Saving La Gaillarde

white dress adorned with donors's names in black writing on pink pieces of paper or fabric
La Gaillarde’s Robe des donateurs (Donor Dress), from La Gaillarde’s Facebook page

Update May 10, 2015: La Gaillarde is having a party to celebrate its 15th anniversary. Expect cocktails, cupcakes, door prizes, music and models showcasing the latest spring fashion lines. Everything in the store is 15 per cent off, they’ll be displaying a photo album of La Gaillarde memories and wrapping up their crowdfunding campaign by displaying a dress laden with the names of donors.

When: May 15, 2015, 6-8:30 p.m.

Where: 4019 Notre Dame St. W. (Place St. Henri metro)

RSVP: (514) 989-5134 or info@lagaillarde.ca

Montreal is losing many of its independent brick-and-mortar stores. It seems only the strongest and those with the best business moxie survive. So it’s no surprise to hear that La Gaillarde, a non-profit boutique based in St. Henri that sells all sorts of fashionable upcycled (recycled, but better) clothing and jewellery by eco-designers and affordable vintage and secondhand modern-day clothes for women, men and little ones, is struggling.

Though La Gaillarde has many volunteers, it depended on a grant from the Quebec government for its core survival and that grant was cut no thanks to the Couillard’s government austerity measures.

La Gaillarde is counting on a crowdfunding campaign to save its organization and the jobs of its four employees. As organizers point out, for 15 years La Gaillarde has supported Quebec designers (it features the works of more than 40 Quebec designers, many of whom are at the forefront of ethical fashion brands here) and by recycling clothing into new creations and by selling vintage and secondhand clothing, it keeps clothing out of landfills.

It has serious green cred. Every aspect of the business follows ecological principles. And it creates jobs because by buying from local designers we help them (I believe most, if not all, are women) make a living.

It puzzles me though that La Gaillarde is not better known. A few years back its designers made a splash at the Festival Mode & Design Montr√©al (you may remember a dress made solely made from men’s ties) but it’s never quite arrived.

I’ve watched it change over the years. A prior version was located near the Lionel Groulx metro and sold clothes but didn’t seem to be about fashion (apparently they used to help female convicts reintegrate into society). For a while it was very grassroots, with sewing classes and tips on how to recycle your wardrobe into something exciting and new. But they stopped making sewing machines available to customers and became sort of high end, to me, anyway. Instead of workshops for the general public, the focus seemed to be more on fashion shows. That’s when I stopped dropping in as much.

They are definitely a great place if you care about the environment, have a sense of style and you want to support local designers. If you live in Montreal they are just a few steps away from the Place St. Henri metro, at 4019 Notre Dame St. W.

I hope people will donate and support them. Montreal is losing too many of its cool businesses. Hipster businesses and big box stores don’t tug on my heartstrings. We also need businesses that make a real difference to our society and communities.

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Saving La Gaillarde

One thought on “Saving La Gaillarde

  1. Hello Stephanie! I just stumbled upon your article. Thank you for loyalty and your kind words about our store and our eco-friendly mission. Im happy to hear that you had seen our fashion show the Festival Mode&Design! We had previously stopped offering sewing workshops because the demand wasnt that strong at the time and we had to focus our energy, but we are now considering offering DIY workshops again, as the trend and demand for DIY is raising again. – Annie, La Gaillarde

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