Katie Green on launching a next-generation responsible fashion brand

Faculty of Arts
Katie Green
Katie Green (BA ’05, Gee Gees Women's Swimming '03-'05) has always been good at spotting the opportunities around her. Her latest project, luxury knitwear company &Or Collective, fuses her years of experience working with global beauty and fashion brands with her desire to build a socially and environmentally conscious business.

Katie Green (BA ’05, Gee Gees Women's Swimming '03-'05) has dedicated her career to building compelling brands. With her latest venture, tech-led luxury knitwear company &OR Collective, Green and her co-founders have developed a purpose-driven brand that lives at the intersection of fashion and responsibility. Baked into that brand is a social mission: to curb the environmental damage caused by the fashion industry. 

Though entrepreneurship is a more recent path, Green says she has always been keen to identify and seize new opportunities. Her career path is a testament to this: her first job after graduation was with public affairs firm, Summa Strategies. The role came about when the agency’s chairman and then-uOttawa PR professor, Tim Powers, invited her to interview for a position. A connection through that firm ultimately led to Green becoming the manager of communications for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Following these early roles, Green continued pursuing her passion for PR and media relations, this time bringing her business strategy mindset to the fashion and beauty spaces. For nearly five years she led PR and social media strategies for brands at L’Oréal Canada, before becoming the senior director of global communications with the ALDO Group.  
With an abundance of experience across the corporate world and her young family settled in Montreal, by 2020 Green was reflecting on what she wanted next for her career. Entrepreneurship seemed like the right fit. In February 2020, Green and a former L’Oréal colleague and friend launched August Strategy, a strategic brand marketing agency. The agency specializes in working with brands across beauty, lifestyle, fashion, and tech to help sharpen their positioning, visual identity, or go-to-market strategies, whether they are a legacy brand or a new start-up.  

“We really got to look under the hood of what it takes to start and run a company,” explains Green of her experience with August Strategy. “Our thinking then became, ‘instead of solely building brands for others, we should build a brand for ourselves.” 

&OR Collective is the fulfilment of that ambition.  

Disrupting the harmful practices of fast fashion

Launched in July 2023, Green describes &OR Collective’s first capsule wardrobe collection as a balance of quality, craftsmanship, and innovation. The company aims to create timeless pieces that are comfortable and stylish; suitable for day and night; and appropriate for urban living while also caring for nature.  

“We know it’s inherently not sustainable to start a fashion brand, but we also know that people will continue to wear clothing,” says Green. “So how do we build a brand in the fashion space that is different from the rest? In the end, we realized there is no brand to build in fashion unless it’s built in a responsible way.” 

Today, Green is one of four female co-founders of &OR Collective, alongside co-CEO Kristen King, creative director of design, Rosa Halpern, and creative director of brand, Kara Wark. 

&OR Collective calls itself a “tech-led clothier.” It employs a production method called technical knitting, which uses a pre-programmed digital loom to knit designs. In doing so, technical knitting generates significantly less manufacturing waste than conventional clothing production, which can see up to 15% of fabric discarded on the factory floor.  

&OR Collective’s technical knitting also takes aim at another pain point in the fashion industry: the over-production of garments. By using digital designs and manufacturing, &OR Collective can order limited runs of its pieces, preventing unsold stock from ending up as landfill.  

Finally, factoring in the full life cycle of its clothing was critical to &OR Collective’s launch. Its first partnership was with SuperCircle, an American company that works with retail brands to recycle clothing fibres. The partnership gives &OR Collective customers an outlet to send their old garments from any fashion brand and have them recycled by SuperCircle’s network of textile recyclers. In return, customers receive store credit for new &OR pieces. 

Though still in the early days, the &OR Collective team has many ideas for what could come next, including to expand its sizing range, refine the company’s retail strategy, achieve B Corp certification, and further build relationships with yarn producers globally.  

Central to success: Hard work and mentorship

Katie Green

“Mentorship is a huge part of my success.”

Katie Green (BA ’05, Gee Gees Women's Swimming '03-'05)

Outside her work with &OR Collective and August Strategy, Green recently became a member of the uOttawa Montreal Alumni Council. Through that forum, she is open to meeting current students or alumni of the University who may be interested in learning from her extensive and diverse career experiences.  

Green’s main advice is that there is no substitute for hard work. When it comes to the fashion and beauty industry, she says a lot of people can get caught up in the events and glamour and forget that you have to apply the same business rigour as with any other consumer retail space. 

Support systems are also key. Green references the life-long friendships she formed within her communications program at uOttawa and points to professors like Tim Powers who laid the groundwork for her career.  

Whether it’s through the uOttawa alumni network or her entrepreneurship endeavours, Green wants to continue giving back: “Mentorship is a huge part of my success,” she says. “It’s this beautiful cycle and I’m so happy to be a part of it.”