I immediately gravitated to this young designer because frankly, she was awesome. Quick-witted, she kept us laughing throughout the night when she wasn’t dazzling us with her collection of edgy, ready-to-wear designs.
Thoroughly impressed with the quality of her clothing, I took it upon myself to learn a little bit more about her design process. Rebecca is truly an interesting individual and this young, well-travelled lady has built a devoted following. Rowes Fashion will be presenting at Fashion Art Toronto next Thursday, April 20th, so what better time to snag her for a quick interview.
How did you get your start?
After coming home to Ottawa from studying design in Paris, I began working at a restaurant to pay off my student debt. I was talking to my mum one day and she told me enough was enough. Time for me to move home, save the rent and start my collection. I can’t thank her enough for that. My mum allowing me to take over her basement (and now most of her house) gave me the financial means to be able to start my brand.
What made you get into clothing design?
Nothing really got me in to clothing design. It was just something I always did. I used to draw as a kid, and I still have sketch books from my pre-teen era featuring some “interesting” designs.
Which designers inspire you?
I’m very inspired by Alexander McQueen. How can you not be?! I’m always inspired by designers that put on a real show. My clothes are very wearable though. I make clothes that can be thrown in a washing machine and then ready to wear. I love what I do but seeing spectacles on the runway? That blows my mind.
What is your vision?
My vision changes all the time. I want to see women walking down the street in my clothes. I want women to wear and love my clothes.
How do you want women to feel in your clothing?
Beautiful and comfortable. You never put on a boring, oversized hoodie and feel truly beautiful when you look in the mirror. I love it when women put on one of my garments (just as comfortable as that oversized hoodie) but they look at themselves in the mirror and smile before leaving the house.
Where did you learn design?
My design education started at Canterbury High School where I studied Visual Arts, beginning with the fundamentals of shape and design. From there, I attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. I left New York City after only one year due to the loss of my father. A year later, I applied to the accelerated fashion program at ESMOD Paris. I attended ESMOD for a little over a year and since then I’ve been continuing my design education by reading books, magazines and watching Youtube.
Do you have a favourite designer?
I have a few. I love Alexander McQueen. I love the fact that when you watch his shows, it’s truly a “show”. There is a story behind his runway presentations and they were always unique. He is sorely missed.
For theatrical designers, I love Kate Mior. She creates the most amazing corsets and big pieces. I wish I could live in her brain for a day and see how she sees the world.
For local designers, if I name only one, I’ll get in trouble! I’ll just go ahead and say the local talent in Ottawa blows my mind every time I attend an Ottawa fashion show.
What kind of woman do you want to dress?
I generally see a creative woman wearing my pieces, or the woman who looks for quality clothing. Someone who gets up in the morning to take over the world.
What are your thoughts on current fast fashion trends?
There are a lot a trends right now that I’m not a fan of, but I can see how they are popular. I fully believe that if you’re wearing something you feel confident in, it doesn’t matter if it’s on trend or not, you’ll look great. I also don’t believe you need to show a lot of skin to be considered sexy, which is probably one of my biggest pet peeves with fast fashion of today.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I genuinely see myself in a little studio, set up much like the European ones I’ve interned for, with a little boutique shop in the front and a studio in the back. I would ideally have the boutique as a showroom/small batch production where my studio would be busy fulfilling wholesale orders.
I want to keep my business local, hire local talent and have interns so that I can give them the same opportunities I was given. It would also mean that I would have full control over the quality and craftsmanship coming out of my studio. Which, to me, is one of the most important things.
Tell us about your duct tape designs when you were starting out.
It’s become a running joke that my sewing skills are terrible. They are pretty terrible! I know how to sew and if I were to truly put my mind to it, I can sew quite well but I don’t have the appreciation for it that some others have. I’ve always been like this. When I was in my preteens, I would get so frustrated with the needle and thread that I would grab my grandmother’s duct tape and use that to attach my seams. They would hold quite well, actually. Tape was the easiest way to realize my design vision as quickly as possible, so it soon became my medium of choice.