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

Just Posted

Parking time is to be limited in one spot on 9th. (Houston Today photo)
District seeks grant to update bylaws

And decides on 15-minute parking

Bench installation on 9th Street is another sign the project is nearing completion. (Houston Today photo)
Progress being made on 9th Street finish

District aiming for June completion

File photo
Mental health checks proving valuable

Police officer and nurse team up each week

The two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project arrived in Topley last week with Justin Cradock, owner of Pitbull Trucking Ltd. and the area is now getting prepared for installation. (Dan Simmons photo/Houston Today)
Cow Moose sign project billboards arrive in Topley

Two billboards for the Cow Moose Sign project have arrived in Topley… Continue reading

File photo
Snow clearing changes would cost money, survey finds

Council being asked to give direction

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm, with lightning, pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fires

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

Vincent Doumeizel, senior advisor at the United Nations Global Compact on Oceans, as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, pulls up some sugar kelp seaweed off the French coast in April 2020. He was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival. (Vincent Doumeizel/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

Troy Patterson, a Cadboro Bay 15-year-old, got a virtual meeting with B.C.’s environment minister months after he started an online petition calling for construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline to stop. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
B.C. teen’s 23,000-name Coastal GasLink petition gets him an audience with the minister

15-year-old Saanich high school student and George Heyman discussed project for about 30 minutes

Most Read