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 Chilliwack 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

Chilliwack volunteer drivers are needed to help get cancer patients back and forth to Abbotsford (shown here), Surrey and Vancouver cancer clinics. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Volunteer drivers needed to expand cancer driver program to Chilliwack

Drivers will need to commit to one full day of driving, or two half days each week

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

An injection kit is seen inside a Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hope’s high rate of drug overdose noted in BC Coroners Service report

Up-to-date numbers not available yet for 2021, but Fraser Health deaths on the rise

Screenshot from security footage a young, thin cougar prowling on Oliver Crescent in Sardis on May 7, 2021. (Dustin Meyer photo)
VIDEO: Cougar sighting in residential Chilliwack neighbourhood prompts warning

Springtime cougar sightings likely due to cats following deer down to valley floor, says CO

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read