The first time I meet Ellie Mae Waters, I’m immediately won over by positive vibes and her contagious enthusiasm: it’s very obvious that she loves what she’s doing. The Toronto-based designer settled on outerwear as her debut (fall 2016 is her second season) because she says they’re pieces that are key in her own wardrobe. Who doesn’t need a statement jacket or a classic coat, right? But, Waters isn’t just designing coats, jackets and cardigans, she’s designing a feeling – the kind you get when you put something on and it inspires you to carry on, carry forward. In addition to giving every item she creates a signature kick (vegan leather detailing, super unique textured fabrics, unexpected silhouettes) she also has a lyric printed on the inner lining – think of it as a mantra you can read before you slip into the garment. One of her favourite quotes is: “I can’t explain it, but I’ll find a song that can.” She says it’s true to her own personality – sometimes she just needs a minute to find the right song and then everything comes into place.

We caught up with Ellie Mae Waters to chat about her eponymous collection. Here’s what she had to say about music, team work and staying inspired:

“I went to school [in London] and did some short courses at Central Saint Martins. Before I fell in love with the idea of doing jackets, I fell in love with the city and I just wanted to bring a little bit of the fashion from London back home. The women there are so brave; they’ll wear a fur jacket to go get groceries. When I was living there and wore sweatpants to run errands, I’d get looked at like I was crazy. I would sit on a bench in Kensington Gardens and just watch to see what people would wear to walk their dogs. It was consistent inspiration. I wanted to bring that spunk back to Toronto.”

“There’s so much texture in our fall collection, which is my favourite part about it. I find you really want to touch everything. I also love what we call ‘Ellie-isms,’ the extra details that really make a piece an Ellie Mae. The colourful fringe trim on an otherwise black jacket is a good example.”

“Getting to work with the people I get to work with and talking about all the creative ideas I’ve had for the last 28 years is such an inspiring process. I let my imagination go because I have these amazing talented people [I work with] and they allow me to stretch my imagination because they can make it happen. The inspiration really comes from a lot of personal development.”

“I’m a big quote person. My sister and I send each other pins of quotes or tag each other on Instagram. I like that they can give you perspective. I find that clothes were missing that connection with people and I like that someone could read [our quote] and for whatever reason it might register with them and they get to walk around with that on their back.”

See some of our favourite looks from Ellie Mae below.