Vancouver Design Week’s third instalment is in full swing, and as a seeming testament to this year’s theme of Impact—an ambiguous term that asserts that the theory and application of design has an influence anywhere and everywhere—one of the fete’s draws is situated within Waterfront Station, arguably the city’s busiest transportation hub.
There, on the station’s main floor under the magnificent coffered ceiling, visitors can find artisan goods, such as leather handbags, passionfruit-and-ginger chocolates, and rose-infused fragrances, for sale from emerging makers hailing from at home and abroad. Running until Sunday (May 13), the pop-up store is the result of a collab between VDW and pop-up platform thisopenspace.
“It’s a way for us to showcase some up-and-coming designers since we’re in such a high-traffic spot,” Radhika Rai, Vancouver market manager for thisopenspace, tells the Straight during a chat at the temporary boutique. “We thought it would be good exposure for everyone.”
One of those people is Lorna Mutegyeki, founder and designer of Msichana, an Edmonton-based label of ethically produced womenswear that uses vibrant motifs from Mutegyeki’s native Africa. Originally from Uganda, the artist sources brightly patterned fabrics from different regions of her home continent, crafting them into jackets, wide-leg pants, and other garments and accessories (from $45) that work for the “modern Canadian woman” while offering them a chance to connect with another culture.
“It’s kind of my way of sharing my Africa—that one I know—with people,” Mutegyeki notes, “because, oftentimes, we only see things through one lens. So this is a way for people to engage [with the culture] on a more real level.”
The clothing is designed in Edmonton and produced mostly in Uganda, where Mutegyeki partners with local female artisans to provide them the skills needed to run a successful business. “Msichana is a Swahili word that means young woman,” the artist explains. “I wanted a Swahili word because it [the language] is born of a fusion of cultures, and that’s what our brand is about.”
Other products available at the pop-up include ecofriendly pouches from the Surrey-based MysGreen, women’s activewear from Australian brand Lorna Jane, and Indigenous-produced spirit wraps and pillows from the locally based Chloë Angus.
Vancouver-founded technical-clothing line Kit and Ace also occupies its own section of the pop-up, where shoppers can find a selection of the brand’s comfy bike- and office-friendly apparel. Of special note is Kit and Ace’s Navigator series, which includes a range of quick-drying and “anti-ball crushing” pants for men. For women, there are the stretch-cotton-twill trousers and leggings, which, according to Kaila Tyndall, the company’s director of product, have been flying off shelves since their release.
“That is a big part of our vision here,” she says, “bringing in what makes your athletic clothes comfortable and then applying that to office-appropriate clothing that you can feel professional in.”
Check out the images below for a peek at the VDW x thisopenspace pop-up before you visit IRL.
The Vancouver Design Week x thisopenspace pop-up runs at Waterfront Station until Sunday (May 13) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.