• Elliot Figueira

Winter is coming, and you know what that means... time to dig your #toque out of the closet and build your entire outfit around it. But wait... what if you don't have a toque? Perhaps it's lost deep in the crevasses of your couch or forgotten one tragic day on the bus. Whatever the case may be, it's tough to get through the cold months without this crucial #accessory - whether you live on the relatively warm west coast or way up north.

This #Canuck staple becomes even more #Canadian when you grab one that was actually made in #Canada. Trust your fellow citizens to craft a toque of exceptional quality, and you can brave even the most discouraging blizzards. In case you weren't aware, toques made in Canada do exist, and there are actually quite a few brands that are neck-deep in the toque manufacturing trade.

A few notes - Nowhere in this blog will I be referring to toques as "beanies." The correct Canadian term is "toque," and this is a Canadian blog. Secondly, I'll be steering clear of wool, merino, cashmere, or any other fabrics that come from animals. Finally, I haven't had the chance to try all of these toques myself, but I plan to eventually provide a personalized review for all of the options below. Watch this space!

1. Raised by Wolves

Raised by Wolves has been making toques ever since its inception. Over the years, they've come out with a few creative designs, such as the frozen palm tree motif on this acrylic toque. Unlike a lot of other acrylic fabrics I've come across, this one is pretty lightweight and thin, while providing the same amount of warmth as a "fluffier" toque (for lack of a better word).

This particular toque also has a poofy ball (pom pom?) thing on the top, which is a nice touch if you're into that sort of thing. The thing I like about Raised by Wolves is the fact that they offer a wide range of options when it comes to toques, not just a handful of colors or one specific design.

As of this writing, the Ontario-based brand still hasn't come out with its F/W 2020 collection, but I'm sure their toque selection will be as interesting as ever when the new season finally drops.

2. Legends League

Legends League has a storied reputation in the Canadian #streetwear world, and they've been steadily pumping put toques for years. When I first laid my paws on this toque, it was immediately clear that a lot of thought and care and gone into its creation.

While it might look like your average toque, the orange shade is really incredible. It seems as though Legends League carefully releases a color palette specifically based on the seasons. This particular "burnt orange" shade really epitomizes #autumn.

As for the actual material, this one is pretty straightforward. It's thick, warm, and stretchy enough to pull down onto your ears if you really feel like bundling up.

3. Muttonhead

#Muttonhead prides itself on its hiking-inspired apparel, and many of its clothing items are made in Canada. This chunky toque is interesting because it's made out of 100% cotton. Sounds a little more luxurious than acrylic, although I'm not quite sure how it would actually feel compared to acrylic.

I'm definitely planning on testing out this toque for myself in the coming months, so check back later for more info.

4. Province of Canada

For a few years now, Province of Canada has been quietly making timeless pieces like rugby shirts, hoodies, and of course, toques. This is another toque that I haven't had the chance to try yet.

Province of Canada assures us that this toque is made from 100%, high-quality cotton. I think now is the time to point out that many of these Made-in-Canada toques look virtually identical - minus the branding.

That's not a bad thing by any means... It would just be interesting to figure out what factory actually makes the "blank" toques...

5. Taiga

Last but not least we have #Taiga, a Vancouver-based company that makes all kinds of outdoor and hiking gear. This is Taiga's 3-Way Neck Tube, a versatile piece of #Polartec #fleece that you can wear in three different ways.

There are a lot of reasons to love this particular option. First of all, the option to wear this toque as a mask is certainly a plus during #Covid-19.

In addition, Taiga is famous for using top-quality materials. This company sells the type of gear people wear when climbing mount Everest. If you're looking for a toque that'll keep you warm rather than something that'll make a fashion statement, you really can't go wrong with Taiga.

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  • Elliot Figueira

Before you get too excited, let me make one thing clear:

There aren't many options for #sunglasses made in #Canada.

I've managed to find a total of three #Canadian companies who manufacture their #shades in-house. That being said, these three brands make incredible products that deserve to be on your radar - whether you're committed to buying products made in Canada or not.

Generally speaking, products made in Canada are of a high quality, and that's important when you're shopping for sunglasses. Although buying a pair every #summer from the gas station is certainly an option, there are those of us who want sunglasses we can rely on.

If you're looking to invest in a pair of shades that can potentially last you an entire lifetime, check out these three brands:

Loch Effects

Loch Effects is one of the most interesting #eyewear brands I've ever come across. All of their sunglasses are made from wood, which seems to be a growing trend in the industry.

However, Loch Effects doesn't just use any wood to make their sunglasses. They use only #wood that has been reclaimed from the bottom of lakes and rivers in Canada. This lumber has been lying underwater for upwards of 500 years.

So why would you want to wear sunglasses made from this type of wood? Well, as any #lumber expert will tell you, wood actually begins to rot the longer it's exposed to light and oxygen. In the cold, dark, and oxygen-deprived confines of water, wood is preserved incredibly well.

It also becomes more beautiful as it absorbs the tannins and minerals found in the surrounding soil and water. Depending on various factors, the lumber can take on a distinctive shade of olive green, grey, or even gold.

Perhaps the most notable benefit of this wood in the context of sunglasses is the fact that it's extremely durable. Because Loch Effects uses old-growth #timber, the wood grains are extremely dense. Submerged wood is also apparently very hard, solidified by the process of being submerged and waterlogged for so long.

What this means is that Loch's sunglasses stand the test of time. Although other wooden sunglasses might be prone to cracking or breaking, the quality and durability of the wood used here means Loch shades are a lasting investment.

As far as style goes, wooden sunglasses are something of an acquired taste. They might not be for everyone, but the general aesthetic seems uniquely Canadian. For anyone who likes the #outdoors, earth-tones, or a down-to-earth vibe, these shades are a solid choice.

Loch Effects also deserves to be praised for their use of #sustainable, eco-friendly materials. No trees are being cut down to make these sunglasses. These sunken logs are at the bottom of lakes where no one can get them. Reclaiming them has zero impact on the #environment.

Canadian Sunglasses

Their name might not be very imaginative, and the story behind this brand probably isn't as interesting as the aforementioned manufacturer.

That being said, Canadian Sunglasses are exactly what a lot of people are looking for. Classically designed, #aviator shades with quality materials and #craftsmanship.

Made on Prince Edward Island in a factory with a long history of eyewear creation, Canadian Sunglasses is all about the #vintage #aesthetic. The cool thing about these sunglasses is that they're not just trying to replicate the retro-cool styling of decades past. They are relics of those past years.

These sunglasses were actually made in 1988. The company basically found a surplus of these sunglasses and started selling them again. Some of their most in-demand shades include hand-crafted #leather detailing.

If you'd rather avoid using animal products, they also sell a "basic" model called "Rainbow Gold," pictured above. These sunglasses feature real #gold electroplating, which provides protection against corrosion and the elements.

There's also a range of lens colors to choose from, including reflective and solid variants.

At $200 each, these sunglasses are the probably the cheapest option if you want quality sunglasses made in Canada. In addition to their classic styling, this is one of the main reasons I'm grabbing a pair next summer.

Fellow Earthlings

Fellow Earthlings makes gorgeous #designer sunglasses in Canada. With a notable footprint in the fashion industry, these shades have enjoyed a lot of attention from mainstream media, including Fashion Magazine and the CBC.

They're actually produced in the same factory as the aforementioned Canadian Sunglasses - a small plant called "Tannereye." The two brands are under the same umbrella, and they rightly brag of returning a once thriving eyewear industry to #PEI.

In contrast to the vintage-focused brand Canadian Sunglasses, Fellow Earthling shades are produced today in small batches from cellulose acetate. You might think that's just another fancy word for plastic... Maybe it is. In any case, cellulose is unique in that it's one of the earliest forms of plastic, and it's made from cotton - not oil.

In addition, all of the cellulose acetate used by Fellow Earthlings is #recycled from would-be waste products. Again, there's very little impact on the environment with these sunglasses.

There are some amazing styles and silhouettes to choose from when you visit their site. You can even customize your own pair by picking the material, the frame shape, and the lens. There's a slightly higher price point for these shades, but that's to be expected with their small-batch approach.

So why is it important to buy sunglasses made in Canada?

Consider this: 75% of all designer frames are made by the same manufacturer. This includes big name brands like Ray-Ban and #Oakley.

At the end of the day, there's nothing special about these brands anymore. They're created alongside budget names by the same people using identical machinery.

This manufacturer is also located in #China. That means three quarters of all designer sunglasses are produced in a country with questionable labor laws, a reputation for poor working conditions, and a track record for human rights violations.

I get it. Cheaper sunglasses are hard to say no to. If you need to save money, I'm not going to judge you.

On the other hand, if you think you can do better and make a positive choice for #ethical manufacturing and #sustainability, consider the three brands I've mentioned here. Remember, quality craftsmanship means that you can rely on these shades for longer.

In the long run, you'll probably end up saving more money because you won't have to constantly replace sunglasses of a continuously plummeting quality.

It's definitely something to consider.

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  • Elliot Figueira

It's one of the most common questions asked by #Vegans, and we still don't really have a clear answer.

In truly political fashion, the official statement from #converse seems to be that they can neither confirm or deny the presence of animal products in their footwear. For me, that's enough to write them off as far as animal-friendly brands go.

If you're still not convinced, consider that fact that Converse uses leather patches in many of their shoes.

It's a real shame, since at first glance a pair of Chuck Taylor All Stars seem like a go-to option for #Vegans. They're made from canvas, they feature rubber soles, and they exude a classic aesthetic that complements just about any outfit.

I'm not going to get into why Converse aren't vegan, because I'm not even sure if I know the truth. The answer seems to change with each person you ask. Is it the glue they use? Is it something to do with the way their factory operates? One thing's for sure, something is preventing Converse from coming out and clearly stating that their products are vegan, and that's enough to dissuade a lot of animal-conscious people - including me.

With all that said, there's plenty of amazing alternatives out there, and the brand I'm going to focus on today is The Good Guys.

Otherwise known as Good Guys Don't Wear Leather, this Paris-based #footwear company has followed in the footsteps of the Converse aesthetic while adding their own unique touch. In my opinion, these shoes are actually far better than a pair of Chuck Taylors - with the added benefit of being 100% Vegan.

Not only are these kicks vegan, but they're also ethically produced in Portugal, Spain, or Italy. Humans deserve rights too, and you can be sure these shoes were made by people who were working under fair, humane conditions.

The material used to make these shoes is also #sustainable and eco-friendly.

The bottom line?

If you're searching the web trying to figure out whether Converse are vegan or not, let me save you some time - you'll never get a clear answer.

What you can do is grab a pair of shoes from The Good Guys instead. Problem solved.

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British Columbia, Canada