I had the pleasure to attend the annual INLAND Canadian Shopping Event right here in Toronto. The event is about connecting customers to the retailers and having the opportunity to learn more about these amazing Canadian designers. There were over 30 brands at the event to showcase what Toronto has to offer to the fashion industry. During the night I had the opportunity to interview Sarah Power, founder of INLAND and Peace collective, a Canadian design that supports children in need with meals for a month. If you get the opportunity to attend the event next season, go and see what Canadian designers are just around the corner from you.
EM: What is INLAND all about?
SP: INLAND is a Canadian designer shopping event. It’s about educating the average shopper about the existence (and insane greatness!) of Canadian fashion and design, and connecting them directly to it.
EM: What inspired to create INLAND and creating a place for Canadian Designers to connect with their buyers and press?
SP: The goal is to influence more retailers and media outlets to invest in, carry and talk about Canadian design. Ultimately though, I want that to translate into getting the average shopper buying more Canadian. There is so much incredible talent here, but with a lack of centralized support between media, national retailers, educators and fashion focused organizations, there is a gap in overall awareness and accessibility. The “fashion” industry can be quite exclusive, but I don’t think it has to be that way. INLAND is about providing a space for everyone to discover, buy (fashion is a business) and connect designers, brands, everyday consumers, retailers, media, and industry.
EM: Where do you see the fashion industry for Toronto in the next five years?
SP: I can’t really speak just about Toronto because I’m looking at the whole country, but I look forward to seeing Canadian fashion being recognized enough to be on the cover of every national magazine publication and featured regularly (not just as a special /novelty post) in major media. We can’t grow as an industry unless we acknowledge and promote the value our own identity as a creative culture. Everything is about brand; a designer’s brand…a nation’s brand. It would also be pretty great if everyone in Canada owned at least one Canadian designed/made piece. After that, the world!
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EM: What are your favourite Canadian designers showcased at INLAND?
SP: That’s impossible to answer; they’re all so good and just incredible human beings. They each bring such a unique dynamic in both design and personality. I’m pretty excited for SOM KONG though. He and his team are installing an entire fashion-art structure as part of their booth. It’s going to be amazing. I’m also looking forward to having HAYLEY ELSAESSER. I fell in love with her collection at World MasterCard Fashion Week and have really enjoyed working with her. She’s full of life and works really hard to get her work out there. We have 7 designers who have presented at #WMCFW, 10 from Montreal, 2 from Halifax and 2 from London – it’s a killer line-up.
Yanal Dhailieh on Peace Collective:
EM: What got you to create a line of fashion to support children’s in need?
YD: Long before I had decided to start a fashion brand I knew that if I was going to launch a business of any kind there definitely would be a philanthropic aspect incorporated. 4-5 years ago I read a book by Blake Mycoskie (Founder of Tom’s) titled “Start Something that Matters”. It explained the importance of the “One for One business model” and truly changed my life.
The reason we decided to support children and donate school meals was because of an eye opening experience I had a year ago. I volunteered in Rabat, Morocco at a school teaching English. The program was specifically geared at helping children who typically did not get to attend class.
Unfortunately, in this part of the world parents take their children out of school and put them on the street to beg for money. The school found that the only way they could convince the parents to allow their kids to go to school instead of running in the streets was to offer a meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ultimately, the youth is the future. And if we as a society do not empower our youth and give them the tools and opportunity to be great, we are stopping growth and closing the potential to make this world into a better place.
EM: What are the inspirations behind your designs?
YD: When it comes to design I try not to think too hard and over-complicate things, I let inspiration and ideas come to me in their own time. I am not a big fan of sitting in front of a computer and forcing new designs, I have Peace Collective in the back of my mind pretty much 24 hours a day. I carry a little notebook with me at all times, people definitely think I am crazy when they see me take a notebook out and start jotting notes down madly. Sometimes an idea hits me when I am at the movies, or walking in the park. Sometimes I can be in mid-conversation with a friend and a flash of inspiration will pop in my head. When that happens I have to jot it down right away. At the end of the week I will review all of my notes and see what sticks, and what doesn’t.
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EM: Where do you see Peace Collective in 5 years?
YD: Really the goal here is to become a nationally recognized brand. We see the brand expanding outside of Toronto and into both the west and east coast. In the next 5 years I see Peace Collective making a transition from a city focused brand to a Canadian brand that allows people to proudly showcase who they are and where they are from. To start all this off we are actually gearing up to launch a Canadian wide collection October 1st and previewing the line before then at Inland.