Tanya Taylor is a Toronto-born designer who launched her namesake line in 2011. After studying finance at McGill University, Taylor took an introductory design course at Central Saint Martins in London, and later found herself at Parsons School of Design. After two years of designing for Elizabeth and James as a special collection’s women’s designer, she branched out to establish her own collection. The now New York-based Taylor designs detailed, vintage-inspired pieces that are interpreted through both an eclectic and modern eye.
Fashion has always been part of your family, with your dad traveling and bringing back fabrics. Does he still give input on your fabric or design choices?
Both my parents have extensive thoughts on fabric choices and can be very vocal on their design ideas. I definitely listen to my dad on his sense of color, and my mom on her ideas of shape and fit. Instead of involving them in the process, I prefer to surprise them with the collection at our show and then discuss. They are very adventurous and open-minded and have collected fabrics, crafts and textiles from the many places they have lived. I use these pieces as a mini library to pull inspiration from whenever I need a creative boost.
How did you cultivate your aesthetic of vintage meets modern?
I am inspired by vintage design because it generally focuses on a close attention to detail and a thoughtful consideration of materials and construction. In the past, it feels that clothing was constructed with a focus on quality, not quantity, and this appealed to me as how I should approach designing today.
Do you have a muse each season?
Yes, we do. Sometimes it is an artist, a made-up character, or even an inanimate object. We always have a focal point that gives energy and guides us in the design process.
You’ve been presenting your collections at MoMA, an incredibly hard venue to show at. What’s it feel like showing at such an iconic New York location?
It feels incredible! MoMA was one of the first places I would visit regularly when I moved to NY, and it has always been inspirational to me. I think the coolest part of it was I used to go there alone and feel so new to the city, and it was such a meaningful transformation to be able to have a show there and recreate the space to compliment our collection.
Is a runway show in your future?
Yes, it definitely is. I think runway is the next step for us after having so much fun with presentations at MoMA. I love where runway takes a collection creatively and how it really shows the movement and energy of each piece.
You’ve stayed true to your roots and have returned home showing at Toronto Fashion week in addition to NY. What challenges does this present?
We returned to Toronto and have shown the collection in Toronto Fashion Week with an amazing organization, the shOws, for the past two seasons and absolutely love it. It allows me to meet Canadian press and buyers in a less hurried schedule and most importantly has given us the opportunity to see how the collection moves on a runway. We currently retail the collection at Holt Renfrew in Canada and it is a great way for us to give more brand awareness to their customer and share our point of view on home turf. Plus, it’s fun to have a reason to bring the NY team up north for some fun in my hometown! Poutine is a hit for us during that week!
Why do you think it’s important to show in both places?
We are a growing company and the additional exposure we get from showing in both cities has been really helpful. I think there is an added value to retailers and customers seeing the collection up close and us getting to host two very different shows in each city. It is also really cool to meet the models and production teams in Toronto and learn more about how fast their industry is growing.
Editors anticipate seeing your collection each season. What do you think sets you apart from the many emerging designers?
I think as a designer, I always want to design, create and present collections that have meaning. I strongly believe in producing our collections in New York City and supporting the garment district. I try to meet and learn from as many mentors as I can, and always think about dreaming outside the box. Whether it is showing at MoMA or collaborating with an inspirational stylist, I think we always give it 100 percent of our energy and try to have fun with all the collections.
What did you learn from being at Elizabeth and James for two years before launching your own collection?
I learned a lot from my time at E+J, specifically how to know and listen to your customer, and how to organize a collection. It was my first job in design so I owe a lot to that experience and the confidence it gave me to do what I am doing today. The E+J team is extremely hard working and talented, so I was super lucky to “grow-up” with such a great group of ladies.
Although your price point is a bit higher, do you think you have a similar customer? Who’s your girl?
Our girl is feminine and appreciates intelligent design. She has a sense of humor and is not afraid to take a risk with color and print. Although we are at a higher price point, we definitely see a lot of crossover with the contemporary and designer customer.