For Lesley Hampton, inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s part of her culture. The 24- year old designer, who belongs to the Temagami First Nation of Bear Island, Ont. and has ties to the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne says, “I find Indigenous culture is very welcoming and open, so I really try to relate that feeling of being with my culture into my brand.” After attending George Brown College for Fashion Techniques and Design, Hampton founded her namesake label in 2016, which quickly #broketheinternet after eliciting praise from none other than Kim Kardashian West. The reality star took to Facebook to applaud Hampton’s casting of a Boston Bombing survivor at her Vancouver Fashion Week runway show.
Since then, Hampton has made compassion the bedrock of her growing brand. Her latest collection, Lithium, intends to shine a light on the travails of bipolar disorder. All models cast in the show are mental health advocates. “I wanted to present this new type of fantasy on the runway where the thing you should strive to be is being comfortable and confident in your own skin,” she says.
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Hampton’s latest venture is a size inclusive athleisure line called “Robust” which runs from size XS to 5XL because “there are curvier people who do want to [exercise] but then might be discouraged to find there’s no clothes to fit them, even before they get to the gym.” Not only does she centre inclusivity in her work, she’s found a finds a way to give back to her community as well. Thirty percent of sales of the We Are In Control Jacket will go towards the Indigenous Medical Alliance with True North Aid and in 2019, 10% of the brand’s profits will go towards supporting indigenous communities.
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