Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?
I chose to attend Ryerson University's Fashion Design program because of its reputation and focus on technical training. I wanted to learn all facets of the industry, not just the creative design aspect.
How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Design?
When working in the design houses of Iris van Herpen (Amsterdam, NL) and Mary Katrantzou (London, UK) it was apparent that the technical skills I learned at Ryerson put me at a strong advantage compared to graduates from other schools both in Europe and the United States. I graduated having mastered pattern drafting, technical design, production and sewing and I was prepared for the competitive nature and long hours required for life in the fashion industry. The diverse training from the fashion program gave me a range of skills which has allowed me to succeed at my current job as Fashion Director of Nuvango.
I first wanted to study fashion design while attending Etobicoke School of the Arts high school and participating in the annual fashion show. I realized how much I loved sculpting cloth around the body, using my classical drawing and sculpture techniques to create clothing. I have always had an interest in the arts, design and architecture, fashion seemed like a natural progression from there.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ryerson and have few regrets, however after graduating I realized it may not have been in my own best interest choosing to be in the evening wear category instead of something more commercially viable for my final collection. I had a lot of trouble marketing my skills to employers because my portfolio was heavily focused on evening wear. I realized that it is easy to niche yourself early on, and hard to get away once your work takes on a theme. That being said, I enjoyed a lot of publicity and attention from my gowns but it is important to realize that this does not always turn into a job, or a successful business.
What does a day in the life of Hillary Sampliner look like?
As the Fashion Director at Nuvango my job is fast paced, high stress and pretty much the greatest thing I can imagine doing. I go to work for 9am, spend the first hour checking emails and checking in on the production floor to make sure everyone has what they need from the design department for the days work. This includes checking print files, checking in with the press operator and sewing team. A large part of my day is spent troubleshooting problems to do with sewing and production, and maintaining proper quality standards. Because Nuvango's business heavily relies on technology and a bank of print files, things go wrong, files get lost and troubleshooting often involves trying to find glitches in files over various departments in the workflow, sometimes I feel like a detective.
Next, I go over the days "to do's" with the project manager and move into the development part of my work day. This usually includes a fitting or two, pattern adjustments, choosing print artwork for garments, testing and sourcing fabrics, making tech packs, placing orders for cutting, organizing photoshoots, and meeting with artists and collaborators. Easily the best part of the day is attending fancy art and fashion parties at Nuvango's gallery/event space/store, which is almost a weekly occurrence.
What is your favourite part about your job?
It is really amazing to work with world renowned artists like Carnovsky, Craola, and Ralph Steadman. I feel so privileged to be able to collaborate with a variety of people and showcase their work in the form of wearable art. I am lucky to be working for a company that has a thirst for innovation and encourages research and development in materials and printing processes. Nuvango also values having in house manufacturing, which was important to me after hearing about the horrific things that happen to overseas garment factory workers.
Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?
I have studied 3D printing quite a bit, but I am only scratching the surface of what is possible in textile and fashion design with this technology. I am also curious to learn more about nanotechnology, programable textiles, and biofabrics.
What is your favourite part about working in the Fashion industry?
I am obsessed with visuals, aesthetics and the architectural human form. I get to look at pretty things all day and ponder how to make them better. What's not to love?
What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Fashion Design?
It is a tough, competitive world and it is easy to get caught up in the magic of it all, but don't. Keep your feet on the ground, know when to be practical and savvy. Fashion is a business and a form of art, but mostly a business. Network as much as you can, and work as hard as you can at every job, no matter how beneath you it may seem. Take each setback as a lesson, and don't take criticism of your work personally, use it as ammunition to improve.