Every once in a while, a brand comes along and manages to capture a cultural sentiment and create a movement. While this is the goal for the majority of brands out there, few often rise to the occasion. Last week, the StyleDemocracy team had the opportunity to catch up with the founders of Peace Collective. The brand is on the verge of doing all of the aforementioned and has created quite a buzz locally. They’ve manage to rise to the level of collaborating with major players and have flourished by aligning themselves with the increasing popularity of the ‘It’ city of the moment – Toronto.
Allow us to introduce you to founder and co-founder/creative director, Yanal Dhailieh and Mcauley Madrigal. As the brains and muscle behind Peace Collective, Yanal and Mcauley gave us poignant insights into the creation and development of Peace Collective.
If you’ve never heard of Peace Collective, you either don’t live in Toronto, or you don’t use social media. These guys are everywhere. Playing on a “city love” theme, Peace Collective has gained notoriety in Toronto for creating simple, yet well thought pieces emblazoned with love for Toronto and for aligning these great pieces with a charitable “one-for-one” model. Popular designs include the “Toronto -vs- Everybody” and “Home is Toronto” t-shirts, designs that have quickly been popularized by many of Toronto’s local fashion personalities. What’s truly great about the brand, and an elusive ingredient for many brands, is that the Peace Collective we know today developed organically. “The way I look at what Peace Collective means is a way to chase your passions and express who you are while providing a child with the same opportunity to one day to do the same. It’s also a way to show pride of your city and rep where you’re from,” Yanal tells us. “To be honest when I started the brand and initially thought of it, it wasn’t focused on Toronto or city love. It came organically. It was the [Toronto] Raptors’ first playoff run in a while, and I made Raptors playoff shirts for me and my buddies. At the game, I got really good feedback and saw that for the first time in a long time, Torontonians really wanted to show pride of where they were from. I don’t know if it came out of the We The North campaign, but I just felt that it was the right time. You see people wearing ‘I heart NY’ shirts or ‘I heart Paris’ shirts – you’ll walk around Toronto and see five of those shirts, but you’ll never see anyone wear an ‘I heart Toronto’ shirt. I just felt that with the way Toronto is progressing, five years down the line, a kid in New York could be wearing an ‘I heart Toronto’ shirt.”
After receiving strong feedback on his initial designs, Yanal decided to partner up with friend, Mcauley Madrigal, who now handles the creative aspects for Peace Collective. The two of them together launched Peace Collective and decided to incorporate Yanal’s desire to ensure that Peace Collective was as philanthropic as it is cool. As Yanal tells us, “I read a book by Blake Mycoskie from TOMS [footwear brand], and I always knew if I started a company that I would use that one-for-one model. Last year I was volunteering at a school in Morocco. The program was for kids whose parents went out for the whole day and usually panhandled. Most of the parents would simply bring their kids with them instead of going to school. The program I worked with ensured that kids would get fed at school, meaning their parents wouldn’t have to worry about paying for theirmeals, which allowed the children to attend school. [Attending] School allowed those kids to chase their dreams. Our brand [Peace Collective] is about chasing our passion and our dream of launching our clothing line. We want to give back so that future generations can do the same.”
Peace Collective now aligns themselves with the World Food Program. Portions of the proceeds from every article of clothing sold goes to supporting the WFP, which provides food for children in developing continents like Africa and Asia. While the initial success of Peace Collective has allowed great donations to go to WFP, Peace Collectively admittedly wants to take a more local approach to their philanthropic efforts. “We did a recent collaboration with Lululemon and a good amount of proceeds from the collaboration are going to help launch a new non-profit called the Peace Foundation run by a new addition to the team Tricka Bicomon . The reason we’re starting this is because we make a lot of clothes representing local Toronto, but we weren’t doing much for the local community. When you purchase something, you know it’s going to the World Food program, which is for kids in Africa and Asia, but I wanted it to be more transparent.” Yanal goes on to say that, “We are going to work with and sponsor selected Toronto schools. Lets say you’re from Toronto, once you make a purchase, you can choose which neighborhood school you can send your money to, follow up with the kids you’ve helped, and get regular updates. Now you can pick to have your efforts go internationally or locally.”
Truly an awesome concept and part of the reason why Luluemon decided to pick Peace Collective as one of the local Toronto brands they collaborated with for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The Lululemon x Peace Collective collection (the original capsule preview collection is already sold out) features the “Home is Toronto” and the “Toronto -vs- Everybody” designs on Lululemon technical gear. The collection combines the best of both brands and will surely be a massive success as the products are now available at select Lululemon locations across the GTA. Let’s be honest, Lululemon is a massive powerhouse, so their acknowledgment of Peace Collective is not only huge for the brand, but huge for all local Toronto designers, as the overall design talent in Toronto is vast.
What lies in the future for Peace Collective? Mcauley tells us, “We want to keep establishing our foundations. We know the Toronto designs are a limiting factor, so the goal is being able to move to different cities and different countries and working with NGOs all over the world. It’s figuring out how to take this from a cool local Toronto brand to worldwide brand.”