Canadian Fashion Connection – Marci Lipman

Marci Lipman T-shirt with graphics by Robert Kitchen, c. early 1990s

Marci Lipman (born 1948) opened a poster framing business in 1974 on Avenue road in Toronto. In about 1985 she shifted her business to creating screen-printed T-shirts of her own animal cartoons (one T-shirt pictured a cow with the phrase  ‘Udder Delight’), as well as with work by artists Ruth Adler and Robert Kitchen.

Her flagship store on Avenue road became a neighbourhood landmark, known for its brightly coloured wall murals inside and out. By the early 1990s Lipman’s logo, a spotted cartoon dog, could be seen on T-shirts all around the city. Her product was always advertised as 100% Canadian made, which was partly why her T-shirts were not inexpensive wardrobe investments – they were wearable art. However, sales were good and Lipman expanded her product line to include children’s sleepwear called ‘granny baiters’ and opened several more stores until 1996 when there was a total of nine stores in Toronto, plus wholesale to specialty stores across the country.

However, the pressure from American chain companies infiltrating the Canadian market, and off-shore manufacturing upon Canadian retailers was devastating in the late 1990s. Lipman’s product wasn’t changing with the times, she had over-saturated her local market and grew too quickly during the wrong economy. Lipman declared bankruptcy in January 1997 and closed her business.

13 thoughts on “Canadian Fashion Connection – Marci Lipman

  1. I have two of her outfits and wear them whenever I can. Would love to see her make a return especially, now that jeans are becoming a thing of the past too. Purchased outfits in Calgary store.

    • I believe Marci Lipman is now into organic farming (someone told me this) so I don’t know if she will reconsider getting back into fashion or not, but there may well be a revival of T-shirt art on the horizon.

      • Hi Jonathan. Just found your blog some 2.5 years late on Marci which was nice ! I worked with Marci as her CFO during our expansion and then our decline that lead to bankruptcy in 1997. Marci is very happy tending to her bees in the Caledon area. I worked in the fashion industry in the 80’s & 90’s which was pretty exciting but over the course of some 15 years the industry was decimated by cheap imports. My first boss was Joe Mimran when I worked at Alfred Sung. Joe has certainly re-invented (and refreshed!) himself since then. In the 80’s The Bay was not high end enough us to sell to them. Now he’s selling TShirts for $5 at Loblaws AND I just got back from Staples where he has a new line of office supplies?? In any case, nice blog. Hope all is well on your end of the street (we are neighbours)

  2. I have a beautiful royal blue sweatshirt with a graphic of a female figure skater using the colours gold, green white, red. There are no instructions for washing, Does anyone know about the washing instructions. I was thinking of cold water and tumble dry. Any comments?

    • Cold water definitely – maybe handwash the first time so you can check the water to see if there are dye run problems. Rinse until the water is clear. I would towel dry (roll it up in a bath towel and squeeze the moisture out), then finish off in a drier (it should only take 5 minutes or so. Over-drying in a dryer damages fibres and causes pilling etc.

  3. I have a poster of calla lilies in a black vase, with black background. (36×24 inches). The poster reads “Steven Kenny, Spring 1980, Marci Lipman Graphics-Toronto, published by Lipman publishing with permission of Circle arts International”
    Could you tell me anything else about the poster, Ms. Lipman and the artist Steven Kenny?
    Is this the same Steven Kenny know for surrealistic art?

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