Caitlin Power has been making soft waves in Canadian fashion for a few years now, straddling the east and west coasts between fashion weeks. After studying design and merchandising in Calgary, Power was manufacturing her collections out of her mom’s basement on acreage just outside of the city, tricked out with a pool table that doubled as a cutting table. But don’t they say you can only learn so much in one place? That’s why Power packed up her studio this year and moved to Toronto’s Little Italy. She began to move away from doing everything herself, and start contracting out production. “As there is no real fashion industry in Calgary, I either had to move to a bigger city and work under a designer, or start my own brand,” she says on her decision to make the leap. She’s still hands-on, though, armed with an intern and drafting patterns, cutting material, and sewing finishing touches at home. The girl’s also been working the industry circuit hard, and competing and participating in high-profile events for big prize money and serious media attention. Now, she’s working on challenging herself to see where her designs can take her.
What inspires you?
The Caitlin Power woman inspires me. She is confident, edgy, sophisticated, classic, and androgynous. Her name is Leone, and she’s “king of the jungle.” She inspires me to create bold, tailored, well-made garments. I’m also very inspired by architecture, and translating geometric shapes into garments.
How has business shifted since you started?
I feel the business side of fashion has altered my designs. I listened too much to buyers, and I started simplifying my pieces to make them more “saleable.” The good thing is, I’m selling in stores, but it’s not exactly the pieces that I want to be selling or designing. I’m trying to find my voice again as a designer.
What surprised you most about owning a business?
How much impact buyers, media, and clientele have on the designs, or how much it would end up affecting me as a designer. I know critical feedback is good, but I almost don’t even want to hear it. I want to develop my line more before I start hearing these outside influences.
Who is your customer, your muse?
My customer is sleek, sophisticated, put-together, confident, and powerful. My muse is Kate Lanphear.
Where do you want to take the brand in the future?
I would like to expand the brand to the American and European markets. I feel Canada, and North America play it safe, and that my brand would do well in Europe. I do want to start menswear, I just want to make sure I have my women’s line stable. I would also love to expand into jewellery, accessories, and fragrances.
Any dream collaborations?
Now that Target is coming to Canada, I would love to do a collaboration with them on a lower-end line. A shoe collaboration would be fun as well, maybe with a Canadian brand like ALDO.Your fashion dinner date, past or present, would be…Alexander McQueen. He was a genius, and to be in his presence could have been life altering.
A piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring designer:
Don’t let the opinions of others alter your designs and really research your target market; you will know each season if you’re on the right path. Buyers, in the end, just want to be able to sell the product.