It took two decades in fashion for Byron and Dexter Peart to reach a breaking point. Despite having made a name for themselves with WANT Apothecary—a retail chain merchandising some of the world’s most exciting fashion brands—the Montreal-based twins felt restless with the status quo and decided to move on.
Enter: Goodee. Much like WANT, this online marketplace is devoted to good design—this time with a socially progressive and environmental angle. Currently, Goodee has popped up at New York City’s Whitney Shop, contemporaneous with the Whitney Museum’s Making Knowing exhibit.
Goodee arrived as an answer to the question: What needs to exist? The Peart brothers broached this query publicly three years ago at C2 Montréal—a well-respected conference focused on the intersection between creativity and commerce. (Snoop Dogg will be speaking at the 2020 event.) Invited as keynote speakers, Byron and Dexter posed the question to the crowd: “What is essential; in a world with so much waste and overconsumption, what truly needs to exist?” Examining their life and work values, the Pearts challenged themselves to not only understand the world, but to understand their place in it. The conclusion? That which has purpose, is beautiful, intelligent, and boasts universally-minded design needs to exist. And with that, Goodee started to take shape.
Frustrated by the irresponsibility of the fashion world—the broken system, defined by seasonality, and the throwaway, trend-dependent culture—the Pearts also knew what not to do. Goodee’s wares would sidestep these dated notions, proving that good design doesn’t have an expiration date. In order to be sold under the Goodee umbrella, brands from across the globe are thoroughly researched. Each supplier is examined from a holistic perspective, by assessing business operations, material sourcing, and supply chain management—in addition to waste reduction, empowerment of women, and impact on a local level. It’s a rigorous procedure. The e-commerce site makes it easy for the conscious consumer, stamping each product with the likes of ‘Recycled Materials,’ ‘Water Conservancy,’ and ‘Gender Advocacy.’
After introducing Goodee this past summer through a pop-up at Montreal’s Phi Centre, the current New York City pop-up came about serendipitously. The Whitney Shop’s retail team decided that Goodee’s modus operandi and aesthetic was an ideal match for the Making Knowing exhibit. Recognizing that museumgoers would be attending an exhibit shining a flashlight on the past and future of art and craft, the Pearts curated a collection of products they thought best suited to the overarching theme.
Standout names found at both the pop-up and online include ACdO and Baba Tree. “It was very important to us that the retail experience at the Whitney be very immersive and tactile while staying authentic to the online experience,” Byron says. ACdO’s PET pendant lamps are on display at the Whitney Shop, and match repurposed PET bottle bases with shades handwoven by Colombian artisans. The results are a riot of colour and the perfect marriage between ingenuity and whimsy. Meanwhile, Baba Tree’s undulating elephant grass baskets are bursting with character. Artisans in Bolgatanga, Ghana are paid a living wage, weaving the baskets by hand using traditional—and rather finicky—techniques. Both products satisfy the eye, while still serving a purpose.
Unsurprisingly, sustainability plays a prominent role. “Our assessment approach is significantly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG),” Byron says, ensuring products check off the boxes of responsible consumption and production. Many of the featured brands are B-Corp certified, meaning that a company has been proven kind to its workers, customers, and the environment. (Goodee itself is a B-Corp pending company, and is awaiting verification in early 2020.)
In addition to the clutch of brands vetted by Goodee, the brothers also design a house line—much like they did with WANT Les Essentiels. “Our work has long been as much about discovering and nurturing partner brands,” Byron says, “as it has been about designing and developing our own.” Their first Goodee product is a series of fair trade pillows outfitted in vibrant stripes. The creative process saw Byron and Dexter meet with artisans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to develop the striated fabrics, in addition to visiting makers in Nairobi, Kenya. More recently, the brothers teamed up with Kotn—another Canadian label—to create limited-edition hoodies crafted with sustainably sourced cotton. “What we are constantly looking for are truly unique products and stories that stimulate the mind and heart,” Byron says.
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