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Black-owned Md Bespoke, EllisDon create safety vest campaign to promote gender inclusivity

'It is so important to feel like you belong in a workplace.'

Black-owned Md Bespoke, EllisDon create safety vest campaign to promote gender inclusivity
A look at new safety vests designed by Md Bespoke, a Black-owned custom clothing manufacturer based in Toronto, for EllisDon, a global construction company. ELLISDON PHOTO

EllisDon has announced the Fit Your Frame campaign. The construction company partnered with Md Bespoke, a Black-owned Canadian custom clothing manufacturer based in Toronto, to produce safety vests with better fitting and size options.

The campaign is intended to give women and people who identify as non-binary or transgender access to construction vests that fit appropriately compared to the standard vest options.

“Traditional safety vests are not built to fit women or gender-nonconforming persons, and we wanted to change that,” Jennifer Khan, vice president of inclusive diversity, said in a statement. “Every day, EllisDon is working towards more inclusive measures on our sites and in our offices; I hope that this will continue to ripple throughout the industry so that everyone, and I mean everyone, feels welcome.”

For EllisDon, it's an opportunity to be inclusive toward workers in an industry that needs skilled labourers. For Md Bespoke, it's yet another example of the company's versatility.

“When we were approached by EllisDon, (we knew) that we could solve a problem for women (and gender-nonconforming groups) and give them the essentials that they need to do their job comfortably and safely,” Tess Durrant, chief operating officer, Safety Bespoke, a division of Md Bespoke, told Black Dollar Magazine.

“I had the opportunity to actually try on the traditional vests and see the way in which the weight is distributed, which should (spread) evenly across your shoulders. The pressure goes on the back of your neck, and for those who have a frame like mine, they are heavy — like heavy, heavy. So, the challenge was to build a vest that wouldn't (impact) your physical health in any way,” she added.

From custom suits and clothing for private clients to costume design and outfitting for characters on TV and film sets: safety wear for the construction industry is the latest feather in its cap.

“It is so important to feel like you belong in a workplace, and I know from personal experience what that can do mentally to you when you feel like you do not belong,” Durrant said in a statement.  

Fit Your Frame is run by 2gether, EllisDon’s all-inclusive diversity leadership organization that strives to reflect all gender expressions. In all EllisDon’s regional offices and locations, the campaign, which began in January 2023, will continue for the forseeable future. In addition, EllisDon staff members will also receive the vests.