By Justine Woolcott
Photography by Stephenson Price
Architecture is not often associated with the word “fashion,” but Toronto-based designer Rachel Sin says her training in that field has helped her to be the designer she is today.
Sin, 31, pursued an undergraduate degree in architecture at Ryerson University. She then continued her education at Carleton University with a Master’s in education.
“That’s when I started taking sewing classes at night – when I was in school. I know, I’m crazy!” she says with a quiet laugh.
Sin launched her namesake line in 2009, just after finishing a three-year internship with BBB Architects in Ottawa.
“It was something I always wanted to do, [so] I just did it,” she says.
In only two years, she has created a brand, learned Hong Kong is the best place in the world for fabric selection and has showcased her work at countless fashion shows. Her most recent collection was seen on the runways at both Ottawa Fashion Week and Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week. According to Sin, this collection was inspired by the idea of understated elegance. It features a neutral palette with pops of colour, as well as sculpted and architectural lines.
Sin’s architecture background is evident in this collection, and she says it’s a big influence whenever she designs clothing. This is partially because she studied many of the same things fashion students do, such as balance, proportions and symmetry. These aspects of design are evident in her clothing, from the exposed zipper on the back of a cage dress to the folds on her rompers.
The influence runs deeper than just the physical look of her pieces.
“When I’m designing, I always think – if a woman goes to an event in a modern space, what would she wear that would complement the space?” says Sin. “I want it to be as timeless as the space itself.”
Although she learned design on a much larger scale than most other designers, Sin enjoys being able to perfect a garment – which is very difficult to do when designing a building, she remarks.
She adds that Ottawa was a great city for starting a fashion career. She was able to experience fashion shows a lot sooner than she would have, had she started her line in Toronto. For example, she presented her clothing at Fashion Cures à la Mode in her first year of designing.
However, after two years in Ottawa, three Ottawa Fashion Weeks and many other shows, Sin moved her line to Toronto in mid-2011.
“I needed to come back to Toronto to expand the brand and kind of do the same thing I did in Ottawa, but in a larger city, and see how people react,” she says. “And it’s great to be home!”
Her move back to Toronto was just in time for the announcement of the Mercedes-Benz Start Up initiative. This program is being run in conjunction with the LG Fashion Week to discover Canadian designers who have been in the business for less than five years. Sin “definitely” plans to apply for the initiative because she considers it to be a great opportunity. If Sin becomes a semi-finalist, her spring/summer 2011 collection would be shown during LG Fashion Week in October.
Although Toronto has been receptive to the Rachel Sin line, the designer says that her goal for the company is to increase brand recognition and to expand beyond the major Canadian fashion cities.
Rachel Sin’s collection
Photos courtesy of the designer
FAJO Magazine would like to thank Homegrown Boutique (http://www.homegrownboutique.ca/) for providing their facilities for Rachel Sin’s photoshoot.