Fashion & Style

Designer To Watch: Tala Kamea

A photo of Tala Kamea's name spelled out with black blocks.Taken by Faze writer, Kendra Mclean

Movement, sound and geometry are a big part of Tala Kamea’s design process. Tala Kamea was the winner of the 2012 ELLE Canada Fashion Graduate Award at Ryerson University. She has also been featured in ELLE Canada magazine as a designer to watch. Tala Kamea creates pieces that are inspired by the natural world, orchestral sound, music and motion. Her current collection is simple, yet aesthetically appealing and full of motion. Here’s what Tala Kamea had to say about being an independent designer and the future of her clothing line.

A photo of Tala Kamea with her favourite piece from her collection.Tala Kamea with her favourite piece from her clothing line (Taken by Faze writer, Kendra Mclean).

Why did you choose to start your own clothing line, Tala Kamea, rather than designing clothes for someone else, or for a company?

Tala: When you work for someone else, you’re often in a role where you aren’t able to express your own thoughts and your creativity becomes limited. By having my own clothing line I am free to express who I am and bring my visions to life.

You have a background in multiple artistic disciplines. What are those disciplines and how would you say they have helped with your fashion designing?

Tala: So I studied the violin from the age of four. Music was always a part of my life since I went to a musical school so I learned to play a little bit of piano, I sang, I did musical theatre and then, when I was older, I started playing guitar. For fun, I bought a drum kit when I was about 19. I dabbled a lot in music and then I also danced as a child and in my teenage years. Music and movement was a big part of my life and I think that it comes through in my clothing a lot because I like to make things that move well.

I know time management is a very hard but important thing to do in our daily lives so how are you are able to balance school and your own clothing line?

Tala: Yeah it is very hard. I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. You just deal with it right? Like, you just get it done. I feel like having someone there—or like a support system that you can vent to and really just get all your frustrations out on is important.

Has anyone ever told you to choose a different career path because it’s in the creative field and perhaps not a lot of job opportunities out there for designers?

Tala: Sometimes I wish people had told me to choose a different career path [laughs]. I don’t know. As an independent designer it’s just you, right? So you’re making your own job—it’s not about finding a job, because you’re making your own. But, then you have to make sure you’re getting paid for your job, so that’s the hard part—getting your name out, building a cliental, and selling your line to stores. There’s a lot of work involved, but at least you made your own job.

A photo of a clack sweater designed by Tala Kamea.Sweater from Tala Kamea’s collection (Taken by Faze writer, Kendra Mclean).

You were the winner of the 2012 ELLE Canada Fashion Graduate Award at Ryerson University – congratulations, that is such a great accomplishment! What goals do you hope to accomplish as a designer a few years from now?

Tala: Well, I’m actually going to take a little bit of a break to reassess my line and approach it in a more efficient way. I feel right now that I’m not producing efficiently enough. I think my problem is I don’t exactly know what I want for the brand. So that’s one thing, I mean you have to make sure you know what you want and then you can have a good path going forward. So as much fun as it’s been making beautiful pieces, I’m going to take a little break.

I’m still doing a lot of custom work like— I’m doing a wedding gown and some costuming, but overall I’m going to take a step back and approach it fresh again, I think.

You have said that music, movement and geometry inspire you. Your 2012 Graduate Collection included five pieces designed as functioning sound objects. How did you come up with the concepts and designs for that collection?

Tala: I don’t remember how I came up with it, but my research in school definitely helped. I was into technology in fashion and a lot of technology in fashion is geared towards a visual component. I mean, people come up with t-shirts with things flashing on it and stuff like that because clothing is really visual.

I kept thinking clothing also produces sound. A lot of people express who they are by the music they listen to or they make music. So I thought, what if your clothing was playing music or creating music as well? With that idea, I realized I wouldn’t just be expressing myself visually, I would also be expressing myself auditorily.

So that’s kind of how it happened I was like—I’m going to make these cool pieces that sound crazy! It was a lot of work but I enlisted family and friends to help out with the production and creation of the pieces.

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