Made in Toronto is cool. Now. But before fashion folk were clambering to show their pride by donning locally-made garb, the Drake General Store was already (far) ahead of the curve. Since its debut a casual decade ago, the Drake Hotel's boutique has always been known for delivering Canadiana with a kick. Plates boast images of the Rockies, candles smell like maple syrup and, of course, Shared T-shirts are made right here at home.
We spoke to Carlo Colacci — founder of Shared as well as director and co-founder of the DGS — about the traceability of the T-shirts, why they're so great and how they gained success abroad before making it here.
Shared — one of the Drake General Store's house labels — has just been relaunched. Why now?
This year is Drake General Store’s 10 year anniversary, and as part of the celebrations we wanted to go back to our roots. This time around, we’re elevating Shared even more in terms of fabrics and fits and creating a full collection.
Tell us about the new collection of basic cotton T-shirts:
It’s more about the favourites than the basics. Customers used to tell us that they could feel the difference when they weren’t wearing a Shared tee. For us, it’s about creating something locally produced and perfecting a classic, rather than coming up with a trendy, short-lived product.
So what exactly is so great about this tee?
All of it! The shape, the feel, the fit, the fabric, the colours and also the community aspect.
The shirts are made proudly made in Toronto — why was this important to you and the Drake?
We’ve watched the local apparel industry shrink over the past 14 years. By investing in it and producing what we can locally, we’re providing support for this industry to continue and also the hope for it to grow again in the future.
How traceable are the garments?
Each garment is 100 per cent traceable. Most fibres/yarns are sourced by certified North American growers based in North Carolina and one fibre is sourced from India from a reputable, certified producer. Each additional step, up until the T-shirts make it into our customer’s hands, is overseen by us.
It didn't used to be trendy to produce garments in Toronto — how did this affect you?
It was always important to us to be producing Shared T-shirts locally — even before it was trendy. Most of our initial business came from customers located outside of Canada for that reason — Canadians wanted something made in New York City, L.A. or Europe. Despite that, we continued to produce locally and decided to build our business out of the country until we developed enough of a name for ourselves to sell Shared back home. Since starting DGS, our focus has and continues to be championing Canada on multiple levels.