When you think of red carpet and gala dresses Ottawa, Canada is not the first place that comes to mind – but it is the capital of Canada so it does attract a lot of diplomats and ambassadors – which means high profile events. Party!
James Jefferson and Frank Sukhoo have been working in the fashion industry for over 20 years and have a shop in Ottawa. Jefferson Sukhoo specialize in made-to-measure pieces, and each season they come up with half a dozen looks to add to their showroom samples. (All their samples are black so that their customer can focus on the cut.) They also create bespoke pieces for many of their clients. It seems like everyone who’s anyone in Ottawa has worn a Jefferson Sukhoo dress!
I wanted to find out what’s made this team so popular and how they managed to find a niche for themselves in the world of fashion.
1. What got you interested in fashion?
JJ: I have always had an interest in fashion. Even at a young age I was mesmerized watching runway shows on television and reading about the latest trends in magazines. My earliest memory of fashion was picking up a biography about Yves Saint Laurent and thinking to myself that this is what I have to do in life.
FS: Hmm, I don’t quite remember to tell you the truth! It was after I realized that fashion (true fashion) is a form of art. Anything esthetic attracts me!
2. You’ve just recently celebrated the shop’s 4 year anniversary, have you considered setting up more shops?
For the moment we are really enjoying working one on one with our clients doing strictly custom design. However, in a few years we will produce a line of ready to wear that will be available in specialty boutiques and high end department stores.
3.Over the years you’ve developed a very loyal clientele – is there a secret to your success?
Our secret is really very simple: we’re doing something we love, we take a great deal of pride in our work and that shows. It’s also very important to assist our clients in every way possible – wardrobe planning, help with accessory selection and most importantly to make it a fun and easy experience for them.
4. Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
A lot of our inspiration comes from our clients. Designing an outfit to flatter someone’s physique, to reflect their personal style and to infuse our own ideas into that mix is the ultimate inspiration.
5. What is the best thing about your job?
JJ: The best thing about our job is having the freedom to create beautiful things, to work with interesting and exciting clients and to make them look and feel great!
FS: When we’re in the boutique and a client puts on her outfit, looks in the mirror and says: "Wow! I had no idea I could look so good!" with a smile on her face. That’s the best feeling, because that’s what we’re about.
6. Do you have a favourite celebrity who you have worked with?
We are extremely honoured to be able to design for the Governor General of Canada. It’s wonderful to be able to showcase our designs on such an important and influential woman, who also just happens to be incredibly beautiful!
7. How are you finding business in the current economic climate?
Fortunately our clients appreciate the calibre of our work and don’t seem to be making any wardrobe compromises.
8. Who is your favourite menswear designer
JJ: My favourite menswear designer is Tom Ford – sexy and modern.
FS: D&G. As a guy, it’s great to have designers that make fashionable clothes for men without losing masculinity.
9. Do you ever design for yourselves?
FS: Yes, whenever I can.
JJ: Not as often as I would like!
10. Do you really wear matching or coordinated outfits?
Once for a laugh we wore matching outfits for a photo shoot. The photographer refused to shoot us that way and came back 3 days in a row to re-shoot, only to find us in different matching outfits each time. On day 3 he gave in! LOL
11. What can we expect from the brand for spring 09?
Spring 09 for Jefferson Sukhoo will continue to be about superb lines, luxurious fabrics and keen attention to details. Only the best – no compromises.
12. What advice would you give to young designers?
JJ: Be passionate, be prepared to work very, very hard, get as much experience as you can and most importantly – be humble.
FS: Be ready to stick at it! Fashion is not glamorous, you have to be a workaholic to be successful in this industry, but as long as you enjoy your work – you will always be happy.