A typical morning for Mavis Huntley includes grabbing a reheated pancake, jumping into a car and heading to her job at a downtown advertising firm. Meanwhile, Rena Rutkauskas will brew a cup of tea, enjoy a piece of toast and prep for a meeting at a local coffee shop. But last week, Huntley and Rutkauskas spent their morning together in Las Vegas where they checked out new designers for their e-boutique, Smithery.
Both from Nova Scotia, Huntley and Rutkauskas met in Toronto six-and-a-half years ago while working at the same advertising firm. In 2014, they co-founded Smithery, which offers a small curated collection of clothing that is categorized by five body shapes. They had the idea for Smithery after noticing a gap in the online fashion industry. Huntley says she found it difficult to shop and would often choose clothes based on what the mannequins were wearing.
“I would be stressed out or frustrated that I didn’t have anything to wear. I didn’t have time to shop, and I didn’t know how to style things,” she says. So Huntley and Rutkauskas decided to make it easier to shop online by styling and modelling clothing on women with different body shapes.
“The average runway model is six feet tall, and her measurements are 34–25–35, whereas the average Canadian [woman] is five feet four, weighs 155 pounds and has a 33-inch waist and 42-inch hips,” explains Rutkauskas.
Only one in 10 women know their body shape, says Rutkauskas, and if you were to see a stylist, the first step would be to confirm your shape. At Smithery, “[we] created the site like a stylist would,” she says. Women can use the site’s shape-finder tool to determine their shape and choose clothes that fit and flatter.
On the website, each model’s height, weight and shape are listed, so customers can better imagine what the clothing will look like on them. “There should be no reason for women to say ‘I don’t have anything to wear, I don’t know if that’s right for my body type [or] I don’t even know what my body type is,’” says Rutkauskas.
“[Our clothes] are equal parts look, fit and trend,” says Huntley. When choosing designers to work with, Smithery looks for clothing with flattering cuts, high-quality fabrics and, if possible, a connection to the North American market.
“We own the inventory, so we’re taking a personal bet on the pieces that we’re bringing in, that people will like them, that they will fit well and that they’re super wearable,” says Huntley.
Personal capsule collections are becoming more popular. Women are limiting their wardrobes to pieces that can be easily mixed and matched.
“Get rid of the ‘some-day’ pieces,” says Huntley. This allows you to carve a wardrobe that always makes you feel like you have something to wear, she adds. According to Huntley and Rutkauskas, the best way to keep your capsule collection fresh is by pairing two basics with a third piece. That third piece, like a necklace or a scarf, is what gives the look a touch of personal style or trend. Rutkauskas adds that every piece purchased at Smithery is an easy addition to any wardrobe because it can be worn three different ways and comes with styling tips.
Major designers have started making their entire collections available online sooner. But Huntley and Rutkauskas feel that more and more immediate choice isn’t necessarily an improvement, especially if the tools and information to make better decisions aren’t readily available. Keeping this philosophy in mind, Smithery offers less choice than conventional online stores.
Rutkauskas has the following shopping advice: “When you are wearing clothes that fit and you feel good in—you feel more confident,” she says, so shop for your current weight and shape, not your weight-loss goals.