I loved growing up in Canada, but as fashion crept its way into my life my home country left much to be desired. Unlike most countries, which have a distinguishable national style, Canada has always occupied a liminal space in the fashion world. Canadian fashion exports have often fallen into two bins: “Oh, they’re Canadian? Alright.” Or, “Oh… they’re Canadian alright.” (exhibit A: Club Monaco v. DSQUARED2).
In spite of the generally uninspiring history of Canadian style, a growing number of young creatives have sprung from the snow to make their mark. Today I’m proud to introduce you to 4 budding brands founded and manufactured in the Great White North.
Toronto based Henry’s operates by the short yet punchy maxim “Everything You Need, Nothing You Don’t”. The one-man-show is put on by Keith Henry, a self taught pattern maker, photographer, and sewer who makes it all happen from his at-home studio. His garments are rooted in workwear, with a recurring motif of angular or swooping seams that elevate the silhouettes. Those details are only complimented by the thoughtful choices in material which age ruggedly. Knowing that the pattern making, assembly, fabric sourcing, and product photography is all coming from one brain and two hands is a rare but special feat.
2. James Coward
A collaborative project between three friends, Patrick Bull, Daniel Garrod, and Aaron Gray; James Coward is fine example of meticulous craftsmanship bolstered with curated context. On their website you can find music mixes made by founders and friends alike, an inspiring selection of editorial photography, and a shortlist of collaborators including the aforementioned Henry’s. Their collection is uniform-worthy; silhouettes are full without looking sloppy, in lieu of logos we receive functional details. It seems their material preferences lie at the poles: wispily light or comfortingly heavy (a preference I tend to share). It’s largely assembled in Vancouver BC, with a few items outsourced to Japan, the UK, and the USA (but who’s complaining about that). You could call them minimalist through one lens, or maximalist through another, I’ll just stick with pretty damn good.
There are few brands that can transport me to a different place or time, and Libero is one of those few. Whether it’d be sipping an espresso in Sora, Italy or driving your Alfa Romeo GTV6 to the mechanic (again), every piece is bathed in story. Not convinced? Try this on for size – a lovely Italian woman, Michelina, makes the majority of the garments by hand in Toronto. Apologies to the “Hashtag Menswear” survivors in advance but I’m going to throw the word Sprezzatura out there because Libero is the definition. The man behind the brand, Adam Appugliesi, has cultivated a community around the brand to the point where you couldn’t ignore them if you tried (I don’t know why the hell you would). Whether it be shooting a whole UK set campaign in honour of a dear friend or renting out the Annex Hotel to host an Evening With Libero, this brand is betting on itself and the chips are piling.
4. FAIZ T.S.
Family owned and operated out of British Columbia, FAIZ T.S. built its reputation on contemporary adaptations of a famous regional knit – the Cowichan sweater. Everything from the sourcing of thick yarns to the 140 hours of hand-looming is all done within Canada. Their sweaters share a lot of DNA with traditional Cowichan sweaters, but trade the decorative patterns for bold pockets and toned down color schemes. They’ve also branched into work-shirts, made from American hickory stripe and Japanese Kuroki denim – all assembled in Canada. Personally, I’d love to get my hands on one of these sweaters to brave my first Montreal winter.