On September 21st we were able to attend Toronto’s InLand event, “a leading pop-up destination to shop emerging and contemporary Canadian fashion”, giving us the opportunity to touch and feel the clothes by all our favourite Canadian designers. Quite contrary to how we usually see Canadian designed clothes, by just looking at them being worn by models strutting down the runway (though we do love that too), at InLand we could literally TRY ON AND TOUCH Tara Rivas’ designs. The experience made us feel like children in a candy shop. It was MOUTHWATERING. And like the cherry on top of it all, we even got to speak with a couple of the designers present. Below are some highlights from the event and some of the noteworthy designers coming out of the Canadian fashion realm.
Lights of All is a vegan and sustainable brand founded and designed by Katia Hagen. We were delighted to have the exclusive chance to talk to her about her company at the InLand event. Katia described how she uses low impact fibre reactive dyes, which are eco-friendly, in her design process. She also explained that natural dyes, which a lot of people mistakenly think are eco-friendly, are actually hazardous because in order to make the dye sink into the fibres and stay put it requires the use of heavy metals, which are toxic for the environment. However, the fibre reactive dyes used for the garments in Lights of All use non-toxic chemicals and are a low impact alternative.
Katia thinks of all the little details where she can incorporate sustainability into her company and even uses leftover cotton from the retail industry to make her own business cards!
You won’t find the use of any polyester in her label either. Instead, she prefers to use organic cotton and tencel/lyocell which is a half manmade and half natural fibre made from wood pulp. Tencel/lyocell is manufactured using the “closed loop” system where everything in the manufacturing process is used over and over again in order to create the least amount of waste possible.
We asked Katia what sparked her eco-friendly design route and she gave us the full scoop:
“I’ve been vegetarian since 2008 and vegan since 2012. I began by studying design at Lasalle College in Montreal and afterward went to university in New York where I also did an internship at Jason Wu. One day while I was interning they asked me to cut a sample of Crocodile skin off a fully formed crocodile sample – I could even see the cut-outs where the eyes used to be! It was an emotional and traumatizing experience and from then on I felt like there had to be a change in the fashion industry coming forward.”
“The positive side,” Katia describes, “is that every year people are interested in becoming more aware about vegan and sustainable options – not just in the food industry, but the fashion industry too. Even just one sustainable choice in your closet can make a difference.”
So what change has Katia made that the average person can follow to make a difference? She says to focus building your future wardrobe based on choosing new styles that will match with your past purchases. For example, Katia always designs her new collections with previous collections in mind so that her customers can incorporate her new pieces with pieces from her earlier collections that they already own.
At StyleCircle we’re all about seeing sustainability in the fashion industry and were so happy to see Lights of All implementing these practices into their collections. LOVE LOVE LOVE – we give 10/10!
Tara Rivas is the designer behind her own clothing label, Tara Rivas, which focuses on creating timeless, versatile, and empowering womenswear. Tara launched her first collection in 2015 and has been going hard ever since. We were swooning over her designs and majorly fan-girling over the fact that she casually offered to take a selfie with us! And as if we weren’t major fans before meeting Tara in person (which we were) we are now the equivalent of what the “Little Monsters” are to Gaga or of what the “BeyHive” is to Beyonce – yes, WE WENT THAT FAR. The idolization is real, so naturally we were thrilled to get the scoop from her:
“I started by designing TIFF dresses for myself and my friends, which I would wear to events. People began to approach us and ask where the dresses were from and from there on it was a natural progression, which led me to designing even more and for other people too.”
We asked Tara if she ever studied design or if she was primarily self-taught:
“I took one fashion course at Western, then did a design internship, and from there on was self-taught. My learning style is a very hands-on process in which I learn through doing, experiencing, and trial and error.
Tara goes on to describe her creative process from sketch to garment:
“I will sometimes start with a sketch and then play around with the fabric through draping it on myself or on a mannequin. Many designers sketch first and then find the fabric, but I usually do the opposite.”
“I find a lot of inspiration for my collections through my travels. For example, my Miami Deco collection included the use of lots of geometric shapes, inspired from my trip to Miami where Art Deco styles and trends definitely caught my eye. But mainly, my inspiration comes very randomly and sporadically. I could be in a workout class and see a cool sports bra, which could spark some new ideas and allows each collection to be totally different.”
Tara describes her designs as being timeless, but with a little edge, and she prides herself in up-keeping high-quality standards throughout all aspects of her designs. By doing this, not only are her pieces classic in appearance, but they also stand the test of time. Her designs are also known for being versatile, meaning they can be worn many ways by a diverse group of people. Tara always incorporates a bit of a unique edge into her collections to add a bit of extra oomph
We finally asked Tara if she ever had a moment where she saw her garment on someone and thought: “wow, I can’t believe that person is actually wearing my piece!” and “now I can really say I’ve made it as a designer”
“At my first runway show in Yorkdale, Jeanne Beker was conducting the interview at the end and came to the event wearing two of my garments. I realized that this Canadian fashion icon was wearing my designs and it was incredible. However, I’m just ecstatic to see any woman – not just celebrities – wearing my pieces and it makes me equally happy to see a variety of people looking amazing and feeling confident in my designs.
“It’s pretty funny…. once I saw a girl wearing one of my jackets and I actually stopped her in the middle of the intersection and said ‘hey!’ and she was like ‘uh oh we’re literally in the middle of the intersection.’ I’ve seen a couple people out wearing my designs and it is really cool. My collections are smaller, so I don’t see it all the time – but when I do it’s always super exciting.”