Profile of a Graduate: Hamish Thwaites

Hamish Thwaites, 2015 Ryerson fashion design graduate, keeps his portfolio of work and short profile available for public viewing on his website. While the site is simple and refined on the surface, a closer glance sees the delicate, theatrical, and visionary touch that Thwaites uses in crafting his designs.

And, with a degree and internships at Greta Constantine, Joe Fresh, and Comrags on his back, the fashion industry has taken notice of Thwaites’ talent. This year, he’s been nominated by Ryerson at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Award, which recognizes an exceptional fashion design student– an extraordinary feat. He’s taken his talent to London, England, where he’s interning for Canadian designer, fellow Ryerson graduate, and CAFA’s 2015 International Canadian Designer of the Year, Erdem Moralioğlu.

Folio spoke with Thwaites about life, design, and the future.

1. What is the most valuable thing you took away from the fashion design program?

A love for the technical design processes — pattern drafting, draping, garment construction. My technical foundation has made me more creative, curious, and careful about my work.

2. Why did you decide to get into fashion design?

Exploring textile properties on a human form has always been the most expressive art form for me. I cannot begin [to] explain the effect it has on me — so I always knew I would end up in that area. I would likely be pursuing a career as a textile archivist if I wasn’t in my chosen path. I love the idea of the character and its lived experiences attached to garments.

3. How would you describe your creative process when you’re drawing up a new collection?

More often than not, I find a narrative that captures my imagination. Then, I develop a world around it using any kind of research — be it fabrics, fine art, historical photographs, music. This also helps to form the mood of the collection. I put all of these references into a sketchbook and build stories within the collection.

4. Tell us a bit about your internship at Erdem Moralioğlu. What does the average day looks like for you?

Art working, thread marking, costing, annotating, documenting. So much. I have become involved in the embroidery department which has been such an unexpected dream. [It] has really opened my mind to a whole new world of possibilities.

5. Being able to network is an immensely crucial skill to have as a student entering the fashion industry. Did you ever have to push your boundaries networking-wise to score some of the amazing internships that you’ve had?

“[I] haven’t felt that I have had to push my boundaries. I have been lucky enough to have developed relationships with some very generous, nurturing, and supportive individuals who have gone out of their way to help me achieve my aspirations. I would say working very hard and very passionately, and developing strong relationships is the most important. From there, your path will carve itself.

6. Do you see yourself living and working in London for a long time?

I absolutely love London. The history, the industry, the possibilities, all of the hidden curiosities in the city. There is so much I want to experience and achieve here — I can certainly say I will be here for many years. But I also love Canada. I would love to own my own label in Canada one day.

7. Where do you look for inspiration outside of the fashion world?

Character. The life he/she lives. That is the starting point for me. I am always finding unexpected books, exploring antique markets, art galleries, museums. Everything is inspiring.

I find it very important to stay off the Internet for research. I would rather use my hands and experience the journey of finding inspiration.

8. What advice would you give to a Ryerson student trying to break into the fashion industry?

Focus on what you love and work very hard. You must genuinely love what you are doing because you will sacrifice a lot on the road to achieving your goals.

9. How does it feel to be nominated for a CAFA?

I feel very flattered. It is wonderful feeling that your voice and vision are acknowledged. This is the first year of the Fashion Design Student of the Year Award, so I didn’t know it existed until Ryerson nominated me in the fall.

10. What does 2016 have in store for you?

Working hard, exploring, and learning more. Making the most of it!

Featured image courtesy of Hamish Thwaites