Canadian designer Lida Baday closing business after 27 years

A model wears a creation by the designer Lida Baday on the runway during the Holt Renfrew show at Toronto Fashion Week on Monday March 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – After nearly three decades in business, longtime Canadian designer Lida Baday is closing up shop.

Company president Mario Zuliani, who is also Baday’s husband, said they will be winding down operations by the end of the month. The Toronto-based designer’s spring collection currently in stores is her last.

“Lida is both technical and creative, and from the beginning, she’s always played a role in all aspects of the company. And as we grew bigger, it just became increasingly difficult to have such a broad influence in all areas,” Zuliani said in a phone interview on Thursday.

“We thought to maybe restructure as a smaller company, but it’s difficult to do that, and we didn’t really think that we could do that successfully, so we just decided to close.”

The tough economic climate in recent years has also been a factor, he acknowledged.

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“Yeah, it entered into it. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons; but sure, business has been tough and I think that’s part of getting smaller, too. The market’s changed and we needed to adjust for that as well.

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“But it amounts to the same thing: we had to be a smaller company, and I think that was just too difficult to achieve.”

In addition to the company’s Toronto headquarters, Zuliani said they also had a New York sales office that handled the U.S. market which has now closed. Zuliani said the company has about 50 employees.

Zuliani said The Fabric Room – the company’s trove of luxurious imported fabrics at their Claremont Street location in Toronto – will continue to operate.

The daughter of a dressmaker, Baday graduated from Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and went on to launch her own label in 1987.

Baday established a following with her modern feminine designs, with Oprah Winfrey among the notable women who wore her creations.

In 1990, Baday was awarded the Fil D’Argent in Paris by the Maison du Lin (a promotional arm of the Linen Commission in France), and was a two-time recipient of the City of Toronto’s designer of the year award.

In 1992, Baday became the first Canadian to join U.S.-based McCall’s Pattern company, with two of her sophisticated feminine designs released in their November catalogue, which was distributed worldwide.

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Her creations were carried by a number of retailers throughout North America, including Holt Renfrew. The luxury retailer regularly presented her designs as part of their runway show held during Toronto’s Fashion Week.

At the inaugural Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards held earlier this year, Baday was nominated in the outstanding achievement category alongside fellow homegrown designers Wayne Clark, David Dixon, Denis Gagnon, Marie Saint Pierre and Dean and Dan Caten of DSquared2.

As for the future, Zuliani said Baday doesn’t have any concrete plans at present.

“The business is kind of all-encompassing for us personally, so I think we just need to kind of wind it down and take a bit of a break just to gather our thoughts before we really think about how we’ll go forward.”

Zuliani said the closing of the business is “a little bittersweet.”

“We’re looking forward to having less pressure, but the sad part really is that we had a team of really fabulous people that we just loved being with, and it’s a little bit sad not to be looking forward to seeing them every day.”

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