By Isabelle Docto
Chantelle Hastick was just five years old when she started getting into fashion design, creating a line of clothing for her favourite dolls and stuffed toys.
“I would cut up socks, pantyhose and my old clothes and try to hand sew it and put it on my dolls and teddy bears,” she said with a laugh.
Hastick, a third-year fashion design student, has come a long way from her days of using socks as fabric and teddy bears as models.
The budding fashion designer won first place in the Danier Design Challenge for her women’s leather jacket concept, which was inspired by artist Ai WeiWei’s piece Straight.
The final product was a sleek leather jacket with piped detailing, reminiscent of Straight’s linear display of steel bars. It can be zipped up or left open and has a quilted inner lining.
“I feel really excited, really happy and really overwhelmed. Just a million different feelings,” she said just after she was announced as the winner, given a $5,000 cheque and a summer internship with Danier. In addition, Hastick’s design will be included in Danier’s fall 2014 line.
Contestants modelled their completed designs in front of a panel of industry-seasoned judges, including Robert Ott, chair and associate professor at Ryerson’s School of Fashion, and Olga Koel, executive vice-president and chief merchandising officer at Danier.
Koel was impressed by Hastick’s simple execution of a complicated design.
“She made something very commercial, modern and forward,” Koel said. “Everybody wanted to wear her jacket.” Hastick knew from the start that she would pursue fashion and design as a career.
“When my mom was young, she loved sewing as well and she wanted to be a designer, so I guess I get that naturally from her,” she said. “Designing has been a part of me for a very long time.”
Hastick started looking into universities in New York City after high school, but decided to go to Ryerson to save money and be near her family.
“Ryerson itself is a really good school – it’s small, so it’s really specialized,” she said. “It feels as if it’s family because we all know the professors and they know us.”
During her time in the program, Hastick has felt that her understanding of fashion has definitely matured.
“When you start off, you think that what’s impressive is to add as much detail as possible,” she said. “But I’m realizing that sometimes simple really is better.”
Ott said that a well-rounded designer like Hastick was what they were looking for when judging the competition.
“The key thing here is really about collaboration, innovation, persistence and the importance that as a professional in the design world you have to be a complete package,” he said.
Hastick is now planning her collection for her fourth year in the program and wants to put her prize money toward that.
After graduation, Hastick plans to take her designs international.
“After university I’m planning to leave Canada and travel and hopefully get an apprenticeship,” she said. “I want to be excited and almost afraid again, like you’re trying something you don’t expect you could do.”