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Malorie Urbanovitch

Sep 08/2014
WORDS Janis Galloway PHOTOGRAPHY Pedersen

“Normally, at this time of year, I would be sewing 16 hours a day, sleeping at the studio, frantically working to get my spring collection complete.”

But Malorie Urbanovitch doesn’t look the least bit in panic mode. The women’s wear designer is delicately perched on a stool across from me in her Edmonton studio, looking calm, composed and confident. She has just returned from a trip to Europe with her business partner where she handed off the sewing reigns to manufacturers in Romania and Italy, who will expertly construct her Spring 2015 samples to debut on the runway at World MasterCard Fashion Week this October.

As Urbanovitch tells me about Capsule, a buyer’s tradeshow she’ll be attending in Paris this September, it’s apparent to me how far she’s come over the last three years. I reminisce about the film studies graduate’s Fall 2011 collection at Edmonton’s humble Western Canada Fashion Week. It was a richly hued vision, hand sewn by Urbanovitch with many more bells and whistles than the label’s now refined aesthetic, which has become her signature and what led to her win of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Start Up competition (a Canada-wide competition for emerging designers). Urbanovitch’s swift momentum since that win is undeniable.

Earlier this year, the designer secured meetings with buyers from some of Canada’s largest department stores, and high-end retailer Gravity Pope has picked up the ready to wear line for a second season – not surprising, since the label was one of Gravity Pope’s top selling brands last year.

The Malorie Urbanovitch line is streamlined and feminine, the focus on rich, indulgent fabrics. With each collection, the brand becomes more synonymous with luxury thanks to standout pieces like the floor sweeping hand-knit skirts of Fall 2013; the elegant grey silk dresses of Summer 2014; and a personal favourite Urbanovitch conception: white buffalo leather mini backpacks accessorized with oversized hand-pounded silver pins from Fall 2014.

This season is so different than any other season weíve done. Itís inspired by the emancipated woman, and itís a strange mix of very recognizable eras in fashion.

“I’m really inspired by fabrics when I design. I think about what I would want to wear. I’m naturally drawn to something soft and comfortable.”

I prod her for Spring 2015 spoilers.

“This season is so different than any other season we’ve done. It’s inspired by the emancipated woman, and it’s a strange mix of very recognizable eras in fashion. The mood is a very free, kind of sporty woman. It’s very moody. It’s a little witchy. The colours are very unusual for spring and for the brand in general.”

And after this collection makes its debut down the runway, what’s next? I inquire about Urbanovitch’s five-year plan.

“I hope having a presence at World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto will elevate the awareness of the brand in Canada, at least. We’re hoping to get some major buyers – we want the big department stores. That’s really the goal.

This next little while is about sales and keeping our image strong and making a mark in Canadian fashion.”