10 (more) upstart fashion brands in Toronto
Upstart fashion brands in Toronto may be small in comparison to well-known names like Smythe and Pink Tartan, but it's underdogs like these that contribute to the city's ever-changing culture - and pave the way for a brighter, more diversified future. Though we've already posted two lists featuring fashion freshmen, even more labels have budded enough to deserve a round of applause. So let's hand it to the little guys; one day they'll be changing the game.
Love Thy Fitteds
Love Thy Fitteds is a streetwear brand that focuses on designing originals for your head. Launched in 2010, they've expanded from fitted hats to beanies as well as five panel caps in far-from-low-key styles like metallic gold and (ironically enough) camouflage print- my personal favourites! With a slogan like "stay above the brim," Torontonians are encouraged to put down their Supreme hats and instead rep a local brand by snatching something off Love Thy Fitteds' website.
Minnow Bathers is your teenage dream if it could manifest itself in swimsuit form. Founded in 2009 and inspired by "rebellion, punk rock, and summer fun," designers Karen Donaldson and Vanessa Warrack take their brand to new heights by attaching a lifestyle (and a particularly nostalgic and sometimes dreamlike one) to it.
Known for their bold prints and high-waisted bottoms, the handcrafted bathers are surprisingly affordable considering how much TLC is put into them, running for about $140 each. Minnow is available at Penny Arcade (1177 Dundas St W) or online through their Etsy store.
Though Karlt Edwards - founded just last May - is one of many new Toronto streetwear brands hitting the scene, the brand has a stand-apart voice. Think Alexander Wang's attention to detail fused with Rick Owens' aesthetic, and then boiled down to the basics. With a penchant for mixed materials and classic urban details, the current line of t-shirts is a bricolage of cotton jersey with real bandana sleeves. Look out for leather inserts juxtaposed in a similar manner in next month's collection, so keep stalking their sole stockist L A B & iD like I do (at all hours of the day).
Falconwright is the brainchild of Danielle Wright's fine motor skills and Sandi Falconer's bold graphic design aesthetic. Living and working out of Toronto, the duo has managed to enter the industry at a high note in 2012, landing a collaboration with Urban Outfitters.
As for the actual products, Falconwright's leather goods would be considered pretty generic if it weren't for their brightly coloured and sometimes eye-searingly busy prints. Of course, I mean that in the best way possible; their latest lookbook serves as proof that "eye-searing" can be a pleasant adjective. You can find a decent selection of their pieces at Robber (863 Queen St W) and Kid Icarus (205 Augusta Ave).
El Capitano seems to be aiming to go head-to-head with Polo Ralph Lauren, presenting fitted polo shirts in a variety of colours ($45 - $60) exclusively through their clean, easy-to-browse website. Basics like v-neck tees, original graphic tees, and hoodies also make up a part of their stock - subsequently contributing to their low-key, well-groomed-dude identity. On top of that, they branch off from their slogan "Embrace Your Journey" by featuring interviews with founders, store owners, and other risk-takers on their blog, fostering a colourful and worldly platform for the brand.
Fresh Train Co.
Founded by 21-year-old Guillaume Viau, Fresh Train Co. is, well, about as fresh as it gets. The streetwear brand is a tad more in-your-face than others, with larger than life logos sprawled across the top of snapback caps in 3d lettering ($90 - $155) and sweatpants that are not only drop-crotch but cargo style, too ($95). But it's not all fun-and-games at Fresh Train Co. - Viau's volunteer work in Kenya and Thailand helps his brand reach for deeper meanin. With that being said, a portion of each Fresh Train Co. item sold goes to Free the Children, so by buying the brand - available exclusively through their website - you're not only supporting local businesses but slowly conquering world issues as well.
Much like Love Thy Fitteds, Headmistress offers oodles of quirky yet elegant pieces of décor for your head. From floral crowns to demi-turbans to rather large ostrich feather bridalwear, designer Jillian Wood's got you covered, literally. Though the brand's main focus is to produce a lovely selection of original head pieces, they've expanded to also sell other pretty lil' accessories including scarves, bowties, and rings - and even create a line of kidswear under sub-label Little Miss.
United Stock Dry Goods
United Stock Dry Goods claims "honesty, quality, and integrity" - something I can personally attest to, having seen the product in the flesh. Though only on their third full collection of menswear, designers Michael Cavaggioni and Sydney Mamane know exactly how to perfect the classic oxford and 14 oz. selvage denim - never missing a beat when it comes to fit and detail.
The latest spring/summer collection evokes "the light and fresh feel of the long and lazy days of the season," and is available online or at brick-and-mortar locations including Sydney's (682 Queen St W), Future of Frances Watson (1390 Queen St W), and Uncle Otis (26 Bellair St).
Pardon le Dopeness
Pardon le Dopeness (PLD) is clearly not at all sorry for being so cool. The streetwear brand is barely a year old but is already making some serious waves with their signature varsity jackets ($300 - $350), pom-pom beanies ($30 - $40), and - of course - their sensuous lookbooks. Ultimately, they're is selling a lifestyle that can only be described as reckless, free, and "everything your mom is scared of." PLD products are available exclusively on their website.
Benjamin Daedfyshe Footwear
Pairing sneakers with a suit is an art - all it takes is the wrong piece of footwear to ruin the smart vs. casual look that big shots like Justin Timberlake and Kanye West have been rocking for years. That's where Benjamin Daedfyshe (pronounced ded-fish) Footwear comes in. Though founded just recently in 2012, they're offering premium styles in an array of colours - handcrafted in Portugal - perfect for going from work to play.
Right now, a Montreal boutique has the bragging rights of being the only place to stock Daedfyshe, but the online store's free shipping to the U.S. and Canada makes the Toronto start-up accessible to the masses.