‘Small-knit’ city a good place for designers

Young fashionistas take on the city

From clothing to accessories, Nova Scotia’s young fashion entrepreneurs are making their mark on the fashion industry. Taye Landry who is from the Annapolis Valley, currently attending Dalhousie University in her fourth year, has already made a name for herself.

Taye Landry models a handbag from her line. (Photo: Carlie Connolly)

“I loved the (movie) Devil Wears Prada and always wanted my own fashion magazine,” she said.

Landry began sharing her ideas with people in Halifax about starting a fashion magazine because “there isn’t anything like that here.”

“I just wanted to highlight the fashion scene here and bring all of the people together in fashion,” she said.

She founded Reginald Magazine, an online fashion publication located in Bedford, and started her own handbag line called Taye Anita (her first and middle name). So far, she has had meetings with the well-known fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar and stores in Brooklyn, New York, Miami and Los Angeles have picked the line up.

A good starting ground

Director of Atlantic Fashion Week and the owner of City Models fashion agency, estimates more than 90 per cent of the designers she works with are under the age of 30.

“I think there’s a lot of young talent in Halifax. It has been growing so I think more and more people are going into the industry,” says Angela Campagnoni who has been in the industry for over 26 years now.

However, she says once designers start to become successful, they usually leave the small Halifax market.

“There aren’t many established designers around. The history of the area is that once a designer gets bigger, they leave. If we have a more established industry here, more people will stick around.”

Although she doesn’t believe the fashion industry will ever be as big as Montreal or Toronto, she says there are ways to make it more sustainable including getting more community support and help from the government to create manufacturing facilities.

“We would need more structure and funding when it comes to facilities and manufacturing. It’s expensive to create things locally,” she says.

Her advice to new designers who are trying to break into the industry is to work hard at the business side of the job.

“You have to have a good business plan and not think it’s just going to be fun and glamorous. A lot of people get lost because they don’t realize how much of a struggle it is,” she says.

“The thing with a lot of creative people is it is difficult to do the black and white business side of things. They need to know their look and what they want to portray as a designer.”

Keeping fashion alive

Landry says she never followed the fashion scene around Halifax “because there was nothing that really inspired me.”

“That’s why I started Reginald because Halifax has the potential.”

In her green fur, and green and black high tops, “people are just looking at me like I’m an alien, but really this is normal for me!”

“I want people to understand that fashion is a sense of expression. It’s a sense of who you are and where you are in the world.”

As she spends a lot of time travelling to New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, she feels as though she has to tone it down when she comes back here because the mindset is different.

For those wanting to get started here she says, “it’s great for starting a small business in Halifax because you have all the resources around you and it’s a small-knit group here and resources are easy to find.”

Courtney Jones is from Halifax and is the owner of Better Than Her boutique, and finds that Halifax is lacking in the amount of boutiques here and has heard that from many students coming to the Maritimes from Ontario.

Courtney Jones with her jewelery collection. (Photo: Carlie Connolly)

Jones started out small, making jewelry in university and worked her way up to owning her own store in the mall. She finds that people in Halifax try and stick to brands such as Michael Kors, Bench, Canada Goose and Lululemon. She wants to change that.

“I always found it hard shopping here… and that’s why I opened the store,” she said.

As for the opportunity, she says, “it’s a university town and where there isn’t a specific style of fashion, it opens the doors for a lot of fashion to come in here.”