You probably already know Adrienne Butikofer’s name. She’s been grinding on the Toronto fashion circuit since 2003, and has become well-known for her pattern making and playful, colourful, and graphic designs.
The designer grew up in Winnipeg and had wanted to be a designer nearly all her life, so enrolled herself in fashion school and moved to Toronto.
She began to design and make a name for herself in the Toronto fashion industry, first with an indie line called Caninja then gaining popularity for her Skinny Sweats label in 2012. Many were drawn to Butikofer’s attention to detail and focus on finishings.
For each line that she created, she included a piece of herself and hoped that retailers would become just as passionate about her designs.
During this time, this is when Butikofer laid out the blueprint for her current brand offering, OKAYOK sharing with StyleDemocracy, “the name comes from the feeling of ease and fun that is at the core of my work.” OKAYOK officially launched in 2017 and since has been a staple at Toronto’s One Of A Kind Show, and a top seller at Coal Miner’s Daughter and the Drake General Store.
Butikofer wanted to re-imagine everyday staples by evoking certain feelings in her customer base.
She explains that while she is a fan of high fashion, “I am on Tumblr and Pinterest, and I have a library of vintage craft and sewing books that really inspire me as a maker.” It has found Butikofer designing a riff on the Canadian classic Northern Reflections logo, with the same sweatshirt silhouette ($150) or some beautiful tie-dye shirts, where she sews four older pieces together ($85) — just to name a few.
Other fan favourites such as a polka totes, have been sent to retailers all across Canada and the brands Cloud Sweatshirt. “I like my work to be relevant to what is happening in fashion, but also connected to my own perspective as an artist and designer.”
Since the brand has grown, Butikofer decided to recently expand by opening a brick and motar shop in the Junction Triangle, close to her home.
She mentions that since becoming a mom to two daughters (in 2009 and 2011 respectively), she wanted to create something in the community where she lived and it would help make her work-life balance more manageable being closer to home, noting to StyleDemocracy, “We make the majority of our product offerings right upstairs from the shop – it’s hyper local and ideal for me as a hands-on designer.”
The new space, which they are calling the ‘work//shop’ in part because they work upstairs, and the shop is downstairs has breathed some fresh life into Butikofer.
In the future, she plans to host some tote workshops (likely in the fall) and is excited to launch the fall 2019 collection called ‘Handy Woman’. “We have a new colour palette, some new cuts, and we’re experimenting with mixed media printing.” Until then, Butikofer is excited to keep creating and making in her brand, new space.
When I ask her to look back at her experience in the industry and what she would recommend to others, she notes “Try to get as much diverse experience as you can. There are so many areas to work in the fashion industry, it doesn’t begin and end with design.”
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