Stitch City: a primer on the four Toronto-based designers leading the city’s style revolution

Stitch City: a primer on the four Toronto-based designers leading the city’s style revolution

In honour of Toronto Fashion Week, which kicks off today, we look at four of the designers behind the city’s fashion boom

Stitch City: Beaufille Chloé, left, and Parris show off their Fashion District workspace

Sisters Chloé and Parris Gordon founded their fashion and accessories company in 2009. Then called Chloé Comme Parris, the line quickly became a celebrity favourite, a Holt Renfrew standby and one of the hottest tickets at Toronto Fashion Week. This year, the designers have brushed aside their early success and rebranded under the intriguing new name Beaufille. Their most recent runway show, set to the Nirvana song “All Apologies,” presented a collection that was heavy on ’90s grunge influences and both masculine and feminine touches.

Stitch City: Beaufille Beaufille’s fall collection, inspired by ’90s grunge and rococo, is a texture-lover’s dream: velvets and rugged leathers mingle with nubbly wools and translucent silks. (Runway photographs by Michael Ho)
Stitch It: Sarah Stevenson Sarah Stevenson works out of her midtown studio

Three years into her fashion career, Stevenson won the 2013 Toronto Fashion Incubator New Labels competition—a $25,000 prize from benefactor and noted clotheshorse Suzanne Rogers. This year she also won a contract for a limited-edition collection for Target Canada, putting her among the ranks of established designers like Proenza Schouler and Jason Wu, whose collaborations with the mass retailer resulted in shopping mayhem and eBay bidding wars.

Stitch It: Sarah Stevenson Stevenson’s fall collection for Target is restricted to a palette of red, black and white, and features baroque-inspired florals and laser-cut fabrics that give off a vibe that’s both romantic and edgy. (Runway photographs by George Pimentel)
Stitch It: Klaxton Howl Matt Robinson hangs out in Klaxon Howl’s Queen West flagship store

Designer Matt Robinson is leading the charge on the recent military-inspired menswear trend. His aesthetic stems from an admiration for his WWII-vet grandfather and teen years spent at military boarding school. They’re the clothes your father might have worn, or your father’s father, but they fit right in at a bar on Ossington or a coffee shop in Leslieville. Even better? They’re all produced locally, by hand and in small batches.

Stitch It: Klaxton Howl Klaxon Howl’s fall line is an ultra-masculine mix of sturdy pieces in merino wool, heavy cotton, gabardine and leather in muted shades of khaki, black, eggplant and navy, with a dose of camo-print thrown in for good measure. (Runway photographs by Michael Ho)
Stitch It: Lucian Matis Lucian Matis in his Castlefield workshop

Launching a career via reality television has become a viable way for creative types to get noticed, and that’s exactly what Lucian Matis did when he signed on for the first season of Project Runway Canada in 2007. Although he lost out on the $100,000 grand prize, his story was charming enough—he honed his sewing skills in Romania (he was born there and moved to Toronto in 1999) under the tutelage of his mother, a tailor—that he managed to gain enough attention to jump-start a thriving business. His designs are frequently worn by Canadian stars and socialites like Sarah Gadon, Nelly Furtado and Coco Rocha.

Stitch It: Lucian Matis Matis’s fall collection is a study in monochromatic tailoring: it’s all boxy sihouettes—an exaggerated sleeve here, a dropped shoulder there—in shades of grey, ivory and white. (Runway photographs by Jenna Marie Wakan)