Month #2 – Clothing

In 1850, Great Britain produced almost all of the world’s finished cotton. Now, of course, it makes almost none.

In 1850, our nation wasn’t even, well, much of a nation. So how much finished cotton does Canada produce today?

That’s one of the questions I’ll be exploring in this month’s new category, Clothing. Last month’s Household Goods were a good introduction, but now we’re getting serious. The game is definitely afoot.

What am I hoping to learn about Canadian clothing? Let’s see:

  • Where do our clothes come from?
  • Do we actually manufacture any fabrics or other source materials in Canada?
  • Can I buy a suit made from Canadian-made fabric?
  • Are there Canadian-made running shoes?
  • Is it even possible to create a wardrobe of clothes that are entirely sourced in Canada (without, you know, knitting and sewing them myself)?
  • Why has the rest of the world adopted the term ‘toque’?

What in my wardrobe is already Canadian? For years, I’ve been a frequent Stanfield’s customer, underwear made with pride in Truro, Nova Scotia. I also usually get my dress shoes from John Fluevog (certified Satan-resistant, it says so on the sole). Neither products are sourced in Canada, but they’re a small start.

The Rules

I’d like to start from zero clothes in my closet, but that’s not practical. Not only would it be exorbitantly expensive to build an entirely gold-standard Canadian wardrobe, but I suspect that it’s virtually impossible. I also need to remain gainfully employed, and my work requires that I occasionally dress up. I can’t very well wear only Stanfield’s underwear and a Cowichan sweater to a speaking gig, can I?

So, I’m only going to add Canadian-made clothes to my wardrobe for the balance of 2011. As per my Made in Canada rules, I’m going to work as hard as I can to create entire outfits that comprise clothes sourced, manufactured and designed in Canada. Pray to your cold, Canadian gods for me.

I’m going to have to cancel two of my favourite clothes-by-mail services: the Threadless t-shirt a month club and Man Packs, for t-shirts, socks and underwear.

Have you got any recommendations for clothes that are made in Canada?



  1. A Novel Woman (Reply) Posted on February 14, 2011

    What about Tilley Endurables? I think a lot of their products are made in Canada and the clothes are, you know, endurable.

    Or there is bamboo clothing for men, made in Canada by Lil’ Devas.
    http://www.dearlildevas.com/men%27slongsleevedtees.htm

    There is a Montreal men’s store Jack Victor with their own factory here in Montreal. They have a website and order info if you want to go all snazzy.

    Metro Sportswear makes Canada Goose brand coats, manufactured in Canada. They are uber expensive, but all the stars are wearing them so you’ll look cool while you stay warm.

    Canada Kicks Ass has tee shirts for men:
    http://shop.canadaka.net/category/Men

    Try this site for other shops to investigate:

    http://www.canadianmade.com/retail_clothing.shtml

    Good luck!

  2. Lynn (Reply) Posted on February 14, 2011

    Might not be exactly what your looking for but I know that Saxon Athletic make their clothes in Canada
    http://www.saxonathletic.com/
    I don’t know where their material is produced, but I’ve known quite a few people to sew for them to make their clothing

  3. Lynn (Reply) Posted on February 14, 2011

    Looks like Tristan has a manufacturing facility in Canada

    http://www.buycanadianfirst.ca/Tristan

  4. Meghan (Reply) Posted on February 14, 2011

    you can find a bunch of local designers at Dream on Cordova and Roots always promotes their made in Canada status, but I seriously doubt – in either case – that the material is sourced in Canada.

    Speaking of Cowichan Sweaters I have been lusting after these for a while now: http://www.grantedclothing.com/ but I keep guilting myself out of a purchase (first they are pricey and second I should be able to knit one myself).

    I am going through a similar situation with yarn, there is a lot of independent dyers, etc, but getting yarn purely sourced in Canada is difficult. So evening making your own clothing would be difficult!

  5. Amandine (Reply) Posted on February 14, 2011

    Not Roots, I’m afraid: http://about.roots.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-RootsCorporate-Site/default/Page-Show?cid=MSTR_HOW_WE_DO_BUSINESS

    It’s a shame. Although they sound sound genuinely upset about it too.

  6. LisaB (Reply) Posted on February 14, 2011

    Some stuff at Roots is made in Canada (material source is another question). Some stuff in Le Chateau is actually made in Canada too, surprisingly (on the women’s side anyway). You have to check each item though. Otherwise, I would suggest some of the local designers in Gastown?

  7. Linda (Reply) Posted on February 15, 2011

    There are all kinds of hemp clothing manufacturers in Ontario. This is only one example. They have all kinds of mens clothing including shoes.

    http://www.liveco.ca/hemp-clothing-canada-c-125

  8. Sheila Keenan (Reply) Posted on February 16, 2011

    Check out this: http://www.dianekennedy.ca/contact.php
    Garments made and manufactured in Vancouver. Their Website says, “Our fabric is knitted in Canada, and even our labels are locally made.”

  9. In Country with Melissact & Friends (Reply) Posted on February 16, 2011

    * Tristan, which was already mentioned. Made in Canada stuff are identifiable with special hangtags
    * Le Chateau still manufactures in Canada (up to 40% per collection) – Starting to use special hangtags
    * Banana Republic suits, specifically are sometimes made in Canada check the label
    * Some Gap jeans are made in Canada
    * There’s a new company called Naked Boxer Briefs for your made in Canada delicates ;)
    * I love these guys: Granted Clothing (only Men’s)
    * Oom Ethikwear
    * Vêtements Blank for basic white or black tshirts
    * You can always check out Mudshark Streetwear too for indie Canadian designers who mostly all manufacture in Canada

    Not all Fluevogs are made in Canada. Check the labels. I think they have one or two models that are but all Dayton footwear are made in Canada.

    Good luck!

  10. Gregor (Reply) Posted on February 16, 2011

    Well you mentioned my favourite already with Sanfield’s underwear. But I would like to recommend a Gold Standard product Pasu Farms http://www.pasu.com/about.html . They raise sheep and make a variety of sheepskin products. With this challenge being in February maybe you should pick up a Sheepskin hat to keep warm but I don’t think that it will help when you have to dress up.

  11. Hazel Pethig (Reply) Posted on February 17, 2011

    You briefly mentioned Cowichan sweaters. They are 100% Canadian made, often using Canadian fleece. You just have to ask the knitter where she gets her fleece from. The sweaters are a popular item where I live, as I actually do live in the Cowichan Valley. There are many women here who can support their families by knitting, and I have even seen mothers with newborns in the hospital knitting away to pass the time.
    A quick click to through google finds sweaters custom made costing $250 and up. And as all the web sites say, these sweaters can last a life time.

  12. bobby (Reply) Posted on February 18, 2011

    Darren.

    Best of luck in Month 2. You should learn a lot about candadian clothing and where
    it’s sourced.

    bobby

  13. Barbara (Reply) Posted on February 20, 2011

    I found a line of women’s jeans and clothing at Sears, called Lois Jeans — all made in Canada, really nice quality.

    We used to live in the Cowichan Valley, and when we wanted Cowichan sweaters custom made to match (one very large) for my folks, we called the band office and they gave us this woman’s name — we went right to her home and she made them both within a week. And no middleman to pay, all the money went straight to her.

  14. Anna W. (Reply) Posted on February 21, 2011

    Orb & Arson are owned here in BC. I think the pieces are made in China but they have pretty strict manufacturing standards. Salts is locally designed and made here in Victoria. OT Fitwear is great (Lulu sold out to the US).

    • Ryan (Reply) Posted on March 9, 2011

      Unfortunately, everything is “designed in ________ & MADE IN CHINA”. That’s the problem… anyone can design something, but nothing helps out an economy like the many jobs that manufacturing creates.

      Not trying to harp, but “strict manufacturing standards” to nothing to create local jobs for Canadians here in Canada.

  15. Aleksa (Reply) Posted on February 22, 2011

    Tonic Lifestyle Apparel is made in Vancouver, Canada. The performance line is made with a high quality fabric from Montreal and the lifestyle collections are made with a bamboo/organic cotton blend (fabric is from China, but manufactured in Vancouver).

    http://www.mytonic.ca

    Women’s and men’s styles available at YYoga (www.yyoga.ca)

    Contact me for more info :)

    I love this project and I’m looking forward to reading the book in 2012!

  16. Richard Akerman (Reply) Posted on February 27, 2011

    Stanfields http://www.stanfields.com/aboutus.asp?PageID=191

  17. Jenn (Reply) Posted on March 7, 2011

    While not helpful to you specifically because their clothes are for women, I’ve noticed recently that some clothes in Jacob are now made in Canada.

  18. Ryan (Reply) Posted on March 9, 2011

    Suits? Coppley… made right here in Hamilton, ON, since 1856. The factory is this awesome old building right downtown… great CANADIAN stuff. It’s changed hands over the years and the waters are muddied a little, but it’s DEFINITELY manufactured in the Hammer.

    http://www.coppley.com/

  19. Ryan (Reply) Posted on March 9, 2011

    I think this was already mentioned, but Le Chateau makes a large portion of their clothes in Quebec.

  20. Jason (Reply) Posted on March 9, 2011

    If you get tired of your Stanfield’s, take a look at JM. Manufactured in Montreal. Not your grandfather’s underwear.

    http://www.jm.ca/store/about-us/

  21. bobby (Reply) Posted on March 10, 2011

    Darren.

    Is this month comming to an end soon? I trust you learnt a lot through research and practice.

    bobby.

  22. Jane (Reply) Posted on March 14, 2011

    To Meghan: Briggs & Little yarn is sourced & spun in New Brunswick, and has been forever! http://www.briggsandlittle.com

  23. Jane (Reply) Posted on March 14, 2011

    Canadians grow hemp, but so far, nobody here weaves it into fabric.

  24. Ed. Vorst (Reply) Posted on March 14, 2011

    I was lucky enough to find a London Fog wool coat that was made in Canada. However I bought it 2nd hand and have no idea how old it is. Bloody warm though. Hopefully they still manufacture in Canada.

    btw: Your Canada Olympic mitts are made in Asia. I’d guess the jersey is too.

    ps: I love this idea and will now be following you and your example as much as possible. Good on ya.

  25. Kim Brooks (Reply) Posted on June 2, 2011

    If you are looking for Canadian made clothing, check out independent stores…stay out of the chain stores. I’ve been in business for 20 years and the changes have been staggering. One after the other good Canadian made clothing companies have gone off shore to manufacture. When people complain that something isn’t made in Canada, I tell them that they wouldn’t pay the price for that item if it was made in Canada. Ohhhh nooo they say. I’m afraid so. Everyone wants a deal…everyone wants it cheap and everyone wants top wages. Can’t have it both ways. Most people just don’t care and wouldn’t pay the higher price for Canadian made.