Setting our sights to the Great White North, we take a look at the 20 Canadian brands every Highsnob reader should know.
Canada is proving itself more and more as a country that has something tangible to offer the menswear landscape. Largely skirting the overparticular and ostentatious scope of the fashion world, Canadian brands are respecting the basics, and then lofting those basics into products that are compelling, functional and modern. As a country that is predisposed to the outdoors, many elements of outerwear, workwear and sportswear have seeped into Canadian apparel offerings and this is evident when examining the country’s key contenders. Influential on the global fashion scene now more than ever, we take a look at the 20 Canadian brands every Highsnob reader should know.
The Reigning Champ ethos orbits around Canadian-made basics. Cozy is the name of the game and Reigning Champ has positioned itself gainfully as a go-to label for essential wardrobe items that aren’t over-branded. A huge selling point for Reigning Champ is fabric and the label has made a name for its luxurious twill terry, tiger fleece, knit jersey and other quintessentially Canadian fabrics. The brand makes a point of reenforcing the athletic undertones in each collection by carefully choosing collaborative partners like Everlast and Converse.
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Affiliate company to Reigning Champ, wings+horns falls into the same wheelhouse of Canadian-made basics, yet possesses a discernible air of Japanese and military influences mixed in. Many overseas markets have a great appreciation for clothes made in Canada and wings+horns is one of the best examples of the perceived quality in North American clothing. Recently, wings+horns’ 10th anniversary ushered in some key collaborations with names like Canada Goose and Porter.
Native Shoes‘ futuristic interpretations of classic silhouettes have won over celebrities and sneakerheads alike, and in recent months the brand has been kicking things into gear with a re-vamped aesthetic and some key new footwear offerings like the Apollo Hand-Dyed Series. With help from creative agency The Madbury Club, Native continually brings interesting lookbook imagery, which bolsters the brand’s lineup of unequalled footwear. For proof, check out Native Shoes’ Fall/Winter 2014 “Foxhole Brigade” lookbook.
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Herschel Supply Co.
Herschel backpacks, bags, travel goods and accessories have resonated nicely on a global level, thanks to the brand’s timeless approach to design. Drawing inspiration from all corners of the world, the brand still maintains a real sense of Canadian ruggedness. Herschel also possesses a strong catalog of illustrated patterns and prints that have been mixed into past collections, including the “Fine China” and “Pacific” releases.
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Viberg‘s strict adherence to time-tested production methods is rather remarkable. Two main factors come into play with Viberg: factory staff with decades of experience and over 100 individual processes that go into the making of each boot, which have gone unchanged for years. The sense of authenticity is undeniable and in recent years Viberg has slotted nicely within the resurgence of heritage and craftsman goods, finding notable popularity in Asian markets. Viberg also teamed up with fellow Canadians Haven for a collaborative release and even the British maestro of military heritage goods: Nigel Cabourn.
Raised By Wolves
At its core, Raised By Wolves presents classic streetwear seen through a Canadian perspective. The brand has taken elements of outerwear and spun them into an off-duty streetwear aesthetic that nicely represents Canadian staples, while maintaining a strong basis of graphics and branding. As the seasons go on, Raised By Wolves continues to develop an acute sense of art direction and design, opting to create trends rather than bow to them.
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Headed by designer Sean Brown, Needs&Wants excels when it comes to poignantly tailored gear, held to an extremely high standard of quality. Brown elevates the foundations of menswear – varsity jackets and button-up flannel shirts – by including contemporary cuts and detailing, all made in the Great White North. The progressive attributes of Needs&Wants have been heralded as both refreshing for menswear and a departure from cookie cutter fashion.
If you scroll through Dime’s Facebook page, the abundance of skate flicks instead of product images may belie what a truly dope clothing brand it is. The label is still in full support of grassroots skateboarding circles in its home city of Montreal, however co-signs are certainly bankrolling the brand; from the likes of Virgil Abloh, who has been seen to rock Dime T-shirts and Supreme, which carries Dime goods in its stateside locations.
