The Fashion Collective opens with apparel options in City Park

“We wanted to have a place that’s more seriously focused on the entrepreneurial side of Saskatchewan fashion and helping small designers get established in a community situation.”

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Businesses and non-profit organizations regularly open and move in Saskatoon. Today the StarPhoenix talks to Oriol Swaan and Sherri Hrycay, who recently formed the Fashion Collective with fellow Saskatonian Tara Akins and Rea Harbus of Regina.

Their store features a selection of each of their products including a wide variety of clothing, hats, dancewear and other comfortable apparel. The Fashion Collective is centrally located in Saskatoon’s City Park neighbourhood at Sherri’s Sova Design Millinery.

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The Fashion Collective
Tara Akins flips through Rea Harbus’s apparel for sale at the Fashion Collective in Saskatoon. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Q: How did the Fashion Collective come to be?

Oriol Swaan: It had been on my back burner for a while, but I was talking with Sherri of Sova last year about how great it would be if designers could corroborate and have a little retail store where there’s a bunch of different designers carrying clothes and helping each other out. We talked to a few other people and got them interested. We visited a few other places around that are either fashion consignment stores or other kinds of collectives that have handmade goods to see what kind of a framework we should have.

Sherri Hrycay: I’ve owned this (Sova Millinery Design) hat shop for 10 years now, seven in the same spot. I was starting to get a little bit stuck in a rut. Oriol and I talked and approached a few different designers throughout the province about a place to show their stuff — not just selling their stuff for a percentage, but where they would be working there regularly as well, so that they can talk to customers and they can sell for themselves. Then they can see how to run a business and that sort of thing.

I go to France fairly often and what makes Paris into Paris is that there is tiny space after tiny space where people can open up a shop and sell something unique. The city gives a break to artisans for rent. We don’t have that in Saskatoon. What we do have is a lot of empty retail space that could be subdivided. You have so many more people like me out there selling what they make. This was sort of my chance to give others an opportunity to show and sell their stuff and see how to run a store. I can mentor them a little bit because I have been doing it a little bit longer.

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Q: How well do the Fashion Collective owners know one another?

Sherri: I’ve known them for years. Designers are sort of a small group here in Saskatchewan. People in the Saskatchewan fashion core more or less get to know different fashion people. Oriol and her husband had their own tailoring space downstairs in the Drinkle building and that’s where my first store was located.

Oriol: I think that everybody kind of knew everybody else. I worked with Tara for a while and I’ve known Sherri for a number of years. We met at different fashion shows and events. We had a lot of connections.

Q: What kinds of products do you sell?

Oriol: I am focusing on things that are more eco-friendly. I really love textiles. I’ve got a couple products that are a hemp and organic cotton mix. The reason I like hemp is that it is very similar to cotton except it takes way less work. It’s very resilient. It’s a really great fibre that hasn’t really been used as much as it should be. I also am interested in recycled polyester as a way to use up not only bottles but also polyester textile waste. I do upcycling and repurposing.

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Tara’s focus is dancewear. She’s involved in the dance world. As people grow up and still want to dance, the body type of traditional dancewear is not there, so the sizes available are really not adequate. Her niche is where her clothing fits everybody. She does custom dancewear pieces as well as some pieces that could be for dance or could be everyday wear.

Rea has a lot of quite comfortable pieces. The fabric is easy to wear. She has some dresses, sweaters and pants and tops and a lot of knit fabrics. She has great colours, designs and patterns.

Sherri: Sova makes handmade hats for men and women. And I also have a one-size-fits-most linen line — sizes eight to 18. It’s great for women who like linen clothing but can’t find any that will fit.

The Fashion Collective
Oriol Swaan’s apparel for sale at the Fashion Collective in Saskatoon. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Q: How is the Fashion Collective organized?

Oriol: Basically myself and two other designers moved our stuff into Sova Design Millinery. Sherri made some space for us and kind of rearranged things so that it is a little retail area in four different sections with different designers and signs for everybody and their different collections.

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Tara and I take shifts there so that it’s not just us putting our things there and letting Sherri do everything. We are participating and being part of the shop and promoting it. Rea is from Regina and doesn’t come up for a shift, but the rest of us take shifts there and Sherri is there most of the time.

Q: What is the goal of the Fashion Collective?

Oriol: The goal is that we would start to have a place where people who are interested in making fashion as their way of living wouldn’t need to leave Saskatchewan to have a retail space. I know a lot of times in the past there are some places where we can put on fashion shows, but it’s almost more entertainment for people. We wanted to have a place that’s more seriously focused on the entrepreneurial side of that Saskatchewan fashion and helping small designers get established in a community situation where they don’t have to make a go of it themselves.

Q: What stands out about the Fashion Collective?

Oriol: We’re geared specifically toward fashion and clothing. There are a lot of collectives that will have housewares, some accessories and a few fashion pieces. Here we’re talking strictly higher quality fashion.

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This interview has been edited and condensed.

The Fashion Collective

Owners: Oriol Swaan, Sherri Hrycay, Tara Akins, Rea Harbus
Address: 5 801 7th Avenue North (at Sova Design Millinery)
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Instagram: Sova Design, Oriol Swaan, Amaranth Designs, Lia Vaall Costume Dept.

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