I have a serious Smythe addiction. If you’ve followed this blog for even a minute, you’ll already know that I have a healthy collection of the Canadian brand’s equestrian jackets and shawl collar blazers in a range of colours and fabrics, and it keeps on growing. Just how many do I have? That’s the very question Smythe co-designers Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe asked me when I dropped by their studio for a chat recently, and it got me counting. I stopped when I went into the double digits. My official response? “Never enough”.
As Smythe’s #1 fan, I too had burning questions, and Christie and Andrea kindly answered all of them. Read on to find out how they met, their worst fashion pas, and all about that time everyone’s favourite Duchess famously donned a certain chic navy blazer of theirs.
The Backseat Stylers: What’s your earliest fashion memory?
Andrea Lenczner: My mom had a few items that were very glamourous to me, but she didn’t wear them probably because they were mighty uncomfortable. It baffled me that you wouldn’t wear those things every day: they were sexy, super fashionable. My mom was a stay-at-home, but I was like, “why wouldn’t you want to look like that every day?” On my birthday, she would wear what I liked her to wear and come and get me at school in some fancy outfit.
Christie Smythe: My brother Tommy and I used to play dress-up all the time. It helps to have a gay brother who wants to dress up. My mom had things that were to us really fantastical, like a Mongolian coat, which was crazy and Elton John-looking. It was my mom as well who set the bar for my interest in fashion.
Andrea: When I was in junior high, my mom took me to a store in Yorkville called Sublime to buy an outfit for a semi-formal. That was when Dean and Dan [Caten] were designing for Ports  but I think they secretly had designed their own line on the side and were selling it through Sublime. They were ripping open boxes and making me try stuff on. There I was, these 2 fashion wonders, and they were like, “Oh, you have wonderful clavicles.” I’m sure I had buck teeth and braces and frizzy hair, but I was their model for half an hour in the store. That was my first true fashion experience. It was really cool.
How did you two meet?
Christie: We became friends in high school, in math class. Instead of paying attention, we were always talking about what we were going to wear to the semi-formal, what dress we were going to have designed, doing little drawings of them. Then we started borrowing clothes from each other. [Fashion] was a part of our friendship from the very beginning.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
Christie: After I completed my degree at Parsons, I did several internships. First I worked in shoes for Donald Pliner. I did internships with Prada and W. My biggest stint was at Gap in the design office for about 3-4 years.
Andrea: And I just muscled my way into the Holt Renfrew buying office with no experience…and a scrapbook.