I have big news. I’m leaving for Las Vegas. Don’t worry, not forever. But for a few days.
Why? For work. No, I haven’t switched careers to become a full-time trapezist for Cirque du Soleil. And no, I’m not replacing our dear Céline at Caesars Palace (even though I do have the voice of an angel). I’m actually going to promote Montreal fashion with the Metropolitan Fashion Cluster.
“But why Vegas?”, you might ask. Because from February 5th to 7th, that’s where MAGIC will be taking place, the biggest trade show in all North America. For the third year in a row, the Fashion Cluster, also known as mmode, will be on site bringing along with them more than 50 Montreal brands to celebrate our local industry.
Few people know, but Montreal is one of the three most important clothing production centres in North America, side to side with Los Angeles and New York. Moreover, if you add up manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and designers, it counts for more than 83,000 jobs in Quebec! This precious ecosystem is part of Montreal’s identity and mmode is not only there to preserve it, but to make it grow.
Hence the interest to be in Las Vegas, where more than 70,000 fashion professionals and 4,000 exhibitors will gather at the Mandala Bay convention center to mingle and talk business for three straight days. That’s networking at a whole new level.
Amongst the Montreal brands teaming up with mmode, some will be there as exhibitors, like Yoga Jeans and wellDunn. Some others, like Markantoine and Atelier Murri, will be part of the Exploratory Mission, meant to give an access point to brands eyeing the American market.
So, why am I going over there? Short explanation: content creation. Long explanation: conduct interviews, introduce you to inspiring people through Instagram, take pictures (without @benessiambre, unfortunately), attend conferences and share with you my learnings, chat with key fashion actors to better understand our industry and yes, to maybe do a round of Black Jack* while sipping on a margarita.
*Anyone can teach me how to play Black Jack?
This trip will also mark my third collaboration with mmode. After putting together a huge directory for local brands and doing interviews with local designers to promote their hashtag #mtlstyle, here I am, about to fly to Nevada with them. Kind of crazy, right? Honestly, I’m so proud, happy, and honoured to be able to help them with this mission, which inherently, also happens to be mine.
Okay, enough babbling. With MAGIC just around the corner, I wanted to tell you about 8 amazing Montreal brands—some you might already know and some you’ll hear about for the first time—that are heading to Vegas with mmode in less than a week.
If you’ve never tried Yoga Jeans before, I don’t think you can fully grasp the meaning of ‘comfort’. Founded in 2011, the brand is known for its super stretch denim pants, entirely made in Canada with cotton coming from the Better Cotton Initiative.
Did you know that, if all watches were solar-powered, we could avoid the production of 300 million batteries per year? That’s exactly the purpose propelling Solios forward, creating genderless watches that are not only gorgeous and durable, but that are also produced with the greatest respect for environment. What do I mean by that? For example, their vegan leather straps are made from plant-derived ingredients and their packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable.
Those who live for boho chic jewelry that looks like little shiny treasures you found on an exotic trip, please raise your hands! The label, launched almost 10 years ago by Dominique Dunn, is known for its Montreal-made pieces that perfectly lend themselves to the fine art of jewelry layering.
Hats like you’ve never seen them before is what I love about Fumile, a millinery brand with Alex Surprenant and Mélodie Lavergne at its helm. Unexpected textiles (think multicoloured recycled fur) and surprising finishes (why not go with a rock-like embossed felt) transform their hats into wearable artworks for everyday life, special occasion or not.
Both a clothing and shoe company, Atelier Murri is all about small-batch production, which either happens here or in Spain, where the founders, Selma and Lambert, are from. Ecofriendly materials are also high on their priority list, often using deadstock fabrics from luxury Italian houses. To get an actual feel of their creations, head over to Rachel Street, where they opened a boutique last year.
Inspired by the early days of New York’s hip hop scene and the mosaic-like diversity of Montreal boroughs (that’s where the brand name comes from), the three founders offer a variety of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and fanny packs very 90’s street inspired, but always with a dash of humour.
He needs no introduction, but I still wanted to include him in this list, as he keeps proving himself to be one of the most talented and promising designers Quebec has to offer. With a signature rooted in contrasts — street and chic, dark and colourful, form-fitting and oversized —, Markantoine Lynch-Boisvert creates a whole new universe from collection to collection, like little short-films in which his garments play the leading roles.
Having both a French and an Italian background, Mathilde Criqui wanted to celebrate her heritage with a line of handbags inspired by the French icons from the 60s and 70s (bonjour, Brigitte!) and made in Italy, following the local rules of craftsmanship.
*This article is sponsored by the Metropolitan Fashion Cluster, but all opinions are mine :)
OTHER ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE