Back to Canadian Basics With Tuck Shop Trading Co.

It doesn’t get more Canadian than the Great White North. Most of us young professionals (YPs) have fond, glowing memories of summers past spent at camp or the cottage and still appreciate those simple moments under the stars, fireside or on the dock, far away from the often-consuming city. Inspired by the beloved Canadian north, Toronto-based Tuck Shop Trading Co. is a new brand of luxe yet cozy ready-to-wear accessories that is set to become a quick weekend staple for the country’s in-the-know YP set.

The brand romanticizes Canada’s rich history in the fur trade with the idea of a modern trading post or tuck shop, but with a refreshingly fashionable twist that make items city-appropriate as well. For this reason, Tuck Shop Trading Co’s luxurious necessities are perfect for those cozy autumn weekends spent north or those lengthy fall Sunday strolls through the city alike. Some items can even complete a look for a night on the town.

Tuck Shop Trading Co. was created by Lyndsay Borschke, a Toronto-based YP who was inspired by her summers spent at a camp in Algonquin, and her current lifestyle spent between the city and cottage. Inspiration for the line was also drawn from old photographs of her grandparents arriving by train to their cottage on Canoe Lake. Her first collection—from the snowshoes in the logo to the recycled fur stole—reflects their style and heritage-driven sensibility.

Let’s be honest; historically, there’s little sexy or stylish about practical and necessary Canadian winter wear, but Borschke’s line adds touches of luxury—like cashmere, fur, leather and other detailing— to products like toques, scarves, jackets and bags.

Our favourites include the super comfy Cottage Coat (the type you won’t want to take off, even indoors), the calf-hide Trillium Envelope Clutch, leather totes that are perfect for a weekend getaway and, for a splurge, The Albany multi-functional shawl, made with recycled fur knit. These are, of course, in addition to the selection of cashmere scarves, toques and Cottage Blankets that almost got us excited for the colder months ahead.

A hot seller already is Borschke’s City of Neighbourhoods line of toques and tees, an idea that was conceived at her local coffee shop. Offering an opportunity to show (or flaunt) your neighbourhood pride, the gear boldly displays your neighbourhood’s name, from Parkdale to Leslieville and the Annex to Forest Hill, in a total of 14 neighbourhoods. The line will soon expand to other major cities, including favourite travel destinations like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Sydney. We wouldn’t be surprised if more Canadian cities are added as well.

All garments and accessories are designed in Canada and solely manufactured in North America. Tuck Shop only trades with the world’s most reputable textile producers, and only works with quality mills and highly regarded manufacturers. All products (toques, sweatshirts and t-shirts) are designed in Canada, and made in Toronto.

Borschke’s experience at summer camp has shaped who she is today and is at the heart and soul of the company. Her first  “real” job was as Director of Business Development & Operations at her camp, where she was in charge of the procurement of their tuck shop items. She then began designing and selling clothing programs to camps and schools across North America and spent four years building a department at Rightsleeve Marketing that was dedicated to this particular market. Last year, she decided it was time to take the next step and develop her own line and Tuck Shop Trading Co. was conceived. We caught up with Borschke to find out a little bit more about the initiative.

Your line is inspired by your passion for the Canadian wilderness; was fashion something that you also always knew you’d be a part of?
I was interested in fashion from an early age. I remember not wanting to play on the muddy field at recess because it might ruin my wool pea coat – seems silly now that I try to design items that are meant to be used. After university, I lived in England and sought out jobs in the fashion industry but ended up returning home to take a full-time job at the summer camp I had grown up at. It was at this “first career” that I was first exposed to the manufacturing side of fashion – I was in charge of buying our branded apparel and accessories. I guess I always hoped I would one day be involved in fashion, and am happy that I’ve finally found my way there.

Who is your expected shopper?
We have had a great response from a varied demographic. Since we offer both men’s and women’s styles and accessories, I would say we are looking at the 25-40 professional. 

Why do you think your line will appeal to a young professional set?
It’s youthful in spirit and easy to wear. It’s casual while being stylish. I like that our fur pieces aren’t too fussy, they can be worn to a black-tie event or with jeans. Our Cottage Coat is perfect for a casual night out in the city with friends or for a weekend getaway in the country. Our cashmere is available in ton of colours, so if you looking for a pop of colour we’ve got you covered. Or if you simply want something to wear with your work wear, we have lots of subtle and natural colours. 

What, in your opinion, is one new winter staple everyone needs each year?
I look for new toques! This year I’m hoping everyone will by vying for a Tuck Shop Trading Co. cashmere toque – but I’m obviously biased. Winter accessories (toques, scarves, gloves, etc.) are a great way to change up your winter outerwear look.

What are your favourite items at the moment?
My favourite Tuck Shop items are:

The Muskoka Toque. I love the colour options and recycled fur pom!

The Cable Knit Infinity Shawl. I actually took this on a recent trip to Paris and Istanbul and it was great to travel with. Great as a cover up on the plane, a shawl for cool evenings, or as an accent scarf to mix up your travel wardrobe.

The Albany Fur Stole.  The Albany Fur Stole is made with recycled fur and can be worn many ways; it’s definitely a versatile fur piece.

Designer pieces I have been coveting:
Jil Sander Pink Blush Oversized Wool Coat.
Giuseppe Zanotti Micro-stud Moccasins

What was the most challenging part in launching a business? Has anything been surprisingly more difficult, or even easier than you imagined?
Everything took months longer than I imagined. It was a true test of patience (and I’m not a very patient person). From sourcing fabrics, to finding the right manufacturing partners, everything took time. I’m very pleased with how the line turned out, it was worth the wait. I am also very thankful to have found amazing people and businesses to partner with and it’s also exciting that the majority of these people are found right here in Toronto. (Our cashmere is manufactured in the USA by a lovely Scottish man.) 

What are your plans for the future?  
We are working on SS14 and FW14 right now. The long-term goal is to open a bricks and mortar flagship in Toronto and grow our wholesale business worldwide. Right now I am happy that people are learning about our brand and our efforts to source and manufacture as local as possible.

It looks like Borschke is off to promising start, and her City of Neighbourhoods line has already become a huge seller both online and at stores like Toronto’s Over the Rainbow.

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