Canada’s fashion star is rising thanks to the notoriety of designer Sid Neigum. His collections have received international recognition, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be slowing down anytime soon.
Born in Alberta, trained in New York and based in Toronto, Neigum is the recipient of the prestigious Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels Award in 2012, a breakthrough moment in the designer’s career. Neigum curriculum vitae also boasts Western Canada Fashion Weeks Emerging Designer Award and Nextfest’s Emerging Artist Award, on top of an apprenticeship with designer Yigal Azrouel. Not bad for a guy who studied science in university.
While Neigum exchanged his white lab coat for a signature all black look, and went on to graduate from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, the former focus of his academic past has not gone to waste.
When designing, Neigum takes a mathematical approach to patternmaking, and has been known to incorporate concepts like Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio—things within collections. And while we math flunkies may not comprehend exactly what that means, we suspect, such calculations might be the reason for the bold and experimental architectural silhouette of Neigum’s clothing.
A resident member of the Toronto Fashion Incubator—a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Canadian fashion designers and entrepreneurs—Neigum is big on feeding into his native industry. Interested to hear what he had to say about what it means to build a label in Canada, we chatted with the designer about his creative vision, hi shiny success and how choosing to stay in Canada has contributed to both.
Who are your style inspirations? Where do your design roots come from?
Before studying fashion, I studied science, and that is something that remains at the core of my work. Innovation is very important to me. Combing two, different but related, areas of design together is one way I think new things can be created. Growing up I loved LEGO, I loved building things and designing things, that eventually led me to fashion.
How has winning all the prestigious awards you have, fresh out of the gate, affected your career?
Mercedes Benz Start-Up gave my business a cash injection and mentorship that lead to more stockists and press; I am grateful to have their support. The effect has been an all-around boost that has allowed for more flexibility and sustainability. Gaining notoriety with local and international buyers is one of the biggest challenges, and competitions like MBSU, CAFA, and TFI all help accelerate that process.
How do you feel about being touted as fashion’s second coming in Toronto? Do you feel like you’re a part of a new era in Canadian fashion?
I’m humbled and grateful for the response I’ve had in Toronto. There seem to be more and more designers trying to make it happen here and get traction. I think that amounts to a couple things; more emerging designer programs and the global fashion market. For these reasons, I think we could expect to see more fashion startups in Toronto.
We know there is a lot of competition out there, how do you feel about staying in Toronto as a designer?
Fashion is such a global business it’s becoming less important where you are based, every season we travel for sales to Paris, New York, and a few other spots depending on where I get appointments. Being based in Toronto is usually brought up near the end of a sales meeting because my focus is always on the product. I’ve had both negative and positive responses about being based in Canada, but if people like the product enough, it doesn’t matter.
In terms of the negative reaction, do you think that’s owing to the global market’s perspective of the Canadian fashion industry, and do you think often people are not aware of exactly what the market and creative industry is actually like here in Toronto and in other areas of Canada?
Yes, I think you are correct. People aren’t fully aware of what’s happening in Toronto. There is lots of good things coming out of Toronto, there’s also a lot of not so good. For that reason, lack of awareness may not be the only problem.
It feels like Toronto is going through something of a cultural Renaissance recently. There are a lot of amazing young photographers, musicians, chefs etc., garnering both national and international attention. Would you say that the fashion scene in Toronto is also going through a similar period of growth?
I’d say so, and I think that is a product of more designers staying in Toronto, but understanding the necessary travel periods for sales and press.
Describe the type of women you design your clothes for, who is your ideal “she.”
Can you talk about your relationship with fellow designer Chloe Gordon? Would you ever do a collection together?
Chloe and I met about five years ago through The Collections (they were producing our shows for WMCFW). We’ve been together for almost three years, she’s my best friend, right hand and muse. We have talked about collaborating on a few projects, like furniture or shoes. We are interested in all areas of design, and both have entrepreneurial minds, so there is a strong possibility on a future collaborations.
Tell us about your SS’16 collection? What do we have to look forward to?
More modular origami, more colour and more experimentation with new materials. I’ve been perfecting and building on things I have done in the past, and tried to push it to the next level.
What’s something you could see yourself doing that you haven’t tackled yet?
I love architecture, furniture, accessories; I’m in talks to do some automotive design work. Time will tell!