From the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies to the bustling urban landscapes of Toronto and Montreal, the Canadian streetwear aesthetic is as diverse as the country’s geography itself. A distinctive blend of functionality, comfort, and a healthy dash of the ‘Canadian nice’ attitude. It’s all about embracing the spirit of the Great White North, taking cues from the country’s elements and infusing them with the urban rhythm of its cities to create a streetwear culture that’s unabashedly and quintessentially Canadian. These brands are not just fashion statements, they’re invitations to explore Canada’s vibrant fashion landscape, proving that our northern neighbors can rock the runway just as comfortably as they skate on ice.
Dime, the Montreal-based brand, has firmly established itself as a significant player in the space where fashion and skateboarding intersect. Initially recognized as a collective of skaters celebrated for their humor-centric approach, Dime has since evolved into an internationally renowned brand. It is known for its distinctive visual style that combines ’90s skating nostalgia with a unique sense of humor. The brand was founded by a group of skaters including Phil Lavoie and Antoine Asselin. Dime’s enduring appeal has been shaped by their laid-back, carefree attitude, which is reflected in the brand’s video content and its streetwear products.
Dime’s evolution as a brand took a significant turn with the inclusion of Vince Tsang in 2011, whose creative influence helped develop the brand into a graphical powerhouse. While the creative process behind Dime’s designs remains a collective effort, Tsang is responsible for refining each collection and guiding the brand’s aesthetic direction. This resulted in him being recognized as one of the “100 most influential people in streetwear” in 2016. Amidst all its success, Dime remains true to its roots, focusing on having fun, skateboarding, and maintaining its refreshing take on skate culture.
Established in Toronto in 2017, Mr. Saturday is a luxury direct-to-consumer fashion brand founded by designer Joey Gollish. The brand, which swiftly rose to fame and bagged the award for the top menswear brand at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards in 2022, recently made a memorable mark at men’s fashion weeks in Milan and Paris with its Fall/Winter 2023 collection. Gollish drew inspiration from the stylishly eclectic ’70s and ’80s patrons of the iconic Parisian nightclub Les Bains Douches for the collection. This assembly showcased a fusion of snug tailoring, fur elements, streetwear-influenced pieces, and statement outerwear, setting the tone for trends in men’s fashion in the year ahead.
Mr. Saturday’s narrative extends beyond clothing, making a commitment to creating a sense of community and promoting social justice. In an initiative that supported the Black Solidarity Fund, Gollish designed an ‘End Racism’ shirt. Furthermore, his dedication to nurturing a sense of community was demonstrated in the launch of a flagship store that combines elements of retail, gallery, and museum. The brand also debuted a collaborative line with Canadian outdoor retailer, Roots, showcasing two handbags in their Fall/Winter 2023 collection, signifying Mr. Saturday’s continual desire to forge fresh partnerships within the fashion industry.
Atelier New Regime
Atelier New Regime (ANR) is a bold streetwear label originating from Montreal in 2009. The brand emerged from the love for art, design, photography, and street culture. Over a decade later, it has transformed from a basement operation selling clothes from car trunks into one of Canada’s most recognizable streetwear brands. ANR prides itself on its refined aesthetic, distinctive use of vibrant orange, and core values of creativity, freedom, and passion. As its creator and creative director, Koku Awuye, emphasizes, authenticity pervades all aspects of the label’s operations, from designs to marketing approaches, rendering the brand’s journey an embodiment of the “hustler’s spirit.”
ANR’s reputation has flourished over the years, earning mainstream acceptance and visibility in significant events like Montreal’s Fashion and Design Week and ComplexCon in 2016. Furthermore, its successful collaboration with sportswear giant PUMA in 2018 solidified its standing in the industry while maintaining its distinct identity and style. Throughout its journey, ANR has consistently offered design-conscious pieces and innovative experiences.
Founded in 2006, HAVEN is a Canadian clothing brand specializing in high-quality, functional attire designed to enhance everyday life. The brand embodies the Gorpcore aesthetic, combining an appreciation for outdoor gear with a commitment to utility and style. Each piece is meticulously crafted, echoing a deep respect for craftsmanship and innovation, all while upholding an uncompromising dedication to authentic design. Guided by the diverse seasons of Canada, HAVEN’s collection improves comfort, performance, and utility, striking a balance between the familiar and the inventive.
Operating out of Vancouver, British Columbia, HAVEN collaborates closely with manufacturing partners in Canada and Japan to ensure each garment is carefully crafted, tested, and refined. This precise approach ensures the brand’s timeless design and lasting quality. Moreover, its retail locations in Vancouver and Toronto offer not only the HAVEN collection but also a carefully curated selection of complementary pieces from premier Japanese and international brands.
Founded in the heart of Downtown Toronto by Matthew Chrones Scott and Caleb Cooper, PARANOID is a distinctive brand deeply intertwined with the city’s urban vibe. This artist-owned and operated company uniquely stands out in the streetwear scene by valuing craftsmanship and artistry, evident in its small-batch production method. Each piece is designed and hand-printed in their underground screen printing bunker, embodying the brand’s philosophy of creating wearable art.
PARANOID is more than just a fashion brand; it’s a testament to the potential of artistic collaboration and creative authenticity. Locally, the Downtown Toronto PARANOID Streetwear Store provides an experiential space for patrons to immerse themselves with the brand’s unique blend of streetwear and artistry.
OVO October’s Very Own
October’s Very Own (OVO), founded by Drake and his tour manager Oliver El-Khatib, stands as a unique label that combines the appeal of pop culture with a quiet yet impactful branding style. The clothing line, established in 2011, extends beyond simply being “Drake’s label merch”, with collaborations from notable Canadian retailer Roots, Japanese shop Nepenthes, to the coveted Jordan Brand.
