“Can-glam,” Will Poho says, describing his new clothing line. “Can” is short for Canada, Poho’s homeland, which is the inspiration for his Toronto-based brand, Moose Knuckles. The collection gives Canada-style casual wear a sophisticated urban twist. It includes parkas, sweats, Ts, and that backwoods staple, the plaid shirt. “We’ll do plaid every season, but bring it up a few tiers as a luxury item, with expensive fabric and fine details.” Poho says. “We want to own the plaid shirt.”
The brand is an outgrowth of Poho’s GFM capstone project. He chose a fading Canadian brand, infused it with Japanese street style, and devised a plan to launch it globally. Poho, the firm’s director of operations, is also the owner of Textile Cutting, Inc., the largest contract textile cutter in Canada. He started the company in 2002 and bought his own factory after graduating from FIT. He grew the business by expanding beyond apparel into cutting bulletproof vests, parachutes, and gas mask bags for military contractors like Lockheed Martin. Owning the factory means he can “afford to stay in the game long enough to create a successful collection,” he says. And he can manufacture the clothes himself.
Poho has put in place the elements needed to launch a new brand. “[GFM] gave me a very ‘macro’ perspective on the global fashion environment—how everything fits together,” he says. He also has the right people. GFM instructor Jeannette Nostra, president of G-III Apparel Group, the largest outerwear licensing company in North America, serves as an advisor. Moose Knuckles doesn’t have much money for marketing, but they’re enlisting their network of PR and events people. “For now, we just have to get into stores, get some press and financing,” he says. “The idea is not to be funky-creative, but to make something that will sell.”