Hayley Elsaesser’s collab with Canadian retailer Simons, launched this month, is inspired by her childhood and growing up across Canada in the 1990s, with vibrant pops of colour and patterns. The assortment was designed for Simons’ Twik department, where young shoppers can find edgy, eclectic fashions that continuously evolve. We chatted with Hayley to get the lowdown on the eight-piece range. —Vita Daily
Hi Hayley! Tell us a bit about yourself to start!
I'm a Toronto-based designer known for my candy-colour schemes and pop art prints. I love to use fashion as a tool for fun and transformation. I work with my brother to run our small business and we are known for our collaborations, and our latest is with Simons.
How did this opportunity to collaborate with Simons come about?
We met some of the buyers from Simons at a Las Vegas trade show a few years ago, where my brother Connor, who is our Director of Sales and Marketing worked with them to stock us for the first time. Since then, we have maintained a relationship with their incredibly talented fashion director, and her and Connor came to the conclusion it would be a major win to work on a signature collection with the Twik department of Simons.
What was your inspiration for the collection?
Even though I started my brand in Australia, I have always been very proud to be a Canadian designer, and I love having a store on busy Queen Street West in Toronto. Canadian fashion can be quite traditional, and if you were to ask someone to think of Canadian fashion they’d likely conjure up an image akin to a lumberjack, but we have so much more to offer! I love that Twik is always so vibrant and edgy. I wanted to take the idea of "Canadiana" or traditional Canadian style and flip that on its head, by combining Twik’s edginess and my palette with Canadian themes.
How exactly does a Canadian theme play in?
I think that the inspiration comes across in the prints from the collection: mountains, waves, and cowboy hats. When I think of a place that really represents Canada as a physical landscape I think of British Columbia. I was born in Vancouver and I love the mix of the natural elements of the ocean and the mountains, juxtaposed against a beautiful city. I think this represents Canada so well and was a major starting point for the collection. Of course, I had to do a typical HE twist on the prints and make the colour palette sugary-sweet. My favourite print of the collection, the Cowboy 8-Ball, is a remake of a print from years ago. It’s so quirky and fun and I love how it is a modern take representing the prairies and western provinces. Finally, I wanted to have my version of a neutral print. In this case, that is the large-scale geometric leopard print which ties everything together. We’ve also used fleece as a nod to Canadiana and some of the pieces have a wetsuit look to them, to go with the waves as a nod to the fact that we are surrounded by beautiful coastal regions.
Tell us about the pieces included in the range ... and, if you had to pick a favourite, which would it be?!
I am very happy with the offering of the range, there is a great mix of statement pieces that also pack a punch. There is some colour blocking, and our signature prints to make sure the garments really carry the Canadian '90s theme of the collection, but in incredibly wearable silhouettes like fleece and wide leg pants. It’s clothes that will make you look super cool, and make you feel great. My absolute favourite from the collection is the mountain print fleece, as I think it embodies the nostalgic Canadiana perfectly.
Since inspo from the 1990s have helped to colour this collab, we've got to know: what was a "typical" look for you in the '90s?!
I have always been very into fashion and colour, but also a little bit sporty. As a kid I was into trends in a big way but always liked to dress sporty. So, just imagine a 10-year-old sporty spice!