It started out with a simple ginch design. But in 10 short years, Devil May Wear has evolved from a small-time underpants supplier to a full-on men’s and women’s clothing label—complete with a jewellery collection and a flagship store on Main Street.
As for those original low riders, they’re still around. In fact, when designer/founder Stephanie Ostler sat down with the Straight in her boutique (3957 Main Street) to talk about her flourishing business, she was proudly rocking a pair of the bikini-cut specials under her eclectically styled outfit.
“Right now, this [design] is my preference,” she says, pointing to her hipbone, where they sit comfortably (and seamlessly, I might add). “They’re just so soft, and I feel like I’m wearing nothing. I’ve got some that I’ve had for 10 years. I want to bring them in and frame them, but I feel kind of awkward about it—being my dirty old underpants,” she says with a laugh. “But they’re still in mint condition.”
Not too shabby for a $16 pair of panties. But then again, everything Ostler makes seems to be of the finest quality. As a bonus, she works with sustainable fabrics—something she started doing just before the green movement really took hold here.
“Early on, when I was doing a lot of custom orders for people and doing a lot of contracts, a lot of times I was working with whatever people brought me, and I developed an allergy to fire retardants and other starches,” Ostler explains. “So I had to find products that I could work with that weren’t going to put me out of a job.”
So now, many of her pieces are made with bamboo, including her signature cowl-neck T design ($48 to $50), another basic that’s been around almost since the beginning. She doesn’t mess with that recipe too much. But with her seasonal boutique collections, she tends to mix things up a bit more.
Instead of just making a straight-up navy-and-white striped T, for example, she’s incorporated an eye-popping cherry-red lace yoke ($50). And with her flowing, apple-green A-line bamboo dress, she’s added whimsical lilac spaghetti straps; both pieces offer a perfect hit of unexpected colour for spring.
If you’re not ready to bare your shoulders yet, Ostler also carries some cozy long-sleeve sweaters ($250) in the store, which she happily knits from scratch.
“I’m crazy about knitting,” she says. “If I could do one thing for a living it would be knitting, so these sweaters are hand-knit and it takes me about three months to knit one of them.”
She’s also enthusiastic about making reasonably priced jewellery. The majority of her individually handcrafted pieces are gold- and silver-filled and cost $20 to $100.
“When we opened this store, there was absolutely nothing on the market that I liked that was within a price point that I thought was affordable to my customer,” she says. “So I started making jewellery.”
Between the jewels, the lingerie, and the knits, Ostler doesn’t have a whole lot of time, but remarkably she somehow manages to make every single Devil May Wear clothing item herself.
“It’s my super power,” she says. “A lot of people don’t believe me. But it’s true—I make it all!”
So is there anything this self-taught unstoppable force can’t do?
“Not when it comes to clothing design,” she says. “But, I cannot cook!”