Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hometown Talent: Malorie Urbanovitch

One of the perks of visiting the folks over the holiday season, other than a wondrously stocked refrigerator and cable TV, is I get the chance to discover some home town talent and investigate the sartorial scene on the other side of the pond. By pond, I mean the Altantic ocean, and by home town, I mean Edmonton Canada.

Having not lived in Canada since I was a osh kosh loving, overall wearing, Teva sandal steppin' 9 year old, I wasn't aware of any industry in Edmonton never mind a fashion one. So coming back after so many years, it was enlightening to see a growing niche industry of young designers and vanguard boutiques. One designer who particularly caught my interest was Edmonton native Malorie Urbanovitch. Her rich textured and clean lined collections were also a critics favourite, having been a finalist in Toronto's Mercedes Benz Start Up Designers Competition in April last year. I caught up with Malorie in her 104th St studio in Edmonton to find out a little more about the promising designer.

The interview started on casual note as we met in one of the trendier café's in Edmonton. Malorie and I ordered our coffee and quickly realised that we had in fact met before. After a quick head tilt and an exchange of the "do I know you" look, we figured out that we'd actually met a year ago at a champagne hazed NYE party. Small world right!

Coffee in hand, we made our way up to her 2nd floor, street front studio. After about an hour of idle chitchat about both of our experiences in the sometimes-turbulent world of fashion, we got to business and I was able to find out a little more about the pint-sized Edmontonian.

MM: Now Malorie, what started your interest in design and how did you end up creating your own line? 
MU: Well it all began when I started working in a clothing store, it wasn't a trendy boutique, but just you're average store at the mall. I started styling the mannequins, which I found really enjoyable. Then I went on to get in contact with the local modeling agency, where I began styling their photo shoots. We used to bring our own clothes, or go to value village and pick up some thrifted stuff. I started designing and sewing as a necessity really, for styling purposes. So I guess that was where my interest in fashion really began. I started University as a Dentistry student, but quickly realised that wasn't the path for me, so I switched into Human Ecology where I studied pattern making and textile design courses. I finished up in Film Studies, which has been a real source of inspiration for my collections actually.

MM: Cool, well I'm glad you didn't become a dentist.
So what are you thoughts on the Canadian Fashion Industry?
MU: I think it's really starting to grow. With the relatively strong economy in Canada at the moment, I think young people are starting to take more risks with their careers and choosing to study creative industries more frequently. So in a few years I think we'll have a really strong design field and be 'on the map' a bit more. Also Canada has a really strong creative support structure. So young designers are really nurtured and feel like we have a support team behind us.

MM: Go Canada! 
And more specifically, what do you think of the Edmonton scene?
MU: Again I think it's strengthening. Sure it's small, but it's the perfect place to start. We have a strong support network and all the designers know each other and we all help each other out. I don't think that would be the same in a huge city.

MM: So will you stay here forever?
MU: I might try moving to a bigger city one day - just to gain exposure and experience the industry more, but I like the idea of being based in Edmonton and travelling a lot.

MM: Where do you see the label in 5 years?
MU: I'd like to see my designs grow internationally. I'd really like to sell to the European market, but likely stay based in Canada.

MM: So you use a lot of rich textures and interesting fabrics. Where do you source them?
MU: Currently I get most of them from a supplier in Toronto, but I'm taking a trip to Paris in February to meet with fabric mills and really get some unique and eco friendly textiles. I'm also potentially moving my production to Italy to ensure the quality is world class.

MM: C'est tres chic!
What was the inspiration for your last collection, SS13?
MU: A lot of my inspiration comes from films and documentaries. Through the design phase I was watching the 1967 Eric Romer film, La Collectionneuse. It's set on this pebbly beach - which kinda reminded me of the beaches in Canada. You know, those windy, rainy, cold ones. So my colour palette was very much inspired by those beach scenes. I also did a few organza pieces that were inspired by the water and it's translucent attributes.  MM: What type of girl do you see wearing your designs?
MU: I think I appeal to girls who want to invest more into their style and aren't as keen on disposable fashion. So someone who likes simple silhouettes and timeless pieces. I guess I can appeal to a 16 year old or a 60 year old because I don't think I follow trends so much as good investment staples.

MM: So where can we buy your designs? 
MU: You could find my line at Coup Boutique, which is just downstairs from us on 104th street. This is a sort of 'watch this space' question, because I hope to be expanding stockists for my next collection. 

Malorie Urbanovitch Spring Summer 2013 - Photos courtesy of
Malorie Urbanovitch Autumn Winter 2012


  1. Great post and REALLY gorgeous designs. Also she has BOMB hair...wish I could rock those gnarly roots. How cool is she?


  2. Love seeing Canadian talent!
    Montreal Fashion Week is coming up, and it's always nice to be reminded how many great designers call Canada home -
    Thanks for sharing - and congrats on the LALM selection.


  3. Great designs! It's nice to get closer to seeing how the work is actually created. Nice post :)

  4. Dentist to filmmaker to fashion designer? Great interview!