1156 Queen Street West
By Elli Stuhler
Thieves boutique, nestled in the WQW neighbourhood, is a socially-conscious, eco-friendly haven that offers tree-huggers a little something elegant. Toronto designer Sonja Den Elzen’s line of the same name strays away from tacky “100% Organic!” slogans and saves the environment without rubbing it in your face. Instead Thieves pieces are minimal and rich with drapery that hangs gracefully like the willows they’re trying to save. We caught up with the designer to learn what makes an eco-friendly line eco-friendly and why Thieves is stealing back your identity.
What does a piece of clothing need to be genuinely eco-friendly, rather than merely be marketed as such?
Eco friendly clothing should be made with sustainable fabric, organic fabric or recycled fabric. You want fabric that has required no pesticides to grow the crop or chemicals used in the processing of it.
Low impact dyes or natural dyes. Any processes that use chemicals should be in a closed loop process, not released back into the environment but recycled. Genuinely eco-friendly clothing companies practice environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
What makes your clothing eco-friendly?
I use certified organic fabrics where available, such as organic cottons, organic linens, organic wools, leather is vegetable tanned or recycled, I use fabrics that don’t require pesticides such as hemps, and bamboos, and fabrics like tencel which is created from wood pulp in a closed loop cycle, The dyes are also natural or low impact. I manufacture the clothing close to where I am in Toronto, using local contractors for sewing, to keep money and jobs in the local economy.
Describe your clothing in a sentence:
Urban nomad mixed with subtle unique tailored pieces to last a lifetime of individuality.
Where did the name “Thieves” come from?
Thieves is all about stealing back your sense of self and identity….finding your beautiful sense of expression, your own story to share with the world.
What are the limitations in producing eco-friendly clothing?
The fabric choices are limited in comparison to doing non-eco. Also the fabric cost is much higher.
Do any celebrities wear your clothing?
I think anyone who wears Thieves is a celebrity in their own right.
Tell us about the first piece you’ve ever designed:
It was probably an outfit for my dolls.
Do you consider Toronto an eco-friendly City?
Toronto is slowly learning to be eco-friendly. Hopefully one day it will be the norm, and we will have more green spaces, less waste, and be completely using sustainable energy resources, like wind and solar.
What do you do to be eco-friendly outside of designing eco-friendly clothing?
Well I use recycled, post consumer paper products when printing brochures, I eat organic and local foods, I don’t eat meat. I use energy efficient lighting. I use reclaimed furniture and wood in my store. I am not a heavy consumer. I donate to environmental causes.
Easiest way to be green that we always forget? Eat local, organic, walk, ride bike, shop for local independent goods.