Fashion
Mar 19, 2024
by Karl Smith
Raised By Wolves Is Raising the Bar on Everyday Wear
by Karl Smith
Mar 19, 2024

Ottawa-based streetwear brand Raised by Wolves has something of a penchant for everyday wear – not just for creating high-quality clothing that people actually want to put on, day after day, but also for pushing the boundaries of what that term actually means. Particularly when it comes to the Earth-friendlier side of things.

The brand’s latest release, then, not only confirms this ethos but also continues further down this greener path, using deadstock, ocean-bound plastic, and innovative bioplastics across sweats, one-of-one rugby shirts, sleek eyewear, and even a collaboration with watch brand Timex.

Driven initially by graphic styles and an eclectic approach to its offering – taking in everything from apparel to incense to snowboards to coffee – sustainability has nonetheless always been a priority for RBW, manifesting in different ways over its seasonal collections, finding focus first out of need and then out of a commitment to progress.

“I’ve seen first-hand just how much fabric is over-produced or rejected for some reason, which inevitably gets forgotten in some warehouse. Overstock products can be sold at a discount or repurposed, but raw materials aren’t good for anything unless someone takes the time to use it.” – Cal Green, Creative Director at Raised by Wolves

“We started using existing or deadstock fabrics out of necessity, but it quickly evolved into a conscious decision,” explains Creative Director Cal Green, asked about this latest collection’s focus on giving a new sense of purpose to previously unused materials. “As a smaller brand, MOQs (minimum order quantities) are often the most difficult part of navigating production. This includes not only garment MOQs, but fabric milling minimums as well, especially for brand name fabrics. Over-production of apparel is a huge problem in the industry, but this also applies to fabric and trims; and I think this is something that’s not really talked about.”

Expanding on this, he continues: “I’ve seen first-hand just how much fabric is over-produced or rejected for some reason, which inevitably gets forgotten in some warehouse. Overstock products can be sold at a discount or repurposed, but raw materials aren’t good for anything unless someone takes the time to use it. There is this mentality in the industry, both on the brand and consumer side, to always be pushing for new garments to be made with new materials, but the reality is that there is already so much old new materials out there.”

In terms of the SS24 release, this approach is most obvious in the continuation of Wolves’ near decade-long collaboration with compatriot sportswear outfit Barbarian. This time around, the joint effort takes the form of a cache of limited edition, one-of-one rugby shirts – all made from 8oz. jersey deadstock, and each entirely (and obviously) unique – crafted in a mix-and-match patchwork aesthetic that quite literally wears its Earth-friendlier origins on its sleeve.

It’s also present in less obvious ways, however, notably in the “Classic Snap Hoodie,” which comes in 400 GSM deadstock cotton fleece and the new “Polartec Thermal Pro Hoodie,” constructed from deadstock Polartec – a level of attention to the quality and sustainability of even the most basic garments which sets Raised by Wolves apart from many of its peers.

“Although cotton is a natural, renewable resource, producing new materials almost always comes with an environmental cost, even organic cotton or recycled materials,” says Green, keen once more to point out that, when it comes to fashion production, the devil is very much in the details. “I’m willing to make sacrifices in terms of not having the exact Pantone or ideal fabric weight in order to use deadstock fabrics. As I mentioned initially, there is so much incredible fabric in existence, it’s just a matter of doing some digging.”

And then, of course, there’s that Timex collaboration we mentioned previously – a co-production almost two years in the making and a first for both brands. “When we began discussions with Timex about our second collaboration in 2022, we requested to use recycled materials and they introduced us to their new #tide ocean materials program,” Green tells us. “This was a new partner to Timex at the time and was an exciting opportunity for Raised by Wolves; not only would the case itself be constructed with recycled ocean plastics, but the watch strap as well could be made with the same material. I believe our watch is their first collaboration to use #tide ocean materials.”

As far as collaborations go, it makes for an interesting and somewhat serendipitous coming together: while, as Green notes, the two have worked together previously, that this new endeavour took things in a direction more sustainable in nature than either might have originally expected – which, of course, is what happens when forward-thinking brands nudge international juggernauts in the right direction. (If you think that’s just naive optimism, just look at  what Sean Wotherspoon continues to do with adidas and what GANNI accomplished with New Balance for further examples of that effect.)

“Sustainable materials can come with a cost, but ultimately it’s what we feel is best for our brand, customers and planet.” – Cal Green, Creative Director at Raised by Wolves

And, speaking of GANNIhaving just reported on the Danish brand’s recent collection with Ace & Tate, Raised by Wolves is using the same bio-acetate for its SS24 eyewear. It might seem like a small thing, but – when you think about not only all of the sunglasses manufactured and sold but also all of the lost and broken sunglasses replaced each year – this kind of thing adds up to a big change over time.

“When it comes to production, our first consideration is always if there is an existing, recycled or eco-friendly material available. In researching materials for our sunglasses, we came across bio-acetate and knew this was the right choice for Raised by Wolves. Sustainable materials can come with a cost, but ultimately it’s what we feel is best for our brand, customers and planet,” Green concludes, talking specifically about the SS24 sunglasses but, in doing so, alluding to his overall vision and mission for the brand.

All of which, it’s fair to say, we can get behind. The Wolves, it seems, did a pretty good job.

Take a look at some highlights from the SS24 collection in the gallery above and check the Raised by Wolves website for a closer look at the full drop.