Getting your hands on the dreamy, puff-sleeve dress that you spotted on Instagram starts with a simple DM, or email, to Calgary, AB, designer Emma Doll. Once an order has been placed, Doll (yes, that’s her real name!) will cut and sew your dress personally using a reclaimed vintage cotton twill fabric, and the custom-fit garment will arrive on your doorsteps in two or three weeks. The process takes a bit more time, and can cost more, than buying fast-fashion off-the-rack, or clicking for expedited shipping from your standard online retailer — but, it’s also a more personal, and sustainable, approach to fashion.
Doll, who grew up in Northern Alberta and studied fashion business in Toronto, is a self-taught designer whose eponymous slow-fashion studio launched online with a single ruffled, ‘70s-inspired Pinafore Top which is still part of her collection today. With Emma Doll, there are no seasonal collections, no quick turnover, no fast sales — just covetable clothes that are transparently produced and designed to last. “The fashion industry just moves so fast, and I’m trying to slow things down,” says Doll. “I want you to love what you wear and to wear it until basically it needs to be mended; and, I’m here if you want me to mend it for you!”
It’s a decidedly slower, less wasteful approach to fashion, and one that resonates in our high-tech, fast-paced era of infinite choice and instant gratification.
The seasonless, vintage-inspired collection has been growing slowly over the years. Additional garments are added one at a time as needed, when Doll has a new idea or sources an interesting vintage fabric, and not just for the sake of newness. “I don’t want to work within the constraints of coming out with full new collection each season,” says Doll. “I am working in a creatively organic way where I come up with a few styles, perfect them, and maybe make them in different fabrics.” It’s a decidedly slower, less wasteful approach to fashion, and one that resonates in our high-tech, fast-paced era of infinite choice and instant gratification.
“I just started making clothes that are fun and not just something you could go pick up in the mall,” says Doll. “There’s so much love and craftsmanship that goes into it, and I just want you to feel special when you put it on.”