Hay­ley El­saesser is mak­ing fash­ion more in­clu­sive, one de­sign at a time.

ELLE (Canada) - - Lifestyle -

GO AHEAD, try not to smile when you see one of Hay­ley El­saesser’s cre­ations. The Toronto-based fash­ion de­signer’s colour­ful, joy­ful and size-in­clu­sive line has earned her scores of fans in celebrity and fash­ion cir­cles alike. Her new project with Mi­crosoft is equally feel-good. El­saesser de­signed a mini- back­pack with a pat­tern that riffs off her sig­na­ture mouth print us­ing her Mi­crosoft Sur­face and its Sur­face Pen. Pro­ceeds from the col­lab ben­e­fit the char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion Rain­bow Rail­road, which sup­ports peo­ple in in­ter­na­tional LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ties who are flee­ing per­se­cu­tion and helps them get to safety in Canada.

ON HER VI­SION FOR THE BACK­PACK… “It rep­re­sents in­di­vid­u­al­ity and pride, em­brac­ing who you are. I made a mini-back­pack be­cause I wanted it to be some­thing that would work for every­body. It’s an ac­ces­sory that peo­ple of all dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes can wear and feel cute wear­ing. The print is a more styl­ized ver­sion of my iconic mouth print. I wanted to have a hand-drawn as­pect to it. I drew di­rectly onto the screen of the Sur­face in Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor and then com­piled it into a re­peated print.”

ON THE IM­POR­TANCE OF IN­CLU­SIV­ITY… “I was su­per- shy grow­ing up. I’m from Cam­bridge, Ont., this small lit­tle city, and I never fit in. I’ve al­ways been kind of a weirdo— I had Cruella de Vil hair in high school!—and fash­ion was how I ex­pressed my­self. When I started my la­bel, I was re­ally con­scious of that feel­ing of be­ing an out­sider. I like to use fash­ion as a way to bring peo­ple to­gether and make them feel good about them­selves. The fash­ion in­dus­try is so ex­clu­sive.”

ON FIND­ING YOUR PEO­PLE…“It’s all about hav­ing a com­mu­nity that makes you feel sup­ported. If you live in a small town, there might not be any­body like you, but with the In­ter­net and so­cial me­dia now there’s a global com­mu­nity at your dis­posal. Don’t be afraid to put your­self out there be­cause, I guar­an­tee you, there are peo­ple who feel the same way. Also, em­brace who you are. It’s so cliché, but you’re the only you in the world— cel­e­brate that fact!”


Hay­ley El­saesser cre­ated the de­sign for her “Mouthy for a Rea­son” mini-back­pack ($75, at hayleyel­ us­ing the Sur­face Pen— which mim­ics the feel of draw­ing on pa­per— on her Mi­crosoft Sur­face (start­ing at $529, mi­crosoft­ Trans­gen­der ac­tivist Stef Sanjati and Maria Qamar, a.k.a. Hate­copy, also de­signed prod­ucts for the feel-good col­lab­o­ra­tion— a sweater and a sticker pack, re­spec­tively. “Di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion are core to our cul­ture, and the three cre­ators we col­lab­o­rated with for this cam­paign em­body that whole­heart­edly,” says Sherief Ibrahim, spokesper­son for Mi­crosoft. “All three speak to the power of tech­nol­ogy and how it empowered them to achieve more and con­nect with their com­mu­ni­ties.”

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