Toronto-based luxleisure wear line ESPINO SILK

The world we live in has offered us reasons to reboot and restart. We’ve seen numerous people make significant changes in their lives. We know people who have left their day jobs in pursuit of their dreams. We know others who have created something out of a necessity. It’s inspiring to see how many are taking a chance during these uncertain times. ESPINO SILK is a Canadian women’s wear designer line born right here in Toronto. Founder Tara McCarthy boldly entered into the fierce marketplace and explains why the time is now.

Launching during a global pandemic isn’t for the faint of heart. McCarthy tells us it all started with her own quest to find the perfect silk pant that would look sharp and professional yet offer the comforts of working from home — without looking like you’ve rolled out of bed. “I love to wear pajama pants in my downtime at home and needed a ‘pandemic professional’ version for working at home,” said McCarthy.

Her research for “lux-leisure wear” rendered up retailers offering silk pj pants that were too thin and looked too much like pajamas. She also tells us the heavier silk trousers were very expensive – $600 and up!

Monika Schnarre. Photo credit: Paul Alexander for

Disappointed with not finding what she wanted out in the marketplace, McCarthy made her decision to create a line of go-to wardrobe essentials that is timeless. The Espino pant was the first piece that was made in a buttery soft, sand wash silk. “It’s the best of both worlds. Comfy and a little glam. I style it with a cashmere sweater. I think people are ready to retire sweatpants for something more polished.”

Truth! The pandemic has changed many attitudes and more of us are finding ways to slow down. We are appreciating the time and quality put into everything we cherish.

McCarthy’s passion for quality over quantity and attention to detail comes from her upbringing. Her grandmother was a master dressmaker. When she first came to Canada in the 1950’s she worked in a Toronto garment factory. By the time McCarthy came along, her grandmother had a thriving custom evening wear and bridal gown business that she ran out of the house. “She was a stickler for quality,” said McCarthy.  “They made clothing to a higher standard in her day. We need to go back to the idea of fewer finer things. Clothes shouldn’t be disposable. They should fit properly and be so good that your future grandkids want to make Tik Tok videos modelling them as vintage treasures!”

While the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic was of course a concern, it was the lockdowns that added complexity to the process. Sourcing fabrics and the supply chain to obtain the necessary raw goods to create the line was challenging experience. McCarthy tells us it took a lot of research to identify the right fabric for her line. “Typical silk used for loungewear isn’t thick enough to be worn out. I found an excellent mill that was instrumental in creating our custom sand wash silk fabric. It’s weighty with a little stretch and customers love it.”

Tapping into her connections with fashion industry veterans, McCarthy was able to fulfill another one of her wishes. That is, to work with some of the most experienced people in the industry and to keep production right here in Toronto. She discovered incredible talent here in our city who are committed to keeping the tradition of fine garment making alive and worth supporting locally. “I’ve been blown away by the talent. People should feel really good about shopping local. There are amazing people working hard every day to bring you the best. Your purchase supports our individuals in our community.”

From there her line was born. But what to call it?  She began thinking about a name in May of 2020. The idea of a plant name made sense to McCarthy since the beautiful silk she had sourced is a product of nature. When she was researching names the she came across the Hawthorne plant that is also called may. Taking it one step further she learned the Spanish word for it is Espino – which sounded very elegant.

Developing the line was the first step but then she faced the challenges of getting the word out. She enlisted the help of Canadian model and actress Monika Schnarre to be involved in the launch of the line. “I’m one of Monika’s biggest fans,” said McCarthy. “She’s a lovely person and magic on set. Espino is for women of all ages and what better way to celebrate the timeless beauty of women than with this Canadian icon. It is my wish to never hear another woman say she dreads her next birthday, and brands have a role to play.”

So, who is Espino made for? McCarthy tells us it’s made for collectors. “Those who view personal style as an expression of their individuality. It’s not about chasing trends, it’s about creating a signature style with prized pieces that have longevity. I believe consumers’ views on fashion are evolving toward having fewer, finer things. This approach to personal style is very aligned with Espino values and we’re excited to see how our product is styled by these creative individuals.”

I love Espino’s idea of why it’s worthy of our attention “because the world doesn’t need more — it needs better.”

You can view Espino’s Timeless Wardrobe Essentials line HERE. Each piece in the collection is hand made by artisans right here in Toronto and in limited quantities. I adore the Camillia Silk Dress myself and I understand that they can also make the styles to fit petites like me!

There will be a pop-up in October in Toronto’s Summerhill shopping area. Keep your eye on and their TikTok and Instagram for details.




About Sonya Davidson 928 Articles
Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto.