Story by Erin Ryley

Photos by Christine Kwan

Emily Woudenberg, the creative mind behind the Toronto-based jewellery and apparel line WOUDENBERG, is taking the fashion circuit by storm. Since displaying an impressive collection at Fashion Art Toronto (|FAT|), this young designer is showing no signs of slowing down.

With pieces distinctive to Woudenberg’s style, each personality-filled collection offers one-of-a-kind flair and charm. Plaid had the chance to chat with Woudenberg about her favourite collaborations, ego, and her upcoming plans for the brand.

How did you get started in fashion and jewellery design? Has it always been a love of yours? 

I started making jewellery at a very young age. It’s something that comes very naturally to me, I began to go online and to the library to research different jewellery making techniques at probably six or seven-years-old.

You studied graphic design at Sheridan College. How has your knowledge and background in this area influenced your design process?  

I am also interested in media and branding, and marketing. I tend to believe that learning different ways of communicating, be it jewellery, clothing, design, film, concrete – they all help you think, speak, and see in different ways. So I guess to answer your question, graphic design has helped me communicate jewellery as a brand and as a conceptual idea versus a singular product.

You typically choose unconventional materials for the jewellery collections you design. Do the materials you use inspire your designs or do you have a specific idea in mind before beginning the creative process? 

I am often trying to convey a feeling in my jewellery. So I have an idea of a feeling I may want to convey, and then I try to use materials to communicate that – conventional or unconventional. I find a lot of jewellery is more about decorating.

You recently showed at |FAT| and Toronto Fashion week. What has been the best part of showing your collections so far? 

I should clarify I showed jewellery at [Toronto] Fashion Week (when it was [sponsored by] LG) with the LABEL show, so I have them to thank for that. I really love to get feedback on my creations, see what people’s reactions are. How to present a jewellery collection as an experience is also really fun to experiment with.

What has been your favorite collaboration to date and why?

This whole concrete “SLAB” collection has been a long time coming I believe. It was almost as if I have had this idea for a long time but hadn’t developed the technique to effectively execute it. I feel the same way about EGO as well; they are part of the same idea, but I do feel I am still working out some kinks and there is always room for improvement.

Your F/W12 collection, EGO, garnered a lot of attention and press at |FAT|.  What did this collection mean to you? 

It meant a lot to me: the concept of EGO, how to present it and what it meant within the industry. We really present ourselves with attire, who we want to be. In fashion, within the industry this is taken to an extreme. We communicate visually and negotiate others’ perception of ourselves, and how we present ourselves is important and we often have an astute understanding on how we will be perceived by the clothes we wear. “Your Opinion is Important to You” – the tag-line to the runway experience – was an idea surrounding how people attend fashion shows; where each person individually experiences the show and shares their opinion. Their opinion may, or may not,  have significance but they feel it’s important.

Spring/Summer 2012 incorporates concrete as the principal material. What drew you to concrete in the first place?

I like the idea of mass industrialism and production. Concrete feels very much an over-used material, so I find it engaging to use it in a different context.

Do you have a muse or a WOUDENBERG girl/guy? If so, who is it? Do you see yourself reflected in the WOUDENBERG person you’re creating?

Not particularly and neither. I tend to be inspired by a lot of people and things; I will be obsessed with a random guy I saw at a goth punk store for months and he will be my imaginary muse. I am often inspired on public transit because of the array of people and their surroundings. I reflect, and am inspired by, my daily life and experiences and so do my designs. So I tend to change how I look frequently to reflect my surroundings, so yes, I am in a sense reflected in my designs.

What is your favourite piece to design and why? 

Necklaces allow a lot of experimentation I feel. And t-shirts because it’s a blank canvas.

Where can readers find WOUNDENBERG pieces?

and the online retailer ; and clothing pieces are exclusively at the Homegrown Boutique on Cumberland Street in Toronto.

What can we expect from WOUDENBERG in the future?

I just ordered some really interesting pieces for my next Spring/Summer jewellery collection. Expect some art deco architecture shapes, opalite, and industrial materials. It will be lighter, and more extensive than the previous jewellery collection.

Check out this video Emily Woudenberg created with Adam Zivo for her F/W12 collection!

EGO from Adam Zivo on Vimeo.

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