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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An app available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website can help students during COVID times. (Stock photo)
New library app can help families with online learning

Sample tests, virtual flashcards available through Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale as owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

The current boat used by Rugged Coast Research Society for remote shoreline cleanup operations will be replaced by a landing craft that will allow society members to haul four times as much marine garbage per trip from Vancouver Island’s remote shorelines. (Agathe Bernard photo/Rugged Coast Research Society)
Nanaimo-based research group needs bigger boat for coastal cleanups

Rugged Coast Research Society raising cash for landing craft to pull trash from remote shorelines

Pet owners are leaving more dog waste than ever before on Nanaimo’s paths and trails, says letter writer. (Stock photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Dog owners need to pick up after their pets

Letter writer says he’s ‘disgusted’ by dog walkers not picking up their dog waste

The Nanaimo African Heritage Society is capping its month of Black History Month celebrations with a virtual gala on Sunday, Feb. 28. (News Bulletin photo)
Nanaimo African Heritage Society presents virtual Black History Month gala

Event to feature a variety of speakers and performers

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way into business on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres

Snuneymuxw artist Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is among the artists participating in the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Rain Shadow exhibit. His piece, ‘We Fell from the Sky/Together and Apart,’ depicts a Snuneymuxw creation story. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores the ways people think about place

‘Rain Shadow’ features work mostly by Vancouver Island and Gulf Island artists

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)

Most Read