Simple, yet distinctive. Inspired, yet trendy. Fluid, yet steadfast. Canadian brand wings+horns is a study in contrast. The brainchild of Craig Atkinson, it was born in 2004—and not in the least by happenstance. Atkinson founded CYC Design Corporation in 1996 in an effort to successfully export goods from North America to Japan. His mission was to create contemporary expressions of vintage-style clothes for Japanese retailers.
It was the amalgamation of the two—Japan’s appreciation and desire for that old-world aesthetic coupled with the ever-burgeoning trends that energized the men’s fashion sphere in North America—that led Atkinson to develop wings+horns. He realized that there was great demand for a new, more tailored type of fashion—one that married the almost irreverent Japanese style that was understated, refined, and crisp, with the reliability of ever-dependable Canadian artisanship.
The initial collection was sharp, daring, and approachable all at once—and it was also an immediate hit in Japan, due primarily to Atkinson’s deep history there. Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Depending on different factories to complete orders in a timely fashion led to hiccups in the production process. To simplify the process and ensure a more ordered approach, a CYC Design Corporation factory was established in Vancouver. It helped set a solid foundation for the blossoming brand.
And it was the right move for a company whose best years were yet to come. That there was a strict, linear view of what each piece should be helped appeal wings+horns to a very specific audience. It was not fussy, not adorned, not prim. Instead, the collections were meticulously and meaningfully designed to meet a certain need. Everything centered around quality and detail. The pieces were stripped down, basic, yet never boring. There was a sense of timelessness about each.
While the brand has been around for years now, its surge in popularity throughout North America has been more of a recent development. At the helm was Tung Vo, the label’s former creative director, who remained committed to the brand’s most tried-and-true elements: a sedate color palette composed primarily of tans, blacks, grays, and greens, along with strong materials and local manufacturing.
Those were the cornerstones for classic garments, like smart bomber jackets, sleek pants that felt right at home in the most traditional wardrobes, and tees that were built to last a lifetime. Those reliable traits spurred collaborations with several industry giants, including adidas Originals, Canada Goose, New Balance, Steven Alan, Porter, Polartec, MOSCOT, and Kyoto Montsuki Company, to name just a few.
These partnerships speak volumes for the brand’s reputation—and its understanding that there’s more to a diverse closet than clothing. Accessories, too, contribute a great deal to the wings+horns ideal of practicality and style. The idea is to work with those who are the best in their fields to create next-level projects that speak to the needs of discerning clients.
Case in point: Forging with Kyoto Montsuki Company, a formal kimono company, yielded a handsome range of all-black jackets, crew-neck tops, and sweatpants, all hand-dyed by the Japanese brand. Known for their deep dyes, the company is a purveyor in its field—and so it made sense for wings+horns to ally themselves with the very best of the best.
Similarly, their multiple collaborations with Porter have generated top-tier travel and commuter bags and accessories. The capsule collections included dopp kits, tote bags, and day packs, along with laptop cases, zippered wallets, and passport holders.
The partnership with adidas Originals offered wings+horns the opportunity to unleash its athletic side—and who better to do that with than adidas? The marriage was a gift, producing such insta-classics as updated Stan Smith sneakers made with Horween football leather and accented by the subtle stripes. Then there was the team bomber with a detachable hood, and the short-sleeve crew-neck top featuring mesh elements.
There was even a limited-edition line of hand-knit kimonos, some of which bore a refreshed take on the legendary adidas Trefoil logo. The proceeds of the sales were donated to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in an effort to raise awareness for outdoor living and give back to the planet.
It’s telling that many of the partnerships are streamlined and minimalist, never laden with too many pieces to truly appreciate the collection’s intent. Merging with MOSCOT, wings+horns crafted a discreet three-piece lineup that included a pair of iconic Miltzen sunglasses, a reversible bomber jacket, and a pocket T-shirt. There’s a sense that every piece belongs in the archives, so finite is their presence.
Once upon a time, a wings+horns showroom in Vancouver made it easy for consumers to look and feel for themselves. Although that location is no longer in operation, the brand’s wares are globally available at many of the industry’s leading retailers, including Nordstrom and legions of fine menswear outfitters throughout the world.
The beauty of the brand is that it’s committed to the consumer in more ways than one. There’s a sharp sensibility that drives each collection, and it’s seen in the seasonal lookbooks that offer dramatic interpretations of how best to wear each piece. There are the slouchy joggers paired with the refined, no-fuss crew-neck sweaters, and the immaculate sweater coats adding some semblance of clean-spirited sophistication to chunky sneakers.
It’s all there in a glance—the balance, the contrast, the best-of-all-worlds feeling that makes every wings+horns piece so interesting. Forget the punchy runway garments that steal a moment in the spotlight. For a brand rooted in vintage style, it’s this unfolding of modern-meets-forward-thinking apparel and accessories that makes it a true force in the men’s fashion world. You might even feel that you’re wearing a work of art—something made with more than just a few pieces of fabric. There’s intention in every piece, and it’s in large part thanks to those early roots, that appreciation for the Japanese market, that fine cultivation that sets Canadian-grade design apart from everything else in the world.
They’re known just as much for their tops and bottoms as their outerwear and accessories. To celebrate one over the other would be erroneous, but it’s worth calling out those pieces that are emblematic of what the label does so well. The Reversible Liner Jacket, for example, is at once sporty and relaxed. It features dependable Polartec® shearling fleece, Japanese nylon, and elements like robust gunmetal straps and a chest pocket with a zip closure.
From the brand’s base collection of down-to-earth essentials, the 1×1 Slub Bomber is a suitable alternative to a hoodie. It’s built to perform, with steadfast details like flatlock stitching and a two-way zipper to ensure a comfortable, smooth fit. The 1×1 slub rib fabric is simply comfortable, while ribbing at the cuffs, hem, and collar lock the material down for greater security.
An exemplary option for anyone with a need for sturdy, tough, do-it-all pants is the Cordura BDU Pant. It’s made with a blend of cotton and heavy-duty Cordura® nylon, yielding a military-inspired look that stands up to the demands of those who spend the majority of their time outdoors and prefer something with a little heft. But because the legs taper, they feel suitably contemporary—not so much as to warrant an expiration date, but just enough to appeal to a wider group of people.
And sleepwear? They offer that, too. The Cabin Fleece Robe is a structured, sensible, yet unimaginably soft option for off-duty wear. It’s inspired by classic boxers’ robes, but you don’t need to spend any time in the ring to appreciate all that it offers. It’s made with three layers of plush fabric and features a quilted interior to provide all-encompassing warmth from top to bottom. Don’t let the light weight fool you; it’s no slouch in the cozy department, and it’s designed to keep you toasty whenever necessary.
Naturally, there are high-quality shoes in the mix, too. Each has a sporty sensibility, yet wouldn’t feel out of place somewhere besides the court. With details like reinforced stitching for elevated security, smooth toe caps for added durability, and metal eyelets to ensure a flawless fit, these shoes are built with support in mind. Smooth leathers add a luxurious finishing touch to each.
They’re worth a glance for their accessories, too. wings+horns doesn’t play around where the extras are concerned, and the designers put forth just as much energy and dedication into devising supplemental pieces that are as rugged and lasting as the clothes. The Stretch Twill 6-Panel cap, for example, really needs no introduction. It is to the hat world what every other sporty cap wishes it could be. Crafted with flexible Japanese cotton, accented by a premium leather strap, and finished with a pop of engraved metal, it’s a study in beautiful design.
What is truly special about the brand? Is it that they design blankets, coats, and hats with the same aplomb and dedication? Or is it that they remain as committed to a stark, bare-bones mentality that builds on quality and definition—that remains unchanged from one year to the next?
It’s all of the above—and then some. It’s the ability to stay afloat in a world where behaving like a chameleon is often favored. Yet wings+horns understands the value of structure, of rigidity, of never compromising on its core values, its original intent, and its dedication to quality and longevity.