Linda LundströmLinda Lundström, fashion designer (b at Red Lake, Ont 24 Apr 1951). She studied fashion design at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont, followed by an apprenticeship with a top European fashion house. In 1974 she founded Linda Lundström Ltd in Toronto and subsequently built the business into a multi-million dollar apparel company servicing independent boutiques across North America, including 3 company-owned stores.
In 1989, Lundström founded the Kiishik Fund, a cause focused on assisting First Nations people and increasing awareness of their culture. Honoraria from Lundström's public speaking engagements (since 1995) have gone directly to the foundation to benefit the First Nations culture in the classrooms and communities surrounding Red Lake, Ontario.
In 2001, the Lundström brand underwent major restructuring due to increasing costs to keep the entire firm in Canada, a pillar of the fashion label. The company began by downsizing its Toronto head office and production warehouses from 60 000 down to 39 000 square feet and by cutting one-third of its staff. The drastic changes rebounded the label to a $10.5-million-a-year operation.
Best known for LaParka, a product that paid tribute to Canadian heritage and sold over 150 000 units, Lundström's women's wear collection included co-ordinates, dresses, accessories, footwear and hosiery, ski and après skiwear and a signature fragrance. Most notably, the Lundström brand was designed and produced entirely in Canada, stocked in over 450 retailers across North America, and offered in a wide range of sizes, from 2-24.
In early 2008, partially in response to the effects of the high Canadian dollar and subsequent declining sales in the United States, Linda Lundström closed her stores and factory. The Linda Lundström brand was subsequently bought by Eleventh Floor Apparel Inc (all company assets, inventory and production facility), with Lundström taking over the role of chief creative officer.
Linda Lundström's numerous awards have included Employer of the Year (1998); honorary doctorates from Ryerson (1997), Mount St Vincent (2002), and Laurentian (2006) universities; the Order of Ontario (1995); Lifetime Achievement Award/Canadian Woman of the Year, University of Toronto (1994); Premier's Award for Outstanding Achievement of Graduate of Applied Arts (1993); Canada Award for Business Excellence in Entrepreneurship (1991); and Designer of the Year Award, City of Toronto (1987).
Lundström continues to be involved with several charitable organizations, including Toronto Ontario's Designers Association (1980-1982), the Women Presidents Organization (2001-2008), Apparel Ontario and Canadian Apparel Federation (1987-2008), Leaside Business Association (1999-2008), City of Toronto Task Force on International Branding of Toronto, and as sponsor to the World Wildlife Fund.
Fifteen months into her 2-year contract with Eleventh Floor Apparel, Lundström resigned and no longer has a creative or financial stake in the Lundström fashion brand.
The Canadian designer now leads Linda Lundström Works, a Canadian-based consulting agency providing emerging designers with the know-how to build successful businesses through her in-depth knowledge and experience in manufacturing, product development, global fabric sourcing and corporate strategy. In addition to this new venture, Lundström continues to teach at George Brown College and speak at notable events focused on entrepreneurship and the Canadian fashion industry.
In 2010, Lundström created two custom designs for Toronto Fashion Week's Dare to Wear Love charity gala raising funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Lundström continues to fulfill her passion for design with one-off creations but has not ruled out returning to the retail and runway scene.