Nuevo Culture

Keep Your Eye on These 5 Canadian Labels 

You may imagine a Canadian fashion label to specialize in all things outerwear—those Canadian winters are no joke, after all—but you’d be mistaken. The nominees for this year’s Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA) are in fact elegant womenswear labels, sleek menswear brands, and whimsical jewelry collections, among other categories. “We’re really breaking down stereotypes of what Canadian fashion is,” says Vicky Milner, CAFA president.

Now in its seventh year, the CAFAs honor the diverse talent found within the Canadian fashion industry. Typically, the glitzy gala in Toronto sees attendees dress up in their best Canadian-made wares, and accolades are then handed out in such categories as best womenswear, menswear, and accessories. This year, however, the CAFAs will be virtual, featuring both live and pretaped segments. The ceremony will be streamed tonight, and anyone can register to watch it. “Now, people from all over can participate and get to know our industry and our talent,” says Milner. “We’re encouraging people to wear Canadian designers, as they normally would on the red carpet.”

This year’s CAFA nominees certainly embody Canada’s unique fashion assortment. There’s the Indigenous womenswear designer Lesley Hampton, as well as the celebrity-favorite line Beaufille (of which Lady Gaga is a fan). Milner says after a tough year with the pandemic, it’s important to recognize these Canadian talents, and to encourage them to keep on creating. “It’s been a difficult year, but despite those difficulties, a sense of community is so important,” Milner says. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to remind everyone that our people, talent, and industry is still there.” 

In honor of the CAFAs, below are five nominated Canadian brands to know. 

1. Lesley Hampton (womenswear)

Photo: Courtesy of Lesley Hampton

Lesley Hampton is an Indigenous (Anishinaabe and Mohawk) womenswear designer based in Toronto. The label focuses on a size-inclusive assortment of pieces that range from eveningwear to athleisure—Lizzo recently worked out in one of her two-piece sets. Recently, Hampton has collaborated with other Indigenous designers in Toronto as well. Hampton and Scott Wabano created a bomber jacket that takes cues from traditional jingle dresses worn at powwows. 

2. Fellow Earthlings (accessories)

Photo: Courtesy of Fellow Earthlings

Based on Prince Edward Island, Fellow Earthlings is a sunglasses brand that specializes in handmade, eco-minded frames. Founders Christopher and Sydney Seggie make everything in-house in their (very charming) studio. They recently developed an acetate recycling program, in which they repurpose would-be waste into beautiful acetate frames. Customers can also select their own shape, material, and lens combinations through custom orders. 

3. Wolf Circus (jewelry)

Photo: Courtesy of Wolf Circus

Wolf Circus is a “demi-fine” jewelry line designed and made in Vancouver. Specializing in “attainable luxury,” founder Fiona Morrison makes everything using recycled sterling silver or bronze, which is then often coated in 14-karat gold plating. The unisex assortment includes dainty floral pendant necklaces, dangly pearl hoops, and chic signet rings.

4. Haven (menswear) 

Photo: Courtesy of Haven

Founded in Edmonton, Alberta, Haven is a sleek menswear brand specializing in functional, no-fuss design. With pieces like cotton twill pants, khaki button-ups, and fleece jackets, the brand gives men the basic tools to build an impeccable wardrobe. In its retail stores in both Vancouver and Toronto, it also sells other international brands, with a strong focus on utilitarian Japanese labels.

5. Beaufille (womenswear)

Photo: Courtesy of Beaufille

Founded and designed by sisters Chloé and Parris Gordon, the Toronto-born womenswear label Beaufille has quickly become a celebrity favorite Lady Gaga, Winnie Harlow, and Ashley Graham have all worn their designs. Its pieces play on juxtaposing a feminine-masculine aesthetic, always with clean lines and minimal adornments. As shown in a recent fall 2020 collection, its sharp blazers and well-cut trousers are indeed built to last.