The fashion world has been steadily moving away from mass-produced clothing, making way for more sustainable and local boutiques selling quality items at a higher price point. Toronto’s Ellie Mae Studios is taking that concept one step further by entering the scene with a style the company calls “luxury hippie.”
With superstar clients including Gigi Hadid, Mila Kunis and others, Toronto’s homegrown Ellie Mae Studios has gained more than a fair bit of A-list attention.
“We are super fortunate to have an organic celebrity reach,” says Ashton Ramcharan, head of sales operations. “Our biggest market comes from that, being Los Angeles…those celebrity placements provide our biggest traction. Toronto is our biggest market in Canada, and after this year, it is our biggest market with the U.S. right behind it.”
The new Ellie Mae boutique will be located at 1096 Yonge St. just down the road from the company’s corporate office and fashion house at 100 Niagara St.
The Niagara Street location will include a workspace that’s open to the public and a VW bus cafe.
According to Ramcharan, the fashion industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and sourcing material from overseas vendors now relies heavily on technology to be the eyes, ears, and hands of a fashion buyer.
“We source most of our fabrics from Europe — about 50 per cent come from the U.K. and the rest from Italy, France, and Spain. To not go to the fabric shows is a huge loss. It’s all done through Zoom now,” he explains.
Ellie Mae had built relationships with mills in Europe before the current pandemic, which has helped. Still, things get a lot trickier when purchasing vintage T-shirts for the brand’s “vintage closet” collection.
“We’ll buy a [vintage] piece through Zoom and then get it, and it’s not what we thought it was…it’s been challenging,” says Ramcharan.
Without opportunities for in-person networking, the pandemic also impacts the brand’s audience. However, Ramcharan says that they still have a strong following on social media and have a solid foothold with their current celebrity clientele both locally and across the border.
“Our biggest challenge right now is that we can’t go to the U.S. We have kind of lost that momentum, but we are fortunate enough to have some great placements with celebrities,” he says.
Despite being forced to cut its collection to a third of what it was supposed to be due to production slowdown, the brand is pushing forward with the new space thanks to comfort-seeking clientele keeping the brand afloat with purchases of cosy sweaters and lounge sets.
The new 650-square-foot space at 1096 Yonge St. will have a vintage feel, including rustic walls and vintage carpets. The new Ellie Mae Studios will open this spring.