Known for its distinctive owl logo, OVO’s brand has permeated not just the fashion industry but also the sports world. The Toronto Raptors, the NBA franchise Drake has long been affiliated with, collaborated with OVO to produce branded gear and launched themed home games known as “Drake Nights.” Even the MLB released an OVO-inspired Blue Jays cap to commemorate OVO Fest. Despite Drake’s global stardom, OVO remains deeply connected to its Toronto roots and devoted to creating high-quality, uniquely designed pieces that resonate with Drake’s music and OVO’s growing aesthetic.
4YE, initially established in Toronto as a media company, pivoted into the fashion realm in 2018 to emerge as a unique culture and lifestyle brand. This global clothing brand strategically positions itself at the intriguing crossroads of cultural identity and community. Its philosophy permeates through its diverse range of products, which extend from durags to sweat fleece, accessories, and upcycled second-hand clothing. This expansive offering signifies 4YE’s commitment to exploring and representing a wide spectrum of cultural and lifestyle facets through fashion.
The brand’s debut product, a durag with a clear standard for quality and innovation. Its distinctive features include elongated tails, open seams, and a large cape covering, underlining the brand’s attention to detail and functionality. Another significant element of the 4YE fashion line is the cropped and boxy 2-way zip hoodie, crafted from cozy, medium-weight brushed fleece. Its chain stitch embroidery of the 4YE signature logo and sun motif further accentuates the brand’s penchant for creative and unique design aesthetics. This blend of comfort, style, and cultural commentary positions 4YE as a distinctive player in the global fashion industry.
Raised By Wolves
Raised by Wolves, founded in 2008, has spent the last 14 years putting Canada on the global streetwear map. The brainchild of Cal Green and Pete Williams, the brand prioritizes domestically-made staples, earning a reputation for high-quality Canadian apparel, impactful visuals, and robust community support. Raised by Wolves’ distinct identity is reflected in their product line, with goods tailored to Canada’s challenging climate, graphics referencing Canadian narratives, and breathtaking visuals of the Canadian landscape.
Raised by Wolves is not just about fashion; it’s about community and environmental responsibility, as evidenced by their membership in 1% for the Planet and partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects. The brand’s ethos is deeply rooted in supporting domestic production and local economy, paying factory workers fairly, minimizing environmental impact, and utilizing existing or deadstock materials whenever possible. Co-founder Cal Green emphasizes the importance of community support and local presence. RBW’s proactive local support initiatives have included a digital cookbook to fundraise for the Ottawa Food Bank, and a series called RBW Support Local to spotlight Canadian artists and small businesses. The brand’s future promises more innovation and collaboration, including the upcoming alpha/beta line, focused on upcycled/recycled apparel and home wares made by independent artists.
3.Paradis, a French-Canadian contemporary ready-to-wear brand, was established in 2013 by Creative Director Emeric Tchatchoua. Born and raised in a low-income neighborhood of Paris, Tchatchoua infuses his own personal journey and life’s complexities into the brand. This foundation of freedom, hope, and universalism pervades 3.Paradis’s ethos, expressed through a symbolic visual language that has become the brand’s signature. These symbols carry deeply personal stories and emotions, stirring reactions that can be both comforting and confrontational, thereby forging human connections at points of synchronicity and alignment in individual journeys.
With the brand’s headquarters split between Montreal and Paris, 3.Paradis has an international presence, both through select retail partners and a robust global e-commerce platform. Tchatchoua’s work, encapsulating messages of unity, liberation, and hope, offers both spiritual and social commentary, transcending societal barriers and envisioning a realm of possibility beyond lived experiences. This philosophy is underpinned by a fundamental question: “What does it mean to be human?” A nominee for the LVMH Prize and a winner of the Canadian Arts and Fashion Award, 3.Paradis celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2023, reflecting a decade of inspiring young people to dream bigger, hope without restraint, and pursue authenticity, ambition, and opportunity.
BBE, the brainchild of Toronto-born painter, product designer, and graphic artist Bryan Espiritu, is a clothing label renowned for its fusion of expressive artistry with contemporary streetwear. Espiritu, whose creative oeuvre spans large-scale acrylic paintings to apparel adorned with his distinctive typographic patterns, channels themes of mental health, trauma, and paths to self-betterment into his designs. Originally the creator of The Legends League, a pivotal brand in Toronto’s Y2K-era fashion scene, Espiritu made the decision to close his brick-and-mortar store during the pandemic in favor of prioritizing his mental health over the pressures of seasonal commerce.
Espiritu continues to leave his mark on the fashion world with BBE. The label, focusing on hats and t-shirts, offers an online shop that opens at Espiritu’s pace, with the potential for pop-up events in the future. Espiritu’s BBE label is a testament to the transformative power of personal expression and self-care within the realm of fashion.
A Part of the Global Streetwear Landscape
Canadian streetwear brands offer an enthralling glimpse into the blend of grit and grace that defines the nation’s fashion scene. Yet, the global streetwear landscape is a rich and varied tapestry, each region weaving its unique threads into this dynamic narrative. For those seeking to broaden their fashion horizons, our exploration doesn’t end here. Expand your global fashion fluency by delving into the distinctive streetwear aesthetics of the United Kingdom and South Korea. After all, style, much like knowledge, knows no borders. Continue your exploration and watch as your wardrobe becomes a world map, a testament to the interplay of cultures and creativity that continues to shape the streetwear scene worldwide.