What sets Canadian designers apart?

June 30, 2016


Group shot of INLAND spring 2016 designers with founder Sarah Power. Photo courtesy of INLAND.

John Lennon asked us to imagine a world where there were no countries. Countries have borders and borders separate us. Sometimes, when we’re separated from each other, when we think and feel differently from each other, it gives us cause to misunderstand each other, to judge, even to hate each other. I think what Lennon was really asking us to do is imagine a world where there was no hatred and prejudice, country or no country.

Countries aren’t the problem, it’s how we as people react to our differences whether they’re with our neighbours, other cities, provinces and other nations. Canada is a country that has done a pretty good job of being inclusive and welcoming despite being a country and having borders and all of those potentially dividing elements. The majority of Canadians embrace each other’s differences and I’d argue that these differences are a part of what make us Canadian.

I hope for a future in which everyone around the world can celebrate differences more, embrace them and hold each other up rather than be threatened by each other. So this post is about celebrating Canadian designers, all of their differences and what they have in common. Tomorrow is – after all- Canada Day, and although some say it goes against our humble, Canadian nature to be proud of our accomplishments at times, the design talent in this country needs our support and deserves our support. If each country empowers its designers in their efforts to make positive change in the world, that change will come true and we as a whole planet will be better off for it.

No one knows this better than Sarah Power, founder of INLAND, a popular showcase of great Canadian design now in its second year with a growing roster of 65 designers and counting. I’ve referred to INLAND’s list of designers often when looking for new Canadian talent to consider for EITHER/OR. It’s been a great resource! INLAND is Power’s way of promoting more responsible consumerism in the hopes of preserving our Canadian culture and our planet. In celebration of Canada Day, Power shared with us her thoughts on Canadian design and some of her favourite labels. 


Photo courtesy of LIKEMINDED.

EF Magazine (EF): Why are you proud to support Canadian design?

Sarah Power: My excitement and drive to do what I do comes from the designers that I’m so lucky to work with. They blow my mind all the time with their energy, ideas and determination to create. I’m trilled to play a small part in supporting them.

EF: Why did you establish INLAND?

SP: I wanted to provide an opportunity for independent Canadian designers to take their collection to market within a contemporary retail environment while also educating the public about alternatives to massive commercial retail. INLAND is a community built around a love and respect for high-quality, locally designed and made collections.


Sid Neigum fall 2016 ready-to-wear

EF: Why is it important for you, personally and professionally to support Canadian design?

SP: I care deeply about the Canadian identity and think design and fashion are pillars in communicating who we are as people. I’m also quite passionate about preserving our planet and cultural livelihoods by producing and consuming less.

EF: Who are some emerging designers you think are game-changers?

SP: Sid Neigum and Som Kong are using design techniques to create silhouettes that are changing the way we understand and relate to clothing. Their work is like architecture for the body. It reflects a movement toward simplicity and excellence. It’s beautiful.

Som Kong display at INLAND spring 2016

Som Kong display at INLAND spring 2016. Photo by Anna Costa Foto.

EF: Who are some of your favourite designers?

SP: This changes all the time for me. I appreciate different qualities at different points in my day and overall life. I love texture, pattern and movement in clothes, but also look for monochromatic pallets and basic silhouettes. Some days I can’t wait to put on a piece by Paria Shirvani because her clothes are just so easy to wear and other times I want to layer.

EF: What sets Canadian design apart?

SP: Canadians are so extremely diverse. We’re influenced by such varied backgrounds, traditions, design techniques, symbols and cultures. The collaboration of these experiences and identities is just so awesome. Being Canadian is amazing, and it shows in their work.


Paria Shirvani


1 comment

  • Samantha Nemiroff

    Samantha Nemiroff- jewellery designer, lives in Ottawa, uses recycled materials to create dynamite designs, handcrafted so is eco friendly and off the grid as well. Has appeared in magazines in Canada ( EF Magazine ), and in America (Nylon). Wants to help the environment, and make it beautiful.

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