By Hayley Clackson
Nicole Boyer is a Vancouver Islander and soon-to-be graduate of the fashion design and technology program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. From an early age, Boyer knew she wanted a career in fashion where she could continue to develop the sewing and drafting skills she has cultivated since childhood.
A job with Smoking Lily in Victoria guided her into the local design scene, which blossomed into a career that lasted seven years. Hoping to expand her horizons and explore fashion outside of Victoria, Boyer was drawn to the degree program at KPU where she knew she could expand her skill set and make new friendships and industry connections.
Boyer won the technical award at TÉLIO’s international design competition two years ago, which she counts as a career highlight, along with interning at Arc’teryx Equipment.
Her line, Silva Field & Trade, will be unveiled at 2016 The Show: The Final Cut, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 6 and 7 at the Imperial Vancouver (319 Main Street). Thirty-five other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.
Hayley Clackson: Describe your collection.
Nicole Boyer: Silva Field & Trade is the first western Canadian line of workwear for women in forestry and related trades. There is currently little clothing available for women who need durable functional pieces that also contain elements of safety and style. I have focused on technical details, performance fabrics, and superior fit. Through Silva, I strive to bring design innovation and styling to women through the safe, comfortable workwear that they need.
HC: What was the inspiration behind your line?
NB: Coming from the island, I drew from my love for West Coast forests and our unique climate. My longtime tree-planter friend Nora and my research assistant friend Zoe, who works at The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, are the two women who gave me the initial idea to explore better clothing options for women who work outdoors.
These two, as well as the many women I have met during my line development, have inspired me to create clothing that combines elements of performance outerwear and hardwearing workwear, while paying tribute to my island roots and desire to explore technical detailing and functional clothing design.
HC: Can you tell me about your creative process?
NB: My creative process revolves around the problem I am looking to solve. I’m a very hands-on person: I like to sketch out my ideas, and cut shapes from paper or fabric. I enjoy working through researching for detail inspiration, seeing what I can find on the streets and how I can reinterpret those findings to suit my designs. Educational podcasts, bouncing ideas with friends, and licorice keep me going.
HC: What have you learned at KPU?
NB: Aside from opening up an island girl’s eyes to a bigger slice of the fashion industry, KPU has taught me the importance of collaboration. I’ve also really grown in my technological abilities. Adobe Illustrator and Gerber pattern drafting are two areas I’ve excelled in. I’ve really pushed myself here at KPU and have enjoyed how rewarding it feels.
HC: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?
NB: I’m passionate about the creation, that I am the person bringing something from scattered concepts to concrete, tangible designs. I think because of this, I am drawn to pattern-drafting and fabric manipulation. I’ve always loved operating industrial machinery as well, and find nothing more satisfying than sewing together pieces of fabric that have been cut from patterns I’ve created, and it resulting in something someone can wear and enjoy.
HC: What are your plans after graduation?
NB: After graduation, I’m excited to continue my career in technical apparel in Vancouver. I see Silva Field & Trade as a viable line that could benefit a lot of women and I look forward to seeing where having my own business could take me.