10 upstart fashion brands in Toronto for 2014
If you're tired of the chain stores that seem to be about as ever-present in Toronto as bad news involving Rob Ford, we've got some great news for you. This city is home to tons of locally-designed and produced fashion labels and Toronto-based e-tailers with their fingers directly on what makes Toronto awesome, and what the awesome people who populate it want to wear.
Here are 10 fresh faces on the Toronto fashion scene.
Everyone loves a good sneaker, and fortunately for Sully Wong, that love isn't likely to fade anytime soon. Toronto-based design duo George Sully and Henry Wong hand-craft footwear, bags and accessories that blend North American and Asian culture. This spring, they launched two pairs of desert boot sneakers (above) in collaboration with designer Karim Rashid. Printed with Rashid's trademark kaleidoscopic patterns in bright colours ($294 each), these sneakers are an extra cool twist on this fresh brand's sleek staple collection.
Toronto womenswear label Jennifer Torosian, founded by Jennifer Torosian and Raed Ali, seems to have a knack for updated classics. Their gorgeously tailored suits and dresses are classy and work-ready, but they have unique touches. Pieces from the fall/winter 2014/2015 like the Angular Wrap Skirt ($349) with hemlines that step up take a basic and make it anything but. Torosian's online store, which proudly decrees that everything is made right here in Canada, received a Shopify Design Award in September. The designer duo clearly has good taste, and we can't wait to watch the label grow.
This Toronto-based online retailer launched last September, and although their selection is limited, it's surprisingly diverse. Knifepoint keeps it local with Toronto menswear designers Sons of Odin, and brings it all the way to South Korea with J Apostrophe. Their eponymous house brand's silk and wool scarves ($40) are featured on the site, too, paired with a really fantastic pair of Kye graffiti leggings ($137.50).
Finch Goods Co.
It's clear that this men's accessory e-retailer has some personality. From the vintage logo to the FAQ section stating that they accept Bitcoin "for those who want to purchase socks anonymously without the NSA tracking it," it looks like the folks at Finch know how to connect with online shoppers. Carrying brands like Bugatchi socks, Rebels Refinery Organic Soap, and Daneson Salted Birch Toothpicks, men with a taste for the finer things should make this site their homepage. Shipping is free when you spend $50 or more.
Earlier this spring, elan+castor premiered their fall/winter 2014/2015 collection. Formerly known as Moose&Beaver (the English translation of their current name), this reincarnation of the label is inspired by effortless style - the story that frames it involves Jane Birkin and Francoise Hardy raiding Ernest Hemingway's closet. According to elan+castor's creative director, the Toronto-born, LA-and-London-educated Leah Antoinette, this results in a beautiful juxtaposition of oversized merino wool knits and silk skirts. The collection ranges from $200 to $800; everything is designed and produced in Canada, and it is all available through custom order on elan+castor's website.
At just 24 years old, Muhammad Alamgir knows what women want - when it comes to fashion, at least. The designer was born in Pakistan, raised in Canada, and studied fashion design at the Academy of Design and Technology in Toronto. The spring/summer 2014 collection from is womenswear line, L'momo, consists solely of black-and-white dresses. Whether it's draped leather or a floor-length tube dress, it looks like Alamgir has some serious chops when it comes to super-feminine silhouettes. While L'momo is not available for purchase via the website, Shopgirls in Queen West carries the line.
The only thing as popular as statement socks in the city right now is statement sock subscriptions. Yo Sox is the latest to offer this service, and for $10.95 a month, you can get super bright, super fun socks delivered right to your door. Socks can be purchased individually, as well, for roughly the same price. Based in Toronto, this company wants men, women and kids to express themselves via their feet, and they've got a pretty cute promo video showing a bunch of sock-wearers doing just that.
Jon De Porter Jewelry
Montreal-born Jon De Porter is passionate about pearls. Inspired by a trip to the Beijing pearl market, De Porter learned how to take the classic jewellery staple and turn it to modern and unique bracelets, earrings and necklaces. This year, his Canadian fashion cred enjoyed a major boost when his pieces hit the runway as part of VAWK's F/W 2014 collection at World MasterCard Fashion Week. The collections from his eponymous jewelry line are often created to benefit a particular cause, and according to his website, usually 25% of the profits are donated to Canadian charitable organizations.
Adrian Wu is one of Toronto's fashion prodigies - the Burlington native began designing his voluminous dresses at 18. Five years later, and he's moved on to a product that mixes his love for innovation with his talent for design. Adrianian Canadian is Wu's latest project, and the line's feature piece is the Fleecer TUBE, allegedly the world's first anti-bacterial scarf. Priced at $84 and available online, the scarves are made from fleece with an anti-bicrobial wicking agent that can protect the wearer from the dreaded cold and flu season.
Sherise Cromwell, a self-taught designer, launched her eponymous jewellery, swimwear and apparel line, REESE, in its entirety just last year. There's nothing tentative or shy about her collection - some of my favourite pieces from her collection are the Kristen bra ($85), from the spring/summer 2014 pre-sale, that features two embroidered fish right over the nipples, and the Pia ring (on sale for $65) from the Tourist collection. REESE is available online only, and if you need a seriously sexy bathing suit, look no further.
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