Birds of America, like it's name and free spirited-blue haired creator Hayley Gibson, is nothing short of fabulous. A contemporary vintage inspired line, the label recently transitioned from being designed and made in Montreal to Toronto. Having studied Fashion Design at Ryerson University in the late 90s, Hayley fell in love with Toronto from the start and says " I felt like I needed some new inspiration and a change from my life in Montreal, so Toronto was a natural choice.”
“Montreal is like an incubator for Canadian fashion talent. Designers there benefit from an intensely loyal following for made-in-Quebec products, and great local media coverage, but suffer from a lack of national exposure.” Says Hayley about her experience with the Montreal fashion scene, “[But] with the national media being centred in Toronto, it naturally reports more on what's going on here than anywhere else but tends to focus on larger and international designers. As a result, the stories of smaller, local lines become marginalized.” This marginalization of smaller lines would be a worry for most designers but, Hayley isn’t concerned about the long run, “I'm not sure what the long term effects of the move will be on the business, but I'm looking forward to finding out!”
Although unconcerned about the long term of Birds of North America, it doesn’t stop her from planning for it. Hayley considers herself an obsessive schedule maker, an endearing quirk for a fashion designer; “I have layers and layers of schedules to help me maintain the illusion that I have some control over life: a yearly schedule, weekly schedule, daily schedule, and a morning/afternoon/evening schedule for each day. I also keep a schedule of how the production of each collection progresses so I can compare season to season.”
This season, Birds of North America is inspired by all things futuristic and weird, “outer space, cabins in the woods and 1960's America. The end result is a collection that is a bit futuristic, a bit retro, and rather peculiar.”
"A bit futuristic, a bit retro, and rather peculiar."
Peculiarity seems to be Hayley’s forte, as a child she would purchase sailor style hats (an ode to Donald Duck perhaps?) and wore them regularly for years, “I would match them to my socks! My love for sailor-style clothing runs very deep!”
From Montreal to Toronto, Donald Duck to obsessive schedules, Hayley Gibson is a darling designer and certainly one to follow closely. “I make clothing because the things I want to wear don't exist yet. When creative people can't find what they seek in the world, there is an instinct to contribute the missing element themselves.”
Meet Hayley of Birds of North America this September 26+27th at INLAND (99 Sudbury, Sat 12-9 and Sun 12-6) and shop her incredible collection.
Written by: Deborah Lopez-Delgado, Ryerson University Fashion Communications student.