Toronto-based luxury womenswear designer Mani Jassal has made quite the impression in the Canadian fashion industry with her distinct aesthetic fusing contemporary style with traditional South Asian fashion. With a label that prides itself in its innovative and artistic approach to melding her South Asian heritage with her Canadian upbringing, she most recently debuted her Resort ‘17 collection, alamārī. After a stunning presentation, The Charter of Fashion caught up with Mani to get the latest exposé regarding her most recent work. From her most prevalent inspirations and future vision for the brand, to creating her own culture, Mani gave us the scoop:
“So what I have decided to do now is just create my own “culture” and my own market.”
CoF: When and Why did you decide to get into designing?
MJ: I remember the defining moment of my career trajectory: Sitting in grade 6 class, I wrote in my diary about the kind of art I wanted to create. Then I had an epiphany — I realized I wanted my art to be functional, and there was no art more functional than clothing. In that moment, I knew I wanted the world to wear her art, and with that, I turned the page and began sketching designs. This was the genesis of the MANI JASSAL brand.
CoF: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
MJ: Unexpected fabrics, colour palettes, and ways of showcasing the female form have become my signature, and the rebellion conveyed through the designs have garnered a substantial social media following and fans all over the world.
CoF: Notion behind the theme of your recent collection: Almari? what does this mean to you?
MJ: alamārī, meaning wardrobe or closet in Punjabi, was the starting point for the resort 2017 collection. My very own alamārī set the tone for the collection, informing colour palette, mood, and attitude, and symbolizing the importance of self-reflection. The idea of a wardrobe collides with my recent inspirational discovery of Moroc- co: hand placed floral appliqués, beaded embroidery, textured fabrics, and draping bring to mind the country’s architecture, geography, and climate. The collection remains true to my aesthetic and approach to dressing, with every piece making a statement, and the ability to pair these pieces in myriad ways and across collections for ultimate versatility, originality, and individuality.
CoF: What’s your 2-5 year vision for your brand?
MJ: In 2-5 years I imagine the brand to have become more global and be retailing my pieces in stores worldwide. I would like to become a household name for women’s bridal and evening wear.
CoF: What can we expect to see from you in the Future?
MJ: I want to keep growing the brand, and be creating collections regularly. I would like to expand into RTW along with menswear – menswear is something that I have always wanted to venture into.
CoF: How would you describe your design journey so far? Any particular hurdle/obstacles you’ve faced in the industry? and if so how do you plan to overcome them?
MJ: There have been a few hurdles when it comes to having your own brand/company. In the beginning, it was very hard because I was the only one that was doing everything. I slowly started building my team and tasking things out. But I think the biggest struggle of them all has to be finding a place in the industry and finding out where I fit. I find that being a Canadian Indian, and having your pieces be inspired by both “worlds” leaves you in this strange middle ground. I find that when it comes to the Canadian fashion industry, my designs are too “ethnic” or too “Indian”. When it comes to the Indian Fashion Market, my designs are too different, and when it comes to the Indian Market, I find that I don’t fit in either because I am Canadian. I sometimes find myself being pigeon-holed into just a South Asian market because of my name. Just because I have an Indian heritage, does not mean I should only be limited to that market. My clothes are for everyone and anyone that can appreciate clothing – they are for the fashion forward woman. So what I have decided to do now is just create my own “culture” and my own market, and I have many many girls that resonate with what I stand for.
Thank you, Mani, for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish nothing but success for you in the future, and are happy to be a small part of your journey!
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