Credo, a luxury Spanish shirt brand, has recently made its Canadian debut in Yorkville as a standalone boutique by the same name. Owner Rio Souza discovered the label while vacationing in Spain. So impressed by what he saw, he left his Finance job to become an entrepreneur and bring Credo to the Canadian market. The company, founded in 2004, currently operates four locations in Spain. And now, one in Canada.
I recognize Souza immediately. He was a particularly outgoing classmate of mine from a business accounting class that I took in the spring. At the time, he was a Financial Analyst for Coca-Cola. Souza shared with the class his dream of leaving his corporate job to start his own business. I've heard it a hundred times (even from myself), and it's always inspiring to see someone with actual follow-through. The transition hasn't been easy, though. " I knew it would be challenging," he tells me. "But not like this. You have to be everything. When you leave work, you go home and you're still working."
Walking into the 2nd floor shop, I assume that it's exclusively menswear. Credo stocks men's button-ups (the core of the business) plus a small selection of ties, belts and shoes. Yeah, so everything but the pants. Souza explains that the brand aims to dress up standard men's bottoms with a new take on shirting. The line also includes a limited collection of women's shirts and shoes (I am smitten with a pair of grey/blue snakeskin booties). In contrast to a typical unisex boutique, menswear dominates with about 65 percent of the assortment.
What made the Credo brand so attractive to Souza, is the unique take on a classic. At first glance, these are the basics - collared casual and corporate button-ups. But the detailing is unexpected. Contrasting stitching, a mixing of patterns and colours, and unusual button sequencing make the shirts stand out. Double and triple layered collars are also details I have never seen. During our chat, Souza is wearing a stunning Credo single-collar chocolate shirt with a sky blue collar and cuffs.
I comment that the shirts really speak for themselves. Whether paired with denim and a blazer or a suit, I don't really think a tie is necessary. But the shop carries some of the more traditional shirts in the brand, Souza responds. These are made with the same high quality Italian oxford or twill cottons, but are perhaps training wheels for some of the more bling-y shirts in the collection. The women's version (single or double-collared) contains up to 10% stretch, and is designed to be fitted.
A Credo shirt will run you upwards of $225. It seems a bit crazy to me, but if you work 60-plus hours a week in corporate, I get that you'll want professional shirts that last. Mostly, I work in my underwear (ah, the joys of "freelance"). I do, however, believe in classic investment pieces. They may be a blow to the wallet, but they're a one-time hit. The shop has garnered the attention of Bay Street business-types, not surprisingly, and Souza already has his sights set on a second location. Naturally, he's eying Bay Street.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak.