Mondetta, the Winnipeg clothing company known for retro sportswear and gym attire, has branched out into the corporate world.
However, its new brand, Modern Ambition, aims to blur the lines between trousers and yoga pants.
"We took all the learnings from our active collections and built them into more luxe work and travel-related wear," says Ash Modha, Mondetta’s chief executive officer. "The idea of Modern Ambition is that you can wear a really nice blazer that’s fully functional, and you can jump on a plane with it and it doesn’t wrinkle, it doesn’t catch any odours."
Staying on trend has been key to staying in business for Mondetta. The company started in 1986 selling its famous flag shirts to 20-somethings and launched MPG (Mondetta Performance Gear) in the early 2000s to cater to the athleisure trend brought on by brands such as Lululemon.
There are now three brands under the Mondetta label and each new direction has been a gamble.
"Before, you had super-brands where you could put everything under one umbrella," Modha says, pointing to Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren as examples. "Consumers don’t shop that way anymore. With the internet and online shopping, everybody’s looking for smaller, curated collections... our business has changed so much."
And there are more changes on the horizon.
Mondetta is working toward attaining B Corp Certification, a designation for businesses that operate with high standards of social and environmental sustainability. The certification is handed out by B Lab, an American non-profit, and requires companies to undergo an impact assessment that measures governance structure, worker experience, community practices and environmental standards. A score of 80 or higher is needed for certification.
While Mondetta may be ahead of the curve on the employee diversity front — 65 per cent of its workforce identifies as female and there are more than 40 nationalities represented in its roughly 100 staff members — improving product sustainability has been a major undertaking.
The company has started rolling out an auditing system for its recycled textiles, such as those made from used plastic bottles, which tracks items from the raw-material supplier, to the mill, to the factory, to the sales floor.
"How can I say it’s an actual recycled product from end to end without having the full audit done?" Modha says. "It has to happen all the way through the supply chain and most people just leave it at the fabric level."
It’s a complicated process because Mondetta’s products are made in 13 different countries.
"It’s probably going to take us 24 to 36 months to put it through the entire supply chain," Modha says. "It’s very expensive and it’s counter to the business at this point... but it’s just one of the right things to do."
Despite the front-end investment, Modha sees sustainability as the next big trend in fashion.
"The fashion industry needs a jolt. It needs to be fixed because there’s too much of this fast-fashion product that’s just littered everywhere," he says. "If you stay ahead of what’s going to happen it usually pays off."
Sustainable clothing can be a hard sell, even for environmentally minded customers, because price tags are usually higher compared to clothes made from new materials. Modha expects prices to drop once more companies start using recycled textiles.
"If all of us start to do it, it becomes table stakes — everybody’s at that same level," he says.
Mondetta, MPG and Modern Ambition products can be purchased online and at select retailers.