When I first moved to Toronto from the suburbs, I wasn’t used to winter. I’ve lived in Canada my whole life, so I definitely know winter. But, my experience of growing up in the suburbs meant I often had rides wherever I went, and only needed to bundle up for the occasional outdoor winter experience. Like skating. Moving to Toronto was a different reality. I almost never took transit, opting instead to save my precious dollars on the bar, and so I walked. I walked from my dorm to campus. I walked from late-night adventures to my dorm. I walked if it was five minutes or if it was 85 minutes. The point of this is to say that I spent one winter in Toronto without the proper clothing (cheap coats and boots that spent most of the season damp) before promising that never again would I skimp on winter gear. But, as many of you know, winter gear that works does not come cheap. I saved up for my first parka (down-filled and from Aritzia), and at the time (other than my computer) it was the most money I had spent on anything. But it was worth it to keep toasty walking home from my restaurant job all winter long.
Now, I’ve upgraded a little. I take transit almost every day, and so I find myself reaching for my parka a little less (yes, I still have my original purchase—alongside another one from Columbia I picked up for variety). So while my winter coat requirements may have relaxed a little thanks to a day-to-day that keeps me relatively sheltered from the cold, I still trust in good quality coats—I’m just also looking for ones that look chic too.
Enter, the Canadian investment coat. If, like me, you want a good quality winter coat that will keep you relatively warm, and have decided you can afford to spend some cash on one, why not opt for Canadian? Here are a few brands to keep in mind.
This Quebec brand Mackage might be known for its leather, but they also have a great selection of down coats and winter parkas. Most designs are a great combination of chic minimalism and sporty utility, making them perfect for almost any city dweller. Try the Chara-X ($1,490), an army green short jacket with pastel-pink fur collar.
It takes a brave woman to wear a white winter coat—but boy does it look absolutely stunning when she does. Combine that super chic power look with practicality but opting for a white parka with a few extras—namely Gore-Tex insulation and windproofing. That’s why Arc’teryx, a British Columbia-based brand, is a great option, and picking up the Osanna ($650) is a must.
This brand was founded in 1885 to help pioneers explore in the frigid Canadian winters—so it definitely knows winter. While this brand definitely leans more parka that chic coat, it’s also got an incredible heritage and some serious cred to back it up. For that reason, you might consider picking up the Expedition Parka ($440)—might we suggest in a very trendy emerald green?
Rudsak, another edgy offering from Quebec known for leatherwear, really leans into that edgy descriptor. Expect to find elevated puffers and interesting texutres in these parkas. The Manila down jacket ($595) is especially interesting with its unusual—but very cool—collar. But, rest-assured this jacket is 800+ fill so you’ll stay warm.
For a more animal-friendly option, try Wuxly. This Canadian brand is all about vegan parkas, sustainable fabrics and processes and fair labour practices. So, yeah, you won’t feel too bad about that price tag. While selection is limited to a few options, the Doe Parka ($779) is a great classic pick that will keep you warm up to -30 degrees Celsius, and is made with animal-free insulation (no down) and is waterproof.
For a Canadian coat that isn’t as concerned about snowpocalype, but is very interested in style, might we suggest the Meghan Markle-approved brand Smythe? This Toronto-based brand is a staple of the Duchess, and it’s easy to see why. With classic silhouettes in cozy wool blends—not to mention statement pieces for when you’re feeling like your outerwear could be a bit extra—we could live in these pieces. Try the Blanket Coat ($895) for a classic oversized fit.
Yes, we are recommending you check out the brand famous for leggings for a winter parka. The Vancouver-based Lululemon might be known for all things yoga apparel, but its also making a serious case for embracing the puffer jacket. We know you might be hesitant to try this style as your city go-to, but when its in a gorgeous shade of amethyst and has an adjustable cinch-waist like the Cloudscape Jacket ($248), you can see why we recommend it.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Alexandra Donaldson)