It’s pretty unusual for a designer to have a bare studio. But in Eliza Faulkner’s case, it’s all part of her next move: She has just taken over a new, larger space in Montreal’s historic garment district, the centre of a once-again-thriving local fashion industry. Her entire collection is made within a block of her studio—she only has to cross the street to visit the workshops that cut and sew each piece. Faulkner’s hyper-local approach to production combined with her signature ultra-feminine silhouettes are exactly what’s taking this homegrown label from hobby to business.
Originally from Vancouver Island, Faulkner trained at London’s Central Saint Martins and worked for designers like Erdem, Roland Mouret and Roksanda—all celebrated for their visions of the modern woman—before moving back to Canada to start her own line in 2012. This season, she made a voluminous tiered dress in an elegant floral jacquard fabric as well as a version in a varsity-worthy sweater fleece. “It’s about clothes that make a statement but are also comfortable and easy to wear without being too fussy,” says Faulkner. It’s a sentiment that mirrors her own day-to-day needs: Between working on the next collection and taking care of her 18-month-old, the two-time Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards nominee also plans to create a small capsule of upcycled pieces. We spoke with her about finding a better path to sustainability, reinterpreting athleticwear and being true to her design instincts.
Why is manufacturing locally integral to your label?
The thought of not knowing who’s making my clothes is really bizarre, so having it done nearby is important to me. In terms of scraps, we try to use up as much as we can. There are always pieces left over, so that’s where the scrunchies and little bags come in. I’m really inspired by upcycling, and I’ve been collecting sheets and old tablecloths to play around with. I really think that’s where fashion is going.
Where did your interest in sportswear fabrics come from?
I grew up in a small town where athletics was revered. I always played sports, and I always hated them. Being outdoors all the time, you had to wear athletic clothes, but I did it begrudgingly and wanted the bolder version of everything. My favourite part of playing field hockey was when we got our new uniforms and we could dye our socks the same colour as our shirts.
How has parenthood changed the way you work?
It has definitely made it more spontaneous. I’ll often go into the studio and just start making. I don’t have a lot of time to plan out exactly what it’s going to be, so it’s always about what I want to wear, what I see and what my friends are wearing. When we were in design school, we’d spend weeks on our sketchbooks. [These days,] I’ll have a plan of the fabrics I want to use and then I’ll just make it. Usually it works out pretty well.
How does it feel to see people wearing your designs?
A lot of those clothes are born out of something I need to wear or want to do. I’m often really surprised because I always think I’m making something a bit ‘too much.’ I’m like, ‘This is too over-the-top. No one will like this.’ And then it’s what people want the most. It’s really nice when you can do exactly what you love and people love it too.
This article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.
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