Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Lesley Senkow and SENKO (pronounced “sang-ko”) is for the individualist who doesn’t want to be put in one box. Silhouette, print, texture, colour and movement are always present in my designs. I like to play with the idea that everyone has a soft and hard side and that fashion can help bring these elements out. My collections will feature a mix of abstract patterns and statement pieces along with structured and elevated neutral classics to help create a more complex wardrobe.
What sparked your interest in fashion design?
Growing up I always felt the need to express myself through fashion. I was shy but fashion helped me express who I was and who I thought I wanted to be. Looking back, I went through many style phases in the process of figuring out who I was. How I dressed was always a representation of what I was going through at that time. I’ve always found fashion to be so anthropological and find it interesting that it is ever evolving just like us.
Can you describe your creative process?
My creative process definitely does not have a formula. I find myself spontaneously inspired the most by nature, folklore, history and travel. This can spark a general mood, colour palette, texture or silhouette. I don’t enjoy forcing creativity so I often finding myself randomly taking notes when ideas decide to arise and I’ll later go back and sketch them out. I’ll know when something is just an idea on paper versus a complete design. I’ll be standing in my kitchen cooking dinner then “ah-ha!” the rest of the design will emerge.
What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?
I love the itch. The creativity itch you can’t stop scratching until your idea has completely manifested into physical form. I don’t know where I heard it but “hold the vision, trust the process,” is one of my favourite quotes for designers and artists alike. Seeing your vision come to life in front of you is like nothing else.
How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?
I don’t mind it. I think if anything it has pushed me to invest in myself and my brand. If I was living in New York or some other major fashion capital I might have thought to pursue a corporate design role and been intimidated by the abundance of designers already trying to make it on their own. Vancouver in many ways feels like an untapped market. I think the game is starting to change with the shop local/slow fashion movement and it’s really exciting to see how our city will change with new emerging talent. I have travelled a fair bit and always get excited to come back to Vancouver. The proximity of nature, mountains, ocean and city really make it unlike any other place in the world.
In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?
I can’t wait to completely put myself out there and see it all come together. Last year was a very challenging year for me but my biggest lesson was to unapologetically remain true to who you are. This collection is a direct reflection of my experiences.
What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?
My S/S20 collection is inspired by the Moon’s gravitational pull on water affecting the tides. To me this represents the highs and lows we go through in life and the different roles we often play to get through them.
What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?
My goal is to create a luxury slow fashion brand in Vancouver with a focus on ethical and sustainable materials and practice. I am hoping that people will enjoy my collection and want to support my brand so that I can continue to create and expand in the future.
Thank you Lesley for talking to us about your creative brand! We look forward to seeing your brand at VFW.
Photos by Matthew Burditt.