Want to shop for Toronto designers without having to brave the heinous winter cold and swarms of holiday shoppers? Ukamaku is your one-stop online shop for Canadian fashion.
“We realized that fashion designers were great at what they do–fashion design–but there were other aspects such as marketing and e-commerce that they needed help with,” says co-founder George Ng.
Ukamaku means “that’s it!” in the Aymara language, a language spoken by a native ethnic group in the Andes and Altiplano regions of South America. Says Ng: “We want our customers to visit our website and realize ‘that’s it!’: that’s the item I want.”
And there are plenty of covetables available at Ukamaku. The site has a fresh, clean design that makes it easy to navigate (my only quibble is that some designers have professional-looking shots of their clothes, while others have more ghetto images, making certain designers look more professional and appealing than others).
Ukamaku has a very well-edited selection of designers, including one of my favourite Canadian talents, Heidi Ackerman. There’s also a nice range of styles, from the slacker jersey seperates from Andy Hall and fun tees from Pause Designs and Dull Clothes, all the way to the beautiful classy frocks from Zoran Dobric, Caitlin Power and Carrie Hayes. While I’m not a fan of a few of the designers on the roster, the ratio of good designers to not-so-good designers is remarkably high for a fledgling site.
There are also, surprisingly, plenty of solid sensible work clothes and office-appropriate frocks from the likes of Paris Li and Rachel Sin: since many Canadian designers tend to go street and semi-casual, contemporary, or more high-end, it’s nice to have a locally made alternative to the usual beeline for Banana Republic.
Ng hopes to take the brand beyond just online, offering his stable of designers trunk
shows, gifting opportunities, pop-up shops, and fashion shows.
“Canada has a huge pool of talented fashion designers. Being a multicultural and ethically diverse country, Canada brings together designers from different talents, backgrounds and experiences. Although unique, many Canadian designers are not recognized internationally. They lack the support within Canada, and beyond the borders. With a lot of international brands setting up stores in Canada, from the U.S. to countries in Europe, it seems Canadian brands/designs are being pushed aside to make way for these brands,” according to Ng. “Ukamaku presents a new opportunity and platform for these designers to go beyond Canada and reach the masses abroad. The Canadian talents should be shown worldwide.”
Pssst! Head over to Ukamaku for their “12 Days of Christmas” promotion: every day until Deccember 21, a different giveaway is being offered.
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