A first-year design student making clothes, the sustainable and eco-friendly way
Alexander McQueen’s controversial designs sparked Jack Beaumont’s passion for fashion at a young age. This passion quickly turned to action and, at the age of seven, they started sewing.
Beaumont’s brand, Conatus, officially launched two years ago when the designer was 17 years old.
The idea: to manufacture sustainable clothing. “I realized that the planet is sick and, in order to help it heal itself, we need to work on sustainability,” said Beaumont. Now 19, Beaumont is a first-year design student at Concordia.
Conatus is unique, focusing on using sustainable fabrics and dyes for its clothing. “When it comes to fashion, there are already too many people that are doing fashion unsustainably,” said Beaumont. “Eco-fashion is really the only way we can go in 2016.”
Beaumont was born in Toronto and moved to Vancouver in 2002. They finally settled down in Vernon, B.C. in 2009, where they still live when they are not staying in residence during the school year. Beaumont said growing up identifying as non-binary was hard.
“When I was in Vancouver, the harassment got to a point where there were no other options but to relocate,” said Beaumont. Through the brand, however, Beaumont was able to create a kind of “shell” from the bullying. They said expressing themselves through fashion helped them stay strong.
Beaumont also aims to create clothing that acts as a shell—making the person wearing the garment feel strong and protected but, most importantly, themselves. “There is that fine balance between the strength and rigidity but also the fragility and the softness [of the frabrics],” said Beaumont.
Before Beaumont began producing clothes, they extensively researched and taught themselves about fabrics, dyes and different methods of production using organic fabrics. “When I was formulating [dyes], I researched some of the traditional and contemporary methods of dyeing,” said Beaumont. Black walnut became one of their favourites products to derive dye from. Beaumont produces their clothes from their home in Vernon, B.C.
The designer described Conatus as avant-garde—an innovative and extravagant type of fashion. “People admire the brand as it is, but some couldn’t see themselves wearing a lot of it, as it very conceptual,” said Beaumont. The pieces they make have a modern haute-couture look to them. A lot of the clothing is sleek, clean, monochromatic and not too fitted.
Beaumont hopes that they can eventually bring Conatus to a less niche clientele, with more wearable pieces.
“I hope that it is something that Concordia can teach me—sort of being able to take your own spin on a design and make it somehow wearable and sellable,” said Beaumont.
The young designer and their brand have slowly garnered worldwide attention, thanks to their social media platforms, through which Beaumont posts and sells most of their merchandise.
The clients, mostly individuals concerned with the environment, contact Beaumont directly through social media, or through their website that is temporarily down. From there, they discuss the details of the piece, including size and colour. If the client is based in Vernon, the order is hand delivered.
One of the designer’s ideas for a future project is to take silk fibres and replicate them through a 3D printer or use a vat of genetically-modified bacteria to have them produce a garment formed from bacterial structures.
While Beaumont plans to re-launch their website in the near future, for now, you can find their portfolio on Tumblr under “jackbeaumontportfolio.”