Indigenous art meets innovative fashion at Chloë Angus Design
By HANNAH POAROS-MCDERMOTT + Photos by KK LAW
Chloë Angus grew up in a rural, primarily Indigenous, fishing village on BC’s Sunshine Coast—as far away from the fashion industry as you can get. But living completely off the grid was a blessing. At the age of six, Angus’s hobbies included flipping through Vogue magazines found at her local thrift store, and learning to sew on a hand-crank Singer sewing machine. Now, 15 years after the launch of her label, Angus’s signature designs have been worn by everyone from Wonder Woman actor Eugene Brave Rock to royal couple Will and Kate.
In 2015, a benign spinal tumour left Angus unable to walk. But she was determined to continue doing what she loved. “Because I had lost the use of my legs I did not want to lose my business,” she says. She designed her next collection while still in the hospital, and even had rolling racks brought into the rehab centre.
Angus’s popular Spirit Collection features apparel and home decor adorned with stylized flora and fauna. Created in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists—including Haida artist and longtime collaborator Clarence Mills—the collection celebrates Indigenous art and culture in Canada. Every artist’s signature is displayed alongside his or her work.
One of Angus’s most sought-after items is the Spirit Wrap (pictured above). The wraps come in a rainbow of colours, and thanks to strategically placed abalone buttons, can be worn as ponchos, scarves, vests and more. “All you need, to be anywhere in the world, is a credit card and a Spirit Wrap,” says Angus.
She doesn’t believe in sacrificing comfort—or the environment—for style, so she uses fabrics that feel great and are eco-friendly. “Once you start wearing bamboo, you won’t go back to regular cotton.” Bonus: everything is ethically made in Vancouver.
When Angus isn’t working, she loves exploring the trails of the UBC Endowment Lands with her miniature horse, Sonny. Other favourite Vancouver activities include going for date nights at Bishop’s, tasting Indigenous food at Salmon n’ Bannock, discovering BC’s underwater world at the Vancouver Aquarium, and admiring cultural artifacts at the Museum of Anthropology.
Find Chloë Angus Design in museum gift shops, in art galleries and onboard BC Ferries, or call ahead to visit the studio.