Raif Adelberg is an OG in the Canadian scene and his label DBC was one of the first streetwear entities to garner real attention. Adelberg was also a forerunner of sneaker customization, creating custom Nikes to be sold at Los Angeles-based retailer UNDFTD. Also on Raif’s resume is a collection of hand-knit goods in collaboration with Stussy Canada, while he went on to sell goods in doors like Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys.
Naked & Famous
The wacky and wild creations of Naked & Famous have won the affection of denimheads the world over. With ingenious creations like scratch-and-sniff and glow-in-the-dark jeans, founder Brandon Svarc hollowed out a notable niche for himself in the denim market. Svarc’s family owned factories in Québec are the base for rolls of unique and rare denim fabrics from Japan to be metamorphosed into the distinctive denim goods that are stocked around the world.
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Ransom Holding Co.
Starting as a retailer and apparel brand in its early days, Ransom was linked closely with now-defunct shop Goodfoot. As one of Canada’s original streetwear presences, the label produced basics like T-shirts, sweaters and caps, before choosing to fold its cards around 2010, citing critical market changes as the reason. In recent years, the Ransom brand has been revived as a footwear entity, which offers a number of streetwear and outerwear-inspired silhouettes.
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Offshoot of outdoor gear brand Arc’teryx, the Veilance line is a vision of minimalistic technical apparel. Utilitarian strands run throughout the line, which blends aspects of a performance brand with highly articulated fits, culminating in superior specimens of function. The range of apparel is made in North Vancouver and in many ways the city’s rainy and mountainous climate is the ideal inspiration, and therefore for the perfect birthplace for Arc’teryx Veilance.
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Self-identified as a brotherhood of free thinkers, the Lifetime name entails more than just a men’s and women’s clothing brand. Closely linked with the Canadian creative community of skateboarders, visual artists, potters, photographers and more, Lifetime distills these expressions through its apparel offerings, as well as via the Free Thinkers Zine, a biannual accumulation of tales and talks that features creative individuals close to the brand. Lifetime’s “Little Mountain Workshop” shop in Vancouver was opened in 2014, adding another dimension to the brand’s presence.
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You only need three words to accurately describe what Muttonhead is about: Canadian unisex sportswear. Much of the brand’s philosophy is a response to fast-fashion, while keeping production local in the brand’s hometown of Toronto. Heavy activewear and outerwear cues seep through the label’s collection, manifesting through baseball pants, quilted jackets, and sweats.
WANT Les Essentiels
WANT Les Essentiels is all about highly discerning luggage and accessories. Deriving inspiration from the idea that travel is just as much about the journey as it is the destination, the French-Canadian twins behind the brand are as sophisticated as the product they create. Punctuating the brand’s range of accessories are design cues are taken from architecture and design.
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In many ways, no brand has cashed out on Canada’s stereotypically rugged and cold climate more than Canada Goose has. Although it’s true, Canada Goose does equip arctic explorers in insanely cold temperatures, however, the brand has also been killing it in lifestyle markets all over North America and Europe.
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Any Canadian will be very familiar with Roots. The brand with the beaver has been epitomizing Canadian cozywear for decades and even Drake tapped the label for a run of October’s Very Own tour jackets. The brand’s nostalgic qualities will allow it to always have a place amongst Canadian apparel.
One of Toronto’s fastest growing presences in streetwear, Legends League was founded by designer, visual artist, writer and Toronto native Bryan Espiritu. Espiritu’s own life and experiences play into the designs, with elements of social commentary relevant to the Toronto scene. Above anything, Bryan’s designs have curried favor with locals, who are able to relate to to Espiritu’s personal narrative that is told through the brand.
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Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC)
The early days of Hudson’s Bay Company were astonishingly in 1670, when it received an official co-sign from the British magistrate to be established as “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay.” HBC initially existed as a series of fur trading outposts and has since evolved into a chain of iconic department stores. HBC’s iconic colored stripes have been used most famously across wool blankets and also a coveted Converse collaboration.
One of the world’s best-selling cold weather boots, SOREL was founded in Ontario in 1962. The brand went bankrupt and was picked up by outerwear giant Columbia in 2000 and has since gone on to successfully re-vamp its operations. The brand even collaborated with A Bathing Ape on a winter boot in 2008, and is still a go-to name for quality and warmth during winter.
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- Photography: Roots: visionelie