By Kelsey De Melo
When Seevana Hawari took a trip to the Middle East in 2017, she was instantly inspired by the unique sense of style that was different than what she had seen on the streets of Toronto. Everywhere she went she saw men and women wearing a Keffiyeh, which is a checkered scarf usually worn around the neck or head by Palestinians. Growing up Palestinian herself, she always understood the political significance of the Keffiyeh and how middle eastern clothing often had a deeper meaning than just a passing trend.
Today, Hawari is in her fourth year of fashion communications at Ryerson University and has used her knowledge as well as her culture to create her very own fashion brand called KUVRD.
KUVRD was one of the innovative fashion startups that showcased their work at HUE — an event planned and produced by Ryerson students in fashion, performance and creative industries. The Ryerson students who collaborated on this event said the goal was to show progressive fashion brands that are striving to break the rules of normalcy in the Canadian fashion industry.
The exhibit, which was held Tuesday night at Ryerson’s Rogers Communications Centre, also had other startup brands such as Giftgowns and Inlighten. While not all of the brands were created by Ryerson students, all those showcased were initially funded and supported by the university’s Fashion Zone.
The Fashion Zone is one of Canada’s first incubators for fashion-inspired businesses. It works with students, alumni, faculty and a growing network of industry professionals to help launch Canadian fashion businesses.
Hawari received help through the zone to launch her brand but says Ryerson has been helping her with her vision since day one. “I’ve received so much support and guidance from my professors throughout my time here that have really taught me how to brand everything I do,” Hawari said.
She said the idea behind KUVRD is to bridge the gap between Middle Eastern fashion essentials and Western style trends so that consumers can feel comfortable and trendy, while still remaining in touch with their heritage. In the coming years, Hawari plans for her brand to make more of a social impact by creating jobs in Jordan for women and refugees.
Another Toronto brand that had an exhibit at HUE was Inlighten, which was founded in 2017 by Eddy Song. Song immigrated to Canada from China in 2012 and says much of the inspiration he got from his clothing was derived from the fashion he witnessed in China.
“I’ve always known I had an eye for design and it’s unbelievable how well people are responding to my passion,” said Song.
Inlighten is gaining momentum in the fashion industry for being able to successfully incorporate Bluetooth technology into their clothing. Through the Inlighten app, you can control the colour of your clothing, the pulse modes and you can even sync it to react to the music you are listening to. Inlighten’s neon clothing has gained a lot of attention from festival-goers and those who want to stand out in a crowd.
Founder of Giftgowns, Jackie Moss, was inspired to create a line of stylized hospital gowns after a personal scare. In 2013, Moss found herself in the hospital after suffering from cardiac arrest and desperately needed something to help lift her spirits. The standard blue hospital gown she was forced to wear during her extended stay did nothing to help — even after she could wear her own pajamas, they were impractical during treatment.
After reflecting on her time at the hospital, Moss came up with idea to create fun and personal hospital gowns to help patients get through the difficult times in their lives. The gowns help lift the spirits of the patients wearing them while still ensuring they are comfortable and able to receive treatment.
The Ryerson students who organized HUE helped bring attention to several innovative and diverse fashion brands that plan to make waves in the future for the Canadian fashion industry.