By Naomi St. Cyr
Sierra McNeill uses her love for hand-sewing and her passion for menswear to create artisanal suits for men in Vancouver who want to provoke conversation by wearing tailored statement garments. Paying homage to traditional tailoring routes, her silhouettes and details are classic while the fabrics and colours are modern.
Sierra McNeill Bespoke will be unveiled at 2018 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 19 and 20 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) new purpose-built Wilson School of Design building. The beautiful and innovative $36-million building houses a range of design programs including the fashion-design-and-technology program. Thirty-one other lines by KPU fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.
Naomi St. Cyr: Describe your collection.
Sierra McNeill: Sierra McNeill Bespoke is a collection developed by combining traditional tailoring techniques with trends in men’s modern fashion.
NSC: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?
SM: Last year, I was lucky enough to study abroad in London, U.K., and to really further my understanding of tailoring at the industry on a global level. I fell in love with the city, and my desire to create artisanal suits was inspired by the city that suits originated from. I also grew up with a father who wore suits to work every day, and he has been a huge fashion influence in my life.
NSC: Walk me through your creative process.
SM: I am someone who works product backwards; I can visualize the final garment before anything else. With suiting, I find that creating a design comes to life with the cloth: understanding what pockets to design, what type of collar to use, and how many kick pleats are required.
NSC: What have you learned at KPU?
SM: I learned the value of time management, and how to juggle and prioritize the many different aspects of my life. I’ve also learned the importance of collaboration and camaraderie, and that without a strong team working together, the work will simply not get done. Working with others and understanding how others work is such a key life skill to take away from this program.
NSC: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?
SM: There’s a moment when a man puts on a suit and people think “Wow, he looks good,” and I love that I’m partly responsible for that reaction. I find that, in a world of overconsumption, being able to create garments that will be with a person for some of their most formal and important moments of their life is incredibly rewarding. Whether he's wearing it to a job interview to a wedding, a suit can not only change how a man perceives himself but how the world sees him.
NSC: What are your plans after graduation?
SM: Well, as of right now, my only concrete plans are a return trip to England and Europe to visit friends I made abroad. I hope to continue with Sierra McNeill Bespoke, turn it into a small business within the Vancouver fashion industry, and to go back to London at a later point to study tailoring from a master.
Naomi St. Cyr is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.