9 Successful Fashion Brands You Probably Didn’t Know Started in Toronto
Canada is proving itself more and more as a country that has something to offer the fashion industry. While Canadian style might be known for denim tuxedos and flannel shirts, this image isn’t entirely accurate. Canadians dress well and are quick to wear and support labels from their home and native land. So much so that many Canadian brands have become world renowned fashion labels.
While New York or Paris might come to mind when you think of major fashion centres, Canada isn’t that far behind. With budding young designers who have fresh perspectives on fashion, Canada has become a breeding ground for successful fashion brands and Toronto right at its core.
Being an influence in the global fashion scene now more so than ever before, here are 9 successful fashion brands you probably didn’t know started in Toronto.
Canadian retailer Joe Fresh started off as a supplier for the grocery store Loblaws but has grown into much more. With multiple solo locations across not just Canada but the globe (plus a flagship store in New York City), Joe Fresh is simple yet affordable and hosts clothes that fit a variety of body types (they introduced their plus size line earlier this year), making it a brand favourite of shoppers and stylists alike.
Founded by Joe Mimran and Alfred Sung, Club Monaco began as a small store on Queen Street West in 1985. Known for its simple, classic black and white styles and fine fabric choices, Club Monaco has over 140 locations worldwide including the United States, London, Beijing and Macau. In 1999, Club Monaco was bought by Ralph Lauren however, the company has remained an independent entity within the Polo group with its classic designs and modern flare.
Ellie Mae established her namesake label in Toronto in 2015, focusing on chic and versatile jackets. Her approach to clothing is fresh and exciting as she reworks tired-and-true pieces with colourful accent detailing and bright materials. Her revival of vintage clothing into modern statement pieces is what makes her brand a stand out in not just the Canadian fashion industry, but the market as a whole.
Kimberley Newport-Mimran founded the womenswear brand Pink Tartan in 2002 and opened her first flagship store in Toronto’s trendy Yorkville district in 2010. Since its early days, Pink Tartan has developed into a world renowned label with its mix of luxurious womenswear and professional designs being carried in multiple specialty stores across North America, Central America, the Middle East and Europe.
Luxury outerwear designer Bojana Sentaler knows the secret to creating warm yet fashionable winter wear. She started her line of luxury outerwear in Toronto’s fashion district after a chance meeting with Karl Lagerfeld and has since seen global success. The SENTALER brand has been spotted on Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Meghan Markle and most notably, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.
Canadian designer Mikhael Kale — who previously worked for Bally and Antonio Marras — launched his namesake brand in Toronto in 2007. Known for its conceptual approach to fashion design with specific attention to craftsmanship and detailing, Mikhael Kale has been featured in international publications such as WWD, New York Times Style Magazine, ID magazine and Teen Vogue. As well, he has worked with major global trendsetters including Beyoncé, Gigi Hadid and Sky Ferreira.
Greta Constantine is a Toronto-based luxury line of womenswear from fashion designers Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong. The brand has been featured in Vogue, FASHION, Flare, In Style, People Magazine, Nylon, WWD, Elle Canada, US Weekly and more. The brand appeals to “the sleek, worldly, empowered and sophisticated woman,” and offers clothes that have a professional effortlessness to them. Greta Constantine has been worn by many celebrities including Coco Rocha, Nelly Furtado, Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell and Jeanne Beker, among others.
Zvelle founder Elle AyoubZadeh moved to Canada in 2007 to pursue a career in finance. But little did she know she’d end up creating a line of luxury shoes that would make international headlines when Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau wore them on a national visit to Japan. The occurrence has since put Zvelle on the map making in a must-have for consumers around the world.
Founded by identical twins Dean and Dan Caten, the brothers grew up in Toronto before exploding into success internationally. Being the youngest of nine children in a predominantly female family, the two found much of their inspiration at home, later leading them to explore their talents at Parsons School of Design in New York City. The duo got their big break after they were asked to design the wardrobe for Madonna’s Don’t Tell Me video and her 2001 Drowned World Tour. Today, Dsquared2 has boutiques across the globe, and has been seen on celebrities like Lenny Kravitz, Naomi Campbell, Christina Aguilara, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few.
Did we miss any big fashion brands that started in Toronto? Share them in the comment section.
Featured Image: Instagram/@_janekim
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Brooklyn is a Toronto-based journalist and if she isn’t writing, you can find her enjoying a nice glass of merlot. She is a lover of good books, Sunday brunches and running around the city with her girl gang. She’s your basic Blair Waldorf in a world of Jenny Humphrey’s. You can follow her on Twitter @BNeustaeter.