THE INSEAM VOLUME 15: DAUB + DESIGN

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Vancouver is home to a thriving fashion industry made up of individuals committed to its growth and success. Get to know these personalities in The Inseam and discover what makes the Vancouver Fashion scene so awesome.

Photo: courtesy Lexi Soukoreff

I meet Lexi Soukoreff in her Gastown studio. Complete with a vintage sewing machine, a rack filled with tie-dyed creations and brightly coloured fabrics that are strewn about, the cozy space echoes the cool and relaxed aesthetic of the designer’s collection, Daub +Design.

Daub + Design is an eco-friendly line of tie-dyed scarves, leggings and swimwear. The collection has garnered the attention of fashion industry elites by recently qualifying D+D as a semi-finalist for the Mercedes-Benz StartUp Program. The collection is set for growth with its next venture at Vancouver’s upcoming Eco Fashion Week.

I chat with Lexi about her fashion memories, her line, and why Vancouver is key to her business.

Valerie Tiu: Can you talk about your background in fashion?

Lexi Soukoreff: In high school, I took fashion design classes. We learned CAD and basic pattern drafting. From there, I graduated, went travelling for a year and then came back and did fashion merchandising at Blanche Macdonald, where I learned about the business of fashion. I signed up for the Capilano Textile Art Program and then went to Emily Carr to do my BFA. I had always done textile design, like dyeing fabrics and silk screening. I’ve always had a drawer full of bikinis. I have always been interested in beach culture and the hand dyed artisan aspect of everything. So then I started this. I found a studio online, and then Daub + Design evolved.

VT: Can you describe your first fashion memory?

LS: I would cut up fabric and dress my Barbie dolls. My mom also signed us up for sewing classes as a kid to keep us out of trouble. My Baba used to teach us how to sew, knit and crochet, so I was into fashion since childhood.

VT: When did you start your line? What is the story behind the name “Daub + Design”?

LS: I registered the name last October. We took off to Vegas in June and I bought a tie-dye bikini, and I thought, ‘I could do this’, so I made one. So I signed up for a fashion show and I made 12 of them. They were a hit, so I just went with it.

“Daub” means to apply colouring material to a surface crudely. So that’s what I’m doing – there is no structure to the pattern when I dye it. It’s basic Shibori technique, which is Japanese tie-dye.  One thing that is unique about this is not being able to replicate a fabric. I wanted the name to reflect the design of the garments.

VT: You have a very eco-friendly approach to your designs. Why is this important for you to maintain?

LS: It’s important to me. I know how toxic the industry can be. If you look at developing countries that have a textile industry, you see how much waste goes back into the water system. You’ll see the rivers run green for a day because chemicals are going into the environment, and then that water is used in the community. If I am going to be doing dyeing, I need to do it for my own conscience, for my own goal, to set a standard for other dyers. I want to show others that it’s possible to achieve a really great black. You don’t have to over saturate and throw away the rest of the dye.

VT: How does living in Vancouver influence your design approach?

LS: I think that the leggings and scarves are easy pieces to dress up or down. They are fairly versatile objects. I have customers who wear the scarves from spring to fall. The bikinis are great for people that are going away on vacation. I think we have a well-developed niche market for bikinis.

VT: What are your future plans for Daub + Design? Do you see the line expanding?

LS: I am hoping to get into clothing and more accessories. I want to get the swimsuits up and running. With Eco Fashion Week, we are expanding the line a little bit to include more tops and bottoms, and a few more one-pieces.

VT: Where do you get your inspiration?

LS: Basically, colour and pattern. Through my experience dyeing, you have a Rolodex of what colours flow together. It’s colour math in your head.

I get my inspiration from a lot of places. From nature and advertising for example. You can find colour combinations from everyday items – a pack of Jelly Bellys, Islamic art. More natural bright objects, like tropical fish and butterflies. I like graffiti and how it’s random; it’s kind of like that crude application. Colour is definitely my motivation.

VT: You recently participated in the Mercedes-Benz StartUp Program. Can you talk about that experience?

LS: I was selected as a semi-finalist. There were ten of us designers from Vancouver and Montreal. We all had to bring one fully styled outfit and our business plan. We sat down with six very established judges, each representing the sponsors, so there were a lot of key people in the room. From there, five people were chosen to be part of the fashion show the following day. So we styled all of our girls, with Kim Cathers and Amy Lu helping us. We put together a show with eight models to showcase our looks. There were two winners from Vancouver.

Everyone deserved to be there and we got a ton of great feedback. The two winners are moving on to LG Fashion Week in October and they’ll compete for a five-month mentorship and their own show in the Spring. It was great and lots of fun!

VT: Why Vancouver?

LS: I love this city. Every time I leave, I come back and I just smell the air and see the ocean. It’s gorgeous. There is so much green space.

As much as it’s a big city, it’s small. We have a great community. It’s tight-knit and there are a lot of people willing to help out others. I also love being in Gastown. It’s an area where there is so many artists, shopping and great restaurants – a little Mecca of interest. That’s why I base my business out of here.