Monday, April 2, 2018

MAD about Fashion!

Hey fashionistas!

Do you find shopping at the mall a daunting task? You go through racks of clothing, only to never find the right size because you’re either swimming in it or you literally can’t breathe because it’s so tight. This is me, all the time. Oh and of course when you do find something you like, it’s always the LAST one that the store has in stock and the salesperson breaks the news that they won’t be getting that item in anymore.

I love the idea that customized options are out there now that don’t cost a mere fortune. I know that the fit will be just right for me and I'll get exactly the design look and feel that I want. 

I wanted to share a little Q&A that I did with a multi-award winning, fashion designer and illustrator, Maxine Archambault! She is based out of London, Ontario, so just a few hours away from my city here in Windsor, Ontario. 

1. As a fashion designer and business owner, you certainly wear a lot of hats (hehe fashion pun!) in this career. Can you walk me through an average day.

I wake up at 5:30AM and get ready to go to work at Vaughn Custom Sports. This is where I make all the patterns using my own home system called Gerber. After that, I complete cut sheets and markers for all the orders that come in. After work, I go home and start working on my other job – my business. My planner is a life saver! I will usually work out my weekday appointments on the weekends, so I can make sure I get everything done I need to for the week. 

Every day I do something different from making patterns to cutting out all the samples and sewing them. I often make myself a sewing sequence by walking through the patterns in my head. Once I have a good idea of what I want the finished product to look like, I start sewing a sample, which I try on my mannequins at home.

After I have a finished product, I get a photo shoot done of the products for my shop. Aide from making new products, I also complete orders that come through on my website. Before any of these steps can be done though, I have to come up with the designs. It will usually take a day or two if I’m only designing one product at a time. If I’m working on a collection, that will usually take a couple weeks, as I want to make sure all colours and styles work together and can be mix and matched. 

As a matter of fact, I’m working on a collection right now for Summer 2019 – anyone who knows the design process understands the importance of working a year ahead to ensure everything will be completed and to match the trends for the following year. 

After a full day’s work at Vaughn and a full night of making new products for my shop, I like to go to sleep around 11 pm or at the latest midnight. It takes me some time to wind down as I have a thousand things going through my mind from cool new design ideas to my huge to-do list for the next day! 

2. On your website, you have beautifully crafted kimono’s, swim wear, dresses and more. What is the most challenging aspect of designing a piece of clothing? 

The most challenging part for me is the actual sewing process. The designing part comes naturally, I usually just find a bunch of photos of pieces I like and then I will incorporate a whole slew of them together to create a new design that follows the trends and is also something I would wear myself. 

Most of my inspiration comes from nature and the beach for swimwear. My design journal is full of pages and pages of ideas for completed garments and even some that might eventually be used in one of my pieces. It even has some pages of just pictures of shells, water, fish and mermaids – all of which are used as inspiration for fabric and new swimwear ideas. After the design process, the actual sewing to get that perfect fit is really what takes the longest, as I’m a bit of a perfectionist and want every creation to fit beautifully and coincide with the vision that is in my head.

One of many beautiful designs from Maxine

3. What materials are the easiest and most challenging to work with? 

For me, chiffon and nylon are the most challenging to work with. Polyester chiffon is easier to work with but silk chiffon, it just does not want to cooperate at all and will move in every direction while you’re cutting, sewing and even ironing it. Nylon was in my old lining I used for my swimwear pieces, but it’s just so thin and moves around just as much as chiffon. It also likes to pucker when you’re sewing with elastic, so I try not to work with nylon lining.

Gorgeous flowing cover up and flattering swimsuit.

Now I use a thicker lining that still has a bit of nylon for breathability, but not as hard to work with. It also looks good for high end pieces too. When wearing it, this lining feels so smooth on your skin and actually is more comfortable. All my swimwear is completely lined – this allows for a higher quality product and a longer lasting and comfortable swimsuit. 

4. Eco-fashion seems to be an important factor now with the growing concerns of protecting the environment. How do you ensure your materials are made from sustainable and ethically sourced materials? 

I am actually just starting out my swimwear business venture, so that will be something to consider. I do try to stick with one buyer for all my materials, which is a family-owned, local fabric supplier. I also make everything myself so there are no manufacturers or unethical labour practices involved at all. 

5. It is great to see the wide range of sizes that you cater to, from XS to 3XL. How does someone figure out what is the best size to order and are there any exceptions when you would suggest going one size larger or even smaller? 

I always provide a measurement sheet with each listing for buyers. This page will show bust and cup size, as well as waist and hip measurements. In order to figure out your size for bikini tops, one would stand with their back straight, for a more accurate measurement, wrap the tape measure around your fullest part of the bust, under your arms and around the back. The tape should stay parallel with the floor. You would then compare your bust measurement with the Tops chart provided on each listing.

For bottoms and one pieces, one would follow the same directions but with their waist (narrowest part between the bust and hips) and hips (the widest part of one’s pelvic area). If you are between 2 sizes, I always suggest to go with one size up for a better fit. If you are still not sure after measuring and you can’t figure out your size, I’m always available to contact and I will help you out. I can even make you a completely custom size that is made just for you, at the same price of any of the standard sizes.

6. If you could design something for any famous designer(s) who inspired you throughout your career, who would you choose, and what would you like to make them?

No famous designers, but a few celebrities have inspired me. AnnaLynne McCord in particular has been a huge inspiration for me. As a teenager, 90210 The Next Generation, was my favourite show and I watched it religiously. I own all seasons on DVD and truth be told, I could probably rewrite the whole script from start to finish. AnnaLynne’s character named Naomi had such an amazing style and her fashion was what really inspired me to want to pursue fashion in the first place. Specifically, in Season 4, Naomi went on Project Runway and it just fuelled my passion even more to become a fashion designer. In real life, Naomi has such an elegant and unique style that I love. If I was to design a resort wear piece for her, I think I would make a one-piece bathing suit with a long coverup, just like the one I had made for my capsule collection during my college years.

Thanks Maxine for a great interview!

If you’d like to get in touch with a creative entrepreneurial spirit like Maxine, contact her at:

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Find her creations at the Etsy Store

Check out her awesome website for all your customized design needs:

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