The Common Thread fashion show

The Common Thread fashion show raised awareness about fair trade clothing by featuring ethically made and eco-friendly pieces from local designers on Jan. 20 in Toronto. Ideology of fairness is about clothes made with sustainable resources to secure healthy working conditions, protected environment and economic sufficiency.

Fair trade is a movement for change that works directly with human rights, consumers, companies, business and environment.

Mostly, designers got their fabrics from textile stores, thrift shops, garage sales and old clothing donations to make pieces for this fashion show.

Humility by Julia Welsh

After finishing the school of fashion design, Julia didn’t want to work for another company, but to see what she can do on her own. She has been in fashion design for 10 years and has been sewing since she was young, but in the last two years she finally found her own direction in the fashion industry.

She likes to think about comfort as well as mix and matching in many creative ways when she designs. “Each piece, I hope, you could wear in many different ways and will match with other items you have in your closet,” Welsh says.  

She finds the most challenging part of her job is to work on her visions and transform them into real pieces.

TING, Gabriel Ting

Gabriel went to tailor school when he was 15 years old and decided to design his own pieces when he could not find what he was looking for in the stores.

“I guess I have a different taste,” he says.

In his collection, he focused on genderless design, street wear fashion and timeless clothing.

“I feel like I don’t communicate well with words, I feel like I am better with visual language and fashion is my way to talk to people,” Ting says.

His collection is a personal perspective towards his life, his mentality and himself. Every piece he made has an expressive value and meaning attached.

“For me, sewing is the easiest part, but finding an identity in Toronto to bring myself up is really hard,” he says.

Niki Gerety by Niki Gerety

Niki grew up around fashion designs. Her grandmother was a dressmaker and a tailor. When she was young, she started making dresses for her Barbie dolls.

She finished art school and thought fashion design would be fun. “Fashion design wasn’t a serious choice, but when I got into it I really enjoyed it,” she says.

The most enjoyable part of her work is “the feeling of getting to see someone wearing ... my clothes and it never gets old,” Niki says.

She keeps her designs simple and usually uses cotton for her clothing. She doesn’t mass-produce; instead, she makes every piece from scratch and for a certain individual.

She says that finding fabrics that come from ethical sources is the most challenging part of designing for her.

Majestic Wisdom by Monah Water

Monah used to do illustrations, and last year she learnt how to sew, which inspired her to make her own original pieces.

“My inspiration is my culture, hip-hop culture and just black culture in general. I am a West African. I try to put my cultural elements from fabrics in everyday wear,” she says.

Being a fashion designer allows Monah to express her personality and connect her identify with her style.

“I am sort of a shy person and when it comes to colour I don’t really take a lot of risk, but through my line I find that I am doing that more often with the material,” Water says.

Elear by Cathleen Calica

Cathleen has wanted to be a fashion designer for a while, but she was always scared to do it. But after participating in a fashion show in high school, it gave her an opening to showcase her work.

It has been only a year since she started actually pushing herself into the fashion and arts industries. When it comes to fashion designs, she follows the rule “it doesn’t matter what you make as long as you like it.”

“My clothing pieces are my babies. I am feeding them. They are growing and they make me grow as a person,” Calica says.

She got the fabrics for this show from local stores, thrift stores and even garage sales. Some of them she has been collecting since high school.

“Being self-conscious is the most challenging part while you design,” Cathleen adds.

Trash by Dinah Teston

Dinah turns something people will consider garbage into a treasure.

She incorporates old ties, funky patterns and interesting designs and puts them on the pockets or different parts of old sweatpants to create a whole new piece.

Dinah gets all of their ties and patterns from local thrift shops and her friends donates their old sweatpants and old clothes to her.

“By supporting local and recycled fashion I always end up with awesome unique pieces while supporting our environment,” she says.  

Canadian Fashion Designer: Mani Jassal

Fashion designer, Mani Jassal showcased her Spring/Summer 2016 evening wear Udaipur Tea Party collection in a runway show at 99 Sudbury on Oct. 14, 2015. Jassal’s inspiration for this collection was the city of Udaipur in India, also know as the ‘City of Lakes’. The designer reflected majestic combination of mountains, water and marble architecture of the royal palaces in an innovative blend of fabrics, colours and silhouettes that give the collection very luxurious touch. She used silks, crepes, brocades and embroidered floral prints in intricate pieces – gowns, skirts, trousers, capes, and separates.

Jassal describes her self-titled label as “a little bit more rebellious and a little bit more different.” Each outfit reflects the designer’s individuality and every piece of clothing is hand-made by Jassal herself, sometimes with the help from her mother.

She uses fashion as a universal language by combining Canadian and Indian cultures together. “I am Canadian-Indian, so my brand is taking those two cultures together, putting them together and creating clothes for everyone. It is not just for Indians or just for Canadians – it is for everyone,” she said. She represents that idea by choosing her models from many different ethnic groups.

Her studio is a place where she produces clothes for both national and international clients. Local clients come to her studio to place the order and have a look at her newest collections. For her international clients, she offers virtual design consultations. “No matter where you are in the world, I am able to create you something for any occasion,” she said.

The process of designing a cloth takes a lot of time since Jassal does everything on her own, but the final product is the only one of its kind. She draws inspirations from traveling, reading fashion magazines, or just simply watching people around her. Whenever and wherever an idea comes to her mind, she starts sketching it right away. Next, she goes fabric shopping. If she sees something she likes, she automatically has this vision in her head what she wants to create with it. In her designs, she enjoys using a lot raw silks and incorporating to it some sort of shine or print fabrics. Her collections always remain in one colour rather than a bunch of different colours for each piece of clothing. She designs clothes that she would want to wear and her customers enjoy what she wears, so it goes hand in hand to balance her creativity with commerce.

“My favourite part about being a designer is that it makes me happy, I really enjoy doing it and it doesn’t feel like a job,” she said.

Since Jassal was 12-years old, she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer. It was in the high school when she had this kind of ‘breaking point’ because she did not know what she wanted to do and at this point she was actually planning to be an engineer instead of a fashion designer. However, her passion to fashion drove her to Ryerson University in Toronto for fashion design and two years after the graduation she is here with her self-titled brand.

In five years from now, she wants to have her own boutique. She is planning to open her first location in Toronto and then expand her boutiques all over the world.