The Best Fashion Designers in Toronto
Posted by Alex Brown / November 3, 2014
The best fashion designers in Toronto have one thing in common: staying power. It takes a special kind of stamina and drive to maintain an attentive audience in an industry that’s forever changing its preferences. Each of these designers have uncovered lasting examples of what’s beautiful in the art of design and matched that with a vision that changes with the times.
Luckily, they’re not the only ones – the city has plenty of talent to choose from. Younger designers like Sid Neigum, Beaufille, Mikhael Kale and Caitlin Power are part of a growing list of Toronto fan favourites. Together, they’re all part of dressing the future.
Here are the best fashion designers in Toronto.
In the 11 years of Pink Tartan’s history, founder Kimberly Newport-Mimran has cracked the code to becoming a crucial designer in Canada’s fashion elite. After eight years in business and a New York showroom already under her belt, Newport-Mimran opened a Pink Tartan flagship store in Yorkville in 2010 while high-end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Holt Renfrew continue to carry the line. The Pink Tartan woman possesses all of the fashion sense of a delicately pretty, preppy girl, while managing to fit strong professionalism into the balance. When it comes to outfitting women, Pink Tartan is all about class.
Smythe Les Vestes
Smythe Les Vestes’ flawlessly tailored goods have garnered attention from nearly every relevant female celebrity of the past 10 years, from Kate Middleton to Blake Lively and Katy Perry. The brand exclusively creates jackets and outerwear with a sharp, classic focus. Familiar classics, like the wool HBC coat, are given memorable twists (creative patterns, interesting silhouettes) to showcase the brand’s unique capability to take mainstays and make them feel new again.
Philip Sparks’ designs offer a vintage feel – the type of uniform donned by gents clad in thick-rimmed glasses and a 1920s flair. What started as a brand designed solely for men eventually extended into womenswear, which stems from the same old-school mentality but with contemporary touches. The designer’s rise to the top has been a steady one, with less emphasis on runway shows and more of a focus on a ready storefront. Sparks also takes orders for custom suits at his shop on Ossington.
Greta Constantine have made a name for themselves by creating beautiful draped pieces with a subtle theatrical touch. Design duo Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong prefer simple materials to high-maintenance fabrics and consider themselves “an accessible luxury line” with a clientele of powerfully chic women looking for effortless style. Past men’s collections (under the name of Ezra Constantine) have revealed the minimalist inclinations of Pickersgill and Wong, while their women’s line maintains an enviably chic attitude.
David Dixon’s luxurious eveningwear designs speak to a woman who favours simple silhouettes and textured, colourful gowns. Since his apprenticeship with Alfred Sung in the 90s, Dixon created his own label In 1995 and has since established himself as one of Canada’s leading designers in ultra-feminine formalwear. Earlier this year, he launched a bridal collection for Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay.
Matt Robinson’s Klaxon Howl has clothed every type of manly man there is. His designs harken back to a time when the blue-collared man had to clothe himself in sturdy workwear – thickly-laced leather work boots, dungarees, and cotton button-up shirts. Robinson’s primary inspirations have come from mixing early-to-mid 20th century military and sportswear influences to create a vintage take on today’s modern man.
Adrian Wu’s imaginative designs are more conversation pieces than ready-to-wear fashion. The designer got his start at Vancouver Fashion Week in 2010 at the age of 19, and has since collaborated with Margaret Atwood (he designed clothing based off of her book In Other Worlds) and broken into the national fashion landscape. His often dramatic and fairy-tale-like work has been met with varying levels of praise and criticism – like his fall/winter 2012 show at Toronto Fashion Week, where models wore Guy Fawkes masks.
The Toronto-centric art infused into Anu Raina’s designs have granted the designer praise in the city’s fashion and art communities alike. Her designs have placed a colourful Toronto skyline on the backdrop of supple fabrics. The result is a vision of vibrant and youthful clothing with a splash of creative elegance.
Since his win on the second season of Canada’s Project Runway, Sunny Fong has developed VAWK, a line dedicated to creating beautifully hand-crafted women’s wear. The brand is named for the phonetic spelling of a Sanskrit word meaning “of divine creativity,” a fitting description of the designs that make up the brand as a whole. Women’s suits are finely tailored with hints of femininity and grace.