Sometimes, playing by your own rules means building a treehouse indoors.
This inventive attitude has been the mark of Vancouver’s darling athleisure line, Dish & Duer, since founder Gary Lenett launched the clothing company four years ago because he didn’t want to peel off rumpled, clammy commuter gear after cycling to the office. He combined those sweats with his suit, so to speak, and it may be a well-known creation story around these parts, but the results don’t fade with memory.
What followed was a pulled-together but relaxed clothing line celebrated as “performance denim.” It stretches, wicks away sweat, looks really, really good, and does double duty in the boardroom and on the bike – or climbing wall, hiking trail, sail boat…. you get it. They’ve also expanded their women’s line.
One year after opening a flagship store in Gastown, Dish & Duer is once again playing by its own rules by not only changing how customers buy clothes, but changing how we shop. In fact, they barely call it a shop. It's a playground.
“We wanted our store to be a space where people could run, jump, swing and play with a feel of the outdoors brought inside,” says Robin Rowley, the company’s director of customer experience. “As they move through the store in our clothes, they'll be able to feel what makes our fabrics so different — plus the incredible stretch and comfort mean they'll actually want to be running around in new jeans.”
Dish & Duer caters to the kind of clientele that seeks urban and wild adventure in equal measure, which is why the renovated space at 118 West Hastings has jungle gym features like monkey bars and a swing, but also allows customers a peek into the day-to-day business operations of the start-up.
They get their clients, Rowley says. “Most of our staff would rather be out adventuring than shopping.”
And now back to that ladies’ ware I mentioned. Although the men’s line still makes up the bulk of styles, from chinos to shorts to jackets, the options for women have seen two major shifts. First, Dish & Duer created fashion-forward silhouettes like a high-rise straight leg and another with a skinnier cut. And they also introduced some of the men’s line, including washes, design details and hardware, but cut it to fit women’s bodies.
“We wanted to give women more options,” says Rowley.
Use those options to climb that tree, friends. The new space is now open.
Ambassador on the move
Dish & Duer has eight brand ambassadors, most of them photographers and all of them men. That changes now. Jennifer Clarke, the fashion line’s chief operating officer, is stepping out of that role and into two new ones. She’ll stay with the company as one of its first female ambassadors while this kung-fu fighter also wears the cape as the continent’s only full-time stunt woman. As stunt double on Supergirl, Clarke will also rep the brand she helped grow like so many treehouses.