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The Alberta bag from Stephanie Ibbitsonn's Sonya Lee label.Handout

At her label Sonya Lee, founder Stephanie Ibbitson takes an anti-”It bag” approach to designing handbags, aiming to create styles that last a lifetime. “Essentially, what I really wanted to do was create a brand that stuck to certain ethics and sustainability and product quality while still having a fashion aesthetic to it,” she says. “I wanted to offer something that’s like what Prada offers in terms of aesthetic or what’s coming off of a fashion runway, but isn’t thousands of dollars and is made in Canada and with ethical materials.”

Founded in 2014, Sonya Lee is produced in a Vancouver studio. Ibbitson is very selective in the materials she works with and their suppliers, opting to work primarily with North American tanneries. “We’re buying leathers from countries that have stricter guidelines on how to produce leather because it can be a really toxic process,” she explains. She also offers a lifetime warranty on her products. “I don’t want to see anything end up in a landfill. I want to create something that you’re going to have forever.” To honour that legacy, Ibbitson names each style after an important woman in her life. The Leighton is named for the brand’s creative marketing manager, while the Nya is an homage to Ibbitson’s cousin’s daughter.

Earlier this year, Ibbitson introduced new styles at a lower price point. “They’re toned down and simplified versions of our handbags,” says Ibbitson. “It’s about being able to offer our clientele something they can afford when everyone’s under a way tighter budget.”

Sonya Lee, sonyalee.co.


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Sonya Lee Leighton, $216.

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Sonya Lee Nya, $186.

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Sonya Lee Half Louise, $210.

Style news

Arc’teryx has opened its newest store in Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre. It’s the brand’s third store in Alberta and its first North American store to open in 2020. This location carries a selection of performance and lifestyle apparel to outfit the area’s outdoors enthusiasts. The store design takes inspiration from weather elements and features a mix of raw and urban styles, including steel doors, a natural fir timber footwear display and greenery. Based in North Vancouver, Arc’teryx specializes in technical high-performance apparel, outerwear and equipment and operates more than 80 branded stores. For more information, visit arcteryx.com.

American kitchenware brand Our Place has recently launched delivery in Canada. Based in Los Angeles, Our Place creates kitchenware for modern, multi-ethnic kitchens. Its star piece is the Always Pan, a multifunctional tool that is suitable for cooking multiple dishes, from boiling pasta to frying an egg, and has an easy-pour spout, removable steamer basket and nesting spatula. The brand also offers hand-painted ceramic bowls and plates as well as handblown glasses. A mission-based company, Our Place supports ethical labour and responsible materials and has a partnership with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. For more information, visit fromourplace.com.

Canadian footwear company Zvelle recently opened its first permanent retail space. Located in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood at 131 Davenport Road, the showroom is designed to offer an intimate, personalized experience in a relaxing lounge. Open weekdays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., the shop also hosts after-hours appointments on request. Zvelle was founded in 2015 by Elle AyoubZadeh, who wanted to combine meaningful design with high-quality materials and a mindful point of view. Last year, she expanded her offerings to include handbags. For more information, visit zvelle.com.

To further help in the quest for a good night’s sleep, The Sleep Shirt has added St. Genève’s bedding and duvet collections to its online store. St. Genève is a Canadian company that designs and manufactures luxury bed linens, down duvets and pillows at a manufacturing facility in the Vancouver area using Giza Egyptian cotton and fabrics woven in Germany and Italy. Its designs compliment the classic contemporary loungewear of The Sleep Shirt, which was founded by Alexandra Suhner Isenberg, a Canadian living in Sweden. For more information, visit intothebedroom.com.

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