Behind the Scenes of Ottawa's Fashion Industry By Rielly Riggs

Although Ottawa is typically not known for its array of fashion, local fashion designers and events, like Runway for Hope, are helping Canada's capital get there.

The seventh annual Runway for Hope fashion show took place in March. The event aims to engage Ottawa citizens with the city's aspiring local designers and models.

Events like Runway for Hope give those working in the local fashion industry an opportunity to showcase their brand. Other popular fashion shows in the city include Capital Catwalk, which took place in January. Some designers, like Robecca Rowe, even go outside of the city to participate in fashion shows. Rowe is currently preparing for Fashion Art Toronto, which will begin on April 18.

Local fashion designers say that the industry is growing and making its way into the city though.

"We have so much talent here, whether it's in music, fashion, art, we have a lot of talent here," said Rowe.

Richard Robinson Fashion Academy, Ottawa's own fashion school, is located downtown and provides guidance to aspiring fashion designers, including classes for designing and fabricating clothing.

"It’s where I learned more of my professional skills,” said Julie Aubin, a recent graduate from the school.

Aubin has been designing her own clothes since a young age and decided to go to school to pursue her passion. She is currently creating a website to showcase her brand, Amethyst Designs, and begin selling her clothes.

The nice thing about fashion is that it doesn’t matter where you live because the online market is so large, Aubin says.

For this reason, growing her brand in Ottawa has not been difficult despite the fact that the city is not known for its fashion industry.

Photo taken by Rielly Riggs

Photo provided by Julie Aubin, Amethyst Designs. Model: Alex-Anne Lamoureux

Photo taken by Rielly Riggs

Photo provided by Julie Aubin, Amethyst Designs. Model: Charette Therese

Photo taken by Rielly Riggs

Photo provided by Julie Aubin, Amethyst Designs. Model: Lindsay Nissen

Photo taken by Rielly Riggs

Photo provided by Julie Aubin, Amethyst Designs. Model: Jessica Morin

"Every city has their own vibe," said Rebecca Rowe, a local Ottawa fashion designer.

A unique aspect of the fashion industry is that styles can be adapted based on the city, said Rowe. She studied fashion design in New York City and Paris, and is now designing clothes in Ottawa to be closer to family.

In Paris, styles are very neutral, mixed with pastel colours, according to Rowe. When she did her internship in London, there was a mix of all different styles and patterns. While Ottawa isn't the most fashion-forward city, she says that it's getting there.

Part of the reason why the fashion industry in the city is growing is because of the "huge push to shop local," she said.

Julie Aubin agrees that at times it can be difficult to find extensive fabric collections in Ottawa, so she tries to visit fabric shops as much as she can while travelling outside of the city.

Rowe also believes that people in the city need to be more aware of the work that goes into creating custom, local designs. It can be hard when you’re just getting exposure because you want people to buy and you want viewers of your pieces to be buyers, she said.

It’s challenging when people are exploiting and using designers for entertainment when they put so much work into what they do. “Most are willing to create collections because they love it, but it’s not beneficial for them,” Rowe said.

Though Ottawa’s fashion industry is taking steps in the right direction to open and expand its fashion industry, there is still work that needs to be done to make the city one of world-class fashion. Promoting fashion shows and events like Runway for Hope, including local models and designers, seems to just be the beginning of the industry's development.

The first three photos have been provided by Julie Aubin, from Amethyst Designs. Other photos in the grid are taken from Rowes Fashion Facebook page.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.