I first heard of The Mi Concept through a friend. He was insisting I visit and he was going to arrange everything. My friend has just taken a position in the company and was very excited about it. I probed for more information and learned that the Mi Concept is luxury sportswear with a twist, customization. Each piece is made to order based on your measurements.
I was intrigued and I immediately googled the Mi Concept when I got home. The main storefront is in San Francisco, there was no mention of a Toronto location (That has changed and the website has been updated). The about page didn’t provide any information on who was behind the label but did explain the concept behind the venture.
Mi is a new concept in retail-design project, creative collaboration, clothing collection, art space, atelier.
Mi, a collective, creates a collection of discreet luxury-evolved interpretations of classic pieces, making them modern with elegant distortions in shape and design. Almost a severe sensibility.
A made to measure atelier service complements the ready-to-wear clothing line which offers each client a way to build a wardrobe that is customized to their unique look and lifestyle.
Mi is defined as an essence-what we fundamentally are, our essential self.
Mi will always be a work in progress.
The clothing, both men’s and women’s were delicious. I laughed like a child and immediately send a message to my friend fawning over everything. “I told you it was coolâ€, he scolded, “You should never doubt me againâ€. After some back and forth he arranged for a time for me to visit the Toronto studio and meet Dean Hutchinson, the man behind the show. The studio is in the heart of the fashion district, just a stone’s throw away from the giant thimble and button at Spadina and Richmond. I love walking into studios; it’s like peeking into a designer’s brain. They all have some things in common: paper patterns hanging on clothing racks, rolls and rolls of fabric stashed under tables, clothing samples and inspiration boards. The Toronto location also is the production center. White curtains separate the showroom space from the studio. Racks of men’s and women’s samples stand waiting to be browsed. A lone judy stands alone wearing a bodysuit and leather jacket.
I didn’t even get a chance to look over the racks before a beautiful structured jacket was handed to me. “You have to try this on, it’s amazingâ€, my friend cooed. He was right. At that moment Dean walked in and we were introduced. “Wow, this jacket looks great on youâ€, he said, “Check this outâ€. Dean comes over to me and grabs at both sides of the jacket’s collar and pulls it up onto my head. “Oh my godâ€, I exclaimed, “It has a freaking HOODâ€. I was in heaven right there and then. That’s when the photos started with Dean behind the lens of my point and shoot.
I was like a kid in a candy store, trying on everything I could get my hands on. I was pretty much taken with ever piece from the buttery soft leather jackets to the silk jersey sleeveless hoodie. I kept thinking of the lucky custom clients and the possibilities that await them with Dean’s patterns and their imaginations. His take on the traditional incorporates small design details that make the garment more modern. Trench coats have multiple collars or strategically placed ties. Zippers turn a large piece of suede with one armhole into a cape. Many of the garments have a convertible nature to them and I love that kind of thing.
Some of my favourite pieces are:
The high collared tunic. The collar is to die for and very Elizabethan. There is enough volume at the hips to make it interesting. It would make a great dress also.
The sleek leather jacket. The leather was buttery soft and had zipper details on the arms.
The sci fi coat. I’m all about futurist clothing so it was only natural that I loved this coat. The surprise with the hood just made me giddy. Look at that profile!
The silk jersey sleeveless hoodie. It’s s basic piece with a luxury feel. The fabric is so beautiful, great weight and feel.
The convertible scarf coat. It can be worn many ways but when it’s wrapped the details are gorgeous.
The Mi Concept offers a full range of clothing items for both men and women. I didn’t focus on the men’s stuff at all because I was too busy trying things on. The men’s line included jackets in leather and wool; cardigans and shirts in cashmere and denim. Like the women’s line, there are design details that serve both form and function.
After the excitement of playing dress up I get to sit down with Dean and learn more about how he started. He is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan in Fine Arts. After graduation he moved to L.A and spent a few years in the early 80s there. In 1985 he returned to Canada and set up shop in Toronto. His company supplied everything from small boutiques to high end department stores. In 1992 the opportunity presented itself for a store front in San Francisco Dean took the leap. The business also changed from a wholesaling shop to retail production. Now in 2009 it’s sort of a homecoming for Dean. Even though Toronto has been production central for the Mi Concept we’ll now get the retail experience too.
471 Richmond Street West