The world might look upon Canada as the land of great maple syrup and some of the best winter coats, but we also produce many more stellar, Canadian-made products.
However, in the fashion arena, big international brands still dominate our market. But this has not stopped several small Canadian labels from going head-to-head with these fashion Goliaths. The True North now produces a wide array of stylish items from swimsuits and sunglasses to shoes and soaps.
As we celebrate Canada Day, this would be a good time to acknowledge some of the more unique fashion products that proudly bear the Made-In-Canada label.
Designed and produced by hand in Toronto, this swimwear label prides itself on being part of the slow fashion movement. Producing just one collection a year, this pace allows them to focus on creating a quality product and reducing unnecessary design and production waste. Practical and eco-friendly, their solid fabrics are chlorine-resistant, UV-protecting and made from recycled plastics. The company also has a mandate to make a donation from each sale to the Ocean Conservancy.
The cuts might be basic — bikinis and one-piece suits — but they cater to a variety of body sizes. Some of their styles can be splashy, such as collaborations with Canadian artists of like-minded sensibilities. Painter Sarah Cale’s bold colourful work is featured in a recent collection.
Sarah Cale x Minnow Bathers top, $88 and bottom, $86, minnow bathers.com
DARLING DEAR CO
This pet accessories company was started by a mother and daughter team in Edmonton. Working out of a home studio, daughter Arden handles creative duties with design ideas, while mom Rosana has the expert technical skills as a seamstress. Whether it’s a polka dot bowtie or matching floral print bowtie-and-leash sets, these are stylish accessories guaranteed to make any cat or canine chic. And just in case your dressed-up pooch elicits some fashion envy, pet owners can also order a matching human-sized bowtie, pocket square or hair accessory.
Sailor bow, from $18, darlingdearco.com
CANADA WEST BOOTS
You don’t have to go to Texas to get a pair of quality cowboy boots. This shoe manufacturing plant in Winnipeg is a third generation family operation. They not only produce a wide variety of western-style boots for men and women but also biker styles, work boots and dressier laced boots named after founder, W.M. Moorby.
Please visit canadawestboots.com for retailers near you.
EAST COAST GLOW
A beauty company based in Bonavista, Newfoundland and Labrador should not be a surprising find. After all, the pristine air and abundance of nourishing botanicals might have something to do with the “east coast glow” of the locals.
One couple, Karen and Roger Dewling, started this cosmetics studio when they were trying to find a natural remedy for their newborn daughter’s skin condition. Believers in the healing power of nature, they incorporate the purest water on earth — from the nearby icebergs of the North Atlantic — along with various wild ingredients, such as mushrooms and wildflowers, to create an all natural line of lotions, creams and tonics for the face and body.
Iceberg Water Soap, $10, east-coast-glow.myshopify.com
This Toronto-based men’s underwear brand offers just three styles — the 3Cool, the 3Comfortable and the 3Confident. But they offer very unique and beneficial details to address some of the problems and discomfort men experience with underwear. With features, such as such cooling vents in front (to ease heat build up in the groin area) to a built-in holster (to avoid rubbing around the inner thigh) to extra fabric along the centre seam in the back (to alleviate rear-end sweat on hot and humid days).
3Cool Style, $34.95, 3cunderwear.ca
Who knew Prince Edward Island once had a thriving eyewear manufacturing industry back in the late 1980s, making sunglasses for such brands as Ray Ban and Ralph Lauren? The Tannereye factory has since closed, but two Canadians, Christopher and Sydney Seggie, who worked internationally in the eyewear industry, returned to P.E.I. and started their own company specializing in short-run and handmade-to-order sunglasses.
The duo behind Fellow Earthlings have also discovered a cache of vintage sunglasses from the original Tannereye Factory, which they also sell on their site.
These one of a kind frames are made from recycled material. The RE:FE Sky5, $450, fellowearthlings.com
What started as a surfboard company some 20 years ago (formerly known as Sitka), grew into a successful clothing company. But this Victoria-based brand had to wake up to the fact that their fashion company was not in line with their eco-minded values. They revamped their business model by bringing their off-shore manufacturing home to Victoria. Now everything is made locally — or as close to home as possible. None of their products include plastic or petroleum. A direct-to-consumer business model allows them to make a quality product in smaller quantities with longevity in mind. And, they encourage consumers to buy less by offering a repair service.
It’s an example of a company that can show love for the environment and its home country while still making a profit.