How a Toronto girl boss is making minimalist jewelry more than a trend

As Instagram feeds turn to clean, minimal aesthetics, it’s only fair that fashion and beauty trends do the same. Allison Asis, the founder of Cadette Jewelry, knows this all too well. The Toronto jeweller created Cadette in 2014 hoping to get women who don’t wear jewelry, like herself, to find a love for delicate pieces.

“I think there’s so many girls who are either not jewelry wearers or simply want pieces that compliment their natural style and natural being,” she says.

Asis started out as a fashion blogger, but realized she wanted more satisfaction from her creativity; and so the minimalist beauty of Cadette was born, drawing inspiration from trends worldwide.

“There’s a very simple, clean aesthetic that’s happening right now and it’s drawing inspiration from Japanese and Scandinavian style,” says Asis.

“It’s just clean lines – a simple jacket and pair of jeans. Or a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans. It’s all about simplicity, and I think this is jewelry that compliments that.”

Drawing inspiration from designers like The Row, by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Acne Studios, the Toronto jeweler looks to keep her pieces minimal but with a twist.

“I have a love for a lot of artists and that quirky, whimsical shape,” she says. “I find myself creating simple jewelry, but always with a spin. So maybe something asymmetrical or with an added stone.”

Recently, Asis also became a metalsmith, learning to create her own pieces from brass and sterling silver. She chose these two metals because brass can be polished to have a similar look as gold. Sterling silver - a popular choice for jewelry that stands the test of time.

“Even when it ages it looks beautiful with more character,” says Asis.

Since 2014, Asis has been the leader for all of Cadette’s departments – from creative to financial. She considers herself a one-woman show.

“It’s taught me a lot and it just shows you what you’re capable of,” says Asis. “It forced me to learn different sectors of the business, but it’s the weaker parts that make you work harder and get better.”

She believes that minimalist jewelry is here to stay.

“There’s obviously girls who still gravitate more towards a loud statement piece,” she adds. “Statements had their moment. But now that minimalist jewelry has become popular, more girls are thinking that they can get down with it.”


This piece was edited by Krizia Ramos, Co-Fashion Editor at CanCulture. 

Fashion Art Toronto (FAT2016)

FAT 2016 119 Fashion Art Toronto (FAT) is the fusion of art and fashion during a weeklong multi-arts event in Toronto running on April 12-16. Every day is packed with a mix up of runway shows, live performances, fashion films, art installations and photography exhibits. This year’s theme - Dress Codes, focuses on how fashion is used to construct a person’s identity. Everyday of the week each collection focuses on a sub-theme of the day. Friday's theme, Counter CODE, focused on the rejection of mainstream styles and is instead collections that are inspired by rebellion and evolution.  

Wolf N Crane

The first runway show of the night on April 15 was Wolf N Crane, a streetwear brand, by Ena Luckin. Inspired by Toronto streetwear, she showcased dresses, shirts, pants, rompers, leggings, shorts, and mini-capes in her featured line. Many of the designs included graphic prints of knives, roses, Hemp leaves and cranes.The colour palette of the pieces remained on the dark side, with mainly blacks and whites used as her bases with only minimal color added.

Neoteny Apparel

The second runway collection was created by Lex Brown showcasing her pieces from her company - Neoteny Apparel. Her collection -[Fallacy] Transitional focused on dress codes within non-creative work places. The pieces combined both modern business professional attireand the colourful prints, and cuts of fashion’s latest designs. Though the pieces stood out in their own way, there is still a conservative aspect and design to the pieces that make them office appropriate.

House of Poplyn

In the third runway show, House of Poplyn, featured many of its designs around layers of tulle and tie-dye for its theme - Dreamcatcher. Tanushree Pande, House of Poplyn’s founder, managed to embody the feminine charm and youthfulness within her pieces. The designs were a combination of both evening looks and dramatic ready to wear items. The overall colour palette remained on the fair side, with a mix up of whites, pale greens and baby blues, said to be inspired by the colours and patterns of nature.


Andrea JungMin Oh’s featured theme for her collection was Dressing Line, which improved  the ideas from paper dolls and technical drawings. Mainly a womenswear designer, Oh’s pieces stuck to only one colour, white, throughout her entire line. The pieces were beautifully versatile and designed in such a way that the items could be worn either as evening wear or as business attire.


The founders Pichora and Downs of Nuvango, joined together with Fashion designer, Hillary Sampliner, to present Sampliner’s collection called Colour Theory, which explores art in motion and the body as the canvas. The designs on the collection were created from works on canvas or on a computer screen. They encompassed a wide range of designs from pops of colors to loud and eye-catching pieces that are both bold and wearable.


Ross Wirtanen is the director and choreographer of the performance-art piece called SKULPTUR. The runway transformed with the setup and execution of this piece, which was inspired by greek mythology.

Padina Bondar

Padina Bondar focused her collections around the biology of the female reproductive system. Each piece represented the different stages and a specific period in a woman’s life. The pieces displayed both modern and retro feel to their designs. Despite being wearable art projects, some of the designs could be considered evening wear with the chic and elegant designs, which present the female form for what it is.

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.