On Wednesday, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, welcomed President Barack Obama and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto to Ottawa, the nation’s capital, for a historic meeting (and slightly awkward three-way handshake) of the North American leaders. During Obama’s address to parliament, he declared, “The world needs more Canada.”
Of course, he was referring to Canada’s history of peacekeeping, liberal values, tolerance and dedication to climate change issues – plus the country’s canny ability to produce pop stars and comedians. What he didn’t touch on, however, were the shoe designers. A shocker, we know, since there are quite a few accomplished names. Here at FN, we think the world needs more Canadian footwear talents, too. In honor of Canada Day, here’s a roundup of 12 names of note.
The Toronto-bred, New York-based designer behind Brother Vellies, which is entirely made in Africa, is on a career roll, picking up both FN’s Emerging Talent prize at 2016 Achievement Awards and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. What started as simple tire sandals and school oxfords has grown into a collection of beaded gladiators, lace-up boots, fur mules and boxy handbags. James’ dedication to social causes and drive set her apart. Next up: a store in Los Angeles.
Jerome C Rousseau
The Quebecois designer is now a go-to for Hollywood’s finest, including Charlize Theron and Chelsea Handler. From his Los Angeles-base, Rousseau turns out characterful (and often cinematic) luxury shoes, such as his signature Thorn heels.
The designer’s Italian-made collection launched in 2009, and he continues to excel at platform pumps and sleek booties, a go-to of Toronto’s elite.
This direct-to-consumer brand is a favorite of the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, and supports a good cause. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Brazilian-made shoes is donated to the Women’s College Hospital Foundation in Canada.
Veteran designer Patrick Cox launched this new line last year, focusing on what he does best: loafers and sneakers with a lot of pizzazz. Cox is London-based, and the shoes are produced in Italy.
The Canadian comfort guru is known for his foot-friendly Italian heels and flats, which he sells through a network of his own stores and international retailers.
The Vancouver designer has been turning out his funky Louis, comma and cone heels to his devoted Fluvogers such as Whoopi Goldberg and Scarlett Johansson. He has 19 stores internationally.
The Canadian fashion shoe giant continues to expand its wholesale business under the leadership of CEO Patrick Frisk. Even still, it’s a Montreal family business run by founder Aldo Bensadoun and his sons David and Douglas.
WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie
Montreal twins Byron and Dexter Peart have a cult following for their minimalist leather goods and recently expanded into equally coveted sneakers, derbys and sandals.
The Ottawa-born, Paris-based designer was formerly a professor of innovation before combining her love of technology and designer shoes into the world’s first adjustable height shoe with removable heels. She has locations in Toronto, Paris and Los Angeles.
A new Toronto sneaker brand from designers George Sully and Henry Wong, inspired by their Asian-Canadian roots. Affordable price points, a pared-down aesthetic and a buzzy collaboration industrial designer Karim Rashid have quickly made a splash.
Launched last year in Toronto, the high-contemporary sneaker line reworks the classics such as retro runners and low-court laceups.