The film was shot in 35mm in the mid-1960s. Its protagonist—you can’t recall if it was Paul Newman or Steve McQueen—spent its runtime lazing about the Italian seaside, facing down ennui in a gauzy camp collar cotton shirt, a suedette blouson, and in one memorable scene, a single-breasted suit made from cream-colored wool faille. Its title, you’re certain, was Wynona.
Well, no such film exists. But Wynona is a very real new Canadian menswear brand with a tightly curated spring and summer collection that could be mistaken for the wardrobe of a much-referenced classic film.
More from Robb Report
“I grew up watching old movies and half the time I was just looking at the outfits,” the brand’s 30-year-old founder Robert Yarish tells Robb Report. An infatuation with on-screen style led the Toronto resident to pursue a career in menswear, beginning with an internship at the independent menswear store Nomad and later with roles at Kit & Ace and another major Canadian retailer.
But Yarish still dreamed of starting his own label inspired by such celluloid heroes as Cary Grant, James Garner, and Alain Delon. He made use of the Covid doldrums to begin the project in 2021 and launched Wynona’s first collection this past March.
A new men’s brand inspired by the pantheon of mid-century movie stars is nothing new: McQueen and company have been mined for inspiration since the days of #menswear blogs and Tumblr. Where Yarish sees a difference is Wynona’s emphasis on capturing the feel of those films, rather than making derivative mock-ups of on-screen kit.
“I think where it becomes saturated is people trying to replicate how they dressed,” Yarish says. “We’re trying to create a storytelling style based on that effortless, relaxed way of life.”
What that looks like is an inaugural collection inspired by the resort-wear of post-war Italy, as expressed by camp collar shirts in linen, brushed silk, or embroidered cotton, and a “Type 01” suit with shirtsleeve-style spalla camicia shoulders, patch pockets, and a 3/2 roll.
Just as notable as the cut and hue of the garments is what’s missing—other colorways or cloths. Rather than launch basics in three or five colors, Yarish has concentrated on finding the precise right fabrics to fit his vision for each. It took consultations with more than 10 fabric mills to find the creamy wool faille used to make the Type 01, which the designer refers to affectionally as a “lunch suit”—not something for wear to the office, but perhaps a long afternoon meal with friends.
With time, Yarish also plans to build out the tailored side of the business to encompass five models of suit. The fall collection will see the debut of Type 02, which will differ from the softly constructed Type 01 by having a lightly padded and roped shoulder and more formal, flapped pockets.
At the other end of the spectrum, Wynona’s emphasis on world-building is expressed through more casual items like monogrammed logo hats and tees with graphics that evoke fictitious Caribbean diving outfitters or the early days of Formula One racing.
“That would be an amazing T-shirt to have after an excursion like that,” Yarish says of the Diver Tee. “It’s a very polished T-shirt now but the intention would be to just wear it, wash it, work on your car, work on your motorcycle, and have it be a part of you and get better with wear.”
While most of Wynona’s wares avoid references to the films that inspired them, the cotton poplin Greenleaf shirt stands out as an exception. Named for the ill-fated heir played by Maurice Ronet in the 1960 Alain Delon film Purple Noon—an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s book The Talented Mr. Ripley—it is embroidered with the character’s monogram, “Ph.G.”
Yarish says that the Greenleaf shirt will reappear in different iterations across future seasons, which will mine other locales for inspiration. The fall offering will have an “America meets England” theme, with the Greenleaf shirt made from sturdier oxford cotton and finished with Ivy-style details like a front placket and chest pocket. It will be joined by other items drawing on Anglo style and campus life including an oversized duffel coat, pleated wool trousers, brushed cotton overshirts, and suiting in cotton corduroy or flannel.
From where we’re sitting, Wynona’s first sequel is looking good.
Best of Robb Report