“Our mission is to provide avant guard custom women’s evening fashion to empower you to look and feel your best.”
SHKANK INC was born 1992. It has grown and matured since its incorporation but it has always remained and cherished its niche market. It has continued to be run by its founding designer, Rodney Philpott.
We get a lot of questions regarding our name SHKANK INC. Everyone seems to wonder what we mean by it and where it came from. Rod chose this name because he started off designing and creating one of a kind off the wall club kid wear. The club scene was a lot different back in 1993 Toronto. Going out on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday night never meant wearing your favorite pair of jeans and a white t-shirt. Going to the club was a statement of individuality. It was a statement of someone’s personal passion regarding his or her personality. Rod’s designs were show stopping. They got attention because they amplified a person’s spirit. His designs had life even when they were hanging in the closet before going out or laid over the couch when you got back in. Rod has never taken his fashion sense seriously because it’s never standing still. It is it’s own identity and it ever evolves. He’s always let his fashion sense take flight to challenge society norms and a persons’ inhibitions. The name SHKANK embodies this belief. It challenges society norms around what people incorrectly take away from the name SHKANK. There is no sexual innuendo in our name. Art is controversial and Rod’s designs are art. It challenges women to embrace their individuality. To never settle in choice because “that’s what’s on the rack.” It also challenges women to wear designs that compliment their personality. Not smoother it. Rod chose red for his corporate logo because he wanted a strong first impression that was filled with passion.
When Rod graduated from the Academy of Design he took a leap of faith and matured his designs to become pieces that could be worn anywhere at anytime. He realized his friends and his market were graduating college, university and the club scene for full time employment, mortgages, children and life insurance. Rod’s focus may have left the club scene but the club scene has placed its footprint into the design creations of today. Rod may have stopped designing latex pants suits but the same energy, drive and spark of genius is found in every stitch within his current day studio. SHKANK INC now designs and creates custom couture evening dresses, cocktail dresses, red carpet dresses, prom dresses and wedding dresses. You will not find off the rack at Rod’s studio. Rod is happy to bring to life the imagination of his niche market where his designs bring tears to the eyes of fathers giving away their daughters on their wedding day, to enthusiastic photos of girls on their prom night, to the nervous first lip-synch performance at Pride, to the desktop photo of old college friends dressed up having dinner at a reunion to proud Moms at Mother’s Day brunch wrapped in incredible fabric inspiration.
Rod is the first to point out that life is not a dress rehearsal and that we embrace fashion for the sake of ourselves. Everyone deserves to feel special and with 8 billion people sharing our planet why would anyone want to surrender their individual personality? Today, Rod thrives at participating in fashion show fundraising events throughout North America. Rod believes beauty and inspiration cannot be locked away. These fashion shows allow him to share his creative genius with women of all walks of life and economic backgrounds. Custom couture is not a choice. It is a lifestyle.
Rod enjoyed 19 years at his Toronto location. His studio had become a geographic landmark on Yonge Street. His billboard named “Sarah” was visible three blocks in either direction of Yonge. Through 19 years, Rod saw his neighbourhood go through ups and downs. Unfortunately, there were more downs than ups. It became a struggle to maintain a couture design studio image when adult sex shops, fly-by-nite greasy spoons and cheque cashing stores littered the street landscape. The last two years, it became embarrassing having clients arrive for fittings with sex shops advertising their daily specials or the police escorting a customer of a cheque cashing store into their awaiting car. It seems, landlords were more concerned with rent dollars than with the quality of the tenant or the quality of the neighbourhood. The last straw came when the studio got a new neighbour – the adult only massage parlour.
After some soul searching, Rod realized a majority of his clients did not reside in the downtown core of Toronto. They commuted from the surrounding suburbs. They battled with the ever omni present traffic and fought to find than pay the outrageously expensive parking. When he polled a group of them, they enthusiastically asked that Rod relocate west of Toronto leaving the city all together. Rod had already relocated his personal residence to Cambridge. A city that is 80 kms west of Toronto. Cambridge is a picturesque city on the Grand River with a long history of heritage buildings and neighbourhoods with sidewalks and mature tree lined streets. With a leap of faith, Rod moved SHKANK INC to the heritage neighbourhood of Galt in Cambridge, Ontario.
The relocation to Cambridge coincided with SHKANK INC 20th anniversary. The Directors of Rod’s company finally convinced him, it was time to have his name on his designs. SHKANK INC would remain Rod’s parent corporation and a new subsidiary would be created in Rod’s name. The new subsidiary was named Rodney Philpott Designs. The navy background stood for the solid foundation of his name. The white stood for the endless artistic possibilities of his fashion designs. The chartreuse stood for not conforming to the norms of society fashion – i.e. it’s not lime its chartreuse. Rod would continue creating all designs for both SHKANK INC and Rodney Philpott Designs. All work is completed by hand. Nothing is sent to industrial factories. The craftsmanship of hand made quality is evident in every design.
Rod’s new heritage address in the Galt neighbourhood of Cambridge was short lived. After one year, Rod made a personal decision to relocate Rodney Philpott Designs to St.John’s Newfoundland. SHKANK INC’s corporate office would remain in Ontario but he would be moving to St.John’s to be closer to his parents. Rod’s a proud Newfoundlander born and raised in Point of Bay. He left for Ontario at the age of 17 but never forgot his heritage. Life gets crazy and hectic for everyone. Time becomes precious and in short supply. With aging parents, Rod reprioritized his personal and professional lives and only regrets it took this long to find his way home.
Rodney Philpott Designs has its new home in downtown St.John’s on the west end side of Water Street. The new Fortis office building is our backyard neighbour. We are a stone’s throw away from the heart of downtown St.John’s (3 blocks) but parking is always available unlike the core downtown. This west end neighbourhood of downtown St.John’s is rebuilding itself without forgetting its history. Our new location is anchored between the Newman Wine Vault Heritage Building and the Railway Coastal Museum. Our showroom is intimate and ever changing. You never know what Rod’s designing. We look forward to becoming an activate corporate citizen of St.John’s and Newfoundland. SHKANK INC’s corporate office remains in Windsor, Ontario. The corporate office stores our financial data and handles our corporate night club business.
The relocation to St.John’s also created our new website. Our original website was static and lacked conversation. Social media changes monthly. A third of Rod’s designs are shipped around the world. We wanted Ecommerce to become easy and not challenging. We wanted to blog on the new website. To show the actual depth of Rodney’s passion for fashion, his dedication to social causes and his never ending work to show that all girls and women are beautiful. Coming into our showroom, our customers are purchasing a service. It’s this service that clearly differentiates us for everyone else. The end result of this service is your Rodney Philpott design. We live and breath this idealism.