This month we are shining a light on Canadian-based fashion designer Lesley Hampton. Pretty Little Hangers is diving into Lesley’s brand values, her thoughts about the future of the fashion industry, and what having influential women like singer Lizzo wear her designs means to her.
From your perspective, what is a brief background of your brand, Lesley Hampton, and the foundation and inspiration behind it?
L: Lesley Hampton (she/her) is an Anishinaabe Artist, and Fashion Designer focused on mental health awareness, body positivity, and authentic representation in fashion and media. She is the Creative Director of LESLEY HAMPTON, an indigenous-owned, women-led, size-inclusive clothing and accessory brand based in Toronto, ON. She is also a signed curve model with BNM Model Management and speaker on Indigenous entrepreneurship and diversity in fashion. Lesley Hampton aims to decolonize Eurocentric standards in the fashion industry, inspire the next decade of Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs, and create space for empowerment and representation in fashion and media.
What are your brand values?
L: Our portfolio is a catalyst to define my identity, reconnect with my Indigenous roots, and champion equality, diversity, and authentic representation within the fashion and media industries. This advocacy coupled with artistic passion drives me daily.
How do you want women to feel when they wear your clothes?
L: Anyone who wears a Lesley Hampton garment feels empowered. They are confident knowing the athluxury pieces are designed with their body in mind, whist knowing they are supporting an Indigenous-owned, women-led, small business who values storytelling, and are excited to share the stories of the brand’s inclusivity to others.
What are some inspirations behind your seasonal designs?
L: Our collections are inspired by the people and lives around me.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion design?
L: In University, I studied Art Studio and Art History for my bachelor degree, and all my sculptural artwork was on the body. I love the correlation [between] what you put on the body and the story it can tell. Naturally, I transitioned to take my wearable art to the fashion industry.
What was your first job or internship after completing your degree?
L: After high school, my first job was as a sewing teacher at a summer camp. This was my first teaching gig, and it was so great to see the smile on the kids faces when they put on their revamped designs.
Now that we’ve approached May, what can we expect from your SS21 collection this year?
L: The SS21 collection is coming this June. It is an athluxury collection that cultivates wellness through body neutrality, balance, and growth.
Do you have any mentors in the fashion industry?
L: Mentors are so amazing to guide new designers, bounce innovative ideas off of, and learn their pointers from lived experience growing in this industry. Im honoured to have people like Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto’s Sage Paul, Toronto Fashion Incubator’s Susan Langdon, as well as many mentors in PR and media.
How was the experience of Lizzo wearing Lesley Hampton for you?
Lesley: My team has been a big fan of Lizzo for a few years, so it was such a full-circle moment for us to go from fans to seeing our designs worn on Lizzo and seeing her experience the clothing while working out. It was definitely a lot of screaming from the excitement.
Where do you see the future of fashion being? Will there be influences drawn from our current global pandemic?
L: I believe we are transitioning to a movement of body neutrality, to know that like having a bad hair day, you can and are allowed to have a bad body image day. I think with the increased awareness of personal health, we will focus more on caring for the one body we have and not apply toxic or unobtainable positivity. I think this point of view will influence our fashion choices to be less about trends and more about personal style.
What advice would you give young Canadian designers starting in the industry?
L: My main piece of advice is to know your vision and what makes you uniquely you. Every one [can] learn how to sew and construct a garment but what will make your brand stand apart and rise above the rest.
xo, Pretty Little Hangers Team