There is no guilt in this fur (and leather)

We chat with Geneviève Paquette, the designer behind the Mongolia-inspired Kazak line of eco-friendly streetwear.


For the last five years, Geneviève Paquette has designed duds in the style of the -stan countries under the name Kazak, inspired by what she saw while travelling in the region. Made in Montreal and dedicated to ethical fashion, the line recycles fur and leather and uses environmentally friendly fabrics, channelling the ancient Mongol hordes while retaining a fresh, street feel.

Here’s what the designer had to say about the line, on the eve of the S/S 2014 launch.


Emily Raine: So, tell me a bit about the new collection you’re launching.
Geneviève Paquette: It’s really a way back to where it all started and keeping the inspiration that I have, from the Mongolian steppes and the Kazaks. I really tried to focus on that while trying to be urban, to not be too ethnic. I use fabrics that remind me more of ethnic things and the fur and wildness of that, while staying urban.

ER: What do you think it is about that Kazak aesthetic that’s appealing to you?
GP: I don’t know. I guess it’s because I started with that. I was planning a trip to Mongolia; I was going to cross Mongolia by horse. At that moment, I was working as a costume maker, and I was in school, so I was really in the books during my trip.

I didn’t know what to do at first, but then I started making those hats that were really inspired by all the images that I saw, and I don’t know — it just kind of worked. It worked so well that I just stayed with it.

kazak_winterER: I know that using recycled textiles is really important to you. How do you ethically source your raw materials?
GP: If it’s a fairer leather, for like the hats and some of the belts, I use old jackets and pants, like old clothing. My mom is volunteers, so she gets me ones that are not being used. And for the rest, for the thicker ones, I use leftovers from couch companies, so it’s actually new, but they wouldn’t use it.

ER: Your stuff is all made in Montreal. Is it all sewn in-house?
GP: I have a team. I have a studio in Mile End, and I have three girls, four girls now, who are sewing or making the jewellery. But because it’s recycled, I need to really be there and see how it goes together. It’s really hard. I try to put all these things together.  ■

Kazak and Jennifer Glasgow launch their spring/summer collections at les Coureurs de jupons (2627 Masson) today, Thursday, Nov. 21 6–9 p.m.

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