ACTIVIST PROFILE: THE DEADLY NIGHTSHADES

Formerly a design collective, the Nightshades have spun their upstart, in-your-face brand of fashion into a roving midnight bike gang. Their mission: to fight the evil forces of toxic air-kisses, and stake their claim as the new generation the fashion industry.

ORONTAS: What are the Deadly Nightshades?
DEADLY NIGHTSHADES: We’re this enigma of a design collective/bike gang/girls best friend group. We just do our own thing, and we like it that way. Some people think we’re going to be like the Spice Girls where we do everything together exclusively and show up to events at the same time wearing full matching outfits. Not so. We’re definitely more like the Wu-Tang. We’re all independent creative forces that collaborate in various ways and support each other in what we do. Then every now and then we all come together and do something huge together, and we run with our own talented crew of Killa Bees.

(P.S. Wu-tang if you’re reading this… holla at your girls.)

O: Who are you? What are your day jobs?
DNS: We are seven female designers/artists/photographers/entrepreneurs. We share a
passion for our bikes. We live in Toronto, NYC and formerly Vancouver.

Irene: Sewing Teacher/Owner at The Make Den
Kirsten: Photo Rep/Producer at Westside Studio
Cat: Soft Goods Product developer/Production Manager (Seafoam Apparel Agency)
Niamh: Run Designer for Lululemon
Patricia: Illustrator and Sewing Production/ Future Fire Fighter
Laura: Jack-of-all-Trades at YNOT
Meg: Freelance Consumer Marketer

O: How does one become a Nightshade?
DNS: You’re born a Nightshade. We’re all spawned from the blood of Venus. True story.How we united on this earth is somewhat like the Sailor Moon saga meets Project Runway, just with more bikes.

You can check out the story of how Kirsten was initiated on our blog.

O: What do bikes have to do with DNS?
DNS: Cycling is how we live our lives. We came together as a group of friends who road bikes from party to party. It was the best way to experience Toronto to the fullest, along with being a great way to save money, help out our environment, and have a great ass. The bike world has slowly taken over our lives since then. For many of us it’s how we make a living now.

O: Why did you decide you’re crew needed a brand?
DNS: We’re not really sure that we ever really considered DNS a brand or were conscious
of what we were doing in the beginning. We were a crew of friends. We did what crews did. This has basically been an inside joke that got entirely out of hand. However, we’re all trained designers and artists. We’re going to bring that to the table when we create something.

Our “brand” could be the jackets and the seafoam. The story there was that Laura created the first jean vests in 2007, total DIY fun friend style thing, and chose the name out of a list of possibilities with Irene. In 2008 George Brown made a documentary about the Deadly Nightshades that showed at Toronto Alternative Fashion Week, which was going on at the same time as many of us were graduating from Ryerson University. We wanted to make a splash for our doc and for our graduation, and we knew matching ensembles are always the best way to go. Niamh loves seafoam and insisted on it. So in the final weeks of school we stayed up into the wee hours drinking Rock Star and tall cans, designing and sewing our now
infamous jackets, and dreaming of what the future would bring.

O: Do you have some kind of agenda?
DNS: Step #1: Matching Jackets. Step #2: Take over the world.

We’d like to see more bikes in the world. We’d like to see more female entrepreneurs taking over. We’d love to see more progress when it comes to sustainability in popular infrastructure and culture. We’d love to help tackle issues of poverty, mental health and sustainable food systems. We’d love to see more art in
everyday life. We’d love to see more love out there.

O: What would some standard Nightshade activities be?
DNS: When we’re not working like maniacs, we can be found executing the following:
General babeness on bikes. (It’s a very important job being a babe on a bike.)
Making art.
Sewing spandex onsies for ourselves.
Bike Booze relays.
Organizing parties, events, and shows.
Playing bicycle polo.
Girl fights.

O: How would you describe the bike scene in Toronto?
DNS: For the most part biking in Toronto is all about commuter convenience. You don’t
need to be labeled a “cyclist” to ride a bike, if that makes any sense. It’s just the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to get about the city, even with our semi-fired mayor doing his best to set the city backwards to 60’s era Detroit.

We think Toronto as a whole is still taking time accepting the cyclist as a real user of the road. We hope over the next few years, and a lot more bike lanes, the battle between car and bike will become more of a co-existence.

The established bike scenes are pretty diverse; we have our roadies, polo players, fixed riders, BMX riders and off road advocates. We’ve got some great DIY shops like Bike Pirates and Bike Sauce, or some fancy ones like Curbside or Bikes on Wheels. There are plenty of bike socials if you want to nerd out. The Cupcake rides are super fun, and Bike Rave just came to Toronto for the first year, and there are alleycats and YNOT throws down the rad Helltrack every fall. Then there are the events we throw. Make sure you follow the blog or join us on the FB page to keep up on what’s going on in Toronto.

©MMXIV Orontas Inc.