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Designer Lesley Hampton says that her nomadic upbringing spent in Canada’s Arctic, Australia, England, Indonesia and New Caledonia was anchored by space for creativity and one crucial piece of equipment. “My mom, just like her mom, always had a sewing machine in our house,” she says. After studying art and art history at the University of Toronto, launching a fashion label in 2018 was a natural evolution.

A member of Temagami First Nation and now based in Toronto, Hampton has become as well known for giving back to her community as she has for her designs, which have been worn by television personality Elaine Lui to the Golden Globes and singer Lizzo. Hampton has partnered with organizations such as the Matriarch Movement and, in 2020, launched the Lesley Hampton Award in partnership with the Ontario Mining Association at the School of Fashion in the Faculty of Communications and Design at Ryerson University, which awards mentorship and $2,000 annually to a student.

It’s part of Hampton’s goal of decolonizing Euro-centric standards in the fashion industry, inspiring the next generation of Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs and creating space for empowerment and representation in fashion and media. “The red carpets and celebrity dressing is very exciting but what I love most about what I do is to see a smile on your clients’ face when they wear our designs, or to see another Indigenous brand thrive following the path we laid out in the industry.”

Lesley Hampton,

Silhouette T-dress, $100.

Silhouette T-dress.Handout

Belt bag, $120.

Belt bag.Handout

Pleat wrap skirt, $550.

Pleat wrap skirt.Handout

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