He was one of those people who answer his phone, but you get put on hold a lot because he has so many calls coming in. After three tries, I was finally able to set-up an interview with African-Canadian Stephen Phillips.
Who’s he? You may ask that now, but just watch this young man and you may not be asking that much longer.
He’s the owner of Hush Boutique & Yoga on 785 Queen St. W. near Bathurst St. and while I was waiting for him to do the interview, I saw a black cat on a hot tin roof.
That’s how Phillips has been feeling these days, like a cat on a hot tin roof. His phone rings constantly as he plans a shopping trip to Hong Kong. He recently came back from Montreal where he is looking at property for his boutique. He’s also looking to relocate to a different spot on Queen Street because the rent he’s paying is too high.
It’s not easy designing your own clothes and owning your own boutique. But, Phillips is doing it and looking to expand.
He started working in fashion with Giorgio Armani. When he left to own his own boutique, he knew there was only one place in Toronto where he could set up shop.
“I wanted to have my store on Queen Street because this is the place for fashion. All the great stores are here,” says Phillips.
Hush Boutique & Yoga opened in 2003. His store is a unique blend of fitted streetwear and yoga wear. One of the pieces he has hanging in the window is a shirt that says “pending” with the bottoms saying “approval.” It’s fun tongue-in-cheek fashion like this that captures the essence of Phillips’ line.
He calls the store “Hush” because he wants to encourage the kind of atmosphere that when people come in, he quiets their questions about the clothes and just encourages them to try something on. He knows that when they do – they will find an outfit they like.
He has clothes for men and women. All of it is the kind of fashion that has a distinct look that goes beyond the clothes you would find in a mall. This is the type of clothing for making a statement. Along with clothes, he also sells accessories like bags, jewelry, and belts.
Right now, he mainly has petite sizes, but for the fall collection and onwards he’s going to start catering to guys who are 6 feet 6 inches and women with voluptuous figures.
“They’ll be something for everyone,” says Phillips.
He went to school at George Brown and Ryerson Colleges before he worked with Giorgio Armani. He also studied in Germany but is originally from Ghana. He’s spent most of his time in Canada.
“Most of my education came from working at Giorgio – doing fashion shows.”
You can definitely see the influences of Giorgio Armani in the colours he uses. Browns, army greens, white, black and more traditional fashion colours accent his streetwear. The yoga wear is a bit different with splurges on colour like intense pinks and blues.
His store has everything from jackets to tops to pants to handbags to jewelry and Phillips love all of it. His passion for fashion came at a young age.
“Why I love fashion is that I love clothes. When I was young and all the boys [his siblings] would get the same jacket and pants to wear – I would put different buttons on and do things to make mine unique.”
He also mentions that because he exercises a lot the idea of combining street fashion with yoga wear came from one of his mentors he worked with at Giorgio. Phillips learned a lot about making clothes distinctive.
He uses a fabric called modal and is experimenting with bamboo fabric for his clothes. He uses nylon, tactile and spandex on the yoga wear pants because it makes them more comfortable. But, Phillips has more than just making clothes in his future plans. He wants to give something back to others.
For his future plans, his planning to work on something where a portion of the sales of his clothing will go towards HIV/AIDS, breast cancer or feeding the hungry in Africa. Although he is an African-Canadian, Phillips wants his clothing to appeal to everyone.
“I’m trying to cater to all the masses,” says Phillips. “My fall line will include short men to tall men. It will include voluptuous women to skinny women. I want them all to wear Hush clothes.”
To make sure you can visit Hush Boutique and find the exact location, please feel free to give Stephen Phillips the owner a call at (416) 361-3361.