Maple syrup and Hudson’s Bay blankets aren’t the only hot commodities coming out of Canada. Our beloved country also happens to have made some fairly significant contributions to the global fashion community. Whether it’s the harsh winters that force us to get creative with indoor activities or something they’ve been putting in Tim Hortons’ coffee, sartorial talent has thrived here. We’ve rounded up seven top fashion designers you might not have realized were fellow Canadians.
1. Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan, Mackage
If you’ve ever shopped at Aritzia, you’ve come across Mackage. Montreal’s Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan started outerwear brand Mackage in 1999. The childhood friends launched the brand at the tender age of 19, after graduating from LaSalle College’s fashion design program. Originally conceived as a leather company, the brand quickly started specializing in elegant, tailored outerwear, and recently added accessories, handbags, ready-to-wear, and a kids collection to their offerings.
2. Erdem Moralioğlu, Erdem
With clients like Michelle Obama, Alexa Chung and Kate Middleton, Erdem Moralioğlu has inserted himself seamlessly among fashion’s elite. Born in Montreal in 1977, Moralioğlu graduated from Toronto’s Ryerson University before crossing the Atlantic to attend London’s Royal College of Art. Stints at Vivienne Westwood and Diane von Furstenberg preceded the launch of his eponymous brand in 2005. Today, the Canadian designer’s star continues to rise. We’re keeping a close eye on this one.
3. Kimberley Newport-Mimran, Pink Tartan
Preppy chic with playful cuts, Pink Tartan was launched by Ontario native Kimberley Newport-Mimran in 2002 (who is married to Joe Mimran, the man behind Club Monaco and Joe Fresh). After stints as a buyer at the Hudson’s Bay Company and Club Monaco, the Niagara Falls–born designer branched out on her own. Today, Pink Tartan can be found in stores across North America, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. Little-known fact: the brand has designed uniforms for Holt Renfrew, Porter Airlines, and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
4. Dean and Dan Caten, Dsquared2
The youngest of nine children, identical brothers Dean and Dan Caten grew up in Willowdale, Toronto. After spending one short semester at Parsons, the boys returned home to work as co-designers for Ports International (now known as Ports 1961). Upon securing investment from Diesel founder Renzo Rosso, they parlayed their expertise into Dsquared2. Today, the pair flaunt an extensive celebrity clientele, including Britney Spears, Madonna, and Beyonce (for her 2013 tour, The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.)
5. Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe, Smythe
Jackets are Smythe’s wheelhouse. The Toronto-based brand was started by Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe in 2004. At the time, Lenczner was a buyer at Holt Renfrew while Smythe was designing for the Gap, and the duo would regularly get together to lament the dearth of fashionable blazers on the sartorial landscape. Creating Smythe seemed like the next logical step. Today, Smythe still makes their iconic jackets (worn by celebrities like Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively) but have expanded their offerings to include a range of fresh yet classic ready-to-wear pieces.
6. Mark Fast, Mark Fast
Born in Winnipeg, Mark Fast studied at the Central Saint Martins art school in London before applying his fashion knowledge to collaborations with Bora Aksu, Stuart Vevers, and Christian Louboutin. His eponymous London-based womenswear label is best known for his signature hand-made knitted dresses. A bold designer, Fast made waves when he used plus-size models to showcase his spring/summer collection for his 2009 London Fashion Week show.
7. Fala Chien, Play With Fala
JCI grad Fala Chien is a new up-and-coming designer who’s quickly enjoying success with her international collection, Play With Fala, which launched in 2010. Also a co-owner of the Kitsilano-based 4th Ave. Boutique, Chien designs each of her pieces—crafted in wool, silk, and leather—with a cool and elegant sensibility. The Vancouver-based designer has sold her apparel to upscale boutiqes like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.