Wednesday, July 15, 2020


By Ana Kippel

Hilary MacMillan
Fashion Designer

Denim Jacket (Photo courtesy of Hilary MacMillan)

"True innovation and joy comes from looking at the opportunities to move yourself and society forward."

Hilary MacMillan is an extremely talented modern-day woman, creating cruelty-free womenswear, while adding a touch of femininity and romance into her clothing. Every woman loves that. 

MacMillan’s line consists of tailored pieces and bold prints or soft neutrals at times. She shows a woman’s graceful silhouette with originality and at the same time, adding a powerful message. Showcasing to the fashion world that it is possible to create a vegan line with extended sizing.

Founded in 2013, her brand is renowned for offering versatile pieces in changeless silhouettes. The brand focuses on using high-quality, cruelty-free fabrics to design ready-to-wear pieces in bold colours and textures with the modern-day consumer in mind. With an extended range of sizes going up to 4X and dress size 28. In 2016, Hilary Macmillan made a commitment to focus on being a cruelty-free brand, no longer using leather, fur, exotic skins, or feathers in any of her garments. As of SS19 Hilary MacMillan has phased out all silks and wools to proudly become Canada’s number one choice for cruelty-free womenswear.

She was one of the talented and brilliant fashion designers who showcased her collection at last year’s Toronto Fashion Week. Visit her capsule on her website, where 15 per cent off the sales are donated towards Up with Women, which is a charity on a mission, to help recently homeless women rebuild their careers and lives.

Hilary MacMillan SS 2020 (Photo courtesy of the designer)

Here is some advice Hilary had for us during this challenging time we are all facing.

FASHION STUDIO: How are you coping with the current situation? 

HILARY: It has been interesting let’s say. Being that we are small, we were able to look at the challenges and adapt. It is still obviously a learning curve, but our customers have been so amazing. They are so supportive and understanding. As such, we have shifted our strategy to focus on the most immediate touch point with our consumer base, which is our e-commerce platform.

We are lucky to have a very engaged and wonderful social media community which has helped us keep it light and share fun initiative like our first ever digital sample sale. We also decided, early on, to commit sewing capabilities to making cloth masks for the community in need. These masks this far have gone to Toronto Community Living, Michael Garron Hospital, ICU Nurses at Mackenzie Health Hospital, The Humane Society, Seamless Care Pharmacy and many more. We have a long list of those waiting and it an ongoing commitment. 

FASHION STUDIO: What do you think Canadian fashion industry needs right now?

HILARY: Well, I think it’s a conversation. First and foremost, we need to talk about the fact that the Canadian fashion industry can provide numerous resources; which in times such as these can provide aid and solve supply chain problems. Our company has received an outpouring of requests for cloth masks and it goes to show how essential, the textile and subsequent manufacturing associated are. It is a core industry that we have really allowed to die out within our own country. This is a tragedy for so many reasons. It means that we don’t have the ability to produce certain types of products at scale and with speed - in our own country. We have had very large organizations (which we won’t name) asking us for tens of thousands of masks, which for a designer with 6 machines and a small production team is insurmountable. We can’t scale to meet that demand without a significant investment in equipment and labour, despite our best desires to want to help everyone in these trying times. Not only does this have implications in the time of COVID-19, but also for the industry before and after this pandemic.

So, it is my feeling that the current climate proves how important it is to invest in our own economy and provide incentives to make our own products. This is a bigger, longer term conversation which I hope we will come back to when our community recovers and comes back strong from the very challenging circumstances at hand.

Photo courtesy of Hilary MacMillan

FASHION STUDIO: What tips could you share with our readers? How to stay active and motivated these days?

HILARY: Should you be able, now is the perfect time to learn a new skill or flew the ones you haven’t been using. Read up on business strategy, learn a technical skill like sewing, research an industry or do a competitive analysis. It is so easy to look at all the very hard, very trying aspects of this pandemic and believe me there are many; but true innovation and joy comes from looking at the opportunities to move yourself and society forward. Help with progress and look at what that means for you and your community. Ask yourself what is your contribution? Take out a blank piece of paper and map that out, call a friend, email those you may want to work with and search for opportunities. In the last few years we have learned so much but reaching out to those you find interesting or may want to work with and seeing what you can do together. I really encourage this! 

FASHION STUDIO: What projects are you currently working on?

HILARY: Right now, our projects are numerous as we shift our business strategy to adapt to the new reality. We are certainly approaching everything with a level of caution and optimism. In the short term, we are excited to be re-launching our Signature Blouse Collection under the new Hilary MacMillan Sustainable collection. The blouse is made of Curpo which is a bio-degradable fabric made of up-cycled cotton linter. Each blouse is dyed with Vegetable dyes. The blouses go live on our website ( starting April 22nd which is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. 

Tuxedo Shirt Dress (Photo courtesy of Hilary MacMillan)

FASHION STUDIO: How do you see fashion industry in the future? What are your personal predictions?

HILARY: Well, I think we are all keeping our eyes on the industry trade magazines such as WWD, CAF and BOF to see what the industry as whole is doing. It seems as though direct-to-consumer and e-commerce business is the most obvious life line for all makers and sellers in the fashion industry right now. I think this was a growing trend pre-pandemic. It is one of the best ways for brands to insulate themselves from the variable retail climate. So, trend wise I think we will see a lot more small brands and small stores build more robust e-commerce platforms. 

FASHION STUDIO: Could you share some fashion tips what to wear for a comfortable yet stylish look while working from home? 

HILARY: I love chunky knits. They are a great throw on comfy item. I also love a bodysuit. It smoothes the waistline and goes perfectly under jeans or sweats while being on trend and updating even the most relaxed look. 

You can shop our Knit Sweaters and Bodysuits using the link below. Use code FLASH40 for 40% off, free shipping when you spend over $50. 

Sleeveless Turtleneck (Photo courtesy of Hilary MacMillan)


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