Wednesday, May 23, 2018

KPU Wilson School of Design - Chelsey Wong of Textilier

On April 19, 2018, I was honoured to be invited to view KPU Wilson School of Design's 2018 The Show, a showcase of collections from the 31 students graduating from their fashion design program.

In addition to a show overview HERE, I selected a few student grads to offer solo interviews with. Each stood out in their own way.

Today's interview is with Chelsey Wong of Textilier. What drew me to her collection was the theatrical element combined with great fabric choices and strong tailoring.  She offered Victorian era silhouettes with modern design details. Film, TV, stage and Steampunk would all be natural outlets for her work.

Enjoy!

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Guangzhou, China, but have grown up and lived in Barnaby, B.C., Canada.

What you like when you were young?

As a child, I was involved in lots of after school activities ranging from ballet, art (drawing. painting, sculpture), pottery, soccer, swim, skating, etc. I enjoyed keeping my hands busy by making arts and crafts in my free time. I was pretty shy when I was younger, and also quite a tomboy. However, I still liked reading fashion magazines and dressing up.


What were your interests in High School?

In high school I became more interested in fashion, more specifically, in making clothing. This is when I learned how to sew with a sewing machine (in Home Economics. Grade 8). My friend and I started to get into DIY culture at this time. We would make our own band t-shirts because we were too young to get into the cool concerts. Besides the band t-shirts, I was making and customizing jewelry, bags, apparel and decor.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion?

My father will always tell everyone that when I was a small child, I made my own slippers out of paper and masking tape, and from that point on he knew I was going to be a creative-minded child. 

As child, I would cut up old magazines you could purchase at the library for 25 cents and create (what I now know is called) a mood board/ inspiration board. Nothing would come from these boards, they were just something I liked to create.

Besides that, my keen interest in sewing was probably a big clue that I would end up pursuing fashion. Once I learned how to sew, it was like a whole other world was opened up to me. I could create using fabrics and they were a lot more sturdy than paper. Not only did a sew clothes, but I also customized them too with paint and iron-on graphics.


Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design.  Was you family supportive?

I decided to study fashion design when I was in grade 11 (about 17 years old) because I was prompted by my high school Textiles teacher to consider it (at the time I was also considering science and electrical but both weren't serious). 

My parents were surprisingly supportive of me pursuing a career in fashion, though they still worried a bit about the post-grad job prospects and told me to have a Plan B (I never did have one!).

Why did you choose to study in the program at KPU Wilson School of Design?

I chose to study at KPU's Wilson School of Design program because it would fully prepare me for Vancouver's fashion industry: I would be learning every part of the process- ideation, experimentation, production and business. The cherry on the top was it is a degree serving program.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you? What was easy for you? Are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

Studying fashion design was a mix of highs and lows. Coming into the program, my thought processes for production was already quite developed, but I really struggled with the design process, specifically the ideation/ creation stage. My time at KPU has taught me to trust my research, which is how I get my ideation stage to start.

One memorable high moment during my time at KPU would be the day I got approved to go on exchange. Going to England had been on my bucket list for years and now I had the opportunity to live there! It was a big moment for me personally as well: it was the first time I would truly be away from my friends and family.


What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

My inspiration for Textilier came from my semester spent studying abroad. I chose to go on an exchange to England in my third year. I absolutely loved my time spent there. Nothing can compare to being in such an old city. I loved how you could walk around London and see landmarks from the time of the Great Fire of London, but at the same time, spot a modern glass building.

Arguably, London is the birthplace of Steampunk (the style of Textilier), so my designs were inspired by Victorian clothing and some modern design elements.

Describe your collection.

Textilier is for the woman who uses steampunk to express themselves and wants high quality pieces that they can wear everyday.


What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

I based the colour palette on what was in fashion for 1870. The colours are deep and have a warm tone. The base colours are browns, black and white with accents of deep burgundy and antiqued brass.

I used natural fibers such as cotton shirting and wool suiting, which would have been accurate to Victorian times and accented with a polyester jacquard which is the modern element.

Do you have a favourite look?

