Only a highly-trained design eye can pick out how the soft curve or sharp corner of a building will translate into cloth and onto the human body. Rachel Sin, architect turned fashion designer, is one of these people. She noticed the correlation and symbiosis of all things well-designed while earning her masters degree in architecture before turning her precise eye onto the world of womenswear. Her clothing, designed for every woman who wants beautiful and functional pieces, has earned her a growing pride of Canadian and international fans, from Joannie Rochette to Ashlan Gorse from E News, and Rosey Edeh on ET Canada. We predict that soon, Sin’s vision will be both on buildings and the dresses worn inside them everywhere.
When did your fashion “hobby” turn into your career?
I always knew I wanted to become a Fashion Designer, but didn’t feel like I had to study Fashion. I took some sewing classes while earning a Master's Degree in Architecture. When I started the brand, it was never a hobby, I knew I wanted to pursue it seriously, with the intention of running a successful clothing line.
Have you always been able to see the correlation between the forms in architecture and those of clothing?
I do not think I would have been as good of a fashion designer, if I had not studied architecture. Architecture is the basis of design. As an architect, design, no matter what the scale, must be designed well. It is a profession of responsibility, and it is your responsibility to make the world a better place with good design.
What was it like going from architecture to fashion design?
It was very natural; designing clothes has always come very naturally and is something I truly enjoy. It’s almost easier, because compared to architecture, clothing is smaller in scale, and as a designer you can control every facet.
Besides architecture and the design world, where does your inspiration come from?
The everyday inspires me. As an architect you learn to open your eyes to the everyday and pay attention to details. Whether it’s the combination of building materials that come together in harmony, or how a woman walking on the street combines an outfit, I find all these little things interesting.
Where did you learn to sew and pattern-draft?
I took sewing classes while earning a Master's Degree in Architecture. I approach fashion much like an architect, overseeing to ensure the end product is what I envisioned and the owner gets value in what they pay for.
What textiles/materials are you currently craving to work with?
I love working with ponte; it is a stretch knit fabric that is incredibly functional. It resists wrinkles and creases, is very durable, travels well, and is extremely comfortable to wear. It also has a very sculptural quality to it. Function and form combined, it is the perfect fabric in an architectural sense!
How would you describe your style?
I’m always working and on the run. I try to keep my everyday work wear polished yet effortless and always comfortable. I think that’s why my collection has a wearable quality, wearable in the sense that it is versatile and can transition from day to night.
Who is the Rachel Sin woman?
The independent working woman is who inspires me, because that is who I am and what I love to see in other women. She is the independent, want to do it all woman, whose wardrobe is an extension of her originality and personal style.
What was it like when you found out celebrities were wearing your pieces?
At first it was exciting. Then I realized celebrities are in a way like myself, just trying to put themselves out there, do their art and what they love. You really just want to support them, make sure they look beautiful and ensure they have a good experience wearing Rachel Sin.
Who would you like to see wearing one of your designs?
Someone cool yet edgy like Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde and Jessica Alba.
What is your favourite part about your job?
Designing a new collection is still my favourite part of the whole creative process, with seeing your hard work walk down the runway following a close second. There is nothing like choosing your own fabric, creating the initial sample, and seeing the finished product for the first time. It is a laborious process and with an architect’s eye you scrutinize every detail, fit and function. A runway show is where all your hard work comes together and you are able to express the brand in a very stylized manner - through hair, make-up, music, and overall ambience.
If you could move anywhere in the world and open a studio, where would it be and why?
Probably New York. It is the hub of fashion, and the American market is so much larger. Of course, the city itself is pretty amazing.
Similarly, if you could show on any runway in any fashion week, where would it be?
New York Fashion Week. We’ve already participated in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Boston Fashion Weeks.
Do you have a favourite piece amongst your designs?
Every season, I do have a favourite piece. It’s usually something that makes a statement and often what we open with on the runway. This Fall season it is the Cape Blouse and Graphic Line Dress.
What are the most important things a woman should look for in a dress?
Fit and comfort, because if you have these two things, you will feel confident in what you wear.
Are you ever planning on expanding your line (ie. bags, shoes, menswear)?
I would love to expand into a lifestyle brand and be able to offer well-designed products. As an architect, with every purchase you make you want to ensure that the item is of good value, is well designed, and beautiful to look at.
What are your goals for the next five years?
To saturate the North American market. One day I would love to have one job title: Designer, to be able to design anything in any medium and bring value to that object. I think it would be wonderful designing both a clothing line and a standalone store to house the collection.