If you think that Canada’s only contribution to the fashion world is the Canadian tuxedo then you are sorely mistaken. Our neighbors to the north have much more to offer than pairing a denim jacket with a denim shirt and denim jeans. Canada is home to a legit sartorial scene that spans everything from technical outerwear to fleece to fashion-forward pieces to, yes, denim. Here are seven Canadian menswear companies you need to know about.
1. Naked & Famous Denim
Remember Ol’ Dirty Bastard rapping “Ooh, baby, I like it raw”? Well, the same could be said for Naked & Famous founder Brandon Svarc. (Now, Dirt McGirt may not have been talking about denim when he said it, but still.) Svarc prides himself on sourcing rare, premium denim from Japan and then keeping the fabric raw. You will not find any acid-washed Naked & Famous jeans. The result is jeans that take time to break in but if you put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with a pair that fit you perfectly and take on a character that is completely personal. The brand also isn’t afraid to use some out-there fabrics. Glow in the dark jeans anyone?
2. Reigning Champ
The basic fleece sweatshirt and sweatpants seem like such an easy thing to master, but still people continue to get it wrong. Reigning Champ, which started in 2007, gets it right. Guided by a minimal but powerful philosophy (“Respect the details. Master simplicity.”), the brand produces a tightly edited collection of hoodies and sweatpants that fit perfectly and are built to last. It’s no accident that menswear heavyweights like Club Monaco, Steven Alan, and J.Crew have worked with Reigning Champ.
3. Canada Goose
When it is brick cold outside, you want a Canada Goose parka on. Since 1957, the company has been crafting coats designed to keep their owners warm in the most extreme conditions. It’s the jacket that scientists at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica have worn. Ditto for the first Canadian to summit Mt. Everest and a four-time Iditarod champion. The company has also worked with folks on the other side of the form-function spectrum, releasing limited-edition jackets with French boutique Colette and Boston streetwear brand Concepts.
4. Herschel Supply Co.
Started in 2009 by brothers Jamie and Lynn Cormack, Herschel makes some of the coolest and most fun backpacks and bags on the market right now. The name of the company comes from the small town in Canada where three generations of the Cormacks had been raised, and the company’s signature liner, with its stripes reminiscent of those on workwear overalls, represents that industrial heritage. Herschel’s bags aren’t complicated but every detail is considered, from sleeves and pockets for every gadget you can imagine to compartments for carrying your sneakers. Herschel is also constantly releasing new prints, from basic color blocking to whimsical horsemen.
Next time you go on a heliskiing trip, take a look at your guide. Chances are he’ll be sporting some item from Arc'teryx, whether it’s a waterproof shell or an ergonomic backcountry backpack. This is the gear that people who make their living in the outdoors choose to use because, quite simply, it works and leaves all the frivolous bells and whistles on the cutting room floor. And with its Veilance line, Arc'teryx has taken its technical know-how from years of field testing and applied it to a clothes designed for city living.
6. Wings + Horns
With roots in both Canada and Japan, Wings + Horns draws on the best of both cultures. The company is a sister brand of Reigning Champ, who is also on this list. With collections that consistently draw on military inspirations for items such as flight jackets, peacoats, and bomber jackets, Wings + Horns makes highly functional garments that still ooze style.
7. Needs&Wants Studios
Designer Sean Brown takes traditional sportswear silhouettes and remixes them with different fabrics and cuts. The varsity jacket has been a staple for years, but Needs&Wants has figured out numerous ways to breathe new life into it. There are versions with one suede sleeve and one wool sleeve and a longer, trench coat style. While it may be inspired by sports, the result is decidedly more elegant and upscale.