Emily Ann Ives – her latest collection was showcased digitally at Vancouver Fashion Week SS’22 last year. Her strong ethic towards fashion design has intrigued us to get to know her design concept and her life story further. Below is our interview conversation with her.
Reina (Interviewer): Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background in fashion?
Emily: I am a Canadian fashion designer and a first year fashion student at Ryerson University. From a young age, I was creative and interested in fashion. My first love was ballet, as I have always enjoyed expressing myself through dance. However, at the age of 12, I was diagnosed with dystonia, which affected my mobility and prevented me from being able to participate in dance. Around this time, I received my first sewing lessons from a family friend that heightened my passion for fashion design. Since then, I have continued to be mentored by her in pattern drafting, construction, and sewing. Combined with these technical skills, I have continued to use fashion design as a form of self-expression and a creative outlet. I started working under my label, Emily Ann’s Designs in 2016 as a means to share my love for design with the world and to empower other women through fashion. Since then, I have produced collections that have been showcased both locally and internationally at various events and digital presentations.
Describe yourself in 5words.
Creative. Strong. Hard-working. Caring. Dreamer.
What was the biggest influence for you to pursue a career in fashion?
I have always been drawn to the industry and pursuing a career in the fashion industry felt natural to me. When I was younger, I learned a lot about the fashion industry from my mentor, who opened me up to the idea that fashion is something I could pursue professionally.
What do you enjoy the most in the process of creation?
It is always exciting for me when I find inspiration from something around me that sparks a new idea or design concept. Taking the idea from a picture in my mind to a physical garment is a special process that brings me so much joy. From sketching, sewing to the final design I enjoy it all. Even the problem-solving aspect of design I find interesting; figuring out how to take a concept and construct it as a 3-dimensional object.
What are some of your most favourite pieces of design and what do you like about it?
It is difficult for me to choose my favourite pieces because I put so much of myself and my passion in all my designs. My first collection entitled “Beauty in a Mess” will always be special to me because all the designs were a complete expression of my journey and show how far I have come as a person and a designer. From this season, my personal favourites include the trench coat and strapless jumpsuit. Both pieces are made entirely out of old shirts I repurposed. They are statement pieces that are meant to make you feel strong and powerful.
What are some of your biggest challenges when you design? How do you overcome those?
There are always challenges that occur at every stage of the design process, but that is what makes designing such an interesting process for me. Taking a design from an idea to complementation involves a lot of problem solving. I view design like storytelling and I feel that helps me when I set out to create a new collection. Figuring out what message I want to convey through the collection and looking at each piece as a different chapter of the book.
What are the 3 most important things that you value in your practice/brand?
I have always seen clothing as an extremely emotional aspect of people’s lives, as it affects how we view ourselves and can be used as a form of self-expression. The main thing my brand values is ensuring my clothing makes women feel empowered and like their most authentic self at that moment. This is what is most important to my design processes. Along with this I also value sustainable practices, clothing should be cherished and made to last. I am not perfect at this, but I do my best to find sustainable approaches to the design process. I value craftsmanship and feel bringing back old ways of constructing garments by hand is the best sustainable practice, giving a garment the time, care, and attention. Fashion should truly be seen as an art form, working in harmony with nature rather than against it.
Why is “empowering women” important you?
Ever since I was young, no matter what I create, I want it to help others. This started by donating profits of my designs to local charities that I personally feel connected to. However, when creating garments, i realized how powerful clothing is in people’s lives and how much it affects the way we view ourselves. Looking at the fashion industry, I never felt like I could see myself in the images portrayed as someone with a disability. And I know this experience is not uncommon for women of all backgrounds. This is why in all my designs I strive to create clothing that can help make women feel empowered and confident in themselves and who they want to be.
What is your favourite thing about fashion and being a fashion designer?
I love every aspect of the design processes. However, there is a certain exhilaration I experience when I have an idea for a design and take the idea from a concept in my mind to a final product. This is a long process and involves lots of work from sketching to see my design come to life. It is a special moment when I see someone wear my designs for the first time. my goal is to make women feel strong so seeing someone in my designs who is feeling confident is rewarding beyond words.
Do you have a message to all the fashion creatives alike?
I feel like the fashion industry is undergoing a much-needed change, we all need to start supporting each other and take care of the planet. Recent events such as the pandemic have highlighted how harmful current production systems are. i feel positive change can occur if we bring creativity back to the design process. Which means supporting slow fashion and making room for creative expression. but above all else, more inclusion of diverse groups is needed for any change to occur.
Emily has chosen fashion design as her self-expression and authenticity. Follow @emilyannsdesigns for her upcoming collections!