Skip to content Skip to footer

Derrick Adams – The Steps of a Footwear and Fashion Entrepreneur, Times Two

Fact checked by Charmaine Gooden

There is an elevated sense of elegance and sophistication in Derrick Adams’ personal brand, a reflection of his father, who has influenced the way he’s dressed from a young age. “Jamaica in the 1960s was very fashionable,” says Adams. “It truly was an era for Black male glamour.”

In conversation, Adams describes how being fashionable runs through his blood. “When I walk by a place, or by something or someone, I never fail to notice the colours, the themes, all the details. I’m just drawn to it,” he says.  Studio D, Adams’ successful shoe boutique he co-owns with his wife Judith, stands as a symbol of their achievements as a Black couple, running a successful fashion retail store in the heart of Toronto’s luxury district and it makes them trailblazing entrepreneurs.

Early Life and Career

Adams, the oldest of four children, was six years old when his father, also named Derrick and mother Grace, immigrated with the family from Jamaica to East York, Toronto in 1975.  He attended Danforth Technical High School, then later switched to Monarch Park Collegiate mostly, he says  “to improve his skills and learn basketball from better players.”

Growing up, Adams admired his father’s taste in fine footwear and remembers a store on the Danforth called Beau Brummell, which his father frequented back in the 70s.  His father had an eye for stylish shoes, particularly Italian made and Adams says he inherited that natural ability and decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, so to speak, by developing his inherited styling talent into a professional career in footwear.

Adams studied marketing at Centennial College in 1985, which prepared him for the evolving business of fashion industry in the 80s. To pay his way through school, Adams landed his first job in shoe sales at Eaton’s, gaining invaluable experience in his chosen field. It also led to his next job, in 1988, at Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street, working in the shoe department for 35 years. He flourished and made many connections throughout the fashion industry.

 

 

This special section creates a spread of 2 photos that will jut out into the side margin.

 

 

She shares with us their struggles obtaining funding to finance Studio D, and how her white peers didn’t face this same reality.

One day at work, Adams had a vision, giving birth to a big dream of owning his own shoe store. He wanted a certain feel, a certain look and quality, something new. “I wanted my store to be a place where you could find new styles and brands, not the typical shoes you see in Toronto,” he explains. “A lot of small shops usually source in New York and LA, so I decided on Milan, Italy.”

There, Adams did what any great fashion designer would do. He walked, checking out what people were wearing, spotting trends and forming ideas to bring back to Toronto. A sneaker brand started in 1991, called No Name, caught his eye. He remembers selling them at Holt Renfrew and started thinking about how this brand would look on his shelves, in his shop.

Breaking Barriers

Eager to bring this high-end fashion back to Toronto, Adams opened Studio D Shoes in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood, alongside his wife Judith Adams in 2015. Judith has her own storied history in the luxury fashion industry. She was the ready-to-wear and fragrance specialist at Hermès for nine years, at which time she went to Chanel, where she was the assistant boutique director at the Bloor street flagship store for ten years.

“On my first trips to Italy, there were not a lot of Blacks, especially from North America,” Adams explains. “I’m going into some of the showrooms there and some of them are not used to seeing a Black person walk in, so sometimes you just sort of feel something.” It’s the same feeling he gets when a customer comes into Studio D complimenting the store and then proceeding to ask himself or Judith who the owner is.

The flip side happens when a Black customer walks in, asking if I’m the owner. “Seeing the smiles when I answer ‘yes’, which makes us feel so good and so proud,”shares Adams. Judith agrees how important it is to give back to Black and other racialized communities and how BIPOC has been a constant source of support.

She shares with us their struggles obtaining funding to finance Studio D and how her white peers didn’t face this same reality. Out of their own pockets, Derrick and Judith were able to leverage their combined years of experience and each other’s areas of expertise to finance and build Studio D from the ground up.

The two, who have a deep sense of understanding and respect for one another, proved to be compatible and successful business partners. Even when asked which of the two has the better fashion sense, Judith bestowed the honour on Adams without hesitation.

Influence and Legacy

Studio D moved to its current location, the Manulife Centre, in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood, in 2021. Judith will likely greet you from the check-out island in the centre of the store as soon you step into the shop. The island is black with gold embellishments, matching the gold shelves where all the footwear is displayed.

Standing at the island, which acts like a centerpiece, you can see the shop from all angles — the colour-coordinated clothing adorning the walls, the green “statement” cushions and the passersby walking along the street outside. Adams’ eye for fashion and talent putting colours together are responsible for the look and feel of Studio D.

Ensuring that customers feel welcome is one of Adams’ main priorities. “I’m all too familiar with feeling uneasy in luxury fashion environments,” he explains. “So we offer a balance of high fashion, elegant, sophisticated looks from the likes of MIISTA, MSGM, Chloe, Missoni and Sebastian Milano with an easy and inviting feeling.”

Now Adams’ days are filled with meeting vendors, talking to designers, buying fabric and thinking about their next social media post, special event or trunk show. He leaves himself just enough time to fit in some basketball at least once a week. “It’s important to stay active if you want to wear nice clothes that fit properly,” he says.

Adams’ and his wife’s achievements as a Black couple, who run a successful fashion retail store in the heart of Toronto’s luxury district, makes them trailblazing entrepreneurs.

Ensuring that customers feel welcome is one of Adams’ main priorities. “I’m all too familiar with feeling uneasy in luxury fashion environments,” he explains.

References and related links:

  • Copy+paste one footnote at a time.
  • Give each one its own bullet point.
  • Just like this.

About the authors:

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

About the author:

Over the years Prof. Gooden has built a multi-media career as an editor, writer, presenter, public relations consultant and special event manager, spokesperson, host, and educator. She...

Read More

Archive of images at BFC:

With his eye for fashion and all her years with luxury fashion brands, this powerful duo’s success was in their DNA.

This powerful duo’s success was in their DNA

NameDerrick Anthony AdamsBirthAugust 7, 1966BirthplaceKingston, JamaicaEthnic OriginJamaican, CanadianOccupationsRetail Brand Specialist, Owner Studio DWebsitestudiodshoes.comShare

Leave a comment

© 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Go to Topcss.php