In the Studio with: Comrags
Claudia Grieco | Date posted: December 21st, 2010
The designer duo behind Toronto’s Comrags, Judy Cornish and Joyce Gunhouse, have a unique sense of proportion-and their pieces all start with pattern making, rather than fashion sketches as one might expect.
Despite knowing how to draw fashion sketches, Comrags rarely uses them. In fact, Gunhouse used to think she’d be an illustrator, not a designer, but sketching doesn’t play a large role in their process at all.
“Judy and I both sewed a lot when we were younger,” Gunhouse says, “so we’re familiar with how a pattern becomes a garment.” The two met at Ryerson’s Fashion Arts Programme, where they were both taught to always sketch first, but it is rarely their starting point. “We do a lot of our designing when we’re pattern making because we have a pretty good idea of how that translates,” Gunhouse asserts. Once they try it on the dress form they do any tweaking or changes from there.
When they’re designing, they also keep the everyday women in mind, which has probably been the key to their success. Comrags is well known for their all-black Basics collection, consisting of a cardigan, twin set top, skirt and dress. The reason they continue to make these is that they’re lifestyle pieces. “They’re easy to live in and go back to,” Gunhouse says. “Especially the cardigan, it’s really so much easier than a blazer.” Their fabrics also wash well and stay black, a huge plus when investing in any basic piece. Gunhouse names all these factors-a classic look, feeling great and requiring little maintenance-as reasons they love to make their clothes. “We know this is how we gain our customers, and their trust, and then they always come back to us.”