5 rising stars of Canada's accessory scene
The designers to know and the pieces to covet!
Our appetite for indie accessory brands has grown remarkably in recent years; sporting a piece that's handmade by a distinctive artist just feels very current. And while we tend to think of über-cool cities like Brooklyn and Stockholm as the capitals for this design movement, Canada's own accessory community has been flourishing on the down low. Equipped with their singular perspectives and a loyal following, these underground Canadian makers are making the "shop local" shift incredibly easy to buy into. Here, the rising designers who are redefining our contemporary accessory scene one ethically made sandal or handcrafted earring at a time.
Erica Leal Jewellery
Erica Leal's art school education imbues every angle of her shapely, well-considered jewelry. The Vancouver native's bold, architectural compositions — crafted using traditional metalsmithing techniques — are at once delicate and designed to bring that statement-y, wow factor. Then there's Leal's hand-placed acrylic inlays: a colourful aesthetic throughline in her collection that creates a modern stained-glass effect. Made with locally sourced materials whenever possible, her pieces are unmistakable and conversation-starting.
James Earrings, $890, Erica Leal Jewellery
Homegrown, luxury-leaning footwear is a mostly untapped market in the Canadian fashion landscape, meaning Montreal-based sisters Romy and Myriam Maguire's namesake shoe brand has received plenty of attention over the past two years. But it's the pair's season-less, limited-run designs that have earned them bubbling acclaim. Punctuated by a clean aesthetic and poppy hues, they're what Instagram dreams are made of — we're talking terrazzo-print block heels and pointe shoe–inspired ballerina flats washed in olive green. As well, the sisters are open about production costs and hand-select every factory they work with.
Capri Peacock, $175, Maguire
Blu Hummingbird Beadwork
An Indigenous jewelry designer of Haudenosaunee ancestry, Toronto-based Brit Ellis has mastered a modern take on traditional beadwork, using time-honoured techniques from her community. There's a bit of magic in her diverse array of one-off pieces: a moon phases medallion steeped in cosmic energy, whimsical emoji-inspired patches and powerful feminist pieces (picture fanciful female genitalia pins) that make a major statement.
Moon Phases Medallion, $450, available by custom order, Blu Hummingbird Beadwork
AW by Andrea Wong
Andrea Wong's line of soft-like-butter handbags land on the subdued side of the sartorial spectrum, thanks in part to her previous life in the corporate fashion world. The designer's followers have to come to expect crisp, clean-lined belt bags and backpacks that have everyday ease in spades — but we can expect some cheekiness too. Wong elevates the plastic bodega bag in creating a long-lasting leather version, and transforms the classic paper lunch bag into a stone-coloured, waxed canvas carrier.
Stone Roses Leather Gratitude Grocery Bag, $300, AW by Andrea Wong
If there's a familiarity and warmth to designer Allison Asis's line of dainty, elegant jewelry, it's because her pieces are created through the lens of evolving womanhood. Her unparalleled, hands-on approach might also have something to do with it: from the initial sketches and wax castings to the traditional metalsmithing techniques she employs, Asis literally touches every piece that leaves her Toronto studio. The result is the kind of well-made simplicity — think modern art–inspired drop earrings and organically shaped pearl rings — that you pass down through generations.
Hera Necklace, $220, Cadette Jewelry
Jillian Vieira is a Toronto-based writer and stylist. Follow her at @jillianvieira.