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The Find: pretty hand-painted paddles from Norquay Company

(Images: Norquay.com)

(Images: Norquay.com)

Natasha Wittke, founder of camping brand Norquay Company, designs beautiful paddles that would look equally at home in a rustic living room or a cedar-strip canoe. Handcrafted from Northern Ontario cherry wood, the paddles are stained, branded and painstakingly painted by Wittke in her Montreal studio, creating what the designer calls “collectible pieces of functional art.” You may not want to risk the paintwork on a rugged back-river canoe trip, but a special varnish finish makes them sturdy enough to withstand a leisurely cottage paddle (just be sure to wipe them down afterwards). In the meantime, we suggest hanging a particularly bold piece—like this one, dubbed “Hunter”—anywhere in your house for an artful, outdoorsy look. $275–$380

Available at Tuck Shop Trading Co., 1226 Yonge St., or online at norquay.com

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The Find: a parka that manages to be incredibly warm and extremely stylish at the same time

Untitled-1For Toronto women, appearing even remotely stylish in the dead of winter usually involves a stiff trade-off: do you put comfort first in a cozy North Face or Canada Goose (or any other ubiquitous winter parka), or brave the chill in a fashionable peacoat or menswear-inspired piece? It’s a lose-lose scenario. That’s why we’re thrilled about this jacket from Montreal label Soia and Kyo. It manages to satisfy winter warmth requirements—generous hood, down filling, durable outer layer—while ensuring its wearer doesn’t resemble an arctic explorer. On less blustery days, the fur trim can be removed for a simpler look. A bonus: the lower sides zip open to allow for a wider range of movement, should you need it (spontaneous ice-skating, perhaps?). $545

1-855-588-5287, soiakyo.com

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The Find: the 17 coolest items on offer at the Christmas 2014 One of a Kind Show

The Find: fifteen amazing items on offer at the Christmas 2014 One of a Kind Show

The One of a Kind Show, a twice-yearly shopping extravaganza dedicated to Canadian-made goods, kicks off its 40th anniversary tomorrow at Exhibition Place. The massive hall will once again be crammed with stalls selling all kinds of unique gift ideas—including gourmet food, quirky toys, artful kitchen accessories and statement jewellery—from over 800 designers and artisans. It’s the closest you can get to a one-stop-shop for Christmas gifts, and well worth a trip or two. That said, navigating the hundreds of sellers can be overwhelming, so we’ve nailed down the coolest products you won’t want to miss. Here, our 17 favourite items up for grabs this season, including leather baby moccasins, a hand-blown glass Scotch set and ultra-luxurious facial masks.

Nov. 27-Dec. 7. Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, 100 Princes’ Blvd., oneofakindshow.com

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The Find: sustainable, paper-like bins provide a new way to artfully organize household objects

(Image: Toofifteen/Facebook)

(Image: Toofifteen/Facebook)

Toronto-based company Toofifteen has created a beautiful new way to use Tyvek, a sustainable material used to make protective coveralls. The new business, launched by design duo Ashley Botten and Nina Jones, consists of three simple products: a pouch (that you can write on and decorate yourself), a multi-purpose bin and a “pouf” (essentially a square ottoman), each of which is recyclable, durable, mold-resistant and extremely easy to wipe clean. We particularly love the versatility of the bin, which comes in three sizes and can artfully contain a variety of household things, like floor plants, bathroom towels and fruit. It’s also the most affordable option, with small bins priced at $23.

Available at Augustina Boutique, 138 Cumberland St., or toofifteen.com

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The Find: 17 great pairs of boots that’ll get you excited for cooler temperatures

The Find: seventeen great pairs of boots for cooler temperatures

It’s around this time of year that most women realize they’ll have to ditch their favourite sneakers for something a bit sturdier. Cue the tedious task of finding that perfect pair of boots—because chances are, if you’re planning to drop a few hundred dollars on footwear (well-made boots never come cheap), you’ll want something that works with every kind of outfit. With that in mind, here are 17 pairs of extremely cute all-purpose boots, from functional Chelsea booties to elegant two-toned knee-highs.

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The Find: a Fashion Week–worthy clutch that’ll get you noticed for all the right reasons

Evil Eye clutch 1

Quirky clutches are definitely having a moment: this past month saw street-style stars around the world grasping bags shaped like all sorts of strange items, including a ham hock, a box of Digestive cookies and even SpongeBob SquarePants. There were also a fair amount of eyeballs (a trend that’s been going strong since Kenzo’s bold eye-themed collection in 2013). This Toronto Fashion Week (which starts on Monday), bag the trend—and support a good cause—by picking up this “Evil Eye” clutch. Hand-embroidered by women living in northern Pakistan, the purses are being sold by Far and Wide Collective, a Toronto-based online boutique dedicated to peddling one-of-a-kind goods crafted by artisans living in struggling countries. The playful pattern and bright blue hue are sure to add style cred to any outfit, and if you happen to get snapped by a photographer outside a show, you’ll be able to prove you’re not a fast-fashion follower. $199

Available at farandwidecollective.com

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The Find: an edgy sneaker for girls, by local designers Sully Wong and Amanda Lew Kee

SULLY WONG X AMANDA LEE KEW

George Sully and Henry Wong, the duo behind acclaimed footwear brand Sully Wong (which already has a number of interesting collaborations under its belt), have joined forces with Toronto designer Amanda Lew Kee to create the brand’s first women’s shoe. Lew Kee, who also designed a stylish capsule collection for Roots last year, drew on her appreciation of comfortable athletic wear to create the handcrafted high-top, which uses raw leather and denim for a simple yet rugged look. We love that the label’s first “women’s” shoe is kind of androgynous—it’ll go perfectly well with skinny jeans or add some edge to a girly mini. If you’d like to snag a pair, don’t procrastinate—the limited edition shoe hits Gotstyle boutiques on October 9 and is bound to be snapped quickly up by sneaker enthusiasts worldwide. $225

Sully Wong, sullywong.com

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The Find: a graphic cushion designed by an eleven-year-old artist

generation_art_pillow_02

Eleven-year-old artist-in-the-making Andrew Lee created this pillow design as part of EQ3’s Generation Art Project. For the homegrown furniture maker’s second annual competition (which is designed to empower youth by celebrating creativity), applicants of all ages were asked to submit art that represents their personal expression of Canadian diversity. Here’s what Andrew had to say about his winning piece:

“Sports bring people together. I think sports are really good. Through basketball I met different kinds of people and learned to accept everyone.”

All proceeds from the collection (which, for now, is only available at the brand’s Liberty Village flagship store) will go to the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which funds a range of arts-based community projects for underprivileged youth. While we’re partial to Andrew’s playful sketches (and especially the guy with “skating rocks” on his t-shirt), there are also other appealing designs in the collection, including a geometric pattern in pretty pastels from 28 year-old artist Selina Wong. $50

EQ3, 51 Hanna Ave., eq3.com

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The Find: twelve fresh fall coats to combat end-of-summer blues

The Find: Fall Coats 2014

This autumn, coats are brighter and funkier than ever. Instead of settling for muted seasonal tones (remember army green?), shoppers can opt for an oversized blazer in a bold floral pattern or a boyish bomber jacket in a refreshing pastel hue. Cozy quilted jackets are also making a comeback (we love the bright orange at Mackage). Plus, now that summer’s over, homegrown outerwear designers are really getting a chance to shine: Rudsak has just released a limited edition luxe rocker collection, and Smythe has debuted a chic anniversary collection, in honour of 10 years perfecting blazers. Here, twelve fresh new jackets for fall.

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The Find: an asymmetrical umbrella that’ll stand up to wind tunnels

Senz Umbrella

In a world dominated by flimsy round umbrellas, the beautifully asymmetrical Senz is your best bet for staying completely dry this fall. Designed specifically to combat the annoying features of traditional brollies (which have a tendency to turn inside out at the slightest breeze and take out the eyes of unsuspecting pedestrians), the streamlined Dutch model can withstand 100 kilometre-per-hour winds and has eye-saving patches at the end of each point. It’s also won a ton of international design awards. If you’re not convinced, check out some of the demo videos online. The red ikat print makes for a chic autumn accessory, but you can also hunt down some other snazzy variations. $85

Raindrops, 50 Bloor St. W., 416-203-7246, raindropsto.com

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The Find: a glam take on a practical fall tote

OPELLEOpelle is a brand of beautifully handcrafted leather purses and totes by Toronto native Amy Malcolm. After five years of peddling her work online, the designer has opened a sleek white showroom at College and Lansdowne, filled with a great selection of chic carryalls, delicate chained clutches and practical weekend bags. Of all the options for fall, we’re particularly enchanted by this silvery shopper, which is handmade in Toronto from an Italian pebbled cowhide. Featuring an of-the-moment metallic sheen and a cotton-lined interior large enough to haul around a laptop and a few notebooks, the bag will elevate any back-to-school look (it would look especially stylish with a pair of overalls and white kicks). Plus, there are three zippered pockets inside, which should keep the tote from turning into a black hole for keys and lip balms. $324

1234 College St. W., opellecreative.com

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The Find: 13 pairs of sweatpants you’ll be proud to sport in public

The Find: stylish sweatpants you'll be proud to sport in public (and maybe even to work)

When summer draws to a close, it can be tough to transition from comfortable cottage wear to high-powered city attire. Luckily, fall’s sweatpants are much more stylish than the baggy Roots joggers in your closet. They’re also versatile, so choosing comfort doesn’t have to mean staying cooped up at home; instead, wear a tapered grey pant to lunch with tough booties, or pair one of the fancier styles (we’re looking at you, Balmain lounge pants) with pumps and a button-down for a work-appropriate look. Here, 13 of our favourite fashionable sweatpants, including affordable chambray cargos and perfectly patterned Philip Lim bottoms.

See all 13 pairs »

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The Find: 12 ways to wear bold, colourful African-inspired prints

Toronto’s African Fashion Week returns this weekend with runway shows from over 13 African designers. Though styles differ from country to country, there is a common thread in African fashion: bold, colourful patterns, often splashed across dresses, shoulder bags and headbands. For those hoping to bag the look, we found 12 funky pieces incorporating fabrics and patterns from Ghana, Morocco and Nigeria. There’s a clutch crafted from hand-woven Kente cloth, a designer dress made from Burkina Faso–sourced fabric and an outfit designed by the Brooklyn-based Etsy designer who recently dressed Beyonce.

See all 12 pieces »

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The Find: local label Sully Wong designed a stylish new sneaker with charitable ambitions

Sully Wong Sneaker

Sully Wong, the Toronto-based footwear brand comprised of partners George Sully and Henry Wong, makes sleek sneakers for skater kids, urban dwellers and anyone who’s into the athletic trend. Last year, a collaboration with the designer and interior architect Karim Rashid resulted in some funky patterned kicks. Now, the brand has paired with the organization Onexone to create a limited-edition “Hope” sneaker: a simple unisex shoe designed in Onexone’s signature red-and-white, with fifty per cent of proceeds going toward funding a paediatric wing for Haiti’s Hospital Mirebalis. Three hundred and fifty pairs were produced—if they sell out, that means over $25,000 for the Haitian hospital. Plus, an understated white sneaker paired with blue denim is a staple look for fall. $150

Available at shop.sullywong.com

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The Find: an elegant arm chain made locally from upcycled materials

Arm chainI Love Goldie is a Toronto startup that hand-makes gorgeously unique chain jewellery. Instead of standard rings, necklaces or bracelets, the elaborate pieces include body chains that wrap around the waist and the neck, stacked bracelets that loop up through the fingers, and dramatically drapey belts. Everything is made at I Love Goldie’s Bloor Street studio, and most pieces are made from recycled stainless steal, meaning they’re free from irritating materials like lead and nickel. This bold arm chain would add some serious edge to a casual t-shirt and jeans uniform. $95

Available at ilovegoldie.com