inspiring women: interview with designer hayley gibson of birds of north america - chic and ethic

I met Hayley Gibson, the designer behind the increasingly successful clothing line Birds of North America, during the presentation of her Spring 2012 line at Quartier Mode (which you might remember from this post). Previously unfamiliar with her work, I was immediately attracted to her beautifully crafted vintage-y dresses made of candy coloured gingham. I had a chance to speak with her briefly while trying on her dress (which I ended up buying).  Something about her quiet, friendly demeanour and the aesthetic of her design made me want to get to know her. When I asked to interview her, she accepted without hesitation and pomp. We met in her hood, Little Italy, at one of the oldest and best coffee houses where, over cappuccini, we spent a couple of hours talking about her life, work, motivations and inspirations.  

What struck me immediately about Hayley is her unquenching passion for her work, as well as her candour and honesty. When asked about her beginnings as a fashion designer, she explained that ever since she was a young kid she enjoyed deconstructing and re-creating clothing. This ultimately led her to complete a degree in Fashion Design at the Ryrson University. But while she was interested in fashion, Hayley did not always see herself as a fashion designer. Interested more in the costume design, she agreed to lend a hand to a friend who was starting a fashion line, when she discovered her true passion and Birds of North America was born.

Hayley's design process, as well as her clothes, are a true reflection of who she is as a person - sweet natured, honest and deeply emotional. Keenly aware of the ephemerality and hardship of life, Hayley sees her clothing as a way to make the world a better and happier place. Her creative process is initiated from the perspective of her young girl self spending summers sheltered in the countryside, surrounded by relatives, infusing her clothes with an English country aesthetic and an optimistic feel. And while the clothes are almost always very light and beautiful, Hayley likes to style them by adding touches of toughness as a way to communicate the duality of life, simultaneously beautiful and tragic.

Hayley's approach to clothing production is just as honest and ethical. She firmly believes that - as a natural extension of her persona - her designs have to be made under fair conditions and in respect of human rights. And while offshoring her production line to China would surely mean more profit and reach, Hayley simply isn't ready to compromise. In turn, she is closely involved with her line from generating the idea to producing the garment.

Speaking with Hayley was a true pleasure, not only because she generously granted me access into her intimate world, but also because it personified what I have always been feeling as a woman who loves fashion, but who is not a materialist. Fashion mustn't be and isn't just about pure consumerism, rather it is a form of personal expression helping us imbue this troubled life with beauty and optimism.

Hayley's work is currently available in stores across Canada and on her website. She is also working to bring Birds of North America to the US market. So my American readers rejoice for soon you will be able to buy Birds of North America on ModCloth. And if you do (and I think you should), you can do so knowing that you got something that is not only beautiful and well crafted, but also made for you from the heart.


dress: Birds of North America
cardigan: J Crew
belt: Zara
shoes: Steve Madden
bag: Coccinelle
necklace and bracelet: Tiffany


  1. great outfit! i love the different pinks and that dress is the bomb


    1. Thank you Lia! Hayley's stuff is really great. I am so happy with my purchase. xoxo Danina

  2. nice interview... love the idea of "imbue this troubled life with beauty and optimism".

    Enjoy your weekend.



    1. Thanks Dana! I really enjoyed interviewing Hayley and her clothes is darling. Great weekend to you as well. xoxo Danina

  3. Love it, love it, love it! Everything blends so nicrely together... You are gorgeous in this dress!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Creative Commons License
Fashionable in Montreal by Danina Kapetanovic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at fashionable-in-mtl.blogspot.com.