An Interview with Fashion Designer Jamie Haiden, Archipelago founder

Interview with Fashion Designer Jamie Haiden, Archipelago founder

Jamie HaidenJamie Haiden is a life-long learner passionate about sharing my love of visual arts with others.  Talented Fashion Designer, she decided in 2011 to create her own brand “Archipelago”, a brand “that values hand made artistry with attention down to the last stitch!” as she said.

Jamie Haiden is featured in Fixate exhibition organized by RAW:Toronto. On this occasion, I have the pleasure to interview her.


Archipelago, the brand created by Jamie Haiden,

that values hand made artistry with attention down to the last stitch!

Jamie Haiden, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your universe?

To begin with, I am a high school art, English and French teacher living and working in Toronto. I’m very passionate about art and social justice and this permeates my classroom. Art plays an influential role in our lives and I love discussing world issues with my students and then giving them an artistic platform to express the kind of change they want to see.

I have also taught fashion design in my classes before. Fashion is art on every level and what I find perhaps the most amazing thing about it is that it speaks to people who may have no interest in art otherwise. Fashion is also a business though and one of the reasons it is so important to combine fashion and social justice in the classroom is because of the incredible weight it carries as an industry. As a fashion designer and a role model to students, I believe I have a responsibility to educate the next generation about the impact of the fashion industry and empower them to make change for the good of everyone.

Archipelago by Jamie HaidenWere you always interested in fashion growing up? How did you come to fashion design?

I have always been interested in art: painting, drawing, sculpting and crafting just about anything. As a child I did foray into sewing, sometimes frankensteining old garments into what I thought was more interesting, but truthfully, I did not realize that fashion would become my main medium until I was 17 and in university getting my English degree for a career in teaching.

I requested a sewing machine for my 18th birthday and once I had it, my very talented grandmother taught me to read my first ever pattern and sew my first ever skirt!

I believe my first loves of painting and drawing are still quite apparent in my work though. The body is like a canvas to me and I see my use of appliqué as having a painterly quality. I am interested in the elements and principles of design as one would be in a painting much more than I am interested in anything simply because it is trending for a season.

Do you have or have had a mentor or other special person to guide you?

I am blessed to have many mentors in my life that guide me in a lot of different ways, not particularly when it comes to fashion, however. Several of my friends are also designers and we are learning and figuring things out together.


Jamie Haiden, when did you create your own band “Archipelago”?

By 2011, I decided that I would focus on swimwear even though I love to sew all kinds of garments. I fell in love with the name Archipelago when I began looking for something that would express oceans, islands and beaches. The name is profound in that it defines a sense of belonging alongside individualism; an archipelago being a chain of islands that are still recognized collectively. The beauty of fashion is much the same. Every look, every season, every color has the power to bring out a different identity within us. Yet no single look is definitive of a person. Just like an archipelago, fashion is greater than the sum of its parts.

The costumes you design are very creative and colorful. Where do you find your inspiration?

While I do love working with color – very very bright colors! – not all my work is colorful. I am very interested in sculpture. I love working with texture and playing with shape and form. I do paint and sculpt in my limited spare time and one of the reasons I enjoy working with solid colors or monochromatic schemes is how this enhances shape over the distractions that prints create. I have both studied and taught life drawing and I believe that this has influenced the way I see the human form. For me, creating clothing is very much like creating a low-relief sculpture. What I love about swimwear is precisely how it is meant to complement our natural forms. Looking at how color, shape, and cut combine to create new art works keeps me continuously inspired.


Jamie Haiden, what are your projects?

After RAW, I will be participating in a charity boat cruise fashion show for Operation Smile. After that, I am looking forward to showcasing my work at Startup Fashion Week in October.

I have numerous smaller projects and of course, lots of inspirations I’m dying to start experimenting with!


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Keep it simple, Stupid. Great advice. Hurts my feelings every time.”


You have been selected to participate in the upcoming RAW Toronto FIXATE showcase. What do you plan to showcase?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m working on combining some of my older lines with new color schemes and expanding my looks to include more wraps and cover-ups.


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