Summerhill Market’s fashionable move

Toronto grocer launches new line of trendy, locally designed apparel
Summerhill Market apparel
Photography courtesy Summerhill Market

Summerhill Market is getting into the fashion game. 

The Toronto-based grocer has launched a new line of store-branded apparel, including a 100% cotton, limited-edition crewneck sweatshirt and short-sleeve t-shirt made and designed in Toronto. The t-shirt is designed with artwork from Ailsa Craigen, a Toronto-based architect and illustrator, and features an illustration from the original Summerhill Market circa 1954 on the back. The apparel is made by Roopa Knitting Mills in Brampton, Ont. 

As a local, specialty grocery store, Summerhill wanted its apparel to be a bit niche, which is in line with its branding, says Summerhill’s program manager Candace Cheung.

READ: Summerhill Market opens a boutique event space

“For the sweatshirt, we wanted it to be understated (hence the tone-on-tone) and give that quiet luxury feel, where the focus is on the materials, the make, and the quality of the fabric,” says Cheung. “We also wanted something timeless and unique, like the Summerhill brand. We wanted to bring to the forefront the fact that we are local, so we wanted to work with Toronto makers, artists and designers.” 

Summerhill Market apparel
Photography courtesy Summerhill Market

Cheung says Summerhill redesigns its staff uniforms periodically as it opens new stores or feels like freshening up its vibe. “Some of our customers were noticing and were asking to purchase the shirts off our staff’s backs!” says Cheung, so Summerhill decided to make its latest update available for purchase. “We also feel proud of where we work, so we wanted to represent ourselves outside of work with more fashion-forward garments that weren’t our day-to-day uniforms.”

The line also includes a Summerhill Market tote bag and pouch with two logos to choose from. 

“Our pouches were inspired by Lululemon and the sweatshirts were inspired by vintage '90s wear as well as luxury brands like YSL,” says Cheung. “We also felt really inspired by our tote bags. We wanted to match that natural cotton look and feel but keep the branding fairly subtle rather than the bold black lettering.” 

READ: T&T’s new creative director on bringing film, fashion experience to grocery industry

Also aligned with the Summerhill brand is a focus on quality. “We had a great meeting with Roopa Knitting Mills where they shared information about the garment-making process,” says Cheung. “They gave us a lot of insight into putting together a quality garment. Right down to the type of stitching we use and the way the fabric is finished.” 

summerhill market apparel
Photography courtesy Summerhill Market

Cheung adds that Summerhill wanted every aspect of the line to represent the approach it takes with its grocery stores. “Paying attention to the quality of products, the selective nature of the products we carry, the freshness of produce, everything… We wanted that to be represented in our apparel.” 

As for Summerhill’s future in fashion, the grocer may keep branded apparel as a permanent fixture. 

READ: Heinz targets eco-conscious gen Z, millennial consumers with thrifted clothing collab

“We started this project for ourselves and for our customers, so it will really depend on the response how far we can take it,” says Cheung. “We are definitely designing a fall collection and depending on the response, we might look forward to growing apparel from there. We're mostly doing this for fun because we like it.”

The current collection is available for in-store purchase only at Summerhill Market’s four locations, and is being promoted in stores and on Instagram. 

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds