickly gained a place on our Instagram feeds in the same wave as Ganni, Staud, and Stine Goya. This Canadian brand explored the contours of the genre and questioned our planet’s future without abandoning the style. Created by sisters Parris and Chloé Gordon in 2013, the duo reconciles their strengths – for one, accessories and for the other, clothing. At the same time, they keep an eye on what the other does. This alchemy is felt by the sandstone of their interpretation, inspiration, and discovery. Being a tomboy has never been so fashionable.
Meet Parris and Chloé Gordon, Co-Founders of Beaufille
The designer duo mixes touches of Scandinavian, French elegance, and this very American utilitarian, effortless, and wearable side. For Parris and Chloé, sustainability is no longer seen as a complicated and unavoidable philosophy. Ecological challenges are not avoided, on the contrary. At the outset, it is surprising and fresh, without doing too much. For All the Pretty Birds, the Gordon sisters meditated on sustainability, and how to create a transitional wardrobe that works for various settings and especially the fact that Toronto is now a fashion city we can count on.
Amanda Winnie Kabuiku: How did you decide to start Beaufille in 2013?
Parris Gordon: Growing up as sisters, we were always very close, which created a strong foundation. After going to art school together, it was a natural progression of working and collaborating. We were getting recognition for it (being picked up by local boutiques & getting local press) in the process. After three years of experimenting and working on our craft, it felt like the natural next step to turn what we had been doing into a brand/business.
AWK: How did growing up in Toronto help to sculpt the way you went about creating Beaufille? Is there a particular philosophy you have when it comes to design together? What’s the most unlikely place you look at for inspiration when designing?
Parris Gordon: Growing up in Toronto/Canada adds a sense of practicality to our design aesthetic. Perhaps it is more growing up in our parents’ home in Toronto that sculpted what we do. Our mother is a fine artist who has hand-painted almost every floor, wall, ceiling, and surface in the house in which we grew up. Our father was an investment banker with a passion for music and theatre arts. The combination of art, commerce, and passion is in our subconscious and is the foundation of what we do.
Chloé Gordon: In terms of design philosophy, we want each piece we make to have an effortless sensibility about it, letting the design, craftsmanship, and materials speak for themselves. In designing, we focus on clean, modern shapes infused with thoughtful subtle details. Additionally, we concentrate on trans-seasonal, multi-wear pieces with staying power in our customers’ wardrobe.
AWK: I can feel the “fille,” but the “beau” is subtle; how does your brand embody the “borrowed from boys” concept? Who is the woman you envisioned wearing Beaufille and how do you see her evolving?
CG: The “fille” represents Parris, and the “beau” represents Chloé. The name Beaufille quite literally describes our dynamic as sisters and designers. Parris is more feminine in her personal style, and Chloé more masculine. As designers, we always aim for subtleties vs. loud statements. The collections we create are a balancing act of designing for women with menswear sensibilities. For example, when creating a dress, we try to make it as effortless and relaxed as possible, restraining any feminine add ons or details (as the fact that it is a dress is feminine enough). Contrastingly we’ll make menswear-inspired coats and trousers tailored to a woman’s body and often include feminine accents or details.
We want to make clothes that women live in. You can wear our items beyond the limits of a typical season. We have always envisioned a woman with an effortlessly chic demeanor, who has a keen eye for art and a unique design. She evolves much like anyone would, with age, travel, and experiences – becoming a stronger and more aware version of herself as time goes on.
AWK: How has your aesthetic and personal inspiration changed & evolved? How do you connect those changing inspirations?
CG: Our aesthetic and personal inspirations do not change often; instead, they evolve with age, travel, and experiences. We share a common goal of always trying to better ourselves and grow each season, pushing and supporting each other in this process allows us to stay connected.
AWK: Beaufille sounds so French. Do you have French heritage? Despite the name, where do you distill your French inspiration into your brand?
PG: The idea of effortless dressing, attention to detail, and craftsmanship all stem from French art & design mentalities. Less is more and making things feel special without being overdone. This is the mindset that we value in design and our process. Although we both have french names, we are not French and grew up speaking and learning French. Our mother lived in Paris, and her love affair of France, French culture and design were always emphasized to us growing up, they subconsciously influenced our collections.
AWK: What is your design process? How do you decide the theme or vibe of each collection? What does every collection have in common?
PG: We generally don’t design under themes but under our brand ethos. In school, being trained in physically making our product from scratch, we always start with materials. We source fabrics and jewelry materials that inspire us, and then begin playing with those materials. Every collection is a continuation of the previous, so that is usually our starting point. We figure out how we want to evolve what we’ve built, innovate our construction, and play with new ideas and ways of wearing and styling, and grow from there. Functionality and wearability are significant for us, staying in check with them shape our experiments and ideas into the final product.
AWK: The word “wearable” is often used to define Beaufille. What does this word mean for you?
CG: Wearable means ‘capable of being worn.’ We aim for everything we make to be wearable. We believe clothes can be wearable and still inspirational while sparking thought and imagination.
AWK: When we think about Canada, we think about Drake, beautiful landscapes, long winters, and practical clothes. Can you explain why you didn’t choose to establish your brand in New York or Europe, a place known by everyone as a fashion mecca? Why is it so essential for you to put Canada on the fashion map?
PG: It wasn’t something we consciously thought through. Financially it was the only possibility for us when we started, not to mention visa wise. We’ve always had the goal of being an international brand, but people need to realize that it can happen anywhere. We did not know that was possible when we started, but we just never felt we had an opportunity to move the business. We are proud to have done what we’ve done from Toronto – it has not made things easier, we have had to work extra hard to make things happen, but we’re proud of what we’ve been able to do from here. It’s given us the added grit needed to navigate in this business.
AWK: What is Beaufille’s take on shopping consciously and sustainably?
CG: We aim to produce pieces that are trans-seasonal, trendless, durable, and can be worn in a few different ways to add longevity and repeated use from one purchase. We use recycled and sustainable fabrics where we can, such as fabrics made from recycled polyester filament yarns, made 100% from post-consumer plastic bottles. We work with certified factories that are concerned with sustainability and low carbon emissions. Additionally, we create specialty pieces in our collections from studio deadstock and production waste.
We exercise slow fashion practices, producing two collections a year instead of three or four. We have a made-to-order wholesale business, ensuring there is no overproduction. We have launched fully fashioned knitwear in the past year, which generates zero waste in its construction. We can be limited as a small brand, but we exercise any and every opportunity to be conscious, sustainable, and thoughtful in our output.
See more and shop Beaufille online!
Imagery by Sarah Blais