Rebecca Tay | Date posted: December 7th, 2011
Not many Canadian fashion designers can say they were born in China, raised in Jamaica, and trained in Montreal—but then again, Stacey Zhang isn’t like most fashion designers. After graduating from Lasalle College and working for a number of reputable fashion brands, she launched her eponymous label in 2007. This year, she opened her second stand-alone store in the heart of Toronto—and shows no sign of stopping.
LoveSewing: You’ve lived in quite a number of very different places! Which of these places most influences your work as a designer?
Stacey Zhang: “Each place has had an influence on me. The vibrant colours, funky prints and the live music in Jamaica certainly influenced some parts of past collections.”
LS: Since launching your line in 2007, what has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to overcome as a designer?
SZ: “Balancing what I want to create as a designer with the practicalities of doing business in the real world!”
LS: How involved are you in the production and manufacturing of your line? Do you produce your own samples, or do you rely more on a team?
SZ: “I am very involved in the production/manufacturing of my line. I make some of my own proto-samples here and sometimes I make my own paper patterns, too. My team has been a great help to me—I have a couple of assistant designers and sample sewers who are indispensable.”
LS: What is your favourite type of garment to make?
SZ: “I love coats—picking gorgeous, luxurious fabrics and adding detail after detail.”
LS: What difficulties do you face in using sustainable fabrics?
SZ: “Sometimes it is hard to get sustainable fabrics in the colours I want and there’s a limit to the variety of sustainable fabrics that are available. Price is also a big deal—customers don’t always [want to] pay more for an item just because you paid three times more to make it out of sustainable fabric.”
LS: You recently opened a store in Toronto. Are other stores being planned? Do you plan to move your operations to Toronto?
SZ: “I love both cities [Montreal and Toronto] so I like to go back and forth between them. As for other stores, stay tuned!”
LS: What other Canadian designers influence you and your work?
SZ: “I can’t really say I’m influenced by other Canadian designers, but I do love and respect many of my fellow designers. It can be tough competing with international brands, so I want to see the Canadian fashion industry thrive and grow!”
LS: What were you inspired by for fall, and what are some of the key pieces from the collection?
SZ: “Definitely the coats—a nicely detailed, fitted down coat and a very luxurious lamp napa leather/waxed cotton coat. I love the texture of waxed cotton and combined it with leather this season, keeping it practical for the winter. It’s padded and warm, but very sleek.
Also, I made a tree bark jacket this season—the first time I’ve worked with tree bark as a fabric. I’m very excited about it: [it’s] all ethically produced, all handmade by a small German company collaborating with Ugandan farmers. It’s definitely a fabric I hope to work with whenever I can!”