Local fashion designer showcases work in London, England
Garth Asham is pictured, left. (Courtesy: Oxford Fashion Studios)
Since Garth Asham was a child, he always had an interest in fashion design.
“I always enjoyed sewing and it was kind of a hobby of mine. I would make little dresses and dolls for my nieces. I always loved the idea of making dresses and gowns,” said Asham, who grew up in Pasqua First Nation and attended school at Chief Paskwa Education Centre.
When he was in high school, the thought of graduation and figuring out what to do next in life stressed him out. It was his teachers who kept him on track.
“Everyone disliked high school but I loved it and how welcomed I felt there. I was going through hard times and I grew really close with my fellow students and teachers. When I got closer to graduation, I was kind of freaking out and it was actually my teachers who pointed me in the right direction and follow my dreams,” added Asham.
After graduating in 2015, Asham moved to Vancouver and studied fashion design specializing in gowns at LaSalle College, formerly the Art Institute of Vancouver.
“The scariest part was moving away from home and thinking what would other people would think. A lot of people don’t think fashion is a big thing if you go into it. I had a lot of support so that definitely helped,” said Asham.
After graduating from LaSalle College in 2017, Asham left Vancouver and moved into the mountains for work. Last November, he was contacted by Oxford Fashion Studios (OFS) to showcase some of his designs for London Fashion Week in London, England in September. OFS specializes in helping independent designers get the exposure they to need to grow internationally.
This past Sunday, Asham showcased his work to hundreds of people on the international runway. The collection included multiple handstitched black gowns with various Indigenous designs and statement pieces such as red roses, a waterfall, a hummingbird, flowers and bees explaining the importance of saving the bees and also a red and black dress to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
“I like that classic look. When I think of that, I think about dark colors like black. So when I made this collection, it was black classic dresses with a hint of beadwork and my cultural background. I want to always include my cultural background in every piece I make.”
“People on the street in London would grab me and say, ‘Congratulations! I saw your collection, it was beautiful.’ It’s been crazy. I was really worried and overthinking things but it went smoothly and I was glad at how well they put on a show. My family watched the show by livestream from home, everyone was so happy for me, I am very proud and I feel very grateful,” said Asham
Asham says he will continue to live in the mountains and reflect back on his experience. He wants the fashion industry to include and support more Indigenous fashion designers and he is willing to help be part of that change.
“I think it’s coming forward. You definitely don’t see too much of it in the big fashion industry but all the shows back home locally in Saskatchewan, you definitely see it locally in B.C. but not so much in the big industry.”
“I hope there’s change. I think there will be more. I would like to be part of that change.