Kamkyl Kreativ was a menswear label formed in 1999 by couple Douglas and Yvonne Mandel. Douglas, born in Alberta, came from a family of tailors and did a tailoring apprenticeship when he was seventeen. He went on to study fashion design at Sheridan College. His wife Yvonne was born in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The couple came to Montreal in 1997 when Douglas took a position as senior creative director with Peerless, following five years in Germany where he had held senior positions with Hugo Boss.
The brand was known for its quality fabrics and construction, and slightly edgy styling that stayed within the limits of appropriate business attire. Targeting men ages 22 to 35, the company focussed primarily on jackets, suits, pants, and sweaters. Some of their sweater collections were created using exotic fibres like qiviut (musk-ox wool), which put them at very high price points. Early collections had evocative names like “Metropolitan Nomads” and “New Global Army.” The Globe and Mail described the Kamkyl signature as “old school Italian craftsmanship meets distressed fabrics with frayed edges.”
Kamkyl sold clothes at a handful of exclusive stores in London, Taipei, the United States and Holland, and in Canada at small high-end shops in Toronto and Montreal. They showed at New York Fashion Week in 2002 and 2003.
The brand opened its flagship store in the spring of 2002 at 439 St. Pierre Street in Old Montreal. The commercial and loft spaces won several design awards, and were acclaimed for their minimalist aesthetic. One corner of the store featured a big table, seemingly suspended above the display floor, where the couple worked in full view of clients, cutting and styling their designs.
In 2005, Mandel joined Montreal outerwear company Utex to design its menswear line, while continuing to run the Kamkyl brand. The Mandels continued the line until 2009. Douglas Mandel went on to do an MBA in International Luxury Brand Management and since then has occupied a number of positions in Canada and abroad for Christian Dior Couture.
Warburton, Wendy. “Struggling to make Menswear in Canada: Design Duo has the Goods, so Why Won’t Harry Buy?” The Ottawa Citizen, Michelle Richardson, Apr 05, 2001, pp. F4.
Silcoff, Mireille. “Master Tailor Arrives: Douglas Mandel Opens Montreal Store.”National Post, Postmedia Network, January 26, 2002, pp. SP5.