Miriam Baker on getting her start from the Toronto Fashion Incubator
“If you have your niche and have your vision, you can make it.”
For Miriam Baker, the idea of pursuing a career in fashion was one initially curbed by pragmatism.
“I always had an interest but never considered it a viable career option because I was thinking more along the lines of traditional professions,” she says.
While in high school at Freemont Academy, Baker struggled to find her footing and her niche. “I think I was just feeling really lost,” she says.
After graduating, Baker worked in retail. It was during this time that she decided to think about what she wanted to do. She eventually landed on fashion.
Finally pursuing her dream, Baker enrolled in George Brown’s fashion techniques and design program. Once finished, she continued her education, attending Ryerson School of Fashion. After graduating in 2013, Baker began her career.
She learned of the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels competition, where each year emerging talent across the industry compete for TFI’s prestigious Suzanne Rogers Award for Most Promising New Label. Baker decided to take a chance and enter the competition, presenting a collection she had developed during her studies at Ryerson. The collection’s designs were inspired by a wedding she had attended in the English countryside.
“It was on a Victorian estate,” she says. “I think it was nostalgia, the colours and the romance of the countryside that inspired me.”
Baker also sought to create clothes to fit and flatter women with larger busts, a group that traditional sizing often doesn’t adequately accommodate.
The judges were inspired by her vision, and after surviving the initial selection process, Baker was selected to present her collection. “It was like [reality TV show]
Project Runway,” she says. “They ended up with four designers who showed at the TFI New Labels competition.” Baker was not only one of those four, but won the entire competition.
With her winnings, she was able to join the TFI as a fashion resident with her own studio space. Since then, she has successfully launched her own line but concedes that breaking in to the industry is a difficult task.
“It’s really hard to get meetings with buyers, unless someone makes the introduction for you. It’s a struggle, but if you have your niche and have your vision, you can make it worthwhile.”
Currently Baker operates an online business and launches two collections each year that are available at boutiques such as Tucci Armadio and House of Angelis.
“It’s different every season,” she says. “Often what inspires me is travel. I’m also very inspired by the fabrics themselves, but it’s always different. Sometimes it’s just a historical period.”
Most recently it was an art nouveau fashion plate painted by Gerda Wegener that she purchased on a trip to Paris.
Baker won the TFI New Labels Award in 2014