Are Canadians sexy?
Probably not, if you’re thinking of Toronto mayor Rob Ford. (But hey, whatever floats your boat.)
Among the stereotypes the rest of the world has of Canadians, “sexy” probably isn’t one of them. Polite, moose-eaters who love hockey and live in igloos (only 2 of these are partly true).
But, whether you’re into Alanis Morrisette, Gregor Robertson, Ryan Reynolds, Pamela Anderson, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Drake, Jim Carrey, or Justin Bieber (though even his fellow Canadians didn’t seem too keen on him seeing as how he got booed at a Canadian music awards show), you’re bound to know a Canadian who makes you’re heart beat a little bit faster, even if you didn’t know it. (We can be subtle – you’ll have to listen very carefully to know what I’m talking a-boot.)
But first let’s dissect sexy. To me, it’s about confidence more than anything, and we all know that can take it’s shape and form in various ways. But even deeper than that, it’s about desire – and desire can be overt or understated, muted or bold, strong or silent (or both). So sure, we have desirable people who have made themselves known on the world stage, but what about fashion?
Canadian retail has vastly being overtaken by American big box stores – but as the big get bigger, the small get cooler, in my opinion.
True, we never had quite the manufacturing prowess the US had, but when I go vintage shopping, there are many more “made in Canada” labels present among the racks than I would’ve expected to find. Nowadays, it’s an anomaly. Made in Canada may no longer be widely available everywhere but it exists in other places – and doesn’t rarity make something even more desirable? I think yes.
There’s something kind of beautiful about buying something made close to home in a global economy – fabrics sourced from the people and countries who do it best, brought back to be sewn by people who live right here.
So in honour of Canada Day, I present to you 10 fashion labels who are truly Canadian: they’re all made in Canada with fair working wages. Now, knowing that your stuff isn’t made in a safe working environment that actually pays it workers? That’s sexy.
Fortnight Lingerie, Toronto
Of course we had to start this list off with one of my favourite lingerie labels, period. First, they launched in February 2010 with a marketing campaign called Super Sexy CPR. These days, Fortnight takes a subtler approach to getting out there, simply by making chic, elevated everyday lingerie women can’t get enough of. Known for their longline bras and modern silhouettes with a traditional, atelier-like approach to manufacturing, all pieces are made in the Fortnight studio in Toronto. So, of course, Fortnight takes the cake for Super Sexy on this list.
Shop Fortnight Lingerie
I first wrote about Michi what seems like many years ago, when I was still a fashion student, believe it or not. Which means that they’ve been around for about 4 years. Sexy activewear may be a hot trend right now, but in 2009, it wasn’t, and when I first saw Michi, I was blown away by their provocative, glamorous lingerie take on comfortable, utilitarian athletic wear – basically what I imagine a modern day super-heroine would wear to yoga class. (Except you can have it too.) Calgary born designer Michelle Watson cut her fashion teeth at Donna Karan, Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren before launching Michi in Toronto, where it’s proudly made with love.
Shop Michi at Shopbop
Dear Bowie, Montreal
Launched, designed and made in Montreal by sisters Heidi and Jennifer Murphy, Dear Bowie is on a mission to reinvent loungewear with a big heaping dose of fashion. When two worlds meet and create something as dreamy as the Kate Maxi Robe, whose description – “Graceful like Old Hollywood, body-kissing in the way of 70’s pool parties, and bell sleeved like a Laurel Canyon goddess” reads pure allure, it’s something I can’t ignore, especially given my love of downtime. A girl’s gotta look good and feel better for every occasion, right? (Note: Dear Bowie is no longer made in Canada.)
Shop Dear Bowie at Journelle
Dace makes simple sexy. Launched in 2002 by Dace Moore – originally from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia – the then young single mother taught herself how to sew, reconstructing clothing from vintage patterns. Today, her Vancouver-made designs grace the backs of women who fawn over her feminine yet clean-lined designs. It’s an everyday kind of sensibility in a classic, seasonless collection, launched into the realm of allure with contemporary styling and detailing.
