Canadian Fashion Connection – Joseph Ribkoff

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Pink suit by Joseph Ribkoff, c. 1990, available from FashionPuss on Etsy

Joseph Ribkoff dropped out of school at age 15 to work in Montreal’s garment industry. He worked his way up to the head of a garment manufacturer’s shipping department before going out on his own in 1957, at the age of 20. His first business was financed with money he and his bride had earmarked to buy furniture for their first home.

Typical of most Canadian dress manufacturers of the time, his company made clothes styled after established trends.  His biggest competition was the long-established manufacturer Algo, which produced a similar kind of line for Canadian department stores and independent dress shops.

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Joseph Ribkoff

In the late 1960s Ribkoff was looking to Europe for inspiration – Kenzo was a favourite. He also followed a younger aesthetic spurred on by his friendship with American dress manufacturer Jack Litt whose company Arpeja created the clothing lines Young Edwardian, and Young Innocence.

Over the years Ribkoff’s business shifted towards an older clientele. Ribkoff’s market is now mostly mature women (over 40) but he must be doing something right because Ribkoff remains one of the few Canadian companies still making clothes in Canada, and exporting lines to 55 international markets. For more information about Ribkoff read this interview from Dress to Kill.

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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2 Responses to Canadian Fashion Connection – Joseph Ribkoff

  1. Naomi says:

    Hi Johnathan,

    I have been trying to locate any images of Joseph Ribkoff earliest designs as I have come across one of his vintage dresses with the style number 102. My searches brought me to this blog. I am trying to pinpoint when it was made or if it’s a real Ribkoff and I was hoping you could point me in the right direction. I already contacted the company but nothing came from it. Thank you kindly.

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