Toques + Truffles

Katie Marks of Calgary-based lifestyle blog Toques + Truffles chats with me about my classic motorcycle jacket and the transition from blogger who designs to designer who blogs. 

"How long have you been designing for? What made you start in the first place?
My mother is a talented seamstress who inspired my love for fashion at an early age. Growing up, I was often sewing and knitting under her guidance, but grew dissatisfied with scavenging her fabric stock and tweaking purchased patterns. I decided to head to Toronto for an official design education; it was there that I was able to cultivate my pattern making skills and experience with industrial techniques, giving me the tools I needed to pursue fashion design as a serious career. I’ve made various pit-stops along the way as a model, teacher, and tailor, but have always continued to dream and design of making fashion a full-time endeavour.

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Your latest piece is ridiculously gorgeous, where did the inspiration come from?
Thank you so much, Katie! I’m madly in love with it myself and keep trying to find excuses to wear the sample. Haha! When I design, I look for a hole in my own closet to fill. I think I might have been the last living fashion-girl who didn’t own a leather jacket so decided to rectify the situation. The design is my definition of the perfect classic motorcycle jacket, taking inspiration and functional details from the various blogs and runways I follow religiously. I updated the classic staple with a runway favourite of the Spring 2015 shows, powder blue. I love paradox in design, so the delicate pastel pairs well with the hard history of a biker jacket. For those faint of heart or looking for a classic option, I’ve also created it in a buttery-soft black. 

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How long does it take to create the jacket? Where do you source your materials from?
Each jacket takes about 18 hours and lots of love to cut, prepare, and sew. I personally make each one in my Calgary workroom, which satiates my inner perfectionist and allows me to put years of experience with needle and thread to good use! I’m hoping my fellow localists will appreciate the home-made nature of my products. Keeping manufacturing close is important to me, and wish materials were as easy to find nearby. I purchase most items from Toronto suppliers, but had to take my hunt to New York to find this perfect powder blue coloured lambskin. 

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When and where will you be selling it?
My pieces are available exclusively online at annekeforbes.com, but I plan to participate in various local group sales where people can see the jacket and other designs and have their measurements taken in person. The first such opportunity is the Blogger Closet Sale on March 28th and 29th. Instead of clearing out my already minimal closet, I will be introducing the jackets and taking orders, so please come by the HQ space in Inglewood to say hello and see them for yourself!

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You’ve re-launched your website with a new look. What motivated this move?
Three years ago, I launched annekeforbes.com as a fashion blog, intended to promote my designs and the local fashion community. Fairly quickly I got carried away with the photography, event attending, writing, modelling, styling, collaborating, television appearing, promoting, and everything else involved in the making of a modern fashion one-man band. All of it has been so much fun, I’ve loved every minute, and created amazing industry friendships along the way, but realized my brand wasn’t clear. What is it she does, exactly? Fashion design wasn’t the obvious answer, and I wanted to change that with a fresh start. All of my blog content will be focused on design work and will promote local talent through collaborations with stylists, photographers, models, bloggers, etc.

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What's one piece of advice you'd like to leave our readers with?
Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people. My husband Ken has been a big reason why I’ve been able to make the steps I have since moving here, constantly encouraging my creative endeavours and being a beacon of positivity and joy. The fashion community in Calgary is light-years more supportive than those found in larger cities and it’s collaborative, uplifting spirit has given me the inspiration to create like never before. All I ever need do is have a chat with Sarah, Brittany, Ania, or any of the other fashion entrepreneurs in this city and I’m exploding with new ideas and vigour to build my brand and the profile of Calgary’s fashion scene."