The weekend fashion show showcased multicultural outfits that rocked the mix at the Merchandise and Com Market.
THUNDER BAY – A weekend fashion show showcased a mix of local fashion designers celebrating the cultural diversity of Thunder Bay’s fashion scene.
Billed as “from here and elsewhere” a multicultural spice and fashion affair, the event brought an enthusiastic crowd of about 200 to Goods & Company Market on Saturday night.
The eight local fashion houses featured in the show are Leuk Clothing, The Little Mermaid, Perfect Fit, The Loop, Fine Origins, Loud Women’s Collection, Sister Bear Designs and The African Boutique.
The night featured a number of music and dance performances such as Dame Más Dance, Djembe Folklore and a multicultural ballet that blends dance traditions from around the world.
For many designers, Batoo marked the first time they put their designs on the runway.
Kathleen Saudo, CEO and artist of Sister Bear Designs — an indigenous clothing store based out of Goods & Company — called them both “a little scary” and “exciting.”
“I was nervous, and then I was very proud, very proud of the models – one was my nephew, one was my aunt.”
The company is a family affair, three generations contribute to the goods sold in front of the stores. Saudo calls it an opportunity to celebrate and share the traditions she and her siblings learned as children.
“We basically started as kids, beading,” she said. “I have an older sister and a younger sister… it helps us rediscover our identity as Anishinaabe and embrace it.
“Especially growing up in Thunder Bay, it wasn’t always safe. At our age, it doesn’t matter now, and we want our children and their children to be safe and enhance the beauty of our culture.”
The event was a first for Sari Johnston, co-owner of Fine Origins, a sauna lifestyle.
“[It’s a] It’s a very new experience – we’ve never been in a fashion show, I never thought about it in a fashion show,” she said. But it happened and we had a great time.
Originally from Finland, Johnston operates her stores out of Merchandise & Co., carrying on a legacy started by her father, owner of Fantastic Sauna & Gifts on Bay Street.
The shared marketplace provided by Goods & Company allowed her to grow her business.
“I think the space has opened up a lot of opportunities,” she said. “There’s a lot going on in the goods and company, a lot of positive things.”
One of these is the relationships created between business owners. Johnston was asked to participate in Batoo by African boutique organizer Lillian Breyland, who called him the “power and brains” behind the event.
“She invited me, and I couldn’t say no,” she said. “I know her fashion shows are fun and incredible. I’ve been to many of them. It was great to be able to be a part of it.”
Brayland She said that she started her own fashion journey in 2018 with only a suitcase in her living room.
After performing at festivals and other events, in 2021 at Goods & Co. She set up a permanent shop.
She works with family in her native Cameroon, where she sources materials and sends designs for production.
“My siblings and I agreed that if I designed it, they could sew it; And this will be the best way for me to help back home,” she said. “It was then, and today it’s not just me, my sister and my niece; [but] Over 35 seamstresses in Cameroon”
Saturday’s event will be Brayland’s first show at Goods & Co. It was, and she said it might become an annual forum after the warm reception.
“I bring some of my culture here and I want to share it, and I’m willing to learn other people’s culture, and that’s who we are at the end of the day,” she said.
“You could say that’s what people want, that’s multiculturalism. People have just jumped in and are excited… Thank you, and I know they’re going to ask for more and I’ll be there.”