Beth Richards, Vancouver
You all know I love a one-piece. In a strange way, I think it’s way sexier than a string bikini. Beth Richards makes awesome one-pieces (and two-pieces that aren’t made of strings) with a sleek and sophisticated edge. The Toronto-born designer launched her collection in Spring 2012, has since made the move out west and is now based in Vancouver (it must be our beaches) where her swimwear is starting to make waves. They’ve been featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and New York Magazine for their classic, cool and double-duty approach to swimsuits: as in, they’re designed to double as bodywear.
Shop Beth Richards at Shopbop
Horses Atelier, Toronto
Slip dresses are experiencing a bit of a renaissance moment in fashion, but I think they’re about as classic an item as you can get. Here’s the thing: my grandmother didn’t wear white tees back in the day like I do today, but she would’ve worn a slip dress. Horses Atelier understands the magic of such an item, and have built their entire collection around it, with a romantic, modern and “free spirit” vibe, honouring the majesty of the namesake of the label. It’s paid off enough, because the company was featured in Vogue. Each delectable take on the slip is made in Toronto, and if you purchase from their online shop, a portion will go towards the Clean Clothes Campaign, which improves working conditions in the global garment industry.
Shop Horses Atelier
The Sleep Shirt
I think one of the most treasured moments of our daily lives are those rare and quiet hoursminutes of unwind, right before bedtime. So it just makes sense that The Sleep Shirt makes our list. Also: menswear is definitely up there on my best things to wear list, and the very first sleep shirt from The Sleep Shirt was inspired by a 19th century chemise found at a vintage menswear stall in London’s Spitalfield’s market. Originally based in Vancouver (designer Alexandra Suhner Isenberg has migrated to Sweden), the pieces are still made in Canada in a family-owned factory in Ontario. Sometimes the simple pleasures astound us the most in their crisp, unassuming beauty – this is one of those things. It is, as the company touts, the best way to sleep. And there’s something sexy about that.
Shop The Sleep Shirt
Christine Lingerie, Vancouver
Christine Lingerie has been operating in Vancouver since 1973, which makes it the veteran of this list. And it was also the very first silk lingerie line made in Canada to ever exist. Their sample sales are legendary in Vancouver, celebrities can’t seem to get enough, and oh, and Oprah is a fan (she wore Christine’s silk pyjamas on the January 2008 cover, a feat for any designer, let alone a Canadian one). So what’s the appeal? Well, it’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? Slinky, silky pyjamas, teddies, and nightgowns: If anything can be described as universally sexy, this is it.
Shop Christine Lingerie
I remember when I coveted a Tibi Faille Silk Skirt – the fullness was just so celebratory, the perfect way to put together something for a special occasion, yet not have it be exclusionary towards the myriad of other outfits you can only really create with separates. Yet, Tibi was out of reach and so, I gave up on the full skirt dream. That is, until I discovered a great company doing just that: adorable, full skirts. And they were Canadian (made in Vancouver), started by two sisters, Lauren and Mariel Armstrong. Girls just wanna have fun, and these skirts are fashion’s equivalent of “living life to the fullest”. It’s times like this when I’m proud to say “Oh, Canada!”
Nicole Bridger, Vancouver
A fellow Vancouverite, Nicole Bridger’s collection is a kind of sexy that you can wrap yourself in. Describing her typical customer as a busy professional with young kids, Nicole Bridger dresses primarily moms, but in a way that to my knowledge is much sexier than mom clothing. It’s sensual yet not overt, and it’s incredibly forgiving, which is all kinds of sexy. They’re known for their easy breezy dresses perfect for a summer lounging on Vancouver’s many beaches. 90% of the collection is made in Vancouver in a factory the company now owns after buying from the former owners, who wanted to retire (and the rest made in fair trade factories). As a bonus, Nicole Bridger uses many eco-friendly fabrics.
Shop Nicole Bridger
How was that? If you’re Canadian, share this post and support your fellow Canadian designers and makers (and prove to people that Canadians are sexy, once and for all.)
Happy Canada Day!
(Phew, that was a lot of Canada. I need a Caesar.)