TORONTO — After spending three years working by day at a mineral exploration company to make ends meet and by night on her fashion label, Sarah Stevenson Design, fledgling designer Sarah Stevenson has won the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels contest and the chance to create a clothing line for Target.
The win, which included a 25,000 Canadian dollar, ($24,750 at current exchange) cash prize, was revealed on April 30 after a runway show before 700 buyers, industry insiders and media on hand at Toronto’s historic event space, The Carlu.
“I was in shock when I heard my name. I kept squeezing my stylist’s hand backstage because I couldn’t believe it,” Stevenson, 32, said.
Since launching her label in Toronto in 2010, Stevenson has single-handedly made the fabrics for her designs, which are clean, simple and embellished with beautiful, laser-cutting techniques.
“It’s been double the work and tough do to with no financial help. This win has made every struggle worthwhile,” she said.
Stevenson, along with 19 other emerging Canadian designers, entered the annual competition in December. Four finalists were selected by a judging panel that included John Morioka, Target’s senior vice president of merchandising and Elisha Ballantyne, Target’s divisional merchandise manager of apparel and accessories.
This year’s finalists included the edgy Canadian-Japanese design duo SevenThirtyOne, Paria Shirvani and contemporary dress and separates brand Christopher Paunil.
“Sarah put together the most cohesive collection and showed lots of consistency in terms of thinking through her vision and who her brand is for,” said Ballantyne.
Inspired by the still-life paintings of Dutch Baroque artist Rachel Ruysch, Stevenson’s collection features richly hued florals and hand-painted textiles transferred onto silk. The collection also showcased Stevenson’s laser-cutting techniques, which she honed while studying at Toronto’s George Brown College from 2006 to 2008 and in Milan in 2009, where she pursued a master’s degree in fashion and textile design.
While in Milan, Stevenson turned down an internship at Giorgio Armani to return to Toronto and launch her label.
“The first thing I did when I got home was contact the Incubator. They helped me figure out how to run a business,” said Stevenson.
The nonprofit organization was created in 1987 by the City of Toronto to boost the fashion industry and offer support and mentorship to budding Canadian designers and entrepreneurs. Since then, the Incubator has spawned similar organizations in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Dublin, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Milan.
The organization introduced its New Labels competition in 1992 and has since launched the careers of Canadian designers Joeffer Caoc, David Dixon and Todd Lynn, as well as top models Daria Werbowy and Shalom Harlow. This year’s partnership with the Minneapolis-based Target has sweetened the winner’s pot.
According to Ballantyne, Target will meet with Stevenson over the next month to begin work on an exclusive, limited-edition apparel collection that will be sold across Canada in 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty