We recently sat down with Marco, owner of Camicie by Filip Daniel, to talk about men's fashion, passion for clothes, and what it takes to offer unique mens fashion in Toronto.
Marco's foray into fashion started 16 years ago, after a successful career in the food industry. It extends back to Italy, where his family was always involved in business of some kind. A trained chef, Marco started two successful restaurants with family members. But after long hours and day after day of smelling like a kitchen, he decided he wanted a change, and his family sold the restaurants.
During some much needed time off, Marco travelled to Rome where he discovered a little men's shop with a great collection of clothes that really impressed him. Always having had an interest in style and fashion, he noticed that the shop had a franchising sign. With his love of clothes and his love of diving into new projects, Marco bought into the franchise and brought it to Toronto.
Today, his passion for menswear and providing his customers unique, expressive options is still going strong.
Marco opened the first Camicie franchise in Canada in the Yonge and Lawrence area (there's now another location in Woodbridge). After initially stocking his store with products from the franchise, Marco began taking interest in the design aspect of the clothing he was carrying. He was soon designing his own shirts, pants, and jackets - with great feedback from his customers who were looking for unique items they couldn't be find elsewhere.
This creative expression proved a conflict of interest with the Camicie product line and franchise requirements, so Marco branched off and created his own brand "Camicie by Filip Daniel" - in honour of his two sons. After separating from the franchise, he expanded his product line to include his own designs, and a curated collection of casual wear and accessories from Italy.
Growing up, Marco always had a reputation for being the stylish one in his family who dressed with flare. And Camicie is truly a reflection of Marco's taste. It's hard not to get caught up in the detailed displays of shirts, ties, pocket squares, belts, coloured laces, cuff links...it's bit like a candy store, but for men. In fact, his store was one of the first to carry brightly patterned funky socks - now a common strategy for men looking to express themselves.
Time and again, Marco mentions his desire to offer something unique to his clients. "One time I bought a shirt from a popular men's retail store and I went out to dinner that night. I noticed several other men wearing the exact same shirt!" Marco recounts. He decided that instead of mass producing shirts, he would focus on "one of a kind" and limited runs. "Other stores base their sales on the square footage of the store, so they look for guaranteed sales to cover expenses and generate profit. I focus on customer satisfaction. My clientele know that the items they get from me are unique. Plus, my clientele always want something new...they don't want to see the same shirts that I had last season."
In addition to his own creative expression, customers can also create their own custom shirts, pants, and suits. Marco is more than happy to offer guidance for colours and patterns. For him, it's always about what is best for his customer - many of whom regularly pop into Camcie to enjoy an espresso after work. He listens to them - what is their job like? Their personality? Based on what he learns, he builds a look that he feels certain will work for them.
When asked about the state of men's fashion here in Toronto, he observes that a lot of men aren't quite sure how to dress. And a lot of men leave their appearance out of the equation after their responsibilities to work, home and family. But Marco has seen some changes over the years. "Men are becoming more open now, dressing outside of the box, and more willing to try new things, wearing colour and expressing their personalities instead of being conservative." He goes on to say "my purpose is to help men look good, and educate my clients about how to shop, how to put looks together, what looks good on them and why."
At the end of the day, talking with Marco, and browsing the store, it becomes obvious that it is all about that classic Italian trait: passion. "You have to love what you do" Marco says. "You have to come into work happy to run a boutique like this, otherwise what's the point?"
Visit Camicie by Filip Daniel at 3194 Yonge St (Yonge and Lawrence).