‘Our goal has always been to move toward one hundred percent Canadian production,’ Daniel tells me as I thumb through a rack of heavy duty plaid button-ups – searching for my size. ‘These shirts, for instance,’ he remarks as I pull a sweet green and black-patterned piece off the rack, ‘are pretty much an all-Ontario affair – with just a little help from America.’ When I glance quizzically at Daniel, he elaborates. ‘All design was done in-house,’ he tells me. Fantastic. ‘The buttons are fabricated in Toronto.’ Amazing. ‘The shirt is cut and sewn in the GTA.’ Proper. ‘In fact,’ he concludes, ‘the only part of the process that isn’t Canadian is the material – and even that’s sourced from North America.’ California, to be precise. 

I take a closer look. Feel the shirt’s weight in my hands. Note the details in the stitching and the reinforced patches on the elbows. Try it on. Button it up. I’m a tall drink of water, to be sure, and have a tough time finding anything long enough that doesn’t then also drape over me like a blanket. But this shirt fits like a glove. The sleeves just right. The shoulders roomy. The length perfect. It has me feeling like Goldilocks – minus the criminal instinct. I take the piece off and hand it to Daniel. ‘I’ll take it,’ I tell him, ‘but not before browsing a touch longer.’ I can be a bit of a clotheshorse, after all.

clothing and provisions boutique that’s been on my radar for a hot minute. Founded and run by the aforementioned Daniel James Phillips, Illbury is like a heaven (and haven) for enthusiasts of archetypal Canadiana. From the vintage canoe hanging behind the counter (and stuffed with quintessential Illbury toques, blankets, and other goodies) to the taxidermized stag head mounted on a barn board wall to the Hudson’s Bay blankets draped over a weathered leather couch at the back of the shop to the antique crates and vintage coolers piled high with Illbury-branded wool socks and handmade soaps and beard oils and other apothecary goods (all made right here in Canada), the place exudes frontier outpost vibes. 

For Cai and me – both fans of rugged brands like Filson and Patagonia and Red Wings – the Illbury store is like some sort of wonderful oasis. Perfect for the urban cowboy – or, perhaps more fittingly, the urban trapper. Just wandering around the place makes me feel strikingly more cool. 

And it all started, Daniel tells me, with a logo. ‘The Illbury + Goose brand grew out of my earlier work as a designer,’ he explains. ‘Well over a decade ago I began making graphic tees and selling them at festivals. At some point I created – for a bunch of shirts and hats – what’s now the Illbury logo: an anchor that’s finished at the top with a maple leaf. 

Those shirts and hats sold out fast. So I did it again, and they sold out fast again.’ He looks at me, shrugs his shoulders, and adds: ‘Soon enough there was sufficient interest to build a brand around the logo, and I began creating products that I’d been looking for from other companies but couldn’t find’. 

Like crewnecks with kangaroo pockets made for Illbury by Barbarian Rugby Wear in Kitchener, for instance (which are virtually indestructible). Aromatic candles made for Illbury by London’s Mood & Co (including their ‘Illsbury Doughboy’ scent that smells so good you’ll want to eat it). Chipotle Maple Whisky BBQ Sauce by London’s The Hot Sauce Co (which is a definite fan favourite). Leather baby moccasins, satchels, and wallets made in Ontario with Canadian leather by Lodge & Co. All natural soaps and body oils and vapour rubs and salves and so many other apothecary items made for Illbury by London’s Purdy Natural and other regional companies. The theme is becoming clear. 

‘We love collaborating with local companies,’ Daniel remarks, ‘helping to build their names through the Illbury brand. And there are so many incredibly talented individuals making awesome products right here in the region. It’s a mandate at Illbury to work with as many as we can.’ Cai and I tour around the boutique – dazzled by the range of items. Trucker hats emblazoned with the anchor and maple leaf logo. Bamboo joggers. Classic enamel camping mugs. 

I spot a black tee emblazoned with ‘ONTERRIBLE’ across the front and smile to myself. A sign of the times, for sure. Catching my grin, Daniel notes that these cheeky tees have overnight become a shop favourite. 

‘You wouldn’t believe how fast they’ve sold,’ he notes. ‘We must’ve gained at least a hundred new customers because of them.’ Not that the brand is lacking when it comes to a solid client base. Indeed, Illbury duds have been spotted on some pretty heady company – including the Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Jake Muzzin, for example, and even New York City’s celebrity realtor Ryan Serhant. 

And yet, even with such international attention, Daniel is adamant that Illbury + Goose will always remain a hyper local, staunchly London store – located in the city’s Old East Village neighbourhood. ‘I opened Illbury’s flagship in this neighbourhood because it’s home,’ Daniel remarks. ‘I grew up just minutes away, and I live here still. While I am working to keep the business expanding, its roots will always be here in London.’ To be respected, for sure. 

While Cai grabs a couple of gold Illbury logo pins (no doubt for our matching Filson Mackinaw cruisers) and a handful of Illbury stickers (for our trucks’ ski boxes), I make one last tour of the place before we head back out into the wintery morning. I spot Illbury-branded beer (a collab with London’s Powerhouse Brewing), and coffee (collabs with London’s Fire Roasted Coffee Co and Cafézia Coffee), and even honey (a collab with Pure Honey out of St Thomas). And I realize that Illbury doesn’t just look the part of a frontier outpost – it plays the part too. Indeed, the place is like a one-stop shop for (almost) anything a person might ever need, from socks to beer. All branded beautifully with the Illbury anchor and maple leaf. 

Frontier. Chic. Emphatically.  

I L L B U R Y + G O O S E 
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