2022 update - FAUN Studio will be showing on the runway at VFW FW22 on Thurs. Apr. 7th at 6:50 p.m. Tix HERE!
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2021 Bio and interview
Designed in Calgary, produced ethically and sustainably in Viet Nam.
faun /fôn/ noun (ROMAN MYTHOLOGY) - part girl, part mystical creature, a class of lustful rural gods
VFW Bio -
Calgary-based designer, Marisa P. Clark, graduated from the London School of the Arts in 2016 and continued to expand her design repertoire, launching the ready-to-wear women’s clothing line, FAUN, in 2018. Dedicated to promoting sustainable development in her late mother’s birth country of Vietnam, Clark has partnered with an ethically driven production facility Saigon to make high quality, timeless, fair trade fashion accessible to the Canadian market. Since then, FAUN has been stocked in boutiques across Canada and with the support in sponsorship from Global Fashion Collective, Clark has presented collections on the runways of Vancouver, New York and Paris Fashion Week. The Spring/Summer 2020 collection, titled “Mountains and the Moon”, was conceived at the beginning of the global pandemic. It represents the designer’s reflections on time and impermanence, as represented in the constant yet fleeting nature of the world around us.
Please share with readers a bit of your journey to fashion. Was it a dream from a young girl? What was it that led you to study at the London School of Arts?
For as long as I can remember, I loved the expressive power of fashion. I would insist on wearing extravagant tulle gowns to school, preparing my outfits weeks in advance. My mom’s first job when she moved to Canada from Vietnam was as a seamstress, so she taught me how to sew before I could even ride a bike. While I always dreamed of working in fashion, I had an equally strong interest in human rights and international development. After completing my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economic Policy, I realized I could combine these interests into a business - which led me to study fashion and ultimately create FAUN.
You have dedicated yourself to having a sustainable brand. What led you to embrace this area of fashion?
Like I mentioned above, working to better the lives of people in developing countries, particularly Vietnam, has always been important to me. Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, particularly for apparel manufacturing. As prices have gone up in China, huge international companies, like Nike, have switched production to Vietnam. This is good for their economy, but is also resulting in new problems like environmental damage and worker exploitation. I created FAUN as a way to lead by example when it comes to sustainable methods.
I am lucky to have found a production facility in Ho Chi Minh City that shares our values regarding the treatment of workers. There is a misconception that all production in Asia takes place in sweatshops. My production manager is working hard to promote a humane alternative. The biggest obstacle has been finding eco-friendly fabrics within Vietnam. To minimize waste, this season's collection's base range was created with back stock fabric, recycled from bigger brands, while our prints were created in a eco-friendly studio in India.
How did you open doors to move from a new designer, to having your brand stocked in boutiques across Canada?
I think that the success of FAUN is a testament to the shift in consumer values in Canada. We are seeing a shift away from fast fashion towards supporting local creators with high quality, sustainably made pieces. Knowing there demand in the market gives me the confidence to continue designing collections that make the wearer feel beautiful and special.
My advice for new designers is to reach out to buyers directly, explaining how your product will compliment their store (make sure to do your research!). Global Fashion Collective has been an amazing way to get my designs seen in New York and Paris, but most of our sales come from finding the right stores and hustling.
Readers would love to hear about your SS21 collection you'll be showing on the 25th. What was the inspiration. What can they expect to see?
Like all of my collections, SS21 is ready-to-wear and was created so that the modern woman can envision herself wearing each piece.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was in Canmore and I distinctly remember looking seeing a crescent moon in the middle of the afternoon sky behind an epic mountain line. It felt like such a rare moment and it made me reflect on impermanence. I realized that even the most permanent-seeming things like mountains will eventually shift and change. This collection features celestial inspired embroidery and prints alongside feminine silhouettes. Of course, all the models will be wearing masks to show our commitment to the changing ways of life.
In response to COVID restrictions, Vancouver Fashion Week S/S 21 will be offered as a FREE online event on October 24th and 25th. October 24th debut their latest collections on the runway via live stream video. Then on October 25th VFW will stream a series of International fashion films from a number of designers from all over the world. To view these shows, go to the Vancouver Fashion Week Live channel on Vancouver Fashion Week’s official website or to their official Instagram account - @vanfashionweek. These virtual events will bring incredible Canadian and International fashion and artistry into homes across the globe.