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Photo illustration of a North Star shoe.
Photo illustration of a North Star shoe.

Your Business magazine

Pair of entrepreneurs reboot North Star shoes Add to ...

Ah, summer camp.

What proper Canadian ex-kid doesn’t have sepia-toned memories of this puberty-drenched rite of passage? That's just the kind of post-ironic hipster nostalgia that Torontonians Adrian Aitcheson and Pablo Mozo tapped into when they relaunched North Star in July.

It’s true, Bata's once-iconic shoe brand — which exploded during the last days of disco but faded during the rise of rap — is back, with a decidedly up-market spin.

“When I was growing up, I would talk to American kids about eating Smarties while wearing my North Stars and they didn’t know what I was talking about,” Mr. Mozo says. “That’s the moment I realized ‘This is Canadian.’”

Bata couldn’t have licensed its brand to a better pair of entrepreneurs: Mr. Aitcheson and Mr. Mozo’s creative cred includes stints designing Olympic wear for Roots and outerwear for Canada Goose. North Star's new collection includes archival sneaker models — like the Jogger, shown in the photo above — as well as hoodies, windbreakers and graphic tees.

The Bay, one of the first retailers to carry the born-again brand, is betting it will resonate with a new generation of customers. “Certain things just become classics, and that’s the route we’re going,” Mr. Mozo says.

“It’s one drop nostalgia, one drop ’70s, the rest is quite contemporary.”

Surely the American Apparel generation would approve.

This story first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of Your Business magazine.

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