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After several years of television development, Arlington Forbes had had enough. He thought back to all of those TV meetings that started with a discussion about his shoes. “Everyone in TV, our uniform had come to be a button down shirt, nice jeans and a great pair of sneakers.” So, five years ago, Toronto transplant Forbes, along with his Philly-born wife, Jacqueline “Jac” Forbes and old friend Anthula Nunes, opened Canvas, a “grown up sneaker shop and art gallery” located in Malibu, CA.


The idea for Canvas was born when Forbes discovered that there was a whole creative field out there that was wearing the same “uniform” he was. “I knew that I didn’t want to go to work wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and wing-tips and these guys, these architects, designers, they don’t want to either.” So Forbes and his cohorts opened Canvas and, what started as a high-end sneaker shop has turned into so much more.


“The store came about because there were no shops in LA that specialized in cool sneakers for adults,” Forbes says, “and because I was directing a TV show about artists and they all commented on how hard it was to show their work in a gallery. Being from the East Coast, we wanted to create a concept driven space, so we decided to combine our love for art, footwear and fashion to create Canvas, a boutique and contemporary art gallery that would focus on highlighting the artistry in the Art on the walls, the clothes, shoes, and accessories that we would carry.”




“We wanted to bring some non-beach, downtown vibe to the beach for the late 20’s-early 30’s design-oriented clientele,” Forbes says. Preferring to source their pieces from showrooms rather than trade shows, Canvas is “forced to find our own brands,” he says. “We have to work harder to find pieces that suit us.” Now, Canvas not only carries high design, contemporary men’s and women’s sneakers and clothing lines such as YSL shoes, Engineered Garments, Rag & Bone and Rogan, but they also set out to “demystify the gallery experience” by housing an art gallery full of original prints and black and white photography, pieces by local Malibu residents and international artists such as Roni Stretch. “Jac is the curator,” Forbes says. “She has a great eye. The shop (and gallery) is an extension of ourselves. We ask ourselves if we would hang the pieces in our own house first.”


By carrying smaller artists and watching them grow, Forbes and Canvas have developed a true love for the brands they carry. “We started working with Oliver Spencer 4 years ago, when they only had a smaller collection,” Forbes says. “Now they’re doing runway shows.” The attention to detail is what Forbes loves about all of his labels. The clean, minimal aesthetic is important in everything that goes in and out of the store. Along with the contemporary art and brands that they carry, look for Canvas to expand their in-house line Canvas Malibu from T-shirts, candles, and fragrance, to a full collection, and possibly a wholesale line.


— Rachel Jass

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