Who wants another uninspiring tie or loud Bill Cosby sweater? Cameron Williamson's gift to his fellow man (and their gift-givers) this year: a roundup of must-haves from seven impressive brands you haven’t heard of yet
Dark grey jeans
This season, the Toronto-based brand United Stock Dry Goods (which is designed by Sydney Mamane, a former costume designer and bespoke tailor who also owns Sydney’s, a popular men’s clothing boutique in the city’s Queen West neighbourhood) unveiled its second collection of well-priced yet high-quality men’s-wear staples. The line’s jeans, constructed from raw Japanese selvage denim, which will mould to the wearer’s body over time, are available in three weights, five shades and either Narrow (slim) or Slight (uber-slim) cuts. (Given that it’s the holidays, you might what to opt for the former.) 14 oz. Slight Fit Gray Tonal Stitch Denim, $150 at stores across Canada (visit http://www.unitedstockdrygoods.com/ for retailers).
A hooded bomber
Looking for a homegrown winter coat that is guaranteed to keep the chill out? Consider the handsome down-filled jackets by Nobis . The fur-trimmed bomber (left) is slick enough for city wear thanks to a tailored cut, military detailing and matte finish, but it’s the company’s standard technical and design features – such as waterproof and windproof seam-sealed fabric, heavy-duty elastic ribbed waistbands and cuffs and a moldable in-hood framing wire – that will have you really covered, whether you’re bar-hopping in Old Montreal or snowmobiling in Alberta back country. The Cartel bomber in Crosshatch Red Rum, $750 through www.nobis.ca.
A bold collared shirt
Preppy with an eccentric twist is the best way to describe the colour-blocked shirts by Sidian, Ersatz & Vanes, a French line conceived of by three friends (whose surnames make up the brand’s moniker) while on a soul-searching road trip along the California coast. This season’s offerings, available in cotton chambray or cotton flannel, feature a slightly relaxed fit and look equally sharp tucked in or worn undone over a white T-shirt, which is how R&B wunderkind Frank Ocean wore his S, E & V during his TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this summer. Grey and navy cotton-flannel shirt, $225 through www.shopneighbour.com.
A graphic pocket square
While working as an art assistant during a particularly sweltering New York summer, the Brooklyn-based designer Theodore Yemc went through an entire drawer of handkerchiefs that he had inherited from his grandfather while mopping the sweat from his brow. To compensate, he whipped up a few replacements from pieces of old dress shirts and the inspiration for Chief , a new line of pocket squares, was born. Featuring a mix of Japanese patterned cottons, linens and wools, these hankies are definitely too nice to blow your schnoz in, but, when puffed extravagantly out of your blazer’s breast pocket, are the perfect way to add dash to your look. Two-pack of patterned pocket squares, $110 through www.mrporter.com.
A pared-down timepiece
Uniform Wares, the London-based company known for its meticulously crafted and minimalist timepieces, has been steadily amassing fans since 2009, when Patrick Bek and Oliver Fowles, two friends who met while studying product design at university, decided to launch a collection of watches that eschewed showy and gimmicky features for what really matters: reliable quartz movement and cleanly designed dials that are easy to read. 152 Series Polished Steel watch, $310 at the WANT Passport store at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (www.wantpassport.com).
A multicoloured belt
It’s okay to break a sartorial rule every so often, especially the antiquated one about having to match your belt to your shoes. With men’s wear looking decidedly understated these days, in fact, it’s actually a great idea to let your accessories speak a little louder. Take this snazzy leather-trimmed belt by British brand Folk . Its multi-hued woven fabric will complement any ensemble, yet it’s just bold enough to draw attention. Taylor Belt in Ambra by Folk, $102 through www.rooneyshop.com.
With the increased popularity of heritage brands and only a few remaining shoe manufacturers in North America, it’s no surprise that Rancourt & Co., a family-run business with three generations of shoemaking expertise, has achieved cult-like status in the men’s-style blogosphere. Luckily, the Maine-based company, which also crafts footwear for Ralph Lauren and Red Wing Shoes, has teamed up this season with Club Monaco to widen the reach of its durable hand-sewn kicks. These classic suede penny loafers are crafted from the finest Cordovan leather and are the ideal pair to change into at the office once you have doffed your snowy boots – they look as good with a navy suit as they do with jeans or chinos on Casual Fridays. Beefroll Penny Loafers, $325 at Club Monaco (www.clubmonaco.ca).