Ashley McDonald and Jennifer Lancefield were on a beach in Florida when the idea for their company — Trout Rainwear — struck.
During yet another brainstorming session, which had been ongoing for years since they first decided to start a fashion line, the sisters realized they’d finally found their niche.
After coming up with the topic of rainwear, they realized existing styles were too sporty or were high-end trench coats, with nothing between.
“That’s were Trout found its core inspiration,” McDonald said in a recent interview. “It dawned on us that there aren’t any stylish, fashionable, functional rain jackets out there.
“We noticed a gap in the market and jumped on it.”
The name came from inspiration closer to home.
They chose Trout Rainwear, she said, because they wanted something Canadian that’s associated with water and is easy for people to visualize.
Debuting last spring at Holt Renfrew stores, Trout is a women’s rainwear brand featuring waterproof, breathable and stylish rain jackets in colours that range from classic neutrals to neon.
The jackets are made from an Italian double-faced cotton blend, and are sealed and bonded on the interior with seam tape, which creates a waterproof seal.
“We have a variety of carefully developed designs that bridge the gap between fashion and function,” McDonald said. “These jackets transition effortlessly from daytime to evening.”
Although the most popular item is the sporty Humboldt coat, McDonald’s personal favourite is the Sevan cape, a two-toned piece from the Spring Summer 2014 collection. Some pieces are also reversible.
“It’s fun to wear and different,” she said. “I love having the option of tucking your arms in or out.”
The outerwear company currently spans three cities: Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Based in Summerhill is McDonald, who has a background in retail and worked on the buying teams for Selfridges in the UK and Holt Renfrew in Canada. She runs the company’s day-to-day operations and oversees the business happenings.
With a background in finance and years of experience in the music industry, the team’s marketing guru is New York City-based Lancefield.
Their West Coast connection is designer Sarah Hopgood, a Parsons private art and design college graduate with experience designing for brands including Theory in New York City, Ports 1961 in Hong Kong and Hudson’s Bay in Canada.
“We’re a strong team, as we all bring something unique to the table,” McDonald said. “We maintain a good working relationship through email, phone and visits.
“It miraculously works.”
McDonald says she never tires of watching people try on items from their collection and receiving sample boxes from their manufacturer.
“It’s like Christmas every time we open those boxes,” she said. “Seeing all our selections and work off paper in an actual sample that you can try on is so rewarding.”
She stresses they’re also proud of the fact that the jackets are made in Canada, and plan on playing with new colours and introducing a new style each season.
As for the future, the hope is to expand to as many countries — and spot as many Trout’s on the street — as possible.
“I hope people feel good and smile every time they put on their jacket,” McDonald said. “There’s no better feeling than being dressed appropriately for weather, and then to feel stylish wearing it when it’s not the greatest weather is icing on the cake.”