The benefits of a good set of wardrobe basics are endless. Combat closet fatigue? Check. Look polished with the least amount of effort? Check. Feeling comfy in your own clothes? Check! A comfy tee, a good pair of jeans, and a cozy sweater — these are all classic must-haves for when you have that “I have nothing to wear” dilemma. (Spoiler alert: you always do.) But you don’t want to go running to your closest mall for some t-shirts to slip into, either. Basics should be the building blocks of your closet, which means that quality is of the essence. The upside is, there are so many brands out there that have made basics its mission with aesthetics that are anything but basic.
Here are brands with the best basics you should invest in!
It all started for Kotn when founders Benjamin Sehl, Mackenzie Yeates, and Rami Helali wanted to create the “perfect t-shirt”. The ethos of this staple Toronto brand is entirely built on basics. Think crew neck tees, button-down shirts, and cozy hoodies all made with ethically-grown and manufactured Egyptian cotton.
Think basics with a little bit of retro flair. For Betina Lou designer Marie-Eve Emond, the focus is on craftsmanship and making clothes that will last. Marie-Eve has also made it a point of working with other local talent, curating a mix of sustainable (and aesthetically-pleasing!) brands in her Montreal store.
Harly Jae is another proponent of the slow living movement and this brand wants to help you look good at the same time. Each piece is locally made in Vancouver with sustainable fabrics like linen or hemp. We’re eyeing the brands wide-leg Pierrot pants and boxy Pierrot jacket —easy classics to wear as a set or separates, while its Bardot jumpsuit looks like an easy piece to dress up or down.
Everyone knows the struggle of finding a well-fitting pair of jeans and that’s exactly why IRIS Denim founders Jessica Shvili and Lindsay Fernlund started the brand in the first place. The duo launched IRIS in 2013, the golden age of the skinny jean, and since then has branched out into a variety of cuts and washes, each as comfortable as they are stylish. Bonus: the denim is sustainably manufactured right here in Toronto!
Long-line cardigans and shirt dresses take center stage with SKYE, a San-Francisco-based womenswear brand that caters to the minimalist in all of us. The result? A sophisticated outfit that looks put together even if you got dressed in the dark.
Touting itself as an elevated basics brand, New York-based Richer Poorer offers pieces with a hip, laissez-faire attitude. Think like an Urban Outfitters sort of vibe with boxy cropped tees, vintage-inspired t-shirts like the raglan or henley cuts, half-zip sweaters, and its best-selling classic bralette that comes in 16 different colours. Comfy, casual, and oh-so-cool.
It wouldn’t be a true basics roundup without including Everlane, although the brand hardly needs an introduction these days. The brand’s lineup features everything from cashmere sweaters and silk shirts, to bootcut jeans, and clean-cut jumpsuits — all simple and classic enough to complement anything in your existing closet.
Think of Grana as Everlane’s slightly more tropical cousin. Based out of Hong Kong, the brand’s focus is on fabrics, featuring only the best from all around the world: Chinese silk, Pima cotton from Peru, tencel from Austria, and linen from France. Whether it’s a slip dress for easy-peasy dressing or a cashmere boyfriend sweater for colder climates (ahem, Canada), Grana’s got you covered.
It’s right in the name with this one: AYR stands for All Year Round and it’s an apparel brand dedicated to versatile styles that can be worn all year. Functionality plays a major role throughout its collections without sacrificing its clean, neutral aesthetic. Check out the brand’s timelessly chic denim cuts or billowy button-downs for that effortlessly polished vibe.
OAK + FORT now has over 19 locations across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver. Here you’ll find minimalistic, Japanese-inspired basics that we promise will go with just about everything in your closet. Most of what you’ll find here comes in a timeless, neutral colour palette of black, white, gray, tan, and navy, meaning it can all be mixed and matched with what you already own with total ease and without complication. In addition to women’s and menswear, you’ll also find jewellery, accessories, homeware, and beauty products.
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