First up, an item from today's T-C, Fashion: Small space, big ideas[/url:12c29], by Sarah Petrescu:
Fashion: Small space, big ideas
Tight quarters haven't cramped the style of Victoria designer
Sarah Petrescu, Times Colonist
Published: Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Hayley Gibson-Day's fledgling fashion house is barely 300 square feet of perfect space-use. Three sewing machines, a steam iron, dress form and shelves piled high with fabric hug the wall. A Murphy bed folds into a closet to make room for a desk. And a design table doubles as thread storage in the middle of the kitchen.
This is not only the home of Gibson-Day's debut line, Birds of North America, but it is also her home -- one she shares with her artist boyfriend, cat and dog.
"It's pretty incredible that we can both work and live here without going crazy," laughs Gibson-Day, 28, looking around at the small, industrial layout of her apartment in the funky Mosaic building.
Like most budding fashion designers, Gibson-Day has balanced day jobs and making clothes to sell in various boutiques over the years. But to make the jump from part-time artisan to full-fledged fashion maven takes a different level of commitment.
"It is basically a lot of really hard work to get your name known and get orders," says Gibson-Day, who has a degree in fashion design from Ryerson University in Toronto and ran her own tailoring business for the past few years. "That's just to start. It can take years of personal investment."
First, Gibson-Day had to come up with the pieces in her first official collection. She sketched out dozens of ideas, producing several in muslin-cotton prototypes, covered in markings.
"I'm drawn to feminine cuts that accent the waist, bust and hips," says Gibson-Day. "I was inspired by vintage uniforms, nautical wear and like hard-wearing fabrics."
The result is six pieces -- four skirts, a jacket and a dress -- made in heavy cotton twill, in three colours and sizes. High waists, muted colours and tarnished buttons unite the pieces that are interchangeable as casual or formal wear. They will retail from $250 to $500.
"Clothes like these are not cheap in price or make, but they're still affordable. You pay for quality and originality, which is actually very popular right now," says Gibson-Day, who is already starting on her spring collection. Birds of America is available in Victoria at Addiction (587 Johnson St.) and in Vancouver at Block (350 West Cordova St.) and Eugene Choo (3683 Main St.).
Gibson-Day's goal is to launch the collection in stores across the country, to participate in Toronto and B.C. fashion weeks by next year, and eventually to have her clothes manufactured (locally, of course). While I was at her place, she had just been asked to have her line featured in the October issue of Fashion Magazine and was scrambling to FedEx samples to photograph.
However, she's not interested in having her designs mass-marketed or in major corporate stores. "I still want my line to be designer clothes, made in Canada and independent," says Gibson-Day. But can boutique fashion design pay the bill?
"Definitely," she tells me. "There is a lot of money to be made in this industry, especially when people look forward to your work."
A few months ago I spoke to one of Canada's most successful independent designers, Lida Baday, who started on a path very similar to Gibson-Day's.
Baday also graduated from Ryerson's fashion design program and was cautious with how she marketed her signature classic, modern clothing. She told me how she built up relationships with retailers, including Donna Anderson at Hughes Clothing (564 Yates St.), who is still a huge fan, and handpicked where her line appeared.
Almost 20 years since she launched her line, Baday's designs are a staple at Holt Renfrew, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. She has more than 50 employees at her Toronto fashion house and her collections have grown to include hundreds of pieces.
"My artistic vision and integrity has always been the most important aspect to what I do," Baday told me. These aspects are also key to Gibson-Day, who struggled to let go of a regular paycheque to pursue her dream in fashion.
"It was pretty much now or never," she says. "I'm willing to not have a lot of stuff and stability in my life right now to go after what I really want to do. In fact, now I can't imagine doing anything else."
- Sarah Petrescu's Ready to Wear column appears Tuesday in Life. Send your comments, queries and style suggestions to email@example.com.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007
[url="http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=563c2280-db61-46a2-b2a0-ac2b21da5ed6&k=89441"]http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolo ... d6&k=89441
Gibson-Day's line emphasizes high waists, muted colours and tarnished buttons that unite the pieces.
Photograph by : Debra Brash, Times Colonist