Holt Renfrew’s Latest H Project Promotes Ocean Conservation With Eco-Friendly Flair

Holt Renfrew

Holt Renfrew introduces a new collection of eco-friendly apparel, accessories, beauty and home decor in partnership with ocean conservation non-profit Oceana Canada. Photo: Courtesy of Holt Renfrew

As the nation with the longest coastline in the world, bordered as we are by the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, Canada should be leading the effort to protect one of the planet’s most valuable resources.

Vital to life on earth, the water that covers 70 per cent of the globe’s surface regulates climate, provides an important source of food and produces half of the oxygen we breathe.  One of the cornerstones of the world’s economy,  ocean health is threatened by overfishing, climate change and pollution.

Now one Canadian retailer is stepping up. For its latest H Project called Uncrate Oceans, Holt Renfrew is partnering with Oceana Canada, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, to increase awareness with a curated collection of eco-friendly apparel, accessories, beauty and home decor items that goes on sale Feb. 27 in store and online.  

The H project was started in 2014 by Alexandra Weston, Holt’s divisional vice-president of brand and creative strategy. In previous years,  it focused on specific geographical areas like India and South America to highlight local artisans and their socially responsible products, which are sold in the store’s H Project department. But this year, H Project will highlight an entire ecosystem. 

“The world’s oceans connect us all. They feed life on this plant, they feed us and we are slowly destroying them,” Weston said in a statement. “We want to bring to the forefront of fashion some of the issues our oceans are facing, while also addressing how we can help lessen our impact as consumers as well as support conservation through our shopping habits.” 

Each item in the collection tells a story about sustainability, from hand-crafted vegan hats to the stylish swimsuit made entirely of recycled nylon. Others, like reusable water canteens and stainless-steel straws, are designed to reduce plastic pollution created by our throwaway culture.

“An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic leak into our marine ecosystems from land-based sources every single year,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “That is the equivalent of a garbage truck dumping waste into our oceans every minute.”

Here is a selection of products from the Uncrate Oceans program.

All photos courtesy of Holt Renfrew

ARTESANO The name means handcrafted in Spanish, and this line’s straw hats and totes are handmade at home by Ecuadorians. Turin Unisex Hat, $225 


CORKCICLE  Sustainable can also be stylish with reusable products designed to reduce your impact on the planet. This Florida-based company has partnered with celebrated surf photographer Corey Wilson on a range of reusable water bottles. Use a water canteen and help divert plastic from the ocean or landfills. They company also donates five per cent of sales to non-profit charities that help bring clean water to those in need. Corkcicle Water Bottle, $35 

DINOSAUR DESIGNS This Australian brand turns waste products from the U.S. oil industry into resin. Every piece  – from housewares to jewelry – is handcrafted, which means no two are exactly alike.  Dinosaur Designs Resin Vase,  $295


JADE SWIM This Los Angeles label uses Econyl, a sustainable fabric made from recycled plastics, which also offers UV protection and resistance to chlorine and suntan lotions. The multi-functional modern cuts can take you from the beach to the city when worn as a bodysuit. Jade Swim One Shoulder suit, $275



MOLA SASA This collection of bags was created specifically for the Uncrate Oceans program by this Colombian label, which works with craftspeople from the Indigenous Kuna tribe. Made of recycled cotton and hand-dyed with plant -based pigments, each bag helps preserve and encourage traditional Colombian artisans. Mola Sasa Clutch, $495



GALLANT INTERNATIONAL This supplier provides fair-trade organic cotton bags to brands that want to tell a sustainable story. Its Global Organic Textile Standard certification means its cotton production limits the use of toxic bleach, dyes and other chemicals and uses less water and energy than conventional cotton. For each bag sold, Holt Renfrew will donate $20 to Oceana Canada. Cotton Tote bag, $35 



DESIGNWORKS INK If you haven’t banished plastic straws from your household yet, take a cue from the Nashville-based Designworks Ink, which puts a stylish spin on utilitarian products. Its reusable stainless steel straws also come in an eco-friendly case made of wheat straw.  Designworks Ink Stainless Steel Straws, $25


VAARA This British label creates athletic apparel for the woman who wants function along with eco-friendly form. All fabrics are Oeko-Tex certified, which means they do not contain any chemicals or dyes harmful to human health.  Vaara Paddle Suit, $325