Local Love: Toronto-made workwear line for women


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Stephanie Ray dreamt up her fashion business back in her law school days. When looking around at options for workwear, it was evident that something was missing. Dull, awkward suits were the go-to for those lawyer-y types and Ray just wasn’t feeling it. “I saw a gap in the fashion industry for chic, well-made women’s workwear,” she says.

So, upon graduation, Ray sunk herself into a pool of knowledge about the fashion industry. From blogs to textbooks, industry pubs to fashion news — you name it, she was all over it. Her tenacity paid off and one thing led to another, finally resulting in Grayes, Ray’s workwear line.

“I don’t have any formal fashion design training,” Ray says. “I have an amazing design team who I work closely with to bring to life my vision and design ideas for our collection. Gradually, I’m becoming more and more involved in the design process which has been a lot of fun!”

From the get-go, it was important to have Grayes made locally. With the line based in Toronto, Ray notes that having it so close to home helps ensure quality; she really can have eyes on every part of the production process. Another bonus is the speedy turnaround time; feedback from customers can quickly be incorporated into future pieces. (For example, the designs used to be all about black and white but, thanks to feedback, much more colour has been injected into the line.) “We’re proud to be Canadian-made!” Ray says.

The blazer dress ($395) is a Grayes bestseller. “It’s a twist on the wrap dress, which has been a go-to piece for women in the workforce for many years,” Ray says.

The well-tailored garment gets bonus points for versatility as it can actually be worn as both a dress and as a jacket. (Don’t fret — there’s a trio of buttons that keep this puppy closed.) “It’s also a very flattering shape on all figures,” Ray says, “because it’s fitted at the bust and then looser through the body.” Talk about a new power suit. 

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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