T. Akins, a name to look out for within the Saskatchewan fashion scene. T. Akins, or Tara Akins is the sole designer for her label. Originally from Saskatoon, SK she's studied fashion design at the University of Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC. After completing her diploma, Tara worked as a costume designer for a theatre and later for a dance studio in Vancouver. Her expert sewing skills at the dance studio led Tara to get to know the Flamenco dance community in Vancouver. And, it was through them she was able to take costume design to the next level by creating gorgeous one of a kind custom flamenco costumes and performance dresses.
It wasn't long until word got out about this design whiz, and soon Tara received many interesting jobs in Vancouver via word of mouth. She received work creating costumes for film, and even designed and sewed a flower girl dress for Zach Galifianakis and wife Quinn Lundberg's nieces for their wedding!
After creating adorable flower girl dresses, Tara felt inspired. She created a small bridal collection which she showed at a bridal show in Vancouver receiving much acclaim, and soon the dresses were available at a boutique in Vancouver. Tara loved creating a bridal line and continued with it while completing her business degree at Simon Fraser University in 2012.
In 2013, Tara moved back to Saskatoon where she lives happily with her puppy Bobbi and lovely boyfriend Arnie. Tara recently showed her designs at Saskatchewan Fashion Week and SFDF is very excited to view her Spring/Summer line on June 7th at River Landing. Continue reading below for an interesting Q&A with designer T. Akins.
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I don't know that I ever consciously decided to be a fashion designer I just liked coming up with designs as a kid - I drew a lot. Then I started learning how to sew and found that it could be really fun to make my ideas and drawings real. It was less of a decision and more of - it's just what I do, it's just what I like to do. But I do it because I love the endless options to create looks through design but combining that with the challenges of construction with different fabrics, creating structure in different ways, knowing what the finished product will look like when you have a pile of fabric and notions sitting in front of you or even just small swatches, catering to the wishes of a client, and making sure the dress looks modern and flattering always.
What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
Oops! I may have covered this in question 1. Basically, I love the challenge that comes with designing and to be able to work through the challenges and all the options out there to create something beautiful that a customer would love is a great feeling.
What was the first item you ever sewed?
I think it was a green fleece pullover with teddy bears on it. OR it may have been a purple sundress with yellow floral braid appliqué. Either way the purple dress was definitely the first dress I ever made.
Who is your favourite fashion designer, why?
I don't really have one favourite - I like a few for different reasons. I like Dianne Von Furstenburg because her designs are classy and clean but exciting with colour and print. I like Jenny Packham because she designs classy and very unique bridal designs. Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel is always good to look at for combinations of classic with new and trendy. Of course, I will mainly browse designers that I know do lots of dresses since that's what I design.
What are your inspirations around your designs?
My inspirations usually start with fabric/print choices and colours. Some of them stand out to me because I want to portray a certain energy or feeling through the design. I also get inspiration from my surroundings in general. I'll make a mental note if a see a cool design feature somewhere on.. anything really. When designing a one-off dress or a collection I guess I do find you have to start with the general feeling you want to portray.. like will this be a soft, sweet look or a cool, strong energetic look.. and work from there.
Where do you source your materials and fabrics?
A couple fabric wholesalers in Quebec, silks from Washington, leather (suede) from Saskatoon, notions and some patternmaking materials from Century Textiles in Saskatoon ... last minute zippers or notions when Century Textiles is closed: Fabricland :-)
What are you most excited about during the Saskatoon Fashion & Design Festival?
I love the idea of Pose at Riverlanding. That it is open and free for anyone to attend. What a great idea. More fashion shows should be free so people can see the local talent in Saskatchewan.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to enjoy living here in Saskatoon with family and friends and to be creating great designs for local customers for grad dresses, bridal dresses or custom requests. I'd like to continue to push myself in my design work to keep learning and honing my skills. And I'd like to provide Saskatoon (and area) customers with great made-to-fit dresses they just can't get anywhere else.
What are 3 words you would use to describe your designs?
oooh this could vary a lot depending on a specific design or collection.. hmmm... Energetic, feminine.. and then its a tie between soft and strong.. lol go figure.