If you live near the Northern border, you've probably made a trip up to Canada to take advantage of the excellent exchange rate, to see what this Tim Horton's business is all about, or, more likely, to take advantage of the lower drinking age. I mean, we're practically European up here. There's more to Canada than beavers, denim on denim, Bieber, and strong beer though: We have a ton of pretty incredible Canadian-inspired fashion and beauty finds. It sounds suspicious, but it's true. I know! Shania Twain is not our greatest export.
As a Canadian, I was used to looking past our borders to find clothes and beauty products that are featured in fashion magazines. I would willingly order online (or by phone, back in the day), pay extra shipping, suffer the terrible exchange rate, wait three weeks for my stuff to arrive, and pay extra duty or customs when it finally got here. Was it worth it, to be able to own the top I saw in the pages of YM or Teen Magazine? Sometimes! But more often than not, it wasn't worth the extra effort. Sure, there can be limited options at the mall and there are tons of stores in the U.S. that never made the jump up North and my teen years felt incomplete without a Delia*s — but instead of whining about what we don't have, we need to spend more time appreciating what we do have. And making sure Americans, and the world, know about it, too!
What we lack in American retail chains, we make up for in indie designers, incredible natural beauty brands, and cool Canadian department stores. Here are 15 of the raddest Canadian fashion and beauty brands you need to know (and shop!) immediately:
1. Consonant Skincare
Proponents of my favorite ethos: "What goes on your body, goes in your body." Consonant Skincare makes natural skincare that works in Toronto. They say their line is "as luxurious as the most expensive fashion label brand, as effective as the best-known cosmeceutical brand, and as healthy as the leading natural brand." Sounds perfect, right? Their matte sunscreen is my all-time favorite.
2. Eliza Faulkner
Eliza Faulkner is quickly becoming a celeb indie fave and with good reason: Her sporty, feminine designs are incredibly wearable and luxurious without being stuffy. If you're looking for cool-girl style, look no further. Act fast, though, because her limited runs sell out quickly.
Filled with all of your favorite department store faves with the addition of a super-cool, prolific in-house line of clothes and accessories, Quebec retailer Simons is proof that a classic can remain relevant. Their stores are embracing contemporary design and technology, but you can happily sit at home and shop their offerings online.
4. Herschel Supply Co.
A heritage company that draws its name from a very small Saskatchewan town, Herschel is anything but outdated or small. Using classic backpack and luggage silhouettes and updating them in the latest color-ways and creative patterns, you've probably already seen this minimalist line popping up everywhere.
5. Bite Beauty
Bite Beauty is a brand of lip products and already has a cult following for its rich formulations, bold colors, and effective treatments. Sold at Sephora, and even commissioned to create a custom color for the retail giant, these products are worth every single penny and bit of hype they have.
6. Manitobah Mukluks
While mukluks and moccasins have cemented their spot as the comfiest fashionable footwear, the art form of making them traditionally is centuries old. Manitobah Mukluks is an Indigenous-owned company making mukluks using traditional materials and methods in Manitoba, Canada (a few blocks from my house).
7. Daub & Design
Based in the hippie heaven of British Columbia, Daub & Design have taken tie-dye and made it more than modern. Infusing basics like tights, yoga pants, undies, and headbands with their bright hand-dyed designs, this company is anything but basic.
8. Harlow Skin Co.
Using organic and non-GMO ingredients is the ethos of Harlow Skin Co. They create scrubs, whipped body butter, soaps, and serums in B.C. Yeah, they're good for you and good for the environment, but they also have decadent scents like French Toast. I'd call that a win/win.
9. Birds Of North America
Birds of North America take retro styling and introduce fun colors, patterns, and details for dresses that are as classic as they are interesting. Not just for the modern pinup or vintage lover, these dresses strike a balance between modern and old school.
10. Addition Elle
Plus-size babes, if you are not already into Addition Elle, you need to get into 'em fast. This plus-size retailer has modernized its style and is offering killer designs in current styles. With collabs with plus model superstar Ashley Graham and designers like BCBG and DKNY, it should definitely be on your must have list.
11. Tony Chestnut
Also designed here in my hometown of Winnipeg, Tony Chestnut is a line designed by visionary Jill Sawatzky. Launching a new collection every season, the brand features a limited run of handmade pieces in her signature floaty, femme utilitarian aesthetic.
Taking Canada's stereotypical rugged lumberjack image and making it modern and minimalist, Muttonhead is a unisex clothing brand that makes basics that are crafted to last. From sweats to outerwear and button-downs, you can find those classic pieces done well and fashionably from this brand.
13. Matt & Nat
This Montreal-based company makes environmentally-friendly vegan leather bags from materials such as recycled pop bottles and cork. Matt & Nat bags aren't just sustainable, but they're durable and just as fashionable as any designer "It-Bag."
14. Artifact Skin Co.
Inspired by global ingredients and beauty rituals, Artifact Skin Co. makes incredibly rich and luxurious masks. The packaging is almost as stunning as your skin will be after you treat it with these products. A limited line that knows its specialty, this brand is a superstar on the rise.
15. Fortnight Label
This line is currently one of the hottest indie lines that's starting to gain more mainstream recognition for its minimal, soft feminine styles. Eschewing the blatantly sexy for a more subtle vision, Fortnight Label's varied silhouettes and shades are refreshing.
Images: Courtesy Brands