Thinking sustainably for the team behind label Therma Kōta comes naturally, pun intended. Launched in 2016 by Canadian fashion icon Linda Lundström (above left) and her daughters Mosha (middle) and Sophie Lundström Halbert (right), Therma Kōta is a luxe line of coats that are made for keeping their customers warm during varying climates, while looking stylish. And they are anything but bulky.
With metallic detailing, on-trend styles (seriously, the Helgi bomber, seen above on Mosha and Sophie, is the bomb!), and the fact that each coat is reversible, lends to these becoming instant classics in any fashion fan’s wardrobe.
The Eco Edit interviewed the three women via email (they currently live in different cities), to find out more about this break-out endeavour, including how their pieces are manufactured, why sustainability is important to them, and how they maintain such glowing complexions, beyond just genetics.
The Eco Edit: Can you explain the technology behind what makes a Therma Kota coat “weather-perfect”?
Linda: Great question. From a technology standpoint, we developed materials that adapt to the changing weather and react to your body temperature. Our metallic GeoJacquard and Överkalix are both highly water repellent yet still breathable. For our first style, the Sigrún, we used a reflective silver inter-lining between these two fabrics, that insulates and radiates your own body heat back to the body when you need it. We love that this hidden inner layer is not bulky and we are excited to use it again in future styles.
Sophie: That was the Sigrún, a transitional coat. We create styles that protect you and deliver when the weather is unpredictable. They prevent you from being too hot or too cold by being lightweight and breathable. We started calling this fine balance “weather-perfect.”
Mosha: You cannot control the weather, so why not embrace it and be prepared for anything? There was a blizzard on my wedding day, but that didn’t prevent me from dancing in the snow in an incredible sequined parka my mom designed, which we are adding to the collection soon.
Overall, our goal is to design pieces that adapt to the ever-changing weather patterns and our increasingly mobile lifestyles. Due to climate change, it can be chilly and rainy during the spring/summer and wet and mild in the winter. We wanted our jackets and coats to react accordingly and match our lifestyles. We are constantly traveling to different countries and climates, so flexible outerwear is essential year-round.
Therma Kōta Sigrún coat, $845, thermakota.com
The Eco Edit: Where do you draw inspiration from for each look? How many coats do you have for your first collection?
Mosha: We pull a lot of inspiration from our Nordic roots. It could be Swedish folkloric arts, as in our GeoJacquard, developed exclusively for Therma Kōta, Scandinavian interior design or the natural wonders and colours of Iceland. We are also very inspired by Northern Canada. We fuse these references with ideas we collectively come up with for weather-perfect jackets or coats that are missing in our wardrobes.
Linda: The process is very collaborative and since we are all based in different places, we create digital mood-boards.
The Eco Edit: Why did you choose to release each coat at different intervals, like a flash sale?
Linda: That was actually my idea! Because we are a direct-to-consumer brand, we didn’t want to produce excess inventory. We make according to what is ordered and our turnaround is just ten days. The great thing about this is you are guaranteed your size and colour preference, as opposed to settling for what’s left in stock. It’s also much more sustainable.
Sophie: Instead of conventional collections, we release styles one or two at a time, every couple months, but only once we have the design perfected and the timing is just right.
Mosha: Exactly. The system of coats arriving in stores and online in summer, then being completely picked over by the time it’s cold out is antiquated. We wanted to offer an option that aligns with how people actually want to shop and when they want to buy.
Also, our approach is the antidote to the outerwear sea of sameness. By producing limited runs for a set period of time, customers get a unique coat they aren’t going to see on everyone. But you have to act quickly—which makes it more exciting.
The Eco Edit: Why is it important to the brand to be sustainable?
Linda: My environmental conscience began when Mosha was born. In 1986 there were no fabrics being developed that were made with non-toxic dyes and chemicals. Having a child made me think about the negative impact of textiles on the environment. I asked suppliers to show me fabrics that were eco-friendly and they responded by developing new and exciting methods to reduce their environmental footprint. The girls grew up with this awareness, so as a family, sustainability is who we are as people and naturally that reflects in the work we do. We find other uses for any excess materials, such as donating them to The Sewing Circle Project, an organization I founded which is dedicated to practical training and fostering entrepreneurship for First Nation communities. (Check it out at www.sewingcircle.org.)
The Eco Edit: Can you explain the process behind making each coat, including where they are made at each step?
Sophie: It starts with virtual meetings, to develop a design concept. Then the pattern is made, samples are cut and perfected at Linda’s lakeside studio. This stage is quite complex as our coats are reversible and often involve multiple fabrics. From there, based on orders, the coats are handcrafted from start to finish at our Toronto manufacturer, where we oversee every element of production.
The Eco Edit: From conception to on sale, how long did the Therma Kōta process take?
Mosha: I approached my mom and sister in early 2016 with the idea for reinvented outerwear that I felt was missing from the market—and I see everything that’s out there. It seemed like all the good coats fell into two very distinct categories: warm, utilitarian and very casual or fun fashion coats that are usually very expensive and aren’t meant to withstand the elements. My idea was to offer both: great quality, warm, thoughtfully-designed styles that were also glamorous and cool. Therma Kōta bridges that big gap and is suitable for everything from walking the dog to Paris fashion week. We launched by the end of the year. It didn’t happen overnight as we are pretty methodical in our process. It had to be just right. And by producing in Canada, we could maintain complete control of the quality and also offer what is an incredible value for a product customers can feel really good about. Outerwear has a way of becoming a part of you—why wear something that is like everyone else out there?
Therma Kōta Helga Long Bomber, $625, thermakota.com
The Eco Edit: Why make each coat reversible?
Sophie: Why not? That’s something my mom often did in her past collections just because she has an innate desire to challenge herself to make something as versatile as possible. Plus, you’re getting two coats in one!
Mosha: We grew up wearing her reversible coats and thinking that was very normal—that you could be in a leopard fur trench and suddenly it would start raining so you would flip it to the other side. But I noticed nobody else really does this and I always wondered why. Now I know. It’s a lot of extra work, but definitely worth it. Linda also comes up with genius ways to make sleeves and collars transformative too.
Linda: Outerwear is how we present ourselves to the world, so it has to express who we are while keeping us dry and warm. I love offering as much value as possible in designs that prevent wardrobe boredom.
The Eco Edit: The metallic jacquard is quite chic. Where did you source this from? Or did you create it yourselves?
Mosha: Thank you! Linda found this fabric from one of her longtime suppliers and we worked with them to customize it to make it exclusive to Therma Kōta. The weaver had never had a request to make their jacquards water repellent, so it required a lot of testing to see if it was possible. The damask pattern is reminiscent of dalmaning, a Swedish folkloric painting style from the 1800s. Plus we’re all drawn to metallic fabrics. They are like neutrals in that they go with everything.
The Eco Edit: Machine washable for a coat is also rare. Why was this element important? Or was it a lucky find based on the fabric?
Sophie: That’s another feature my mom has always offered. She is a big believer in cold water washing, hang to dry. They can also be dry cleaned if you prefer.
Linda: Outerwear is something that you get a lot of wear out of, sometimes everyday. It’s important for them to be easy to clean whenever possible.
The Eco Edit: What does the next year look like for the brand? Is there anything up coming that you excited about/that you can talk about?
Sophie: We have a number of new styles up our sleeve incorporating ethically-sourced Canadian furs, starting with a set of removable fur collars and cuffs that instantly transform anything you wear them with. We also cannot wait to unveil our novelty parkas and luxe shearling pieces in the early fall.
Mosha: We are also working with a number of Nordic talents on our next campaign shoot. Our Sigrún campaign was shot by Icelandic photographer Silja Magg on Icelandic model Sigrún Jonsdottir, who we named the coat after. Our Helgi cropped and Helga elongated bomber jacket styles were shot on a Swedish model Kiana Klassen by Canadian photographer Riley Stewart. We’re only just getting started, but this next year you will see us collaborating with likeminded creatives who share our sensibility. Stay tuned!
The Eco Edit: Are there other eco-friendly clothing brands that you are fans of?
Mosha: Silja Magg introduced us to an Icelandic shoe brand called Kalda. Designer Katrin Alda uses arctic fish skins, a bi-product of the fishing industry, in many of her boots and loafers, which are very cool. We used them in our Helga/Helgi campaign shoot.
Sophie: My friend Celine Semaan Vernon has a fashion activism brand called Slow Factory, which makes organic silk printed scarves that are eco-friendly and fair trade. Her last collection was printed with photos of women who inspire, from scientists to Amelia Earhart.
The Eco Edit: According to Instagram, all three of you have gorgeous complexions. Do you use eco-friendly beauty products as well? If so, which are you go-tos?
Linda: I’ve been using Dr. Hauschka for years. The girls more than helped themselves to my supply growing up. But the best thing we do for our skin is wood burning saunas and swims in our freshwater lake.
Sophie: I’ve worked with a really talented Canadian healer named Kelly Mayville. She is also an alchemist who creates home and body aromatherapy blends, under the name Uniquely Pure. Her all-natural scrubs are amazing.
Mosha: I have been trying all the newest products from Juice Beauty‘s Stem Cellular line (the moisturizer, serum and crazy-good peeling spray) and loving the results. I also swear by Bite Beauty‘s lip crayons (they need to bring back the discontinued Cafe colour!), which I have given to all my girlfriends. Another favourite is Soley Organics, an organic line from Iceland. Their eyGLO moisturizer and Hrein cleanser both combine evening primrose with local wild herbs. I stock up at the Reykjavik airport.
The Eco Edit: What is it like working together? Has it changed your mother/daughter/sister relationship?
Sophie: We trust each other completely. This company has brought us even closer since we are all working towards a common goal and speaking constantly. We grew up watching our mom in action so it’s really rewarding to be by her side now. Our Dad is also right in there with help and financial advice. It’s a true family venture.
Mosha: Who can you be more honest with than your mom and sister? We bring out the best in each other and have each other’s back when there are challenges. I think it works because we each have our individual area of expertise that we own: Linda’s a very skilled designer and manufacturing wiz who can literally do it all, Sophie’s artistic and technological know-how has allowed us to bring this brand to life and I bring my fashion eye and communication skills to the equation.
Be sure to check out thermakota.com in mid-August for the release of their latest bomber, as well as their additional sustainable fur pieces.