LEZÉ's Comfortable 'Workleisure' Wear Is Made from Upcycled Materials

It can reintroduce you gently to the world of professional attire.

Lezé sustainable fashion

LEZÉ the Label

After a year of remote work, the return to office life may come as a shock—not least of all for the office clothes that must once again be donned to look presentable and professional. We can't wear pajama bottoms to Zoom calls forever, you know! But what if we could? What if there were office-appropriate attire that felt just as comfortable as pajamas? 

If that piques your interest, perhaps you should know about LEZÉ the Label, a sustainable fashion line based in Vancouver, Canada, that is upcycling waste materials into comfortable yet elegant "workleisure" pieces. Its business model clearly resonated with many because it raised $250,000 in just 12 hours on Kickstarter when it first launched in 2018.

The brand's two female founders, Tanya Lee and Karen Lee, believe that, after a year of quarantine, "people are excited to play dress-up again," but that they're craving comfort along with style appeal. LEZÉ's "PJ-like fashion" and airy, flowy styles hope to offer that.

Lezé wrap dresses

LEZÉ the Label

The brand creates its pieces using old coffee grounds, recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets, and cellulose from sustainably harvested Austrian beech trees. Coffee grounds offer odor control, moisture-wicking properties, and wrinkle resistance when incorporated into fabric. Tanya Lee tells Treehugger, "Coffee grinds are a good replacement for traditional athleisure chemical solvent used for moisture-wicking and anti-odor performance." 

"Fishing nets are the sustainable alternative to traditional nylon," she continues. The website explains that, for every 100 tons of nylon that LEZÉ uses, it saves "700 barrels of crude oil, avoids 571 tons of CO2 emissions, and reduces global warming impact by up to 80% compared to virgin nylon." Up to 25 plastic bottles are incorporated into each piece for comfortable stretchiness, temperature regulation, and quick drying.

Beech cellulose is "breathable, fade-resistant, and made from the renewable raw wood for a silky feel." As LEZÉ explains on its site, "No artificial irrigation is required for the trees to propagate, and [it] requires less energy and water than cotton." The resulting fabric is 50% more absorbent than cotton and resistant to color fading, shrinkage, and pilling. 

Lezé dresses

LEZÉ the Label

Comfort is at the center of LEZÉ's design mission. "We choose fabric based on stretch, structure, and hand-feel that gravitates towards a silky soft side," says Lee. "We start by looking at athleisure fabrics as inspiration, then source or develop a sustainable alternative." 

The brand is smart to prioritize comfort because when a piece is pleasurable to wear, a person feels inclined to wear it over and over again—and that repeated reuse helps to reduce its carbon footprint. From The BBC piece called "Can fashion ever be sustainable?":

"The average t-shirt in Sweden is worn around 22 times in a year, while the average dress is worn just 10 times. This would mean the amount of carbon released per wear is many times higher for the dress. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the average number of times a piece of clothing is worn decreased by 36% between 2000 and 2015."

LEZÉ sells a range of pants, jumpsuits, dresses, blazers, tops, sweaters, and more, mostly unpatterned in neutral colors, although you can get herringbone and pinstripes on certain pieces. 

"Our goal," Lee says, "is to continue to push the boundaries of how far you can wear pajamas to work and find the perfect balance between sweatpants and a work pant."

It sounds exactly like what we all need these days—a gentle reintroduction to the world of professional attire.