Top Canadian fashion and clothing brands that I love to wear

I challenged myself to pack and wear only Canadian brands, and it was easier than anticipated

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I attended New York Fashion Week for the first time and challenged myself to only pack Canadian brands. I started with an empty Monos (a Canadian luggage brand) and a stuffed closet. I was in New York for four days, so I knew I needed exactly two dozen shirts, a collection of pants and other items in excess — a serial over-packer. I wasn’t convinced that I could fulfill my over-packing needs with only Canadian brands — oh, how naive. 

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The reason I challenged myself to only wear Canadian fashion brands? I was heading to North America’s biggest fashion week three years after the continent’s second-largest fashion event, Toronto Fashion Week, was cancelled. Canada may not be known for its haute couture, but perhaps more nature couture. While we do have awesome outerwear and rugged wear, I was surprised at the selection of stylish, chic and practical options we have too.

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I wasn’t fully able to pack all the shoes and clothes that I wanted, so I continued dressing Canadian once I returned to the Great White North. Here are the brands that kept me Canadian-clothing-clad.

Canadian clothing and fashion brands I wore

Aldo
Aritzia
DUER
Frank And Oak
Hilary MacMillan
KOTN
lululemon
Roots
Sorel

The Effortless Pant from Aritzia and the Plaid Mesh Turtleneck from Hilary MacMillan.
The Effortless Pant from Aritzia and the Plaid Mesh Turtleneck from Hilary MacMillan. Photo by Postmedia/Randi Mann

The brands and recommendations

These brands are just a handful of Canadian clothing lines, so I’ll update this list as I discover more home-grown labels that I love. Everything that I mention below I’ve tried and recommend.

Aldo

Founded: Montreal – 1972
Recommendation: Thank you Aldo for Pillow Walk footwear — it’s an affordable collection of comfortable shoes and boots with some super stylish options. You can reduce your Band-Aid budget with Pillow Walk footwear because they’re designed to prioritize cushion, support and stability.

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  • I tried the Haucan boots for when I’m feeling classic chic and the Talanariel boots when I want to come with an edge. Both are super comfy, true-to-size and look and feel fierce.

Aritzia

Founded: Vancouver – 1984
Recommendation: Ariztia is my go-to store when I need something to wear to an event. Though I usually opt for something trendy, I went super classic this time — so I’d have a few capsule pieces that will stand the test of time and can be easily mixed and matched. 

  • I absolutely recommend The Effortless Pant — it’s flattering, perfectly tailored and comes in multiple lengths (I’m 5 ’10 ” and ordered tall) and quite a few colours.
  • I paired the Effortless Pant with the Generation Blazer and together they make a perfect, loose-fitting but put-together suit. Both the pant and the blazer can be worn together or separately — you can mix and match to create a ton of great looks. 
  • I paired the suit with the Soloist Sweater to add a delicate balance to the overall look. It’s a soft sweetheart sweater.

DUER

Founded: Vancouver – 2013
Recommendation: DUER is a more casual but functional brand that prioritizes comfort and sustainability. However, DUER has pieces that can be dressed up so you can quietly wear super-comfy clothes.

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  • The LuxTwill High Rise Trouser in black looks less like a stretchy khaki and more like an office pant, though it’s the former. I paired the trousers in the colour Thyme with the Generation Blazer from above.
  • DUER does denim right. I love the Performance Denim Kick Flares because they do good things for my butt and have a nice flare silhouette. You can dress these jeans up or wear them anywhere you want to have stretch and style. (Check out our best jeans roundup.) 

Frank And Oak

Founded: Montreal – 2012
Recommendation: Frank And Oak is a great destination for getting sustainable wardrobe basics. The brand offers styles with clean, simple, straight lines. New York was still blazing hot, so I packed a Frank And Oak tank and a pair of jean shorts, both of which are no longer available. However, these jeans are essentially a long version of the shorts I tried.

Soloist Sweater from Aritzia.
Soloist Sweater from Aritzia. Photo by Postmedia/Randi Mann

Hilary MacMillan

Founded: Toronto – 2013
Recommendation: If you’re looking for not-neutral, you’re in the right place. I like that Hilary MacMillan has bold prints, styles and colours that can be worn on their own or paired with neutrals. The brand offers sizes XS – X4 which is wonderfully inclusive for many body types. I find the garments fit a bit on the larger side (generally speaking), so if you’re debating between sizes, I’d pick the smaller option.

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  • The Plaid Mesh Turtleneck is the first turtleneck I like. It’s sheer but dark, so it shows a little something-something but doesn’t give everything away.

KOTN

Founded: Toronto – 2015
Recommendation: It’s hard not to love KOTN when you learn about its manufacturing — the team should teach a masterclass on ethical production. KOTN directly sources its cotton from Egyptian farms while empowering their respective communities. The brand offers a transparent supply chain from “seed to final stitch.” The end results are clean, neutral, high-quality androgynous styles that top our favourite brands using organic materials list.

lululemon

Founded: Vancouver – 1998
Recommendation: lululemon is no longer Canada’s little secret, but the athletic brand has been recently offering more casual styles. I live most of my life in lululemon and Roots because they are so great at making high-quality, comfy clothes. I appreciate lululemon exploring the casual space because it prioritizes function, fabric, fit and feel and I want all those factors considered in all of the clothes I wear.

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  • I highly recommend the Utilitech Relaxed Mid-Rise Trouser 7/8 Length because they have lululemon’s level of comfort without screaming that you’re wearing a traditionally athletic brand. The pant offers four-way stretch making them easy to move in but a stiff enough fabric that gives them an elevated look.
  • If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in here — the Hooded Insulated Wrap. It’s just as comfortable as it looks and it’s water-resistant. That’s what I’m talking about lululemon, functional cozy wear — and this particular style looks runway-ready.

Roots

Founded: Toronto – 1973
Recommendation: Roots founding was based at a summer camp in Algonquin Park, Ont. I also grew up with summers at sleepover camp in the Algonquin area — this brand is baked into my being, but its sweatpants are the best in the world. I may be biased, but also, prove me wrong. Though Roots may not be high-fashion they have classic styles that can be dressed up for a nostalgic-chic look.

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Roots X Barbie collection.

Sorel

Founded: Kitchener, Ont. – 1962
Recommendation: As the oldest brand on this list, it’s impressive that Sorel has some leading styles — especially its now-signature scalloped soles. Sorel is likely best known for its boots but has footwear for all year round, including sandals, sneakers and clogs. The brand brings its tenure to its technical elements while introducing new styles and bold colours. I haven’t tried Sorel’s boots but love the now-on-sale Kinetic Sandal

The Kinetic Sandal’s scalloped sole adds an interesting silhouette to a sporty sandal. They’re wear-all-day-walk-everywhere comfortable.

Also, you can check out up-and-coming Canadian designers on Amazon’s Designer Spotlight.

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rmann@postmedia.com

instagram.com/randimann

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Originally posted 2023-11-10 20:10:45.


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