How an “Ugly Orange Skirt” (That was Super Soft) Inspired a Toronto-based Clothing Brand

TORONTO – July 14, 2023 – “If my husband hadn’t bought me an ugly orange skirt, I would never have become a clothing designer and Miik clothing would not exist,” says Donna Smith, Designer/Owner of Miik fashion brand based in Etobicoke.

Donna explains: “It was 2011 and my husband brought home this ugly orange skirt. I hated the colour and the style, but once I tried it on, I couldn’t stop wearing it. There was something about how incredibly soft the skirt felt against my skin. It was buttery soft. I had never felt anything like it. It was made of bamboo.”

Donna ended up wearing that orange skirt all summer long, and then one day, inspiration hit.

“At the time I would go to the mall and realized that none of the stores were talking to a me as a woman my age,” she explains. “The clothes were either for my mother or my daughter. I soon realized that if I were willing to wear a skirt that I didn’t like just because it felt great, what if I could create designs I absolutely loved in the same buttery soft fabric?”

Donna is a graphic artist by trade with a background in illustration. “I had no fashion background, but I have three sisters and when I was growing up, I would lay out their outfits for them each morning,” says Donna. “I even designed my own wedding dress and had it custom made.”

Donna Smith, Designer/Owner of Toronto-based fashion brand, Miik

Super soft, stylish and sustainable clothing brand, Miik is born

Donna founded Miik in 2011 (named after her husband Michael Gaughan whose nickname is Mick). Donna’s vision was to create a luxury line of sustainable clothing that is the perfect blend of style, comfort and sustainability and geared to the age 30 to 80+ person.

The Canadian made Miik line features classic pieces including blazers, tops, pants, skirts and cardigans which can be mixed and matched.

“We make clothes that help a woman to feel beautiful, confident and comfortable using sustainable fabrics that last for years,” states Donna. “Our whole philosophy is about paying fair wages, doing things locally and overseeing each step of the process to maintain quality control. Bamboo is our main fabric used in different weights, along with some Lycra. We only use eco-friendly material. Our entire line is made of the same stretchy fabric that’s super soft and so comfortable to wear.”

In the beginning Donna used a pattern maker, sourced fabrics, made samples, and hired a salesperson to sell her designs to boutiques across Canada.

“We started with just a few designs, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the stores closed.”

But that’s not the end of the story. Donna, who admits she had never used Facebook prior to COVID, quickly transformed her company to online sales.

“This was really the turning point for us to get our brand in front of millions of people online,” says the Miik designer/owner. “During COVID I had to learn how to use photography, basic lighting, become a model, model all the clothes on my own without help, and then figure out online marketing. When COVID was over, I asked my sisters, neighbours and friends to model so people could see the clothing on all body types. I wasn’t sure how customers would respond to this, but we had an overwhelmingly positive response. People wanted to see real clothes on real women.”

The Canadian made Miik line features classic pieces including blazers, tops, pants, skirts and cardigans which can be mixed and matched – see below

Miik is proudly Canadian ‘for women by women’

Miik is a proudly a Canadian company ‘for women by women.’ Donna designs every fashion look. The company mills their own fabrics using sustainably sourced fibres.To maintain quality control, they produce small batches of each design in the Greater Toronto Area. There is also a store front in Etobicoke where customers can book an appointment to try on clothing assisted by the Miik fashion consultant.

Today, Miik has over 10,000 Facebook followers and 2,500 members in their Facebook group, and a growing number of loyal customers whose closets are brimming with Miik fashions.

The evolution of the brand has not been without it challenges, according to Donna. “One of the first things I wanted to do was to create a stretchy blazer out of the same fabric we use for our leggings. I was told that it wasn’t possible because the fabric was too thin and would not hold its shape.” But Donna persevered and added a special fabric to the inner jacket front to create the tailored look she wanted. “Our blazers are buttery soft; breathable and feature four-way stretch. They are so comfortable you will forget you are wearing a blazer. They can be worn with jeans or worn with our pants or one of our dresses for the look of a suit.”

Donna’s favourites

Not surprisingly, Donna’s closet is filled with Miik pieces (other than jeans, she says), and her favourites include the Shandra Tank, the Rio tank, the Christal pant and a variety of dresses. With capsule wardrobes being a hot topic on Pinterest, Donna suggests a few must-have pieces to create a travel or multi-season capsule wardrobe: “The Shandra Tank, the Emily Blazer, the Christal Pant, the Wesley or Rory Waterfall Cardigan, the Lucia collared shirt and one of our dresses.”

Donna says look out for new fall colours

Donna designs new pieces and introduces new colours for each new season to add to the collection of her tried-and-true best-selling classics.

“For fall we will feature a beautiful jade colour that’s a mix of blue and green; a dark pine green, a new red, along with our core colours,” adds Donna. “I am now working on the Spring 2024 Collection and although we haven’t finalized the lineup yet, you will be seeing some prints for spring, along with ink blue, moss, ruby and a beautiful pink colour.”

For more information on Miik, visit www.miik.ca

Trying is Believing: My Experience Wearing Two Miik Pieces
Hearing about how soft, comfortable and beautiful Miik bamboo fashions are to wear, I had to try it for myself. I ordered the best-selling Emily blazer and the RJ dress in classic black.
Everything I had heard about the Emily blazer was true—it looks like a tailored jacket yet has the stretch and comfort of a cardigan. I’m a huge fan of a blazer as a ‘third piece’ to dress up jeans and a t-shirt. The Emily blazer looks professional yet is so comfortable. This blazer will become a go-to piece in my wardrobe. When paired with the RJ dress, it looks like a sophisticated suit.Laurie Wallace-lynch

The label on the Emily blazer reads: 90% rayon from bamboo, 10% Lycra Spandex. Dry clean only.

Wearing the RJ dress

The RJ dress has clean lines and an A-line shape that is figure flattering. The hem is below the knee making it comfortable to wear, yet it’s a look that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. You could wear this dress to work, out to dinner or even to a wedding. It’s a beautiful looking dress that’s the perfect weight to hold its shape, and it comes in gorgeous colours like Plum and Blueberry as well as basic black and navy.

I am utterly amazed at how soft the fabric is in this dress. Donna is right when she calls bamboo “buttery soft.” Even on a sizzling summer day the bamboo feels cool and soft on the skin. The material has a nice amount of stretch (but not too much that it loses its shape). The top of the dress is fitted with a nice waistline and the fabric of the skirt flows out from the waist. It’s figure flattering and sure to get plenty of compliments! The RJ Miik Dress is destined my new LBD (little black dress). In fact, I am so enthralled with the fit, fabric and flattering silhouette, that I plan to order this dress in another colour.

Having tried two Miik garments, you can add me to that list of loyal Miik fans! I know that I will have these pieces in my wardrobe for years to come and hope to soon add more pieces to build a capsule wardrobe!

(My thanks to the team at Miik for the media discount allowing me to try the garments and write about them first-hand). For more information visit www.miik.ca

by Laurie Wallace-Lynch

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Originally posted 2023-07-14 14:47:18.


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