I don't have a favourite look, but I am still in love with the jacquard fabric that was used for the long coat and corset.


What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

Hopefully I can bring a fresh set of eyes along with my interest in more theatrical pieces to keep fashion fun.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

From here, I am working at a small Vancouver Fashion company, but I hope to segue into the film industry and work in costuming.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you if possible?

Fashion design and fashion in general is an outlet to creatively express who you are.”
Links -

For more information on fashion programs at KPU Wilson School of Design go to www.kpu.ca/design

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Vancouver Sustainable Fashion Designers (VSFD) - Painting Waste by Varvara Kronberg Zhemchuzhnikova

Please share about your journey to become fashion designer? Looking back, can you remember any moments growing up that hinted you'd embrace this career. 

I remember the moment when I felt I didn't want to be a fashion designer any longer. After 6 years of formal fashion education in Moscow, Russia, and almost 2 years of Master's programme in Fashion and Clothing design in Helsinki, Finland, I went to New York to present a collection of textile prints at a large textile fair. 

It was my first time in USA and in New York in particular. After living and studying in Helsinki I got an impression that people care about sustainability, that designers aim to design intentionally and produce ethically and that the world is moving towards a better practises. And then I found myself in the middle of NY with all the major fashion brands presented, with overflow of product, with sales up to 70-90%, with screaming advertising and impulsive shopping. 

No one seemed to care how it was produced, how much pre-consumer waste was produced along the way and how fast these garments will become post-consumer waste and end up in a landfill. I felt awful and didn't want to add to this messy industry or anyhow to be related to it.

Why was it important to you to offer a sustainable, responsible, Eco fashion line and how do you incorporate ideals such a Zero Waste into your work?

It took me over two years to recover and find my own way of being a designer and artist working within the fashion industry. I went back to my previous practice-based research in zero waste pattern cutting and took a closer look into the field of emotional attachment in design. I figured out that I can't stop designing, as it is in my nature, therefore I need to find the better practises of doing it. That's when I jumped into sustainable approaches in fashion. 

My thesis project for AALTO University (Helsinki, Finland) - a two year long research and production process - was an exploration journey what I can do differently.  My ready-to-paint project explores the possibilities of sustainable production and co-creation with the consumer. It aims at creating additional value to provide increased emotional attachment between consumers and products by producing high quality, emotionally valuable, and therefore durable clothing. Altogether, the project targets reducing both preconsumer and postconsumer fabric waste in the fashion industry." (More: http://www.fashionstudiesjournal.org/4-visual-essays-3/2017/7/30/other). There I made zero waste garments for children (artists) and mothers with labels that feature all the design and production parties, with prints patterns that are made with their artworks. My aim was to eliminate waste in the production process, educate the consumer, and bring emotional attachment to the final garment, so it stays away from the landfill. 

At the same time, doing research in waste percentage in fashion production I realized the scale of this problem and its invisibility to the majority, not only consumers but designers as well. That's when the idea of Painting waste project occurred.  I kept thinking about these cutoffs/ fabric leftovers/ waste that every non-zero waste designer / company has. I understand that as one individual I cannot solve this problem, but as an artist I can bring attention to it, so we can all together think of the solution and the concept of this waste.

Nowadays, it is widely known (I hope) that modern clothing industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. And as said previously there are different levels of waste streams such as pre-consumer and post-consumer. In Painting waste project, I mostly work with pre-consumer, industry waste. Upcycling (=making a product of higher value) this textile waste into art is one of the solutions to bring the value back to the discarded textiles. At the same time it is the way to question our practises of wasting resources and labor involved in textile production. 


In the creation of the paintings and art objects for the project the textile waste or scraps collected from fashion brands or independent designers are used. Sometimes I add textile scraps preserved by older family members or those I find at thrift stores or recycling organizations. I paint with the sewing machine bringing what was considered waste back to life. And then I add the layer of paint to connect two media together and question the concept of waste. Is it really a waste what we consider to be a waste? What if we cover a discarded silk in gold is it still a waste? Can the waste be a resource? Is it just our perception that puts labels on things to be waste or something of value for us. These are some of the concepts I wish people can think of when looking at my paintings.

And as someone from the fashion industry I want to point that now is the time we consider the waste we create daily as a resource for our future creations, it's more than enough of it.

Where do your find inspiration for new work?

In my painting waste project, I find inspiration in collaboration. As I work with other designers or fashion brands to get the waste fabric, there is always a starting point that's coming from outside. I get the resource to create with from other people-designers. Every time I get fabric scraps, there is always a story behind it, another designer's inspiration and creative process. I start there and add my input to it. I try to connect us both in the new painting and give it a new third life.

Please share a bit about your brand - client, materials, type of clothing you offer, where it's sold, collections or made to order?

As the project is fairly new, I don't have established practice of how I work with fashion brands or how is it sold. I explore the possibilities at this point. So far, I approached designers and brands myself suggesting to send/give me the waste from the cutting stage. After collecting it, I'd make a painting keeping the rights to it. But I'm open to new unexpected proposals to collaborate to come from the other side as well. How do I sell? Through Instagram and exhibitions. One exhibition is running right now at El Kartel in Vancouver where new works are presented to the public and are available for purchase. I work with commissions as well.

What are the biggest challenges you face as an sustainable designer?

The realization that I'm a tiny part of the huge industry that is very slow to change in every level.

How do you help customers understand the higher cost of sustainable garments when they are so inundated with sweatshop-produced cheap merchandise?


In my case, the question is how do I help my customers understand why something that was considered waste suddenly costs money, and that exactly what I love about this project. It basically looks at the question of how much our waste costs us as well as the next level of questions on the topics such as waste as a resource and how we can transform our perception of waste. 


To be honest, I'm not helping my customers to validate the cost of the paintings. I'm OK if someone says this painting is a waste and I'm not paying for it. Contemporary art in many cases faces similar judgments. Every opinion is valuable. For these paintings, I wish to show them either in the museums bringing the questions to the public further, or on the walls of owners who see the meaning in the paintings from this project and it becomes a statement for them to have this art piece in their home.

How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?

I do try to own clothing that has a story behind them and has a personal meaning for me as well, therefore I keep it in my wardrobe longer (forever). 


How did you connect with Vancouver Sustainable Designers, and what are the benefits of being a member?

Over Facebook. I got invited to the group by a friend and joined the group mainly to learn about Vancouver's mindful fashion community. I've attended only couple of events so far but, it's been an amazing resource of knowledge and new connections work and non-work related. I'm sure it will grow into something bigger with time. I feel great to be a member of a group and seeing other like minded designers brings me hope that we can "do good design" together. 

Anything else you would like readers to know? 

I'll be happy to see you at the El Kartel exhibition event running now through July.   (https://www.facebook.com/events/1442577415848106/ )

Social Media Links - 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Three Bean Salad with Corn and Avocado

Image from The Noble Pig
I love it when those food videos appear in my Facebook newsfeed. I drool my way through most of them knowing they are far too complicated, fussy or calorie filled for me to ever make them. Then come those that offer great possibilities like this one.  Most get copied into a blog to be made at a later date, but every once an awhile they end up on my table within 24 hours.

My wonderful friend and publisher Julie Salisbury of Influence Publishing was returning from almost 6 months abroad travelling in Mexico, Britain, Southern France and Malta.  She was arriving mid-afternoon after a long plane trip, so I knew she would be tired and hungry.  I wanted a simple supper that was ready to go so that I could spend whatever time she stayed awake enjoying talking to her and hearing about her travels.

The first video to catch my eye was a recipe for Huli Huli Chicken. It had a wonderful marinade and you just dumped everything in a Ziploc the night before, then finish on the grill. It was served with grilled pineapple spears.  Perfect!  No muss no fuss in the kitchen. You can check out that recipe HERE.

Then
Recipe HERE
I threw together this
bean salad in the morning minus the avocado. While I picked my friend up at the airport, my husband grilled the pineapple and chicken and placed it in a low oven to keep warm. Then right before serving I cut up the avocado, tossed it with a little extra lime juice and gently added it to the bean salad.

The chicken is wonderful, but the grilled pineapple served with it took it to the next level. Then the salad was a great counterpoint. Not highly dressed - just olive oil, lime, salt pepper - but it let the chicken's flavour take centre stage. And I'm going to throw some cooked turkey in the leftover bean salad to make a healthy lunch today, so cook once eat twice. Works for me.

Enjoy!

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Three Bean Salad with Corn and Avocado
Created by Cathy Pollak for NoblePig.com | Serves: 8-10

Ingredients - 

1             15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1             15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1             15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1             15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1             Large orange, yellow or red bell pepper, diced
12           Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I diced 3 Roma Tomatoes as that's what I had)
1             Bunch cilantro, chopped
2             Large avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
2             Cloves garlic, mashed or finely diced
Juice of 2 large, juicy limes
1/2 cup   Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTE - I also added about 3/4 C shredded carrots for some extra colour and crunch! I love including more veggies. And, when I made this again will be adding some green onion as I felt it needed it.

Directions -

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. 

Note - My change was to hold the avocado out until the last minute, toss it with a little extra fresh lime juice and then gently mix it in. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

KPU Wilson School of Design - Sandy Escalante of ONE IN TWO

Runway image by Peter Jensen

On April 19, 2018, I was honoured to be invited to view KPU Wilson School of Design's 2018 The Show, a showcase of collections from the 31 students graduating from their fashion design program.

In addition to a show overview HERE, I selected a few student grads to offer solo interviews with. Each stood out in their own way.

Today's interview is with Sandy Escalante.  What I loved about her designs is they were not only great wearable, comfortable, stylish pieces - they were also uniquely convertible.  Hooks down the side of a wider Capri length pant meant you could narrow them to a slim silhouette.  Sleeve length on her top could go up and down.  And one pant had a lower panel that could be removed to make them capris.  All great ideas

Enjoy!

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in East Vancouver; however, my parents are from El Salvador and I grew up speaking Spanish at home.

What were you like when you were young?

I am the youngest of 3 and I was very shy, soft spoken and had a big imagination. I spent a lot of my childhood making crafts. I borrowed books from the library, watched Art Attack on TV and tried to recreate what I saw. I was always proud of my artwork and would bring it to school for show and tell.


What were your interests in High School?

I took textiles classes throughout high school. Most academic classes and PE were not my strong suit, I tried everything to avoid running laps! I excelled on the creative side, but at the time academic courses were seen as more important so I felt like I needed to focus on them more and put my creativity aside to do better in those courses. The way I was able to actually express my creativity during this time was through dress.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion?

Even though money was scarce growing up, my mom always ensured that we were dressed in the latest trends. She was always fashion forward and taught us that fashion, along with your overall appearance are forms in portraying yourself and how you are perceived by others, in addition to being comfortable in what expresses you. That really stuck with me and peaked my interest in fashion. From then on I started following trends and went through some interesting phases until I found my personal style.


Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design.  Was you family supportive?

I had a lot of family and friends encouraging me to pursue fashion, however I wasn’t sure where it would take me as a profession. After high school, I took time off to reflect and decide what would be the right path for me.

Why did you choose to study in the program at KPU Wilson School of Design?

I had a few friends who had been in the program at KPU and were successful in the industry, and shared their experiences, opportunities and challenges. After doing my own research about the program and the job market in Vancouver, I was convinced that this was the right place for me to obtain an education in design.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you? What was easy for you? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

During my time studying Fashion Design, I learned a lot about the reality of the fashion industry; the business, technical and creative side of the processes. I learned how important it is to design with intent, empathizing with a group of people through design by doing research and analysis, producing a garment they need/want and marketing it to them. Community and collaboration were an essential part in my education that pushed my perspective and helped me improve. I was lucky to be with a group of people who always tried to remain positive through the stress and deadlines, whether it was through jokes or sending memes.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?
In my 3rd year at KPU, I studied abroad in Berlin and I lived in a very small single dorm room, and in I traveled around Europe with only my carry on bag. I noticed that most of the clothes I had and the clothes I would pack for travel were all similar with slight detail differences (95% of it was black). So, I had to be mindful of what I was consuming, more than usual, because I was limited to space-and 50 pounds of luggage space for my trip back home. When I returned home, I became aware of how little space my friends and friends of friends had. In my research, I found that many people in Vancouver live in homes that are 1000 square feet or less.

Describe your collection?

ONE IN TWO is inspired by limited space, decluttering and convertibility for the modern day minimalistic woman aged 35-45; minimal in the sense of owning fewer possessions and consuming fewer products. A single product from this collection can be worn in up to two ways, adopted from the idea of saving space and time. Subtle and effortless minimalist details are showcased within the collection, allowing individuals to manipulate the silhouette of the garments, transforming the appearance from one look to the next.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

This season I tried to stay away from black because she will already have black in her closet. So the palette consists of colours within the realm of minimalism, that are light and classic that can be effortlessly transitioned through seasons. This collection includes quality woven and knit fabrics such as wool silk and bamboo cotton blends, that have the ability to last through wear and time along with being lightweight for packability, storage and travel. Additionally, these pieces have the capacity to be layered and worn easily with one another along with what is already in her wardrobe.



Do you have a favourite look?

I like all the looks in this collection but my favorite would be the white pants and crop jacket because it represents me as a person and designer the best.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?
Hopefully, I will encourage combining function from other areas of design (such as technical apparel and accessories) with fashion and trends. I can showcase how functionality can play a role in fashion without having to sacrifice style. Along with increasing awareness of over consumption and creating an expressive platform that people can identify with.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

All of the above. After 4 years of full time school I definitely want to take a bit of time to relax and regroup. Ideally I’d like to gather experience from experts in the industry and my long term goal would be to have my own brand and collection.

Links - 
  • Email - sandykescalante@gmail.com
For more information on fashion programs at KPU Wilson School of Design go to www.kpu.ca/design

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken

Image form The Recipe Critic
Every once and awhile a cooking video appears in my Facebook feed that cannot be ignored. It makes my mouth water. Then, if the timing is right it goes instantly to the top of my must make list.

Such is the case with this recipe - Grilled Huli Huli Chicken from The Recipe Critic. They in turn adapted it from a recipe on Taste of Home. You know it must be good when it continues to move from one site to the next.

I have company coming to stay in just a few days, so have been trying to make a meal plan for the time she is here.  I don't have to spend time thinking about what's on the menu.  AND we have just headed into the first of our sunny, warm spells, so grilling fits right into the mix.

Since I won't be making this for 3 or 4 days, I can't comment on how it turned out. So be sure and check back for my notes.  But I can tell you right away that the combination of pineapple juice and brown sugar in the marinade/baste bode well.  Citrus is great for adding flavour and tenderness. Brown sugar will add a wonderful caramelizing note in both the flavour and colour.

I truly can't wait to try this for her and am pretty sure it will go into regular rotation in my meal planning. Not sure yet if I'll be grilling the fresh pineapple on the side, but who knows.  And as a sided bonus - cooking the meat on the grill means there are less pots and pans in the kitchen to clean up which means more time having fun with my friend.

Enjoy!

= = = =

Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
Serves: 10-12 (can't confirm this yet)

Ingredients - 

4 lbs       Boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (thighs would be juicier)
1 C         Unsweetened pineapple juice
½ C        Soy sauce
½ C        Brown sugar
⅓ C        Ketchup
¼ C        Chicken broth
2 tsp       Fresh ginger root, grated
1½ tsp    Minced garlic
Green Onions, sliced for garnish

Instructions - 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, chicken broth, ginger and garlic. Reserve 1 cup sauce for basting. Add the chicken and the rest of the sauce to a Ziploc bag and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Grill the chicken, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Baste occasionally with reserved marinade during the last 5 minutes. Garnish with green onions if desired.

Note - this recipe is on many blogs. Couldn't find the video from The Recipe Critic on Youtube, so snagged this one from channel called Bread Booze Bacon.


Friday, May 11, 2018

KPU Wilson School of Design - Ho-Chi Huang of VERT


Runway Images by Peter Jensen

On April 19, 2018, I was honoured to be invited to view KPU Wilson School of Design's 2018 The Show, a showcase of collections from the 31 students graduating from their fashion design program.

In addition to a show overview HERE, I selected a few student grads to offer solo interviews with. Each stood out in their own way.

Today's interview is with Ho-Ching Huang of Vert.  What drew me to her collection was the strong design work, great proportions and perfect tailoring she included in her hi-tech menswear looks. I know many athletic men that would wear these pieces in an instant

Enjoy!

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Where were you born, where did you grow up?


I was born and raised in Taiwan, and grew up in a big family with 3 elder sisters.


What you like when you were young?

When I was a little girl, I often thought about being a fashion designer. I loved to sketch clothes on paper and drape fabric on Barbie dolls. I felt very strongly about fashion trends and customs, and I could spend a whole day in the museum looking at garments from different eras. To me they’re art, and make statements about different time periods and personality traits. 

What were your interests in High School?

During my adolescence, I felt even stronger about fashion design and started to make my own clothes, mostly just by adding and altering decorative aspects. Beside my fashion interests, I also spent a lot of time around seniors, keeping them company. I liked listening to their stories and helped them by running errands. I felt empathy for those who were not being taken care of by their own their own children. I felt the same with veterans who fought in the War and had no family to care for them in old age. 


Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was your family supportive?

Looking back, I knew I wasn’t a book smart person in school, even though I tried to study hard in Taiwan. For example, I went to school at 8 am, finished class at 9pm and studied until 2 am every weekday. Luckily, I could sleep in on weekends, but I still would barely pass exams. Also, I felt exams-oriented education wasn’t suitable for me. I didn’t like memorizing subjects and often did not fully understand what was being taught.

My family loved to travel and have always encouraged me to experience new things and open myself up to the world. When I was in high school, my mother asked me if I want to study aboard and what I wanted to do for my major.

I knew I was good in art and had often thought about being a fashion designer since I was young. With my mother’s support, I soon decided to follow my dream to become a fashion designer after high school. I came to Vancouver when I was 18, I had no relatives here and couldn’t speak English at all. I was a naïve young woman, with plenty of courage at that time. The reason I chose Canada, was because I wanted to stay in a multicultural society instead of fully adapting to a new culture, and Canadians are more friendly than those in other English-speaking countries.

I started my post-secondary education at VCC’s ESL center, and was a beginning English student. At that time, the vocabulary I knew I could count on my 10 fingers. I needed my Chinese-English dictionary wherever I went. However, I met many friends who were international students like me. We helped each other and experienced Canadian’s culture together.

It took me one and half years to complete my grade 12 English, but I still couldn’t obtain a B grade on my writing, which was required to get in the degree fashion program at KPU. So I enrolled in a 2-year Diploma program in fashion arts design at VCC. It was challenging for me to understand everything in class, and be able to express myself clearly in English; however, I struggled really hard to blend in and complete my diploma. 


Why did you choose to study in the program at KPU Wilson School of Design?

After my college graduation, I had been working in the fashion industry for over five years before I had a chance to go back to University. In 2016, I decided to pursue my degree in Fashion and Technology at KPU while still working as contractor for some Vancouver base apparel companies. Coming back to school as a mature industry student was a life changing experience. However, I’m glad to have the opportunity to upgrade my skills with the newest technologies, machinery, and expand my knowledge in technical outerwear. Most importantly, I was glad to fulfill my dream of completing a degree. Not earning a degree had bothered me and my family for a long time, both consciously and unconsciously.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you? What was easy for you? Are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

I really enjoyed my time studying fashion design and loved all design aspects from concept, product development, testing to set final specifications and runway presentation. I have a strong, unending curiosity for investigating design problems and I’m eager to solve them, in feasible way. Also, I try to push myself further, to improve and refine my designs until there is no time left.

In life, I constantly strive to become a better fashion designer, one who is knowledgeable in both creative and business aspects. I understand it’s not enough for designers to be just creative; we also have to have business sense and understand the mechanics behind it. However, it’s a hard road. Designers need physical and mental stamina and must be absolutely, passionately in love with what they are doing.

Sometimes it’s tough. There was one point where I felt really low, with no energy and passion left in me, with endless working hours and tight deadlines. I just kept telling myself to stay true to my design ethics and try to be different. I don’t follow the trends and believe in what I do, I have a big dream and take small steps. 


What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?


My inspiration came from military attire and veterans who fought from the post-world war 2. I have a strong connection with them and feel great empathy for what they have experienced; as well as, appreciation for their efforts and sacrifice which lead to peace for their descendants and the generations to come.

I incorporated many military elements into my designs such as a military vest, straps buckles, functional and oversized pockets, hoods and ergonomic cuts with a more modern take.

Describe your collection.

My Vert collection caters to sustainable commuters who are shifting their daily commute from cars to more sustainable transport modes like public transit, walking and biking. Vert is specifically tailored to harmonize and balance modern esthetics with high-performance men’s fashion clothing. It offers a new dimension of freedom with functional, masculine, and urban tailoring. I used high-tech, and durable fabrics to protect wearers from different weather conditions, keeping body temperatures regulated while still looking stylish in natural and simple ways for the urban vibe. Innovative fabric choices are combined with ergonomic, articulated and unencumbered, providing great range of motion.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

My color palates were inspired by camouflage pattern with more warm color such as tan, olive green, soft olive, brown, black and white. I used many innovative fabrics in my collection to encourage layering of the garments such as Merino wool as base layer that provides excellent temperature regulation, recycled Chitosante fabric that has anti-bacterial, wicking, UPF50 and DWR features, soft-shell windproof, waterproof and breathable fabric, high-performance 4 ways stretch with DWR finishes, and Gore-tex. 


Do you have a favourite look?

My favorite look is the all-day comfort outfits with Cebu blazer, Tim pant and Kuru top.

This blazer and pant combination is made of an innovative 4-way stretch fabric, and is highly articulated at joints for comfort and mobility. Both use water resistant fabrics that are additionally treated with a durable water repellent. The blazer uses a breathable mesh backing for ventilation and features low profile laser cut pockets to store mobiles or transit passes, and it also has an interior cross body strap as a shoulder carry option.

The Merino wool Base layer top has a thumb-hole detail that helps prevent sleeves from slipping and bunching while holding rails or straps on train and bus rides. They cover wearers palm and back hand keeping them warm. Overall, this look is modern but still has a technical and functional yet pragmatic purpose.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I’ve come a long way from where I began my fashion journey. I strive for my designs to be unique and expressive in some way others appreciate.

I believe our life metaphors influence us more than we realize, and I don’t see this expressed in fashion. Our world views determine our expectations, our value, our relationship, our goals and priorities. I try to express this in all my designs. They have meaning, form and function. 


Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I was invited and showcased my first collection at Vancouver Fashion Week and launched my own brand” Ho-Chi” in 2011, after I finished my college diploma at VCC. I designed and custom made cocktail outfits for my customers in the beginning, then created a couple collections and focused on women’s ready to wear clothing. While creating my own designs, I also work for other apparel companies, creating patterns, illusions and assisting production processes.

In 2018, inspired by my apparel industry experience, I fell in love with highly functional, innovative and technical garments for menswear. For now, I’d like to produce a few designs from my VERT collection and have them ready to sell on my online store by next year along with my new womenswear. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to work for other apparel companies and gain more industry experiences; as well as expend my connections and become a more mature designer.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you?

To me, “fashion design is about the expression of inward and outward beauty, with form and function” 


Anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned?

My mentor always encourages me and says” Don’t let fear and minor obstacles stop you from doing the things you love.” This is a lifelong lesson I have been working on for a while, and I would like to share it with others.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Vancouver Sustainable Fashion Designers (VSFD) - Jessica Redditt of Jessica Redditt Design


 Note - this is the first in a regular series featuring members of Vancouver Sustainable Fashion Designers (VSFD). I am often asked where people can buy sustainable fashion locally, so felt this series would help to answer that question. Enjoy!

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Please share about your journey to become fashion designer? Looking back, can you remember any moments growing up that hinted you'd embrace this career.

I’ve always been into dressing up, making things and looking at fashion through an artistic lens.

I started creating jewelry when I was 10 and selling it to shops that would consign my pieces. I ran my first fashion show in grade 9 and sold my printed tees and vintage finds at school events. In high school we didn’t have a fashion program so my art teacher and I created one through the art program. Hopefully they have a program running there now! I applied to Ryerson University and was accepted into the Fashion Design program.

I opened my first boutique at age 21 in Ottawa. Since then, I’ve owned and operated 11 different store fronts that carried my own designs, other local sustainable designers, and vintage.

Why was it important to you to offer a sustainable, responsible, Eco fashion line and how do you incorporate ideals such a Zero Waste into your work? 

It’s always been part of my maker motto to be a responsible eco-designer. I’m not sure how it started; I suppose it’s been passed down from the generations behind me. Our grandparents lived through a time where everything was saved or recycled and I observed a lot of that as a child.

I’ve incorporated these values into my design by using reclaimed textiles that are natural and bio-degradable and using natural dye colours.

I’m also trying out a pre-sales campaign model right now: fulfilling orders rather than producing a surplus of clothing that cannot be sold.


Where do your find inspiration for new work?

Nature is so inspiring to me - the colours, shapes, textures. I also find inspiration in history and culture. History is constantly repeating itself. I love classic silhouettes that can transcend time and still look amazing and stylish. I work in film so I watch a lot of movies that I draw ideas from.

Please share a bit about your brand - client, materials, type of clothing you offer, where it's sold, collections or made to order?

Jessica Redditt Design is handmade in Vancouver, BC. I select natural and reclaimed textiles, and construct timeless and romantic silhouettes. Each garment I piece-dye in natural botanical colours. They are also available undyed by request. The collection consists of a wardrobe that can be worn together or separately, for any occasion.

I’m launching a 6-piece capsule collection, called In Bloom through pre-sales on Kickstarter, April 20-May 20, 2018.


What are the biggest challenges you face as a sustainable designer? 

Though we are entering an era where the general public is now aware of what “sustainable” means, few people are able to put their dollar behind it. When there are so many temptations nearby to shop “fast fashion”, it’s not easy to be heard and noticed. I would say reaching a larger audience that will support the cause of a sustainable brand is the biggest challenge I find to date.

How do you help customers understand the higher cost of sustainable garments when they are so inundated with sweat shop-produced cheap merchandise?

It’s great to remind people, or ask them about where their clothing comes from and who do they think made it. I try to guide my customers through the lengthy process of creating one garment: from sourcing, designing, to dyeing and then a finished product. I also try to emphasize how fast fashion is actually killing our planet and that it’s so longer an option for us to ignore how garments and products are manufactured.


How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?

I’m working at becoming a plastic free and zero- waste household. We compost everything, recycle, and try not to consume too many packaged goods.

I really love the idea of being self-sustained within a household and a community. We are learning to grow our own food, shop less and use our resources to make more of our own things. I’m also growing a dye garden for colouring my natural clothes!

How did you connect with Vancouver Sustainable Fashion Designers, and what are the benefits of being a member?

I met Irina from VSFD about a year and a half ago at Eco Fashion Week ( the last one!). I’m was new to Vancouver to the Vancouver Fashion Scene, so Irina introduced me to the group and so many amazing people. What a bright community it is! I’m so grateful to be connected. It’s different than any other fashion community I’ve been a part of. Really inclusive and friendly.


Anything else you would like readers to know?

I’d love to spread the word about my new collection. I’m running a Kickstarter campaign until May 20th, pre-selling my first collection. It’s a great way for me to meet my first time clients and interact with them. 

And I’ll be showing the collection at the “Art World Expo” this Friday May 11th at the Telus Science Centre and at the “She Is We” Event at the end of May. If you attend, please stop by, say hi and check out my collection.


Kickstarter Campaign:

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Upcoming Events-
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For more information on Vancouver Sustainable Fashion Designers (VSFD), please visit -