On a miserably cold day, I shuffled onto the dirty Dufferin bus, Wingold bound. Everyone in Toronto’s fashion industry knows that it isn’t swanky Bloor St or West Queen West that plays home to the business side of fashion, but a stretch of terrain North of Eglinton and West of Bathurst. This is where distribution happens, and also where several showrooms hawk their wares to boutiques and bigger box stores nationwide. Where was I going in this land of strip plazas and Coffee Time rest spots? Pink Martini headquarters. Yes, it sounds like a label that Barbie would wear, and by the name, I was half expecting the clothes to be like Le Chateau circa 1998, but I was wrong. They were cute, well-priced and trendy; the kind of stuff I’d want and buy. Safe to say, I swallowed the Pink Martini.

The reason you probably don’t know the name is that this label is mixed within the eclectic racks at your local “I desperately need a dress” go-to’s like WANT Boutique. We love the soft pastel colour palette for spring and think the Monet leggings, pictured above, are pretty effing cute. Other sweet items to look for on the rack? The Hyacinth Jumper and the simple After 7 Dress that isn’t really a marvel in design but something you will wear a lot in warmer months. In terms of price point, think more than H&M but less than Club Monaco.

I applaud companies like this because it’s obvious they’ve made a decision; to build a successful business. That’s really hard in fashion. I meet a lot of designers who leave me in awe of their creativity and style, but it is also obvious that they are barely breaking even. Pink Martini’s founder and chief designer, Amir Bahar, has managed it. He isn’t showy, you won’t see him hanging around LGFW, but he will be hustling at all the major clothing shows throughout North America. Instead of worrying about publicizing his name and building the brand, he has concentrated on making clothes that women grab at, try on and buy regardless of whether they’ve heard of Pink Martini. He’s also figured out how to do it so that it is cost effective for all. He’s not a Parsons grad, rather an ex-socks salesman. It ain’t a glamourous story, but it is a smart one.


Pictured: Monet leggings, $25.00. Rock & roll T-shirt, $27.00. Cozy cardi, $55.