Canada’s own Comrags is designed by long-time friends Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish. Now celebrating its 25th year, Comrags only continues to excite the Canadian fashion community.
Joyce was raised in Victoria, B.C. Her love of design started early, with her winning a design competition at the age of 6. She eventually moved to Toronto to study fashion illustration. Judy was raised in Burlington, ON, and apprenticed under designer Lida Baday at Kira Fashions while attending university.
Joyce and Judy met in Ryerson’s Fashion Arts Program. Even before graduating, they collaborated on projects, which culminated with a mini fashion show at a punk club where Judy worked. The owners of independent store Metropolis liked what they saw and offered the women the opportunity to sell their designs on consignment. The store shared studio space with the budding designers, who quickly saw their efforts pay off.
In 1983, the dynamic duo presented Comrags to the press. The rest, they say, is history, as the fashion world immediately embraced their strong aesthetic. In 1991, the pair won the Designer of the Year award from the City of Toronto. And in 1997, they opened their flagship store on Queen Street West in Toronto.
At Toronto Fashion Week this past spring, Joyce and Judy spoke with the National Post about their decision to no longer pursue wholesale exporting, and keep their applauded efforts, instead, close to home.
Cornish: We felt really beaten down, so when we had the opportunity to make a choice about our business, we thought we don’t want to sell as much and we knew you could be as profitable, selling far less if you run your business well. And we wanted to get back to what we like doing which was pattern making and ignoring people’s opinions about our stuff.
Comrags proceeded to unveil its Fall 2009 line to rave reviews.
According to th Comrags official site:
Fall 2009 is “our lovely mess”. True to Comrags’ aesthetic we’ve mixed masculine and feminine*, pretty and grunge, diamonds and woolly scarves* for a season that highlights the beauty in chaos.
Their Fall 2009 showing at Toronto Fashion Week offered the appeal of the English countryside. Twill, printed knits and wool plaids in warm autumn shades and flattering effortless shapes made their way down the runway, carefully balancing elegance and edginess. Their signature “crush” wowed audiences, while the smock dress pointed to their easy-to-wear impeccable style.
Here’s to 25 more years, Joyce and Judy!