BTS with FS – Inside Laparka’s Toronto Factory
November 25, 2016
“A down coat is THE item to have,” says Laparka Head Designer, Joseph Tassoni. Just days after Toronto’s first snowfall, we couldn’t agree more. But what makes one parka more desirable than the rest? In a market where the options are endless, outerwear designers must find a way to set themselves apart. “In this industry, it is so unheard of to invent anything new,” Tassoni annotates. But with the redesigned Laparka, that is exactly what he did.
Inspired by Canada’s First Nations, Laparka was established nearly 30 years ago. Defined by the seamless ability to merge fashion with function, the female-focused brand specializes in jackets capable of withstanding the nation’s fierce subzero temperatures.
Reinstated two years ago, in the wake of a short hiatus, the company’s approach is much like that of a startup – albeit one with a very rich history. With Tassoni’s arrival came a complete redesign of the iconic coat. Situated at the intersection of old and new, he set about creating a unique identity for the brand by applying its core principles to the modern woman, reimagining elements of the past, and introducing a new loon logo.
Growing up as the only boy in a household dominated by women, the designer says he’s “heard everything.” Witnessing the frustrations of his mother, grandmother, and three sisters, he reminisces about how “nothing ever fit,” and how that inspired him to find a solution.
After settling in at the brand’s helm, Tassoni says one of the first things he did was consult his mother: “I asked [her] to tell me what she loves and what she hates about her favourite parkas.” This led to the realization that something essential was missing from every other option on the market – a zipper with stretch. “I needed something that… makes sense for women’s bodies,” Tassoni explains. “Whatever size you are, there is a curve within a woman’s silhouette.” But after approaching a number of suppliers, he was unable to find the zipper he was looking for. “There was nothing available… So I sat with the sample maker here, [and experimented with spare neoprene fabric].” The result? A patented zipper that allows each parka to “ease to a woman’s silhouette about an inch.”
Available in three lengths – Mid, 3/4, and Long – the exclusive Laparka Fit Technology caters to women of all ages and body types. “Most parkas are boxy, bulky, or made for the body of an 18-25 year old… But that’s not how the majority of women are built,” Tassoni points out. From the shaved rabbit fur on the inside front extension that provides a layer between the zipper and the skin, to the double vent closure on the back of the parka that makes movement easier, Tassoni has created a female-focused product unlike anything else on the market. In fact, “[he's] so confident of the execution, that [he] puts a full lifetime warranty on the parkas.”
Driving this confidence is the brand’s decision to manufacture everything locally. From assembly, to down stuffing, every part of the process is done in Toronto. “There’s a huge difference in the pressing, in the stitching, in the down filling, in the overall look of the garment as something that is made in Canada,” Tassoni asserts.
In-house production also means the ability to know what works and what needs improvement almost immediately. “Having the facility here is amazing because you can come up with an idea and literally within a day or two, your design comes to life,” explains Tassoni, who works closely with the manufacturing team on product development.
Laparka’s resolution to keep everything local brings the brand’s distinctly Canadian identity full circle. “If new designers don’t encourage production here in Canada, we’re going to lose [that element of the industry]. It’s a trade that is going to be lost,” Tassoni warns.
*All images are taken by Rai Allen for Fashion Savage.
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