Dubbed as the King of the Canadian Fashion Industry, Alfred Sung is a Chinese born Canadian fashion designer who has taken over the industry by storm with his apparel, perfumes and accessories for men and women.
Belonging to a Chinese family, it was his parents’ wish that he would take up a traditional profession but that did not work out for Sung and he ended up in Paris, studying fashion design at Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. He moved to New York after graduating with honors and started studying at the Parsons The New School for Design. Soon, he started working as an assistant designer for a dress manufacturer on Seventh Avenue. After becoming a seasoned designer, Alfred relocated to Canada in 1972 where he started designing sportswear for a manufacturer based in the garment district of Toronto. His fashion illustration skills supplemented his income just fine but Sung wanted more and so he opened his first small shop called “Moon” in 1977 located on Carlton Street.
In contrast to the prevailing punk scene of black leather jackets and skinny jeans, Sung’s loose fitting comfortable designs in desert color were like a breath of fresh air much needed by the fashion industry back then. In 1980, Sung founded the Monaco Group Inc. in alliance with Saul and Joseph Mimran which later became the parent company of the Alfred Sung brand and his ready to wear women’s collection. The Alfred Sung brand caught the eye of major department stores in Canada and his collections started being sold in all the stores. In 1981, the label made its way into the US through specialty stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and Macy’s. Alfred’s first standalone store also opened its doors at Hazelton Lanes of Toronto that same year. National news magazine, Mac Lean’s claimed the Alfred Sung was that King of Fashion in 1983.
In 1985, Club Monaco’s first store appeared on Queen Street West in Toronto with a café underneath the sales floor. Club Monaco’s first store to have opened abroad was in 1989 in Santa Monica, US. It was entirely a Canadian company based on Toronto’s Bloor Street West and Avenue Road until it was acquired by Polo Ralph Lauren in 1999. However, Polo allowed the entity to exist independently within the group and downplayed its share of ownership. Alfred’s fragrance line called Parfums Alfred Sung was launched in 1986. The first fragrance for women was launched in 1986 called ‘Sung by Alfred Sung’ followed by another perfume ‘Shi Alfred Sung’ in 2001. Two more fragrances were launched later in 2003 and 2005 by the name of ‘Alfred Sung Paradise’ and ‘Jewel Alfred Sung’.
Throughout the years, Sung in partnership with the Mimrans have embarked on an aggressive licensing campaign unseen by the fashion industry before. Sunglasses, fragrances, eyewear, jewelry, watches, bridal wear, fashion accessories and men’s and women’s clothing lines all come under one name, Alfred Sung. In Canada, Alfred Sung’s home collection was launched exclusively by Zellers – HBC which consisted of home décor, bedding and bath, furniture and kitchen products. Canada’s leading eyewear brand Luxottica started distribution of Club Monaco eyewear range including sunglasses and prescription frames in 2007 sold exclusively at all its retail outlets. In 2008, PURE BY ALFRED SUNG was launched after the Home Collection, a women’s ready to wear collection and accessories also at Zellers – HBC.