Runway Radar: Rebecca Burnett’s art-inspired FIKA is functional and fashionable

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      By: Patricia Roque

      Rebecca Burnett believes design should be a cross-functional practice that shouldn’t sacrifice aesthetic for functionality. In a world full of products, she believes everything needs to have a purpose.

      Designed for the sophisticated woman, FIKA uses fashion as a form of self-expression. Through curating art-inspired pieces with functionality, garments serve a purpose throughout daily life.

      FIKA will be unveiled at the 2019 The Show on April 18 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s (KPU) newly opened Wilson School of Design building in Richmond. The beautiful and innovative $36-million building houses a range of design programs including the fashion-design-and-technology program.

      Event details and tickets can be found online.

      Patricia Roque: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?

      Rebecca Burnett: I created a collection for the colourful, mature woman who wants to be able to express herself through her clothing and be able to easily find the right fit. She has the confidence to pull off this style, and she embraces what she has, but bodies change over time and she doesn’t want to have to replace everything when she changes slightly. She also needs to be able to have her independence, so I focused on using larger buttons and strategically placed zippers so those of us who can’t reach behind to do up zippers can do it easily.

      PR: Who are your style icons?

      RB: Young Barbara Streisand, Solange, Tracy Ellis Ross, Fan Bingbing, Jenny Walton, and Dolly Parton.

      PR: What’s the most helpful thing you learned at Wilson School of Design?

      RB: Sustainability. The Wilson School of Design introduced this idea to me and I continued to pursue it. I watched The True Cost for an assignment in first year, and it completely changed my perspective on the impact fashion has on the world. Fashion is the second largest industry after oil, and we have the same environmental impact and economic power. We hold so much power and do so much damage at the same time, and instead of continuing on, we need to make some serious changes. I’ve learned that this isn’t quite a black and white issue, and it requires a lot of focus from major brands that can make a difference.

      Before the program, I thought that the consumer can make small changes like not leaving the lights on or reducing the heat in their home, which can have a positive impact. But large-scale manufacturing is what’s actually poisoning the environment.

      I try to be sustainable even outside fashion, in terms of the food industry and making sure to compost and recycle where I can. I try to be aware of how often I purchase and where I am purchasing my products from—we all have a vote with our dollar.

      PR: Describe your educational journey.

      RB: I took sewing in high school and my teacher discouraged me from applying to the Wilson School of Design, so I decided to take the safe route and take business, which really helped throughout the years I have been here. I enjoyed business, but I knew it wasn’t for me, which is why I decided to finally apply for the program.

      By third year, I saved up enough money to send myself on exchange to Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where I studied knitwear because our degree doesn’t focus on that. I learned a lot aside from knitwear; fully-fashioned knitwear doesn’t create the same amount of waste as any cut-and-sew garment. Learning another fashion technique that doesn’t destroy this planet was extremely beneficial. It is also more forgiving on the body and in production since it allows for larger tolerances. However, they have their own challenges, but the pros overweigh the cons.

      PR: What word best encapsulates you as a designer?

      RB: User-centric design. It’s 2019, and clothing should have a purpose. We shouldn’t be making clothes just for the sake of making clothes.

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