Escaping Gattaca | Vancouver, Canada


I can’t remember the last time I saw the true “street style”.  The street style that we’ve all been witnessing recently during fashion weeks is very well planned and staged, totally the opposite of what street style is supposed to be: effortless and comfortable!

When I stumbled onto Sara Armstrong’s collection, immediately I saw a true street style brand.  The minimalist designs, the cut and the fabric choices produce a collection that looks underground, sophisticated yet effortless at the same time.  What brings her to another level is the fact that she often makes her own fabric to make sure that all her garments are comfortable to wear.  Comfortable is probably an understatement!  All the styles that you see in the photos, I swear to you I can wear them as my pajamas or nightgown to bed.  Well, if you want to look like you are the coolest kid in the neighbourhood even when you’re sleeping, why not?

Englave: Where are you based?
Sara: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Englave: Describe your brand in 3 words
Sara: Contemporary, minimalist, androgynous

Englave: What do you say are the special characteristics of each of your collection?
Sara: I think it is silhouette, I am largely inspired by Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto where form and shape is less predictable to the body. Craftsmanship is really integral to my work as well, more specifically textiles. I will often make or customize by own fabric. A lot of this inspiration comes from my appreciation of Scandinavian design and style.

Englave: What is your creative process when coming up with new collections?
Sara: I often pick a theme, something I am inspired by: whether it be a book, a movie, a piece of art, a time in history or place. That is where I draw key elements like a feature fabric, print or detail. Music is important for my process as well, I have to know what the collection sounds like. To me, that helps with cohesion. It almost becomes an obsession, I like my environment to follow the same aesthetics. Once it has been sketched out, I rarely hesitate or go back on a design – I suppose to it fairly intuitive.

Englave: What is it about fashion or fashion design that intrigued you, that made you want to be a fashion designer?
Sara: Coming from a background in Fine Art, I had planned on being a painter or sculptor from a young age. After finishing my degree, I felt like I wanted to specialize further and create pieces that were more available and easily integrated into people’s lives. Some of my most cherished pieces in my closet are the ones that have a back story, tie to a memory, are saved for a special occasion, or apart of my everyday armour. I wanted to be able to make that coveted piece for someone.

Englave: What is your proudest moment, your biggest achievement?
Sara: This is always a hard question for me! Everyday I start at zero – I am always thinking “forward,forward” so I rarely take time to reflect on this… I have to ask my mom. Like, “Mom, help me out!” ha-ha…. I am so fortunate to have had many great and proud moments and a fantastic support group. To date, a proud moment was showcasing my first collection in my hometown.

Englave: Where do you get your inspirations?
Sara: I am never concerned with following trends or making something “beautiful”. For me, it is quality, function, form, longevity. I love minimalism, but it kind of works against the human condition of always wanting more. I think in a way, it’s a challenge to do less because it has to be enough, “less but better” – Dieter Rams.

Englave: What is your biggest struggle and wish as an emerging designer?
Sara: When creating a brand and designing a collection, there is a lot of up-front risk, mainly with cost. Culture is the most diverse in large dwellings, so often that means living in a big city where you might have to have a few jobs to get by. I suppose my biggest challenge has been balancing time for money. And knowing what your time is worth. All things that are worth doing well, take time.

Englave: What is next for your brand?
Sara: More menswear and accessories, I’m starting to really enjoy millinery. Smaller collections, higher wholesale volume. I would really like to remain limited in having 2-3 retailers in a few countries, rather than over saturating a single city or province.

Englave: Which designer do you admire the most and why?
Sara: It is difficult to pick one, but think I have to go with Dieter Rams. More overly because of his design philosophies and the work he creates within his set perimeters.

Englave: Which designer do you want to collaborate with the most?
Sara: Nigel Cabourn.

Englave: Where can we purchase your product?
Sara: This last season has been through private sales at



To connect with Sara and learn more about her brand: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Photography: Jun Ying | Model: Lauren Rae Philpott | Makeup & Hair: Tarah Kostenko for MAC Cosmetics | Styling: Vibri Wulandari

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  1. Pingback: Backstage VFW 2014 | Sara Armstrong | Englave

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