Adrienne Butikofer

Designer Files: Adrienne Butikofer

Adrienne Butikofer is reaching the apex of an eight month journey - she and three other exhaustively selected designer-entrepreneurs are about to show their collections as a part of the Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels Competition runway event this Thursday.

Tickets for the event are selling out fast - but the show will be repeated for the general public on Friday at the Elle Show, where your $15 ticket will also get you access to other shows, speakers, and vendors.

As you can imagine, all the designers have a lot to do in the last few days before the show, but Adrienne took brief time-out to answer a few of my questions.

Where are your designs available in Toronto?
My Caninja line of Canadian climate-inspired accessories is at Magic Pony and Shopgirls. You can also order from my website. I will be at The Clothing Show in May, it will be my sixth show and I dig doing it. It's a hotbed of young design talent if you look for it. For this spring I will be bringing some sexy reworked menswear, one offs, skinny sweats and beeeeauuuutiful dresses!!

Why you decide to become an independent fashion designer?

It wasn't a decision, I've just been doing it. I've been making stuff and selling it since I was in college. I get a lot of ideas that I like to put into action. Since I do everything myself like the patterns and sewing, I've never had to be that organized about it. I just do it. Its whim based design. I definitely decided last fall that I need to get serious about producing a collection and catching up with the fashion calendar.

If you could dress anyone in the world in your designs, who would you choose and why?

Maybe Sarah Polley- I 've been a fan of her since Road to Avonlea in 1990, about when I started sewing and lusting after pioneer values. As a woman, I think she's so compelling and would love the challenge of creating something that suits her.

OR maybe the Canadian Olympic Women's Curling team. I would put them in the skinny sweatsuits from my winter line. It would be the perfect combination of nerdtacular athleticism and feminine cunning.

As a young designer with a new line, what are your hopes for your brand, and what obstacles do you face?

My hopes for my brand are that I sell my collection and I can begin working on Spring 2009 soon, and that little plan perpetuates for years to come. The obstacles I face are pretty typical of any young designer- time, money, brand recognition, finding good production people, and having to wear like 10 hats at once.

I have a secret fantasy that Joseph Mimran is going to start a fashion label the same way someone would start a record label. I get signed. They manage my career. I am able to just focus on the artistic side and the big wigs take care of all the money, management, scheduling etc. It's the closest I will ever be to being a rock star. I am totally willing to transform my life into one of sex , drugs, disorderly public conduct, rehab, and eventual rebirth into a zen like state. Then they can someday make a movie of this yet to be named fashion/record label and make millions off my demise. Someone should call him. Just a thought.

When working through the inevitable difficulties of developing a business, what motivates you to persevere?

I try really hard, I make mistakes, and then I learn from them. The new knowledge motivates me. There is always an answer to a problem, no need to be discouraged, maintain that perpetual forward motion. Motu proprio.

What is your favourite part of the process of developing a collection?

Everything! I love coming across that first suprising inspiration that gets the ball rolling. Then developing sketches and sourcing fabrics, and it starts to get really exciting when I make the first patterns and begin to sew up the samples. I love the sketch into reality and changes and last minute inspirations that make all the difference. It's so satisfying to see the rack fill up with a couple months worth of thought and labour. I love it!

You've just completed a collection as part of the Toronto Fashion Incubator's prestigious New Labels Competition. What was participating in New Labels like? Would you recommend the experience to other young designers? Has the experience changed the way you design?

New Labels has changed the way I design completely. I learned a whole invaluable education about designing a line in a very short time. I would recommend New Labels to any young designer who is serious about having their own label, and desires constructive criticism from industry pros.


If you found yourself in an elevator with the director of a major specialty department store, what would you say?

How about "Wanna buy my collection?" Is that too forward?


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