Canadian Fashion Connection – Mr. Smith

David Smith was born in Windsor in about 1930. In 1955 he met television actor Jack Creley and the two opened an antique shop in Yorkville called the Green Dolphin. The business wasn’t doing well, so in 1960 they started selling some men’s sports shirts from a corner of their shop. The shirts sold well but not to men – they sold to pregnant women as maternity tops. Some of their buyers requested the shirts to be made long enough to be worn as maternity dresses – and so began David Smith’s fashion business.

As the staid name of his company suggests, Mr. Smith clothes were generally not exuberant or edgy. Smith sold mostly practical and versatile dresses, suits, coats, and sportswear – simply cut clothes in already popular styles. However, Mr. Smith became known for great materials he sourced from all over the world. By late 1962, Smith had expanded to two shops in Toronto and by early 1963 he had hired Sybil Grundman to design sportswear, Marilyn Fisher to take on suits and coats, and Winston Kong to design dresses.

After 1965, I can’t find any information about David Smith as a fashion designer, although he and Jack Creley were celebrated as well known Toronto dinner hosts in a Toronto Star article from 2000 (four years before Jack Creley died). Any more information about David Smith and his fashion line Mr. Smith will be gratefully received!

MR SMITH garments for the Ford exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition, Style Magazine, Aug 29, 1966 (image courtesy James Fowler) 1- Cucumber shaped silver lame dinner dress to match the Mercury Astron: 2 – Tattersall check pant suit shown with station wagon: 3 – Tartan walking suit with stovepipe shorts and blouson top with the Mustang convertible: 4 – Gold lame theatre suit and a Lincoln Sedan.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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8 Responses to Canadian Fashion Connection – Mr. Smith

  1. Kate says:

    I had dinner at David and Jack’s home probably 1967, brought along as the guest of one of their good friends. I remember a Mr. Smith shop on Avenue Road opposite Cumberland or Yorkville. It was reputed to carry a more “up-market” line of clothing than that worn by us Yorkville types, although I can recall venturing through the door at least once. At the time I lived over a ladies’ boutique owned by “The Baron” on Yorkville near Hazelton. Actually, it was right above the Riverboat.

    While cruising around online I searched for Jack Creley first, due to the Strangelove connection, which brought to mind the elegant dinner with Jack and David. Thank you for the information you posted. It is good to find something/anything about Mr. Smith online. It’s almost ancient history now!

  2. Alice Burton says:

    I actually still have a Mr. Smith Nehru silk jacket in my closet, it is still in good shape.
    I actually kept it because it is in good shape & made of gorgeous fabric. Very well made & has covered buttons. Would like to donate it to a museum or collection.

    • Jonathan says:

      I would be thrilled to get it for the Fashion History Museum – I will write you for details! Jonathan

  3. Elizabeth says:

    My first dress fromMr.Smith was in 1963 with beautiful material and very simple style, bought for a dance. I still have it. Ten years + later back in Toronto Mr Smith was my favourite shop. In the late eighties it still was. More beautiful silks, etc

    • Jonathan says:

      Let me know when you would like to part with your 1963 Mr. Smith – the museum doesn’t have an example!

  4. Annelies says:

    Just found a gorgeous 100 % wool long pleated skirt of Mr Smith Toronto. I couldn’t find any history untill I stumbled upon this article, great story.
    Thank you for posting.

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