Spotlight on Anne Joyce - Liberty Clothing Designer & Founder
Liberty Clothing was founded by Anne Joyce in 1989. Her dream to become a designer came true when she designed her first her first line of clothing featured recycled and reworked denim and leather. The line was an overnight success and was sold in over 170 retailers in North America. In 1992 a recession hit the North American market and many of the retail partners found themselves out of business. As luck would have it, a camp director called to inquire about designing clothing for his camp and a new market opened up for Anne and her team at Liberty. Today, Liberty Clothing is recognized as the number #1 brand in the camping market and first to market with a line of hemp clothing in the cannabis space. Some of the other markets that Liberty services are schools, corporate, retail and the alcohol industry.
After 30 years in business Anne’s gone back to her roots and designed a line of renewable and sustainable eco fashion sourced from Hemp and organic materials, every step in the production process has been thoughtfully considered. The line that she calls Liberty High LineTM has been embraced by conscience consumers that want to wear natural, organic and ethically sourced products. Plans are underway for an even more environmental line she calls Liberty ReduxTM which features reworked and repurposed fashions.
We sat down with Anne to dive deeper into what inspires her and how Liberty Clothing will help pave a greener future.
How did Liberty Clothing begin?
Well I had just sold BCBG and I was just coming out of a poor partnership. I thought that Liberty would be a great name that would work both in the U.S and in Canada to represent your freedom. Sometimes when you have bad relationships, whether it be personal or business, there’s a relief that comes from being free. So, I just thought that Liberty was suitable name for a new company.
What is the mission at Liberty Clothing?
We want to create products that will last, we want to offer a sustainable alternative to consumers. A summer at camp experience can change a kid’s life and we wanted our products to be a part of those memories of camp comradery and outdoor adventure. Camp memories can last a lifetime so why shouldn’t the clothing be long lasting as well? We also believe in reducing our carbon footprint. Our High Line collection was designed to be manufactured as eco-friendly as possible, using solar power and natural fibres to create clothing that not only feel good but are good for our planet too. Our slogan “Make everyday Count” reflects our outlook on living life to the fullest each day.
What was the idea behind utilizing hemp as your primary fabric for the High Line collection?
I had designed a line of hemp clothing in the early 1990’s and just fell in love with the fabric and the plant. But at the time hemp was still very taboo and had some bad press. Fast forward to 2015 and the Cannabis market is just starting to grow in North America. I had the opportunity to invest in some great start ups in the space and so Hemp was a natural progression for us. The Green revolution has hit the world and consumers are being educated about the benefits of hemp. We feel it can really save the world so we wanted to do our part. The fashion industry is a big polluter, so we explored alternative options, fabrics and methods to making clothes and we found hemp to be a great solution. Hemp is durable, anti-microbial, and comfortable to wear. It uses far less water than traditional cotton and it decomposes, so old clothes won’t pile up at landfills.
When did Liberty first start using hemp?
In the early 1990’s I was approached by a group who were early activists within the Cannabis industry and they wanted me to design the interior and merchandise for a retail store in Montreal. At the time hemp was really expensive and no one really understood the fabric but the product was beautiful and I learned about the many benefits of Hemp. Ultimately, the timing just wasn't right. With the passing of the farm bill in the US and legalization in Canada, and many nations, cannabis now has a wider more educated audience and has given the hemp industry new life.
Liberty Clothing gives 1% of profits to Children’s Camping charities. Why is that important to you?
A week at camp can help a kid to grow confident, make new friends, and giving them a better understanding of nature. Since camp is part of our roots at Liberty Clothing it’s important that we keep sight of this, which is why we began our give back program. 1% of our profits are donated to camp programs that send underprivileged kids to camp.
You’ve said that Liberty is offering an alternative to fast fashion, what do you see as the future for fashion?
Quality and sustainability over speed. Our design and sourcing practices are thoughtful we want to know where the yarn is coming from, where the fibre is spun, who our cut and sew team members are and how they are treated as well as how the garments are dyed and finished. No detail is too small for us, we care about the item being used for long term. Fast Fashion ends up falling apart, and then ultimately in a landfill and unable to decompose because of it’s polyester content. This is one of the reasons Fast Fashion is so environmentally destructive.
How do you see Liberty Clothing influencing the future of the fashion industry?
If we could get consumers to incorporate 50% sustainable items in their wardrobes we’d see a big change in the environment. We hope to inspire, collaborate and educate more companies and consumers to follow in our footsteps so that together we can create a better future for the next generations to come.