Interview with Reclamation’s Trista Smith, Fashion Designer

Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up (if you aren’t from Victoria, what brought you here)?

I’m originally from Kamloops. My family and I decided to relocate to the west coast four years ago to seek out adventure, ocean bliss and a more connected lifestyle.

Tyna Kottova, hair by Hair by Allexys, makeup by Sonia’s Artistry (Photo Credit: Spark & Whimsy)

Define what “fashion” means to you.

For me, the meaning of fashion is multifaceted. It represents social and environmental responsibility. I believe in Slow Fashion. I try not to contribute to the global crisis that’s manifested by fast fashion and big brand. I believe in using what we have to create unique and ethically conscious pieces we can feel proud to wear. I believe in fashion that is rooted in sustainability and made with care and joy. If you hold a vintage dress to your heart you can feel that. There’s something precious about clothing that has been sewn with pride and love versus made in a factory by an eleven year old child who should be attending school instead. For me fashion is knowing yourself and dressing accordingly. Love who you are and who you’ve become and wear clothing you are comfortable in, make a statement about what you represent as a woman and that you actually enjoy putting on in the morning. If what’s in your closet doesn’t embody that, turf it and find a way to discover what does.

Tyna Kottova, hair and makeup by Erin Bradley (Photo Credit: Rita Steensons)

What made you decide to pursue a career in fashion?

I was a nurse in acute care for ten years. I started designing clothing after having my third child and decided being self employed and creating every day was better for me than shift work. It left a little hole in my heart to give up nursing but every photo shoot I do and every new piece I make helps to seal up that hole.

Tell us what it’s like preparing for a runway show like the upcoming Victoria Fashion Week?

It’s fun! It’s exciting to put a collection together. My segment will be a little different from the norm. I have a few things planned that will hopefully get the audience thinking about girl power and the empowerment of women.

Mary Rubin, hair and makeup by Erin Bradley (Photo Credit: Alan Worsfold )

What are your favorite pieces to design and create?

I really love making lacy flowy gowns but in the same token I just adore working with leather and denim. Lately I’ve been searching out crochet linens and doilies to create fun tops and dresses. I usually plan my mini collections around what type of photo shoot I have going next. My next one in February will be a model riding a BMW motorcycle wearing leather and lace. The one after that will be models posing in frilly vintage inspired lace dresses on a beach so for me it’s all about timing.

Cherise Johnson Ferguson, hair and makeup by Erin Bradley (Photo Credit: Alan Worsfold)

Describe for us how a design goes from an idea in your head to being available for purchase?

My brain is constantly whirring on overdrive thinking about what I will create next. I start by draping fabric on my dress form and go from there. I typically create one piece per day. I’m very picky about what I will sell though. I have an extensive collection which I use for shoots and my own private use. It is often difficult for me to part with pieces that I consider special and are created with extra love.

How do you select what materials to use on your designs?

I constantly hunt for amazing vintage fabric and clothing I can deconstruct and use to create new pieces. Victoria is a wealth of vintage and thrift shops. Part of the creative process that brings me so much joy is hunting for the materials.

Tyna Kottova, hair by Hair by Allexys, makeup by Sonia’s Artistry (Photo Credit: Spark & Whimsy Photography)

Are there any designers or celebrity fashionistas that you love the most and what is it about them that you love?

Yes I love the design collective from London called From Somewhere. They are the true upcycling pioneers having started using reclaimed clothing and materials in 1997. Their line is well thought out and each piece has a story. They are proof that ethical sustainable lines made from the castoffs and garbage off mega brand cutting room floors can flourish.

What are your plans for the future?

I don’t plan much. I like to live in the moment and fly wherever the wind takes me. Right now I’m enjoying making some great connections and friends in the VICTORIA fashion scene. I love to plan these fun and creative photo shoots that make my heart sing. All I do know is that the future is very bright! I look forward to the ride!

You can check out more of Trista’s work, Reclamation, here.

Mary Rubin, hair and makeup by Erin Bradley (Photo Credit: Alan Worsfold)

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