Northern Soul / Four & Sons
For Nordic brand Canem Studio, all good things come in threes… especially if it’s dogs. Billie, a big mixed breed, Bess, a tiny Shetland sheepdog, and Hektor, an old robust Labrador, provide constant inspiration to Canem founder and designer, Thea Dyring. This motley crew, paired with living in Oslo, “surrounded by unspoiled natural forest and pristine coastline,” informs Dyring’s approach both at work and play. “I’m lucky to have a lifestyle with a good mix of city and wilderness, as well as very different dogs with very different needs when it comes to equipment,” she says. “The design process usually starts with me thinking, ‘Oh, me and my dogs could really benefit from a design like this,’ and then I start drawing and making samples in the workshop.”
After years of grinding in the “big fast fashion industry,” Dyring has found a more ethical, fulfilling path. Canem Studio is a tiny empire of one built on her made-to-order principles: to reduce waste, lower environmental pawprint and raise long-term value for both their handmade leather goods and their sustainability kudos—and they’re almost at zero waste. Case in point, on a recent partnership with Norway’s heritage brand Lillunn, surplus lambswool from their iconic blankets was repurposed as a soft, warm and extremely durable cushioning for Canem Studio’s sleek collars and leads. “The collaboration worked out as a sustainability alliance. We use excess materials as a resource and in this way help Lillunn eliminate waste in order to get closer to their sustainability goals.”
Dyring is determined to avoid the trappings of the wholesale manufacturing model; each accessory is hand-stitched and finished by the designer herself, and built to last. The leather is tanned in vegetable fat and becomes exceptionally hardwearing. “My background in fast fashion and living in a time with imminent threats of ecological disasters has made it perfectly clear that I do not want to create yet another product with a short life span that’s on a certain path to the landfill,” she says.
Canem Studio’s manufacturing is guided by traditional, environmentally-friendly methods, using locally-sourced materials. “To me, quality really equals longevity. True quality is something that can withstand the test of time—in terms of aesthetics, materials and craftsmanship. This is what I really want to portray in my designs: urban culture meets Nordic wilderness. Aesthetically pleasing, yet functional and everlasting products.”