Justin Louis of Chilliwack, seen here on Nov. 21, 2020 beside a mural of his wife Inez Louis, is one of the designers who will be featured on Nov. 26 as part of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Justin Louis of Chilliwack, seen here on Nov. 21, 2020 beside a mural of his wife Inez Louis, is one of the designers who will be featured on Nov. 26 as part of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Indigenous B.C. fashion designer steps onto national stage

Justin Louis with Section 35 clothing will present his collection at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto

An Indigenous fashion designer from Chilliwack will be in the spotlight on a national level this week.

Justin Louis, co-founder and creative director of clothing company Section 35, is one of 16 designers who will be featured at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto Nov. 26 to 29.

He describes Section 35 as “Indigenous street style” clothing.

Louis has five “looks” in the fashion show, and Section 35 will be one of five collections shown in the opening night runway film on Nov. 26.

The four-day long fashion week will showcase one film per day, each is water themed: Tu Gh’eh Nah (Water Is Life on Nov. 26), Tu Cho (Lake – Nov. 27), Tu Gh’eg Tl’e’th (Streams – Nov. 28), and Tu Gh’el T’ilhn (Water Carriers – Nov. 29).

Each look in his collection (called Miyo Pimatisiwin – The Good Life) has one “statement” piece plus “supporting” pieces, Louis explains.

His work is inspired by sportswear, but also by his childhood.

“A lot of it’s inspired by my upbringing being Cree from back in Alberta. I’ve made some patterns with syllabics [written characters representing syllables] that I thought turned out pretty cool.”

The collection also includes custom-made varsity letterman jackets with syllabics and chenille patchwork, plus hand-dyed garments.

He was scheduled to take part in the biannual event two years ago in its inaugural year, but Louis had to pull out for personal reasons. This year they invited him back.

The fashion week was supposed to take place during the summer, but because of the pandemic it’s virtual this year. That meant Louis could not fly out there, rather he shipped the garments out to the crew in Toronto.

“Everyone was really amped for this year and with the pandemic pushing everything back, I was really bummed that we couldn’t go out there.

“We did our best to curate them from a distance,” Louis added. “I trust the crew out there because I’ve seen them and I’ve worked closely with them before.”

Justin Louis of Chilliwack, seen here on Nov. 21, 2020 beside a mural of his wife Inez Louis, is one of the designers who will be featured on Nov. 26 as part of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Justin Louis of Chilliwack, seen here on Nov. 21, 2020 beside a mural of his wife Inez Louis, is one of the designers who will be featured on Nov. 26 as part of Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Section 35 started in late 2013 and is based in East Vancouver, but it didn’t go full bore until early 2016. The name refers to Section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982, which protects and recognizes Indigenous and treaty rights.

The company consists of “two and a half” people and the clothing is made in East Van, while most of the designing takes place at Louis’s home office in Chilliwack.

Originally, Louis never anticipated doing fashion shows, but when they launched their first website in 2016 and began releasing multiple collections consistently throughout the year, runways became part of what they do.

Over the years, he’s shown in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Calgary.

The process to present his collection at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto has been different than any other show. He hasn’t even seen the final runway video of his own work.

Louis did, however, see a sneak peek of the film and said it was “really well done.” He figures he will see the final product on Nov. 26 when everyone else does.

“Unless they send us a final version the day or two before,” he added.

He’s hoping the exposure will bring new followers, a new audience and more business to Section 35.

“But I also think it’ll inspire me as well to keep creating, and doing what I do, and try and push the boundaries with what’s being done.”

On Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST) folks can watch the opening night runway film featuring the Section 35 collection ‘Miyo Pimatisiwin.’

“I hope they like what they see. There’s a bunch of really talented people on the roster that have been doing it for a while or are up-and-coming. I’m excited for everybody to be there.”

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto includes runways, a pop-up marketplace, and panels. Incorporating fashion, film, theatre and dance, the filmed runway presentations offer an intimate view of each garment from the 16 designers.

To watch, go to ifwtoronto.com/events_and_programs/tu-gheh-nah-water-is-life. Admission is free.

ALSO READ: Indigenous Hope designer is Paris-bound for world-renowned fashion week

ALSO READ: B.C. Indigenous teen model to walk in major Australian fashion show


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

FashionIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters fell 6-1 to the Penticton Vees on Sunday, their third loss to the perennial BCHL powerhouse six games into the 20-game season. Photo: Stephen Piccolo
Penticton Vees dominant in win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters enjoy two day break until their fourth meeting with Penticton Vees on Wednesday

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

This painting is a piece from Young Visions 2021, opening April 22 at the Kootenay Gallery. Photo: S. Painter
Showcase of artwork by Kootenay Columbia students opens April 22

Young Visions 2021 runs April 22 to May 29 in the Kootenay Gallery of Art, Castlegar

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

Most Read