In an office full of legitimately sweet people, I'm the crank who can somehow find the flaw in something great. But even I've had the mojo this year to buy local. For some that means buying from local merchants, and although that's undoubtedly better than buying from Amazon, if you're still buying made abroad crapola, are you really pushing the envelope all that much? My epiphany came to me while shopping for my Brother-in-Law and Gastown's Filson store. Everything there was just the right amount of perfect and all of it has been made in the company's Seattle headquarters since the flipping Gold Rush!
It got me thinking: where's Canada's companies like that? Heritage brands that still manufacture here and have stood the test of time for both longevity and coolness. So I searched and I found them—some you'll know, some you'll have forgotten but they all share a common DNA of quality goods, made here in Canada.
Ok, so the first one was a bit of a gimmie. The Ontario-based outfitter has been making garments to stand up to our northern winters since 1957 and they're pretty vocal about both their roots and that they still manufacture here. And I'd be lying if I didn't cop to feeling the tiniest tinge of pride every time I see see some cool kid rockin' a parka on the London tube or some exec making his way up Madison Ave in a CG puffer.
And while as iconic as the parka is front of mind (and cool side note, the company will stop buying coyote fur in 2022 and thereafter only/recycle fur that exists already), it's a bit of overkill for the Vancouver winter where I live. So I'm going with one of their ultralight down numbers like the Alliston ($895), that can be work like a backpack, fold up into a tiny ball and keep you warm if you get stuck on the Coquihalla en route to Sun Peaks.
You'd think that as a card-carrying urbanite, living in fancy pants Vancouver I wouldn't have much opportunity to sport a cowboy hat. But you'd be wrong. Every night when I take my dogs for a walk (and I ain't telling you the breeds as that will greatly undercut the story) I slip on my Grandpa's Smithbilt hat that he must have bought shortly after WWII. Canadian cowboys have been choosing hats from Smithbilt since 1919 and every beauty is still made in their Calgary factory. And while I admit a cowboy hat is not normal Vancouver garb, I find that it makes people smile and because mine's white, they know I'm a good guy.
The big choice here is fur/felt or straw. That good looking couple above are sporting the classic Stampede Hat, and while it's iconic I'm going to go down the price ladder and suggest a straw number like the Bangora Straw Cattleman ($60), as it works like a damn in keeping the rain of your face on those dog walks.
You don't have to be old to be classic. I don't have a lot of Reigning Champ gear for the simple reason that it's relatively pricey (although these sockettes, that I bought at TJ Maxx were a steal), but there is something about a well-made staple like their heather grey sweatshirts that just helps ones shoulder relax. All the stuff is designed and made in Vancouver, which is a rarity in this country where the vast majority of what clothing manufacturing is left exists in Quebec. So maybe the price isn't that high, and given that the brand trades in staples that change very little from one season to the next, the stuff has a long closet life. Even the sockettes haven't lost their elasticity.
I love the classics, like a simple hoodie, which will set you back $160. Just don't pair it with sweats on the bottom—if that dude above can't pull it off, I assure you, you can't either.
So this ones a little bit of hedge. Only a portion of Arc'Teryx's stuff is made in Canada (mostly the very cool Veilance line) but they get in for three reasons:
1. As soon as the pandemic hit they moved to making PPE here in Vancouver;
2. Wearing an Arc'teryx shell at a US or European Resort is the skiing equivalent to proudly rocking the Canadian flag on your backpack;
3.They're among the most responsible overseas manufacturers in the world;
Also—they're bringing back the one piece. That's right - the staple of 1980's shredding is back (for women only....for now) and it's now hands down the top of the sartorial pyramid for skiwear.
With the sale of Sorel to Columbia in 2000, Stoney Creek, Ontario-based Baffin became the last tried and true made in Canada manufacturer of the type of boots you need if you're heading out tobagganing (we don't "sled" in Canada, unless were on Ski-doos) Christmas morning. Unless you're working on the rigs, then a good pair of snow boots lasts pretty much forever, so shelling out $190 for a pair like the above seems like a bit of a deal, no?
I wore Stanfield's from the time I was two until Mark Wahlberg convinced me that all it took was pair of Calvin Kleins to make irresistible (you lied Marky Mark!). But it wasn't until I was researching this article that I realized that not only is Stanfield Canadian, but it still run by an actual Stanfield (Jon D.F. Stanfield, the fifth-generation to run the company). They have 550 employees who work at the plant in Truro, NS, cranking out skivvies, but also what have now come to be called base layers. So while I chose the undies above because I'm a juvenile at heart, if I was to buy something it would be one of their wool base layers, like the Henley for $90. It's a top that demands you chop wood in it (for about 1/3 of what a similar piece from Icebreaker would set you back).