In a world where just about every brand uses all manner of legal and shady contrivances to cover up cheap, overseas production, the relatively new retail category known as superluxury, is as refreshingly honest as it is pretentious-sounding. Unlike mere luxury brands, superluxury labels revel in the work of their skilled artisans.

“People tend to think of Los Angeles style as either red carpet or Uggs and sweatpants,” says Brooke Taylor Corcia, founder of the Dreslyn. “But there’s a fantastic, creative scene out here, and it wasn’t being represented in the online marketplace.”

Although Christopher Bates is firmly rooted in the reality of the Canadian fashion industry, he is, for all intents and purposes, a rare beast. One of this country’s celebrated menswear designers, Bates is the epitome of his West Coast roots, soft-spoken with a steely and suitably quiet determination.

When Secret Location opened its doors in June 2012, it more than lived up to its mysterious moniker. Although it occupies one of the most highly desirable retail spaces in Vancouver’s trendy Gastown neighbourhood, blacked-out windows and tight-lipped staff kept all but the most well-connected scenesters out of the loop.

“This was part of an ashtray,” says Mary Katrantzou, pointing to a cut-crystal motif on an Elizabethan-style silk crepe halter bodice displayed in the Room at the Bay during her first visit to Vancouver. The Greek-born, London-based designer lets her words hang in the air before dissolving into a light giggle.