The Future of Toronto Fashion: Aileen Telesforo
It’s that time of week again: every seven days or so, we’re going live with a new Toronto style-maker in a new series on the future (or lack thereof?) of fashion in our city. This time, we’ve got Aileen Telesforo, a lifelong local who grew up in Scarborough and dreams of San Francisco. (What, not New York?)
Under the label Sifted, Telesforo’s been reworking and reselling thrift store finds since 2003 (she sells online, on Ebay, and at the occasional trunk show in the city). This fall, she’s trying something new(er): cutting raw vintage fabrics into street styles, for a line she’s calling Ama and Ina.
Recycling materials is something of an eco-fad here, and that’s heartening for earth-lovers. But as fashion dreamers, we’re waiting for someone to do it without also recycling ideas—just like we’d love designers to stop copying street trends and start them instead.
In our talk with Teleforo, we spun her view from the ’80s to the oughts and beyond; read on, after the break.
Torontoist: When did you launch your new line, and what’s it all about?
Aileen Telesforo: The line is called Ama and Ina, meaning “father and mother” in Tagalog, the Filipino language, and I just started it this year.
Are you working on the fall collection now? What’s inspiring you?
Yes, I am working on a limited collection to launch the company this fall. My greatest inspirations are my parents’ way of dress while I was growing up, so I’m referencing their old photo albums and such. I’m going for a strictly old and new balance. Retro is definitely my influence.
How do the clothes you make differ from those at, say, Preloved?
My vintage company, Sifted, is on a more personal level, doing only one-offs based on the individual client. So, I’d say my work is more custom-made re-design. And for my clothing line, Ama and Ina, I am incorporating raw vintage fabrics—as in, never before used—which makes the line completely limited. I think people can appreciate that.
From retro to the future: what do you think Toronto will look like in 2020?
Well, I just watched Star Trek the other day and took in all the costume design. Michael Kaplan [the costume designer] is pure genius, and I hope fashion in 2020 will mirror his attention to detail, tailoring and function from the garments in that movie. Less mass-produced clothing, and more movements towards custom, tailored garments, colour and risk. We’ll be a living runway!
Speaking of the living runway, your style seems pretty “street.” Which local street-style blogs do you read?
I check out online magazines such as Inquiring Mind, Contra Magazine, and Worn Journal.
How does Toronto street style compare to that of other cities?
Although we are more conservative, we are influenced a lot by each other’s cultures. I think we stand out because our influences are world wide, not just in our own backyard. We’re culturally blessed.
What’s the most stylish street in Toronto?
I’d say Spadina, as I do feel really inspired by people whenever I take my stroll down there.
Do you feel like, as an aspiring designer, you need to go somewhere like New York or London to really “make it”?
I understand that pull, because there are more resources and opportunities in other cities. But for me, myself, I don’t need to change where I live. There’s opportunity here as well. It’s just as a matter of how you do it.
If you did move, where would you go and why?
I would love to live in San Francisco. Haight St. is one of my favourite streets, and my mom’s side of the family is there. They’re also a huge influence in my line. I love the Bay Area.
So how do you do it?
I just do what I love.
And what you love seems to be taking pieces from the past to make new. Is this, ironically, the way of the future?
There are so many possibilities in taking from the past—it gives more character in a way. And yes, the green way of living is something I support and will for sure be the wave of the future.
Do you subscribe to postmodern theory, that nothing is new, and everything a pastiche?
I believe that nothing is entirely new. It’s a new way of looking at something already done. Pastiche? I need to look that word up in a dictionary first.