Victoria-based clothing company turns discarded oyster trays into shirt buttons

Victoria-based clothing company turns discarded oyster trays into shirt buttons
Photo: ANIÁN Clothing

A Victoria-based clothing company that makes its goods from recycled materials is further innovating, one button at a time, via its latest line of shirts.

ANIÁN Clothing has teamed up with the Ocean Legacy Foundation (OLF) for its new fashion feat: the recycled buttons on the Denman shirt, a line of button-up shirts, are made entirely from locally discarded oyster farming trays, according to the owner.

“For us, in this case, it’s these busted-up, broken or washed-away oyster baskets,” said Paul Long, ANIÁN’s founder, in an interview with CHEK News.

“Prior to us, they’d get picked off the beach, which is great for the beach, but then they’d end up sitting in a lot because we need to find a solution for them.”

ANIÁN, on Johnson Street in Victoria and West 4th Avenue in Vancouver, was founded in 2013 with the goal of “viewing the supply chain differently,” says Long.

Another store is opening soon on Granville Island.

“All of our clothing is made from textile waste or post-consumer waste. That’s a fancy way of saying your old clothing that gets landfilled,” he explained.

“We’ve been doing that for about a decade now. We started on this journey quite some time ago to look at valueless items differently, and to add value to them.”

When values align

So, in recent years, ANIÁN teamed up with Chloé Dubois from OLF — a non-profit that gives the plastic waste it recovers from ocean and beach cleanups economic value.

Ocean Legacy, also based in B.C. and founded in 2013, says it has collected more than 2.4 million pounds of plastic from cleanups and 1.5 million pounds of plastic from landfills.

For Long, OLF’s mission perfectly aligns with ANIÁN’s. “It’s about viewing what is currently considered waste in a different light,” he said.

Given the shirt’s name Denman, it’s likely no surprise that the buttons are made from oyster trays hauled to Denman Island, a North Gulf Island off Buckey Bay.

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“I’ve known Chloe from OLF for quite some time, and I was just short of chatting with her,” said Long, recalling how it all came to be.

“The shirts themselves, the Denman shirt, is a recycled cotton and linen blend, so it’s great for the spring and summer. The buttons themselves are a great project to show how creativity can solve waste problems.”

It’s something quintessentially West Coast, as the buttons are “sourced from the sea,” reads a blog post from ANIÁN, which dives further into the backstory.

“These trays are used to grow oysters out in the ocean,” explained Dubois, the co-founder and executive director of OLF, in the blog post.

“They’re stacked with floatation, and flipped every so often as the oysters grow. But they have a lifespan on them, and after a certain amount of time they either break or get discontinued for use,” she said.

Some plastics aren’t strong enough to be made into buttons, says Long. But together with OLF, they discovered that the oyster trays worked “really well.”

On sale now

The Denman collection hit shelves about a month ago. Long says customers will have to fork out about $100 for an ANIÁN shirt, while jackets cost $200 to $300.

“Our goal is to make it as affordable as possible, although we do manufacture everything in Canada. So we make all of our goods over in Vancouver, so we are confined by the same wages as Canada as opposed to overseas,” he said.

“That does entail a high price point for the purchasing.”

Long’s thrilled his business continues to grow while still keeping its key goal — products made from post-consumer waste — top of mind, and he’s encouraging others to help find ways to reuse and repurpose discarded materials too.

“We started on this journey quite some time ago to look at valueless items differently, and to add value to them,” he added. “What one industry has deemed valueless, if we looked at it differently, we can create value in it.”

Learn more about the buttons here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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