Ask any woman to recite the names of their favourite fashion designers and you’re certain to hear the likes of Versace, Chanel, McQueen and Armani. Household names such as these and others have long dominated the international fashion scene. It may surprise you to learn, however, that Canada has been steadily making waves of its own with the world’s fashion followers thanks to our home-grown roster of superstar designer talents.
At the 13th annual World MasterCard Fashion Show in March (formerly the Toronto Fashion Show and Canada’s most prestigious fashion event), over 30 established and new Canadian designers premiered their latest collections. Montreal-duo José Manuel St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger of UNTTLD plus fellow Montrealer Duy Nguyen of DUY each exhibited masterful collections with broad appeal to women of all ages. DUY even garnered top praise and the top prize at the Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition during the week, earning him a solo show at next year’s event and a dedicated fashion magazine spread.
Other Canadian designers that should be on everyone’s must-try-on list include Pink Tartan (co-created by Joe Mimram of Club Monaco and Joe Fresh fame), industry stalwart Lida Baday, newly revitalized Linda Lundström, and long-time influencer Arthur Mendonça who has earned an international reputation for his exquisite tailoring. These designers have been steadily driving Canada’s presence and notoriety well beyond our borders.
Canadian designers have also been leading the convergence between fashion and sustainability.Gone are the days of rough hemp fabric. In-stead, organic threads are being spun into ultra-soft fabrics that are then turned into modern eye-catching pieces by designers such as Vancouver-based Elroy Apparel and Nikki, Nova Scotia-born Anna Gilkerson and her deux FM label, Toronto-based Susan Harris, and many others.
Of course, you can’t talk about Canadian style brands without mentioning some of our long-time mainstream favourites, such as Roots and Lululemon Athletica. Both have been leveraging sustainable and recycled materials in their clothing for years.
The best thing about Canadian designers? You don’t have to be in attendance at a Vancouver ion show to glimpse their work. In recent years, local fashion retailers have begun to take greater notice of Canada’s fashion talents from coast to coast. This has led to in-creased stock and selection on shelf and rack with each passing season. These forward-looking retailers are doing their part to support our designers, but of course, so can you! By purchasing Canadian style brands at your local retailer, you’re in turn helping patronize our fashion scene. This in turn gives the entire Canadian fashion industry a strong foundation from which to fuel an increased presence on the global runways.Perhaps even more importantly, when you support your “own” you are ensuring the lifeblood of an artistic and highly talented group of individuals who reflect the unique creativity of Canada. So the next time you head out to buy a new spring or summer outfit,make sure to shop local and buy Canadian. You won’t be disappointed.When you are later asked by an admirer “who”you’re wearing, you can then answer with added patriotic bravado, “One of the world’s finest Canadian designers…”!
By Mark Gould
Mark Gould is the president of Milli —a fashion boutique in business in Hamilton since 1964 and in Yorkville since 2004.