5 Menswear brands I’ve discovered via Black Designers Of Canada

I wasn’t immediately sure what I should do after posting a black tile to Instagram this past June.

Like everyone else, I was watching the protests that emerged in the wake of George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s deaths and feeling a sense of shame. A sense of needing to do better. Although part of that work surely meant reading a lot and listening even more, it didn’t quite feel enough.

One suggestion I saw often from some of the smarter people I follow online is to use whatever platforms we have available to elevate or amplify Black creators. Even here, though, I didn’t know where to start — until I got a chance to speak to George Sully.

The designer and creative force behind Sully & Sons is part of a story I hope to have published on Swagger in the coming week. I don’t want to give it away, but in the course of our telephone interview I not only learned about Black Designers of Canada but the fact that he was the man behind it.

“Even with everything that was going on in the States, there was this sense in Canada that everything was hunky dory and just business as usual,” Sully told me. “After ‘Blackout Tuesday’ and everyone professed their love of black people, it seemed like there was nothing much happening after. I knew something to be done.”

Sully’s online index counters the notion, particularly in Canada, that Black fashion designers are extremely rare or non-existent. “I was asked, how are you going to amass more than 10 or 20,” Sully said. 

Instead, BDC now boasts more than 160 brands, all of which I can honestly say I had never encountered before. The categories include many beyond menswear, including womenswear, interior design and accessories.

It’s not much, but the least I could do following my interview with Sully was to take a look at BDC in more detail, and to offer some stand-out brands I intend to not only promote here, but consider approaching as a customer.


Stance Barton says his company was born ‘from a desire to create footwear and clothing with durable premium materials, that merge my love of sports, music, culture, & fashion and to elevate mens’ everyday wardrobe.’

My eldest son would love these clothes, and this polo in particular stuck me as able to serve a dual role on Zoom calls and when I’m done work for the day and ready to relax.

Ellis Esq

I dream of having somewhere fancy to go, and needing something incredible to wear to it. The jacket of my dreams looks a lot like this jacket with the most eye-popping blue lapels I’ve ever seen from Ellis ESQ, a custom mens’ tailoring brand.

“For the driven individual who is just embarking upon the road of custom and bespoke wear, Ellis has taken the work out of your initial purchase,” the company says on its web site. “By providing you with the most current, yet classic pieces, literally no further customization is needed for these items beyond your measurements.”

ZIN Motorwear

Although I’ve never ridden a motorcycle and have no plans to start in the immediate future, I’m as drawn to leather jackers and other biker-inspired gear as the next guy.

Zin Motorwear describes itself as building menswear “from the pavement up,” and adds, “Although the technical details of our clothing are hard to see with the naked eye, the fiber used in our fabric is 15 times stronger than steel.” That should be strong enough for me as I walk through the streets of Toronto.

Sully Wong

I would be remiss if I didn’t check out (and salute) the brand whose founder brought Black Designers of Canada into being. If you like sneakers that look like you could not only wear them with a suit but with anything else in your wardrobe, these are the kicks for you.

I can never have enough pristine white or black sneakers, and now I know where I could find high tops that wouldn’t look ridiculous on a guy my age. See more at Sully & Son, which is expanding into more of an accessories brand.

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Noir X Apparel

The colour and sheer creativity of Noir X was such that I really struggled to pick an outfit to show. There are classic lines and touches in terms of suiting but an equally strong dose of streetwear throughout. Let’s just say if I wore this one I would feel confident enough to face whatever the rest of 2020 is going to throw at us.

I realize we won’t combat racism through shopping, but the launch of Black Designers of Canada has made me realize I need to be more intentional about fashion as in so many other areas of life. I hope other people explore it too.

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