Designer Files: Label

The name of Shawna Robinson and Natalie Sydoruk's clothing line--Label--can inspire some Who's-on-first-style wackiness.

"What's the name of their label?" people ask.

"Label," you answer.

"No, what's the name of the label?" they say, impatiently. And so on.

But the duo's designs have that delightful enigmatic quality about them: even the name was inspired by the search for a moniker that'd symbolize their disdain for label-lovers and the importance of personal style--the woman making the clothes, rather than clothes making the woman.

The intriguing contradictions continue: the uniqueness and quality is there, but the price-point is pretty reasonable. They use sustainable materials and manufacture everything in Toronto, but you'd never guess it from the fetching fabrics and cuts used. The girls are very chic themselves and design clothes, but want their customers to bring their own style to the clothing to bring the pieces to life.

I caught up with co-designer Robinson just after their Autumn/Winter 2009/2010 lookbook went live online to see how they function as fashion enigmas.

What inspired you to become a designer?

Working as a model and stylist, I'd often see how badly things were made and how badly things were priced, and the unfairness of it all. We're not marketing ourselves as a "deal" line, but rather a contemporary line that doesn't try to be high-end. It's not like paying $300 for a diffusion piece rather than the real thing.

Why was it important to you to be sustainable?

A lot of those clothes look crafty and DIY, but we want to make clothes that, even if you don't give a shit, the clothes still look good.

How is your line sustainable? What fabrics do you use?

We're obsessed with Lyocell (a byproduct of wood pulp that feels like cotton jersey), and also use deadstock, bamboo linen, and organic denim and cotton from a local fabric distributor.

We also use local sewing contractors. We didn't want to contribute to the (outsourcing) culture, and we're really happy with that.

What do you personally get out of being a designer?

I love being locked in a room, sweat and sewing and all. I don't mind the "creativity" aspect, but that's really a means to an end--I just want to make pretty dresses! I like creating things that are tangible.

What is the Label style?

We don't want to be discernible--it's all about personal style. Comfort is also important to us. As an example, one of our spring ballerina dresses was designed with a strap wide enough to wear a bra underneath.

What are your future plans?

We want to grow it organically--we don't want to lose touch with what we're doing. We don't have plans for world domination or riches--we're just tired of working for someone else!

Label is available at Chasse GardĂŠe and Model Citizen.

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