Annahstasia FOR KATHRYN BOWEN SS20
Kathryn Bowen Emerges From The PandemicSunday, April 18, 2021
“In a bigger sense, COVID lockdowns have forced fashion business owners (myself included) to be more considerate about consumer demands, more politically aware of our impact, and appreciative of local community resources — all positive things that will contribute to a more sustainable way of working. It's a pivotal moment that we're all going through that's going to create permanent change in the industry for sure.”
— Fashion designer Kathryn Bowen
When the Style Observer (SO) last caught up with Kathryn Bowen in 2018 she had recently returned home to Canada having honed her skills in Europe. Indeed, her final two years were spent with London-based designer Yang Li, becoming fully initiated in the creation of one's fashion label. The requisite process and skills are what she returned with. Both would prove advantageous!
“The reality of working locally meant there were many new limitations put on the process of developing a collection and being able to produce it,” she shared back then. “Since early last year I have been working only with suppliers and seamstresses in Toronto and a very small team of two in my studio. So the biggest challenge has been trying to work on the same scale with less resources and outsourcing options,” she now opines.
How could she have known that she was being prepared for the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the closure of the Canadian borders?
She was always clear about her fashion ethos. Here's what she told SO two years ago: “It is important to me that I'm not just making trend products from season to season but pieces that are kept and appreciated for years, maybe decades, in a person's wardrobe.”
In what was an age of instant gratification, fast fashion and the breakneck speed to deliver collection after collection, Bowen favoured an old-world approach. She still does! But she's hardly tone-deaf.
“I'll always really admire the principle of creating garments that are timeless, but I do realise that we now live in a society with a consumer culture that has made the longevity of garments less valued. Not everyone wants to wear the same coat or suit for more than 30 years. So because of my desire to create garments with this old-world mentality, it is important to understand how consumer demands are changing and what kind of pieces are really going to be cherished for many years.
Innovation and new design ideas are incredibly important, so lately I have been thinking more about how to incorporate readily available and easier to produce items into my collections that are unique.
Something new and exciting I created for AW20 is a pair of jeans that I dyed with rose petals. The process and outcome of this dying process are very beautiful and also completely sustainable, using all organic ingredients,” she shares.
Her latest [AW 21] collection, she explains, “became unintentionally full of personal nostalgic references as a result of being home for so long and revisiting old pieces of my wardrobe. While unable to travel for a year, I dug up some garments that were part of my childhood. I was a competitive figure skater growing up, so I have a collection of training outfits and competition dresses that have been stored away in closets and boxes for many years which seemed fitting to revisit. Since fashion consumers have become accustomed to a certain level of comfort during the pandemic, I decided to experiment with more stretch fabrics like velour, mesh and jersey to make garments that are easy to wear but still able to be dressed up and still capable of upholding a sense of timelessness. So I used my old skating competition dresses as a unique, personal source of inspiration for a collection that I wanted to consist of more flexible materials to begin with”.
With the world in transformation mode from its COVID-19-imposed cocoon, Bowen will emerge as a veritable fashion force, stronger than ever. Just ask entertainers Annahstasia and Tate McRae who have been spotted wearing her pieces. Remember, you read it FIRST in SO!
AW21 Collection Lookbook
Photographed by: Aurora Shields • Styled by: Basia Wyzsynski
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