If you told past-me that I would be designing underwear and lacey bralettes to the future-me I would have said that you were bat-shit crazy. Not that I had anything against underthings- I was just never really that much of an underthings seeker. I mean I wore them (obviously) but I always just grabbed what was cheap and looked semi-alright. It just wasn’t my jam.
And yet here I am. I’ve had two lingerie runway shows at Toronto's Alternative Fashion Week and this year I launched a brand. An underwear brand. So how did I get here?
Ultimately, it came down to space. No not a cosmic journey, I mean actual physical meter by meter foot by foot space.
What you have to understand is that I’m a creator by nature. I create bows out of napkins in diners, I braid dust bunnies together, I sew, I DIY shit, I make. Simple as that. So when I moved out of my hometown to Toronto at age 18 I brought all of my making-shit with. Yes that meant cramming an industrial sewing machine, a cutting table, a serger, a Judy Doll and a clothing rack into my already maxed-out Bachelorette pad of 21 sqm. Not joking.
This was a trend. During my four years in Toronto I moved five times. Me with all of my glorious bits and bobs and heavy machinery. I pissed off a lot of roommates who didn’t find artistry in their thread-laden pancake batter. But whatever, I’m a maker.
As you can imagine, living with this amount of bulk items plus trying to pattern draft, cut and sew jackets and dresses with little to no space was exhausting (and expensive). So much so that I almost couldn’t be a maker making things anymore. But when the lingerie course in my colleges’ Fashion Techniques & Design Program opened up my brain went something like “Aha! Gotcha. Bing bang boom”.
I found a way I could still pattern draft, still sew, still stick to my maker roots. I just had to make smaller things. And that’s where it bloomed.
Suddenly I found that I could utilize all of my skills to make an impressive bralette on a tiny unimpressive fold-down Ikea table. The revelation quickly consumed me- why hadn’t I thought of this before? I would make the pattern, cut the fabric, remove the mess, haul up my serger and do it all over again until I had finished my very first lingerie collection. A collection that caught Elle Canada’s eye as being fashionably bed-ready. Fuck yes. The next year, with a borrowed portable domestic sewing machine balanced miraculously between a coffee table and love-seat I created a collection of lacy lingerie and leather vests.
And the thing was, the more underwear I made the more I became hooked on it. Not just out of circumstance but out of fervour. I respected the way it was formed, how it made me feel when I finished an item, how it made other women feel when they wore it, how it made me feel when I wore it. And how I could take an itsy bit of fabric and make it into a usable, practical, adorable piece of clothing. Voila I was in love.
I moved to Germany in September 2014 to take a break from city-life, to travel and you know, do early 20-something things like figure shit out. But after two years my maker-me was thirsty for some needle-thread action. Finding myself in the same situation of little capital and small space the fire under my butt was reignited (more pleasantly known as the 'Undies Epiphany') and Tizz & Tonic was soon in motion.
And now I really-really love to make underwear and bralettes. I do have plans to develop a streetwear brand but this is where I’m starting. I can mix prints with solid colours, use lines and symmetry to create charming pieces and more importantly, I can have so much fun with it in my teeny home studio.
So this is a big shout out and thank you to the “Undies Epiphany” for being that spatial aware gal that stepped in and showed up.
You’ve taught me how to use what I have and own it.