Canada’s Menswear Mecca.

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Consider this a public service announcement: it’s high time we all start paying attention to Vancouver. While we’ve been busy paying attention to whatever is happening in New York, or L.A., or even Toronto, Vancouver has quietly pieced together one of the most interesting menswear design communities not just in the Americas but in the world. With a small, yet impressive crop of young stores and brands, Vancouver has become a case-study in the power of autonomy. Free from, but not ignorant of, the goings-on in the traditional hotspots, Vancouver’s menswear community has flourished over the past few years, carving out an acute aesthetic which appeals to an audience far beyond the Canadian border.

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The roots of Vancouver’s scene trace back to 2004 when Craig Atkinson, the CEO of CYC Design Corporation founded Wings + Horns. If the CYC name sounds familiar that’s because the company is best known for producing highly sought after sweatshirts for brands like Supreme and Arc’teryx. As for Atkinson, he had spent much of his career in Japan where he peddled vintage Americana and developed a deep appreciation for Japan’s attention to detail. These two interests surface in Wings + Horns, a brand that for over a decade has blended utility and quality to create collections that are as crisp as the Canadian cold. Three years later, CYC also introduced Reigning Champ, a sister line to Wings + Horns with a greater focus on straightforward sweatshirts and other fleece pieces.

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It was also in 2007 that Roden Gray first opened their doors, with a similar “Japanese quality meets Canadian grit” sensibility. This aesthetic can also be seen in the other three boutiques which make up Vancouver’s surprisingly robust retail scene – Inventory, Neighbour, and Haven. All four of their stores have their own unique style – Neighbour leans heavily toward European minimalism, Haven focuses more on showy Japanese designers, Inventory is known for carrying updated (and expensive) workwear, while Roden Gray falls somewhere in between the other three – but they all manage to complement each other, and more surprisingly, they’re all worth visiting.

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In celebration of their eighth anniversary, Haven actually just launched their own private label brand called Cypress. The entire initial collection features just eight different garments, two pairs of shoes, a handful of colors and only a couple patterns. They’re toned down pieces that are meant to be worn daily. This is best seen in the Cowichan sweater, which features a classic Canadian knitting style, done up not in a bold patterned but in a stern solid black.

It’s both a representation of just how strong the scene is up in Vancouver right now and a sign of things to come for the city by the shore. If this scene continues to thrive as it has over the past few years, we’ll surely see even more brands emerge along the Northwest Pacific coast.

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Comments on “Canada’s Menswear Mecca.

    wpon March 11, 2015 @ 10:31 AM:

    These pieces are hit or miss, and could easily be taken from any Williamsburg boutique.

    While I like the leather jacket, and some of the simple sportswear pieces, these ensembles are odd, suited for the Great Plains (or the Royal Mounted Police), or entirely nondescript.

    When I think of “a menswear mecca” – NYC, Paris, London, even Toronto come to mind (with Sydney having come a long way in the past 10 years). Yes, there are some “mini-meccas” like Hong Kong, Singapore, even Montreal.

    If this posting is indicative of Vancouver, I’d sum it up in three words: hipster, derivative, and boring.

    Jonathanon March 11, 2015 @ 11:34 AM:

    I don’t mean to pee in anyone’s cornflakes but, sadly, Inventory closed their doors a little over a month ago:

    http://www.inventorymagazine.com/updates/inventory-store-closures.html

    …although they’ll still be producing their – quite excellent – magazine, by the sounds of things.

    Fully agree with the love for the CYC organization: good people and great products. The twill terry varsity jacket from Reigning Champ for SS15 is especially great.

    Tiktaalikon March 11, 2015 @ 3:05 PM:

    I’m sad to say that the Inventory Stockroom has just closed, as Inventory is focusing on their magazine business. I’m sure we’ll continue to still see some Inventory influence on the Vancouver area for some time.

    The Stockroom has been taken over by Neighbour for Neighbour Women.

    Lukeon March 11, 2015 @ 3:19 PM:

    Nice to see a light shined on Vancouver, Neighbour in particular has one of the best selections in north America, and although its not in Vancouver Four Horsemen in Victoria (on Vancouver Island) is worth a shout out too, unfortunately I’m pretty sure Inventory is in the process of closing which is a shame as they had one of the nicest mixes of workwear/militaria & modern leaning gear and editorials. I think its the cities melting pot culture which has allowed it to take British, American & Asian influences together that makes it so vita.

    nateon March 11, 2015 @ 5:06 PM:

    Nice post. Some notes:

    1. Inventory closed its brick and mortar stores a month ago.

    2. You ought to have mentioned Four Horsemen (in Victoria on Vancouver Island), which has an interesting house line.

    abcdon March 11, 2015 @ 5:30 PM:

    sadly hasn’t inventory closed its retail stores though? unless i’m mistaken

    http://www.inventorymagazine.com/updates/inventory-store-closures.html

    wet tacoon March 11, 2015 @ 9:39 PM:

    yo Inventory shut down their retail store…

    RyaninSeattleon March 12, 2015 @ 12:57 AM:

    Amazing menswear in Gastown! If you’re in that neighborhood, NIFTYDO is also worth checking out. Choice selection of quality workwear. http://nifty-do.com

    Juon March 12, 2015 @ 12:39 PM:

    I have heard Niftydo, as mentioned above, will take over some brands from ex-Inventory including my favorite orSlow and The Real Mccoy’s, and they currently carry solid line of products like Buzz Rickson’s.

    bradon March 12, 2015 @ 4:20 PM:

    mental note savvy shoppers:

    Those Canadian brands have become that much more accessible, considering the present exchange rates with the US.

    …And with respect to Craig as aforementioned, that guy is the real deal and actually pays attention to his customers. I had a couple of complaints about how certain products had worn.. he was the one that responded and took care of things ASAP. They are very much into the quality of their RC products and I have become a loyal customer for that reason. He is A-Game.

    Brandonon March 14, 2015 @ 11:23 AM:

    Honestly, with the exception of Lost and Found, Toronto has a poor (quality) menswear presence, apart from perhaps some of the better vintage shopping in Canada. Vancouver has a much more well-curated selection and variety, although Inventory’s Stockroom closing is a considerable loss, I would consider Vancouver the centre of menswear in Canada, unless you’re into the best selection of mall brands (Club Monaco, Brooks Brothers, and J. Crew). There’s Gravity Pope, which ranges from corrected grain garbage footwear and $1200 cropped blazers to SNS Herning and Stephan Schneider quality level, so it’s a mixed bag. Both Nomad and, especially Jonothan + Olivia, have mostly moved to monochromatic streetwear and both have atrocious customer service. I suppose there’s Haven Toronto too, but it doesn’t fall too short of Nomad with double the prices and having a location totally separate from the rest of the independent menswear retailers in Toronto.

    Kellyon March 19, 2015 @ 12:47 AM:

    Roden Gray is tops in Canada for menswear and probably one of the best multi rand shops in the world. Excellent staff helps make this shop stand out, zero attitude from those boys.

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