The brand has also introduced slides to its offerings this season.
Owner Jen Rainnie was a competitive windsurfer in her youth, traveling and living out of a retrofitted van while competing in an Ontario sport event circuit. That sense of adventure remains with Rainnie, who has managed to merge her passion for the outdoors, athletics and travel with her acumen in the fashion industry. She worked as a sales rep for brands like Roxy and Quicksilver before forging her own path as a distributor for surf-focused lines. “My passion was really in swimwear and sandals,” she says. “My background has always been water and beach and tropics related.”
Through running her own company for six years, Rainnie discovered the opportunity within the footwear market for a product like her current wares at Malvados; its range of sandals include styles with plush velvet or metallic straps. “I realized that there wasn’t anything out there in that category that was different,” she says of sandal brands that cater to the athletic crowd, noting at the time that their marketing was heavily geared towards surfers.
She saw the potential in fusing fashion-forward inspired pieces with her penchant for sport, and launched her brand four years ago. “We had an immediate buy-in from Canadian outlets,” she says of the brand’s appeal to retailers. “They were ready for something new and unique.”
Malvados has found kindred spirits in—and made ambassadors of—those who are part of the travel influencing world, as well as DJs and musicians; it also partnered with fellow Canadian brand Brunette the Label on a cross-promotional initiative. And Rainnie has shown her own commitment to the power of music by sponsoring events like last year’s Music Heals fete in Vancouver. When asked about how her experience with an athletic and travel-based background have helped with her entrepreneurial pursuits, she says, “I’m pretty resilient. And, this goes back to authenticity—I can really relate to that young person who’s passionate about what they’re doing.”
Rainnie’s ardour seems boundless at the present moment, even with the COVID-19 crisis continuing to affect business. She’s found many learning opportunities through it, including how to further evolve Malvados’ pieces. “We’ve tried to embrace the fact that we’re in this situation and offer people something that will make them happy and comfortable while they’re home,” she says.
She’s also found value in the ongoing hardships of the year in terms of her children being exposed to so much information and continued conversation. “The education they’re getting through all of this is so much bigger and is going to have so much more of an impact than what they would’ve learned in school,” she says. “I think we’re going to have a lot of good come out of this. There’s so much thinking and change that’s going to come out of this year.”
Malvados is one of the brands taking part in the Wear Canada Proud Online Shopping Event, presented by FASHION and CAFA, from June 16-17.