Community: Meet Isla from Heavy Flow

Introduce yourself and describe what you do.

I’m Isla, the founder and designer behind Heavy Flow, a small-scale fashion brand focusing on sustainability, low-impact production, and original style here in Toronto. I work with