Interview with The Canvas by Querencia Studio, New York

OSIER goes international! Our first partner overseas is The Canvas in Williamsburg, New York. The Canvas, powered by Querencia Studio, is a collection of multipurpose spaces hosting and facilitating experiences and events aimed at addressing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
We’re here today with Devin James Gilmartin, President and Creative Director at Querencia Studio to find out a little more, and what it means to us.


To begin, can you tell us the meaning behind your name, Querencia?

The term Querencia refers to safe place, a haven in which one feels at home. Whether creating a garment or a space, our mission is to advance potential of the people involved in bringing that project to fruition. A querencia can be found in the garments we wear, the company we keep and the places in which we spend our time. Our hope is that we can share these querencias with our friends and collaborators, and empower others to create their own.

When did it all begin? Was there a particular moment or event where you know we needed a platform like Querencia to empower the industry to make real change?

It began as a project focused on building a new uniform for The Island School, an experimental semester school on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas. Tegan grew up on the island and Devin attended the school as a student in the fall of 2014. It's a place close to our hearts and has been the source of much of our inspiration. Our experience in fashion combined with our backgrounds in sustainability is what led to the formation of this company. We are committed to never sacrificing environmental consideration for aesthetic, or vice versa. Expanding from an independent fashion brand into The Canvas concept was from a desire to make our efforts more meaningful. To do that, we needed to facilitate collaboration and The Canvas is a hub for just that.

The Canvas is constantly offering new collections, how do you choose which brands to collaborate with?

The Canvas by Querencia Studio emerged from our understanding of what it's like to be a fashion brand focused on sustainability. With that experience, we want to help other brands reach a market like Williamsburg and cater to an audience that cares about who made their clothes, how they are made, and what they are made of. Our application process focuses on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We ask that all brands articulate how they address at least one of the SDG’s in their process and supply chain. We see the consideration of these issues as a vital part of being a responsible business. Brands like OSIER, who are leading the way in these areas, can and do have a real impact on the world. Our role is to emphasise it.

What have been your favourite and most successful pop-up events at The Canvas yet?

Some of our favourite events have been alongside our partners at P A U S E, Goodwill and Global Fashion Exchange. Together, we’ve created installations that supplement the great work our designers are doing.
P A U S E Fashion Hub is a globe trotting pop-up experience run by our friends Romi and Leti. They have put on some amazing events around the world and we were lucky to collaborate with them on their 6th and 7th edition at the end of 2018 at The Canvas Williamsburg.
The Goodwill Attended Donation Center is a place for guests to drop off used garments, accessories and home goods which are then brought to Goodwill stores around New York, supporting their mission of empowering individuals with barriers to employment.
The Global Fashion Exchange Swap Shop is the first ever of its kind. As a member of the Swap Shop system, guests have the opportunity to bring in used garments and exchange them for others.
We have also been collaborating with SoFar Sounds on a concert series, giving emerging musicians a performance space and platform to bring their work to new audiences who are always in for a surprise. Finally, we’ve begun to increase our art program and appointed Brooklyn based Maria Vogel as our Curator in Residence. Maria brings with her experience curating with The Wing and an eye for rising stars. These strategic partnerships are bringing The Canvas to life on a weekly basis and we’re grateful for the individuals and companies who have supported our efforts from the get go.

Since launching The Canvas, how have you seen the fashion industry change?

Sustainability is becoming cool. Thats good news for our planet and us as humans. It also invites a new design perspective. To have the challenge of designing sustainably is a chance for everyone to step up their game. On the retail end, the embrace of a multidisciplinary approach has been exciting. Stores are turning into experiences. This allows for the opportunity to tell a story to guests, one that doesn’t necessarily involve selling something constantly. What’s unique about the sustainable fashion space is that when someone becomes more aware of the issues surrounding clothing, thats a long term change in mindset that will pay off through the more informed consumer making more mindful choices. We have to promote a message advocating for change, not just product.

Lastly, are there any exciting plans for the future we should be looking out for?

With a growing network around the world, we are beginning to look for opportunities to bring The Canvas concept to an international audience. In the meantime, we are looking forward to an exciting month of programming at The Canvas Williamsburg during Earth Month in April. Stay tuned @thecanvasnyc and @querenciastudio on Instagram.

Thank you Devin for joining us today! Here at OSIER we love nothing more than growing our sustainability family and getting you involved. Keep an eye on our blog and social media for updates and exciting events coming up!


Go visit the store and have a look at their beautiful selection, including our bags:

The Canvas - Williamsburg

132 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11249