Richmond, B.C. – Soon-to-be Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) fashion and technology graduate Hayley Clackson recently had the chance to take her prairie-inspired collection back to her roots, and the fashion industry welcomed her home with open arms.
Last week, the designer received the Fashion Forward Emerging Designer Award at Saskatchewan Fashion Week, where she showcased her brand NRTHRNTWNS Workshop as one of just over 25 emerging designers selected to be showcased at this year’s event.
“Winning the Emerging Designer Award is such a surreal experience. I was incredibly close to not even applying for it, but was urged to by my family. I never thought that I would win. When my brand name was announced, I was in complete shock. The thought of being able to actually start my company with the generous honorarium from Dr. Roberta McKay and Mr. Elmer Brenner still hasn’t sunk in,” said the Richmond resident.
“I am unbelievably excited to jump head first into launching my brand, but to be honest, I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for the unwavering support of my family, friends and talented instructors at the Wilson School of Design.”
Growing up in a family of craftspeople living on the prairies inspired Clackson’s brand NRTHRNTWNS Workshop, which provides fitted work-wear pieces tailored to the lifestyle needs of modern – rather than traditional – craftsmen.
“It wasn’t until I got word from my mom that my brand name and link to my website were featured on the Saskatchewan Fashion Week website, that it finally started to sink in,” said the designer.
“I think that this opportunity really shows the quality of graduates coming from KPU’s Wilson School of Design as I truly believe that any one of my peers could be in the same situation as I am right now.”
Clackson’s life in Saskatchewan played a huge role in influencing her passion for pattern making and handcraft, both of which she honed over four years in KPU's fashion and technology program. NRTHRNTWNS Workshop is the result of years of hard work, and was showcased earlier this year alongside the thesis collections of 35 other KPU fashion students at 2016 The Show, presented by Tamoda Apparel.
“It’s a huge honour to be able to showcase on a runway for a second time, especially in my home province that has a growing industry I truly want to be a part of,” said Clackson. “Bringing my work back to my roots on the prairies is something that I always dreamed of doing and the support that I have received has been heartwarming.”
“From the very beginning, Hayley has shown a strong work ethic and was always so determined to take her learning to the next level. She was open, respectful and highly responsive to feedback, and often her toughest critic to push forward and challenge herself,” said Andhra Goundrey, the program coordinator of KPU’s fashion and technology program.
“Graduates like Hayley are the next generation who will make an impact in the apparel industry and we need to continue to support opportunities to foster this,” she added.
Moving forward, Clackson plans on taking her talent to the fashion industry of the prairies both as a professional and as an entrepreneur. She hopes the exposure afforded her brand by Saskatchewan Fashion Week will help raise her profile as she continues to expand her skills and industry experience.
“The Wilson School of Design and all of its incredible instructors have not only taught me to prove naysayers wrong: they have prepared me for a successful career in the industry. The focus on user-centred design, creative processes, collaboration and technical skills have given me the confidence that I need to succeed,” Clackson said.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at kpu.ca.