YPDaily Special Edition: Mercedes Benz Start Up Finalists

We found ourselves intrigued by the talent a few weeks back at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week and the finalists featured as part of the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up program, a progressive national program designed to discover and mentor rising Canadian fashion designers. We brought you an interview with the contest winner, Duy Nguyen, last month; now, the other talented young finalists share who they admire from a business standpoint and offer their advice for other up-and-coming fashion designers in this special edition of YPDaily.  

Caitlin Power
Toronto-based Caitlin Power is recognized nationally for redefining womenswear through classic tailoring, architectural details and sharp silhouettes.

 “My greatest inspiration from a business perspective is Joseph Mimran. He has started, and maintained, many successful companies. He has a great business mindset, but is also deeply immersed in fashion trends.”  

 “I would advise emerging designers to be confident in themselves, and to their designs. Stay true to the vision they are trying to create, and learn to take criticism to turn the product into something better.”

Christopher Bates
The Christopher Bates line was featured as one of the top six leading menswear designers in Canada and his collection has been sold in leading Canadian boutiques since launch.

 “I admire Richard Branson. He’s super successful plus he’s got great charisma and style. He takes risks and enjoys challenges. He has been a great inspiration to me.”

“Make sure you have sufficient finances. Starting a new line requires extensive funds. Create a three-year business plan and budget, then double what you think you need and the time it takes to break through.”

Dreamboat Lucy
Created by sisters Louanna and Hilary Murphy of Prince Edward Island, Dreamboat Lucy’s bright coloured and printed clothing includes finely constructed pieces with figure-flattering silhouettes and a retro rock and roll edge along with an assortment of bold accessories. 

“I draw business inspiration from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Not only have they had a hugely successful business since the age of seven, they now have a CFDA award for their fashion line, The Row. They are fashion icons and business-savvy women, a killer combination that anyone would admire.”

“Be realistic in your approach into the fashion industry. It’s going to take a lot of dedication and hard work to make a name for yourself. Don’t give up; you’re only going to become stronger and smarter with every season.”

Lauren Bagliore
Lauren Bagliore combines an edgy modern sensibility with a romantically reflective femininity with her signature Italian jersey dresses that drape into conversation-evoking pieces of wearable art.  

“From a strictly business perspective, I gain inspiration from Ralph Lauren and his stable brand that always reflects his customers. He has a smart, concise and clear method.”  

“Remain true to the vision in your heart and don’t be swayed by others. You need to know who you are or nobody else will understand you. Don’t lose focus. Treat your body right and be health conscious.” 

Malorie Urbanovitch
Malorie Urbanovitch’s women’s ready to wear brand is defined by its simple yet surprising colour palettes, innovative fabric combinations, and distinctive, flattering silhouettes.  

“My greatest inspiration from a business perspective has always been Coco Chanel. She revolutionized women’s wear by making comfort an integral component in design. For the first time, it became fashionable for women to move! Through fashion, Chanel greatly contributed to a change in perspective that re-envisioned the potential of the modern woman.”  

“For those emerging designers out there, my best piece of advice is to never compromise your vision. The most important thing when starting out is to figure out exactly what you are about and stick by it. The more consistent you are, the better.”

Nicole Campre 
At the age of 22, Nicole Campre was named Western Canada’s Emerging Designer. Her past experience includes the role of Head Designer for one of Alberta’s eminent fashion retailers, Loft 82. 

My greatest inspiration from a business perspective are the Olsens at The Row. I appreciate their focus on their clients and buyers and the respect the emphasis they place on their manufactures and suppliers. Their business is run productively and their clothing is beautiful.” 

“I still consider myself an emerging designer as well. My advice to us is to maintain a strong aesthetic, to be involved in our community, and seize all opportunities. I also believe in a determined attitude that is open to learning.” 

Pure Magnolia
Pure Magnolia is an artistic collection of couture eco bridal gowns and party dresses designed by Vancouver-based Patty Nayel. 

Mark Trotzuk of Boardroom Eco Apparel is one of my greatest business inspirations. As COO and founder of a Vancouver-based sustainable apparel brand, Mark is driving change in the city and across the country. I admire how he has been able to develop and innovate new fabrics, manufacturing practices and brands while still continuing to grow his eco business. I want my brand to grow and develop into something that can and will continue on beyond me.”   

“As for advice to emerging designers, I would draw their attention to how essential it is to have a solid business behind their brand. You can have amazing clothing, but if the back end isn’t working, you wont get anywhere. If you don’t have experience in business yourself, find someone who you can talk to, a mentor, a friend or your accountant. Having a second set of eyes looking at your business is so very important as you are building the foundation for something much bigger.” 

Watch for the next batch of Mercedes-Benz Start Up finalists for Fall/Winter World MasterCard Fashion Week in March.

Photo: Caitlin Power, courtesy World MasterCard Fashion Week