Fashion that goes beyond the runway

GBC graduate designs clothing with powerful social messages

George Brown College (GBC) graduate Lesley Hampton, a Canadian First Nations designer, was featured in the Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto (IFWTO).

Hampton, a former student of the fashion techniques and design program at GBC, has an interest in designing women’s evening/stage wear as powerful statements that go beyond the runway.

This was made apparent in her numerous collections, one of which included a bohemian embroidery dress which took the spotlight at IFWTO on May 31.

This ‘Lithium’ collection has a focus on mental illness and not letting it stand in one’s way of living a healthy life.

Hampton has unraveled several collections inspired by relevant issues before including her newest one, which is encompassed around missing and murdered Indigenous women.

At Vancouver Fashion Week, Hampton’s design was modeled by a Boston bombing survivor who was a competitive ballroom dancer and now has a prosthetic limb.

Despite the doctor’s advice, the bombing survivor continued to dance and this stood out to Hampton.

“We just wanted to translate that kind of empowerment onto the runway,” the designer said.

Hampton’s label hopes to showcase their fall/winter 2019 collection next month at Toronto Fashion Week in Yorkville village.

“The whole collection isn’t just a dress or an evening gown. It’s a whole story. I am trying to tell the viewers of my runway shows a different message with each collection,” she explained.

Hampton expressed that designing clothing is more than just working a needle and thread.

“Since everyone wears clothing, except for maybe nudists, it influences how you feel”, she said.

Hampton believes every outfit can alter a person’s mood, whether it be a fancy ball gown or track pants and a sweatshirt.

This label’s brand was designed to change moods and mindsets in a positive way just by throwing on a dress.

Over recent years, the fashion industry has started to become less stigmatized and more culturally diverse.

“The size range we offer can influence how inclusive fashion feels to an individual,” she said.

Hampton’s label is also recognized for casting models of all shapes and sizes.

Creating a “worldly outfit” to boost someone’s confidence, even if it’s to walk down the street, is a powerful impact that Hampton feels great about having.

This ties in greatly with the label’s philosophy, which is to be exclusively inclusive.

They aim to support people’s mental health and how they interact with their body through what they wear.

Hampton’s social engagement stemmed from an interest in fashion and social-cultural issues while studying art and art history at the University of Toronto.

After her first year, she was keen on designing “wearable art,” and knew she needed to learn the technical aspects of fashion, which brought her to GBC.

During her time at GBC, Hampton was nominated for the Simon student fashion design award by the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, which are held annually.

Even though Hampton is fairly new to the fashion industry, she has already made a name for herself with her own label.

Her first collection was inspired by her Indigenous roots at a time when she was first discovering her heritage.

It was the concepts of visual art and beauty, however, that led her to this profession.

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Fashion that goes beyond the runway