These local fashion designers are crushing fashion norms in Toronto

Eye-catching designs took centre-stage in Toronto this weekend as the INLAND designer pop-up descended on the historic Lillian Massey building in Yorkville.

Founded by Sarah Power in 2014, INLAND now features over 70 designers showcasing and selling their clothing, accessories and jewelry all in one space. This year, TMU’s Fashion students also got the chance to show off their work amidst the pros.

inland torontoThe marketplace, which typically takes place in the spring and fall, is born of Power’s love for Canadian brands. She told me, almost bashfully, that bringing all these designers into the space helps her understand how we can be a community together.

The designers that she selected for the market champion a combination of inclusivity, diversity, sustainability and rousing aesthetics. 

“Clothing is the first point of contact that you can have with a person,” said Power. “I think it’s really important that people are connecting with the designers that are [telling] stories through their clothing.” 

inland toronto
Body-positive style 

For those looking for fashion that is adaptable to any body, Vogue-featured Anishinaabe designer, Lesley Hampton stood cheerfully by her colourful size-inclusive collection. 

Hampton’s clothes, which have been worn by powerhouse American rapper Lizzo, prioritize comfort without sacrificing confidence. 

inland torontoHampton’s “Rainbow Warrior” skirt is one of her best-selling pieces and her personal favourite from the current collection. It’s a statement wardrobe item with an elastic waistband that makes it comfortable for anyone. 

“Regardless of whether you are having a good body-image day or a bad one, your clothes need to work for you and help you showcase how amazing you are as a person,” said Hampton. 


inland fashion
Cheeky workwear 

Across the room, former Bay Street lawyer, Shawn Hewson was laughing with smartly-dressed colleagues in front of Bustle’s showcase. The brand is a sportswear label that has become known for its cheeky twist on menswear classics. 

Hewson founded the brand with his wife, Ruth Promislow, who is actually still a Bay Street lawyer, and both love to incorporate fun fashion into their professional identities.

inland fashion“[Ruth] is pretty fashionable. In fact she’s out of town on business and she just messaged me to put aside a pink cruiser set for her,” said Hewson.

The “cruiser set” is a collaboration between Bustle and wellness brand, Good Goddess, and is a set of elevated pajamas that is intended to be worn outdoors.

After a few years of settling into the comfort of working from home and wearing pajamas 24/7, Bustle believes people don’t want to put back on hard, structured pants. The cruiser set is chic enough to wear out, without sacrificing the comfort of staying in.

inland toronto
Runway for the streets

Right beside Bustle, Dorian Who’s corner was buzzing with women touching the surreal profiles of her avante-garde pieces. 

The Iranian-Canadian designer is used to a more intimate showroom in her family’s long-time owned rug boutique, so while she may have been quieter than some of the designers surrounding her, her designs certainly were not. 

inland <a href=toronto” id=”content-image-89636″ src=”https://media.blogto.com/uploads/2023/05/08/1683551533-20230504-inlandpopup-22.jpg?w=1400&cmd=resize&height=2500&quality=70″/>Who’s 2023 collection titled, Noor (meaning light) is full of rich colours and fearless silhouettes that exhibit power and confidence. 

Women of influence, like literary icon, Margaret Atwood, seem naturally drawn to her designs, so it’s not surprising that shoppers have told her that as soon as they put on her clothes, they feel changed. 

Power, who wore one of Who’s upcycled unisex blazers over the weekend, can attest to that. She said she felt “absolutely spectacular” wearing the piece. “I feel like light. I feel really special.”

inland toronto
The fresh face of fashion

The TMU student collections, housed on the lower floor, were no less impressive then the established designers exhibiting above them. If anything, their work pushed the limits even further. 

One student that stood was Hyla Golden Del Castillo.

inland torontoOriginally from Colombia, Del Castillo immigrated to Toronto in 2017 and joined TMU’s fashion program after two years of studying political science. 

Her rise in the Toronto fashion scene was a story of sheer determination, first modeling at Fashion Art Toronto, then showcasing her own designs the next year.

inland torontoDel Castillo’s most recent runway show El Bien y La Mal, featured daring designs like corsets and crochet coverings on playful young models.

At INLAND, her purchasable pieces like elf ear cuffs and iridescent, cloud shoulder covers gave shoppers the impression that they’d stepped into a magical, fairytale world. 

Coming from Latin America, she says she grew up around people who are very joyous and very expressive of who they are through their clothing, so when she arrived in Toronto, she was taken aback by the dark, depressing feeling the winter season here. 

“I started making colourful snowpants, [and other pieces] trying to bring some of that Latin American flare to the way that we live our lives in Toronto,” she mused. 

inland torontoBy the time I left the INLAND pop-up, I was feeling inspired and charged by the possibilities of Toronto fashion and, of course, I’d picked up a couple new wardrobe pieces to play around with too.

If you didn’t make it in person, you can experience and shop all these creations and more on their website madeinland.ca

Related Posts