An artist and fashion designer originally from Newfoundland and Labrador is getting rave reviews and superstar treatment for her size-inclusive clothing line — including a social media cameo with a high-profile recording artist.
Lesley Hampton creates accessible athleisure clothing — designed to be comfortable for both exercise and everyday wear, and in this case, geared toward plus-sized bodies.
"My go-to uniform is a sweater and leggings," said Hampton. "So, I really wanted to make a comfortable option for plus-sized individuals, as well as straight-sized individuals. We have a weird mix of every type of design."
Hampton's designs have gotten plenty of attention since launching in 2016. Vogue Magazine named Hampton its No. 1 Canadian designer to watch.
Fashion critics weren't the only ones who took notice of the pieces Hampton and her team created. Grammy and Emmy Award winner Lizzo was seen wearing the designer's clothing on social media after Hampton sent some clothing to the singer's stylist.
"It was so incredible to have that moment," said Hampton. "Number one, to have that moment during COVID, because it was a dark time for some of us, to have that uplifting, self-celebratory post. Number two, to see an incredible powerhouse woman like Lizzo feel empowered by the clothing that we were able to put her in was just so exciting."
In addition, actress Devery Jacobs, star of the critically acclaimed series Reservation Dogs, presented an award at the 2021 Emmy Awards wearing a piece from the Lesley Hampton collection.
Hampton is based in Toronto these days, but was born in St. John's. The Anishinaabe designer first developed an interest in fashion around the age of 10, and her Saturday morning cartoons were dropped in favour of Fashion Television with Jeanne Beker, exposing her to threads and trends from across the globe.
As the years went by, the passion never subsided.
Once she started university, Hampton dove head first into the industry, eager to establish a brand and identity. Recognizing a few key areas of interest, her brand was born.
"We focus on mental health awareness, body positivity, and authentic representation through the lens of fashion," said Hampton. "We started with evening wear and red carpet showstopper pieces. That's really how we started in the industry."
As for what the recent exposure means for the future of the brand, Hampton says the rise to power in the fashion industry is "slow and steady."
While the past couple of years have been a whirlwind, Hampton is determined to take her brand to the next level in the not-so-distant future.
"I would love to see our brand take on an international platform," said Hampton.
"We are looking at putting together our 2023 collection that we will be showing in Milan, Italy. That's a really exciting thing on the radar for us, and really just pushing Indigenous representation and Canadian fashion to the international stage."