Independent Designer's Outlet (IDO)
Have you ever wondered what happens to indie designers' left-over clothing? Where does it go? I picture their refrigerators filled with cashmere sweaters, extra camisoles stuffed into walls as insulation, and room dividers made from stacked denim.
One option is to sell the goods off-season. This is what Revolve Clothing designer Lara Stephenson wanted to do, and, she figured, if she needed to get rid of extra stock, then there must be other local designers in need of a space to shill their leftovers.
So Stephenson opened up IDO ( Independent Designers Outlet ) on Dundas West as a way of helping out both the designer and the customer: the designer gets to offload product, while the customer gets a good deal on in-season merchandise--albeit a year behind. "I didn't want it to be a mish-mash of overstock," said Stephenson. "It's all seasonal clothing--whatever the weather is outside is reflected in the stock inside."
Designers like Dagg and Stacey , Snoflake , and Greenbaum (plus another Toronto favourite who, sadly, didn't want to be named) were the first on-board. Once the store opened in May, designers wanted in. Lux & Luster and Juma were added to the roster, and Stephenson now has a wait-list for consignment spots in the store.
Stephenson is a champion of Canadian design, especially as the designers working in her price-point and clothing type are stuck in a sort of fashion world limbo, she said. The average customer might balk at spending in the $100 to $200 range, tempted instead to turn to the more affordable pieces peddled by the mass retailers and mall stores. But these lines "also really aren't recognized (by the media), especially at the lower price-points. The lower to mid-price point fall by the wayside--they're not really pulled for editorial shoots or coverage."
Stephenson hopes that having a handful of Canadian lines in one place might raise a little more awareness around Canadian options, which is invaluable as independent designers and boutiques fight the good fight against the big chains. "It's getting progressively more difficult (to produce clothing in Canada)," according to Stephenson, "whether it's manufacturing or fabric costs, although we try and keep things under $200."
And there are many deals to be had at IDO. Steer away from the standard-issue, super-boring streetwear-influenced styles in favour of the more sophisticated pieces that can be had for a song.
My favourites include Lux & Luster's black matte brocade cap-sleeved wrap blouse ($89 down from $210), black shorts with white polkadots and bow-adorned pockets ($119 down from $250), and colour-blocked coral, grey, and black jersey dress ($114 down from $265).
Other stand-outs include a simple white bubble-hemmed cotton frock from Juma ($60 down from $180), Snoflake's filmy be-sashed cream-colured blouse with Peter Pan collar ($89 down from $145), and a quilted white cotton short-sleeved jacket, finished off with cute frog closures and a ruffled neck ($137 down from $210), by Dagg and Stacey.
Better that they find a home in your closet than gathering dust in the designers' basements, no?
Photos by Alex Russell