It’s that time of year! July 1st long weekend, when we celebrate everything our exceptional country has to offer; there are countless fireworks, bottomless kegs, royal visits, red and white flags, and general fun-having from East to Western Canada. In celebration of this fine day, I thought it would be nice to pay hommage to the designers and brands that offer tasteful styles and make Canadians proud with every stitch and every catwalk. There are plenty of designers from Canada, so I can’t name them all, but here’s just a nutshell-sized taste!
Worn by Kate Middleton herself this week as she boarded for her Canadian visit, Erdem is one of Canadian fashion’s biggest claims to fame. Erdem Moralioglu was raised in Montreal, studied fashion abroad and at home, and later worked at the Diane Von Furstenberg offices. In 2005, Erdem launched his own brand with the intention of reinforcing femininity. Today, Erdem is worn by fashion’s most stylish followers, from Sarah Jessica Parker and Sienna Miller to Chloe Sevigny. Erdem signatures include graphic florals, fitted and structured silhouettes and feminine styles that flatter every woman season after season.
Madonna made Dsquared2 famous when she wore their jeans in her “Don’t Tell Me” video in 2000. Designed by twins Dean and Dan Caten from Toronto, Dsquared2 has been on the forefront of high-fashion for several years now. While the brand is home to Milan today, the designers never forget their heritage, often including Canadian maple leafs on their signature sneakers and hats.
3. Denis Gagnon
Denis Gagnon is a true Montrealer. Seen at the odd fashion event and collaborating with various other Montreal-based designers (such as Bedo and Aldo), Denis Gagnon has always stayed true to the city he calls home.
Known for his oversized black frames, Gagnon is constantly evolving, using texture and layering as his singular constant. After a very successful exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art in 2010, Gagnon has become a household name among Canadian fashion enthusiasts.
He just recently opened an Old Montreal location that I had the pleasure of visiting a few weeks ago. While the store itself is small in space, the opportunity to touch his detailed pieces was memorable.
4. Pink Tartan
Kimberley Newport-Mimran, head designer of Pink Tartan, was raised in Niagara Falls, and later moved to Toronto to pursue a career in fashion. She then married Joe Mimram, the CEO of Club Monaco where she spent a few years working in product development. Joe then sold Club Monaco to Ralph Lauren and created the Canadian brand Joe Fresh. In 2002, Kimberley founded a brand that would put her on the international fashion radar, Pink Tartan.
Today, Pink Tartan is synonymous with preppy, posh and ladylike looks. Worn by Kate Hudson and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kimberley has successfully created a brand that embodies the saying “sexy is what you don’t see”. Never tired and always fresh, Pink Tartan will forever be a label that Canada takes pride in.
While Smythe designs clothing of all kinds, this brand is best known for its tailored blazers and coats. Designed by Toronto powerhouses Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe, the label is meant to be for a woman’s real lifestyle. In other words, jackets are meant to be worn from work to play, allowing the 9 to 5 woman, the freedom of looking put together day and night. Andrea explains, “We’re both working mothers, so we have our social lives, our work lives, we love to travel, and we have our home lives with our kids. We try to design a jacket or coat for all those different scenarios and moods — every collection feels like someone’s closet.” Today, Smythe designs are worn by the likes of Blake Lively and Anne Hathway.
2. Erin Kleinberg
While Erin Kleinberg is still quite a young brand (founded in 2008), the label is already making international headlines. Kleinberg designs carefree, semi-couture basics which have been worn by Kim Kardashian, Taylor Momsen and Karlie Kloss.
3. Flora & Fauna
Flora & Fauna is Canadian eco-fashion’s claim to fame. Founded in 2008 by Pauline Siu, the brand creates collections for the modern woman who cares for the environment. Inspired by the wildlife of out west, Flora & Fauna produces clothing sustainably and ethically in Canada.
4. Complex Geometries
Complex Geometries and its Montreal-based designer have acquired quite the international following. Founded in 2005 by Alberta-native Clayton Evans, this avant-garde label uses asymmetry and minimalism to design pieces that are incredibly different.
Mackage is one of Canada’s best known designers. Based in Montreal (just a block away from my office!), this label brings outerwear to a whole new level. Designing everything from peacoats to puffers and leather jackets, Mackage is a real Canadian staple.
At a Mall Near You
Bedo is a Montreal-based brand that looks to the runways for inspiration. Each season, the brand creates looks for both a night on the town and a day at the office, and the stores receive new collections every two weeks, keeping customers coming back for more. It’s affordable, fun and a safe bet if you’re shopping for an outfit to wear within the hour.
Kensie is one of my favorite brands in general, never mind that they are a proud Canadian brand as well. Designed for younger generations, Kensie is flirty but still edgy and always looking to play with the idea of a change in a young girl’s life. You’ll find cute dresses and lovely tops by Kensie at The Bay.
I have a special place in my heart for Roots, as in 1973; the company was established with its main inspiration being Algonquin Park, a place where I spent every summer of my childhood. Originally based in Toronto, the brand is now a cornerstone of Canadian fashion with more than 120 locations in North America. Roots is best known for its leather pieces and athletic wear (who could forget those sweatpants?) but perhaps the greatest thing about Roots is its Canadian pride. While some brands intend to enter the international market with let’s say, a smaller tie to Canada, Roots has over the years, embodied and embraced all things Canadian.
Perhaps Canada’s best known brand, Aldo is a hugely successful company that has seen international acknowledgment for many years. With 900 stores in 45 countries, Aldo has become a cornerstone of affordable and fashionable footwear and accessories around the world. Expanding with other successes such as Little Burgundy, LOCALE (my new favorite!) and other footwear stores, Montreal-based ALDO Group is sure to be around for years to come.
Rudsak is best known for its leather pieces, from handbags to jackets, designer Evik Asatoorian has perfected the use of this signature material. In 1994, Asatoorian launched Rudsak in Montreal with the intention of creating collections that would reflect the urban life with an edge. With eight stores in Quebec and two in Toronto, Rudsak is climbing the Canadian market and continually looking to reinvent the use of leather with sleek, minimalistic designs.
It’s important to support our fellow Canadians, check out this full list of Canadian designers and Happy Canada Day weekend