One glimpse of Montreal-based Sosken Studio’s social media and you’re immediately hit with a feeling of easy-breeziness – one that designer Marisa Minicucci hopes to capture with its range of dusters, blazers, trench coats and more. You likely won’t find this year’s “It” item among its collections and that suits Minicucci just fine. “We have a lot of fast fashion,” Minicucci says of Sosken’s ethos. “I just wanted to filter through and say, ‘Why can’t we have good garments?’”
Sosken’s pieces are primarily classics with a twist, such as a translucent python-print raincoat or a bright faux suede trench. “Outerwear has definitely become part of a woman’s wardrobe,” Minicucci says. “They caught on to the fact that it’s an outfit completer.” She adds that fashion followers have plenty to choose from within the brand, but don’t expect a capital-F fashion attitude from Minicucci. “I want that brand to have polish but still be relaxed,” she says. “It’s approached with a sense of, ‘Let’s not take it so seriously. Let’s do it well, but not be so snobbish about it.'”
Sosken coat, similar styles price on request through soskenstudios.com. Frame blouse, $399 at Nordstrom (shop.nordstrom.com). Trousers, $175 at COS (cosstores.com). Biko earrings, $105 through ilovebiko.com. Converse sneakers, $90 at Simons (simons.ca).
With fans ranging from Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and Gigi Hadid to Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton, Bojana Sentaler, president and creative director of her eponymous label, has many reasons to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. “We’ve hit a lot of amazing milestones since launching,” she says. “I was very specific about the product and I had a vision for wanting to grow it into being an internationally recognized luxury fashion brand.”
Sentaler’s sense of what was missing in the outerwear industry – bold hues – helped her along, adding that the brand was born out of a self-want for what she felt was missing in her own wardrobe (as this shoot illustrates, the brand excels with neutrals as well). “Rather than [a coat] being just a functional item that you take off before you appear at an event, I wanted women to walk into the event wearing their coat and have it be the conversation piece – the piece that people notice.”
Living in Canada has also informed Sentaler’s point of view, highlighting how much of a pick-me-up the perfect piece of outerwear can be. “I wanted [women] to be excited for fall, [and] to not dread winter,” she says, adding that a Sentaler piece is primed to brighten up a gloomy day.
Sentaler coat, $1,980 through sentaler.com. Hoody, $70 at Aritzia (aritzia.com). Theory T-shirt, $295 at Hudson’s Bay (thebay.com). Smythe trousers, $495 at Nordstrom (shop.nordstrom.com). Biko earrings, $85 through ilovebiko.com. Jenny Bird earcuffs, $95 for a set of two through jenny-bird.ca. Nike sneakers, $95 at Little Burgundy (littleburgundyshoes.com).
“We joke that we’re Canada’s best-kept secret,” says Nancy Tannous, one of the three siblings at the helm of HiSo, an outerwear brand with roots in Toronto that stretch more than 40 years. “When people realize how much we do and how long we’ve been doing it, [they’re] always amazed.”
Beginning as Hide Society in 1975, and now with a moniker reflecting the fact that the brand crafts items made of wool as well, HiSo’s offerings range from sleek car coats to robust shearlings, the material that gave the company its start. “It’s always been our biggest commodity,” Tannous says, noting that the brand’s two designers travel the world to devise how to keep things interesting season after season. “As much as people like to wear what everyone else is wearing, I think they’re slowly getting over that,” Tannous says. “We’re lucky that today there are so many sources for inspiration.”
HiSo’s team strives to keep evolving in an increasingly expanding market – “No two collections are ever the same,” Tannous says – and refreshes colour palettes, textures and silhouettes with aplomb. “[We’re] always thinking about who’s wearing our pieces,” she adds. “There’s something for everyone.”
There are few better places to establish an outerwear brand than Winnipeg, and Marissa Freed, who took over her family’s business 10 years ago, has drawn from her experience both visiting her father at the Freed factory as well as her degree in fashion marketing and merchandising to propel the heritage brand forward. “People appreciate the history and legacy and expertise of companies that have lasted generations,” she says. “I’m growing what we’d done in the past, and exploring new avenues.”
Freed highlights the brand’s increased research and development around sustainability as one of the ways it’s maintaining a reputation for creating well-made cold-weather wear. “We’re four generations in and we’re trying to modernize some of our grandfathered ways, if you will,” she says. But Freed is also interested in turning up the volume when it comes to Freed’s designs as well, which this season includes a cheery leaf-print style with removable hood and a shaggy faux fur vest. “My first choices are always going to be the most bold and out-there designs,” she says with a laugh.
- Styling by Georgia Groom. Makeup and hair by Sheri Stroh for Dior Beauty/Kevin Murphy/Plutino Group. Model: Jasmine Julien at Sutherland Models. Studio manager: Stephanie Mill. Photo assistant: Michael Kazmierczuk. Market edit by Odessa Paloma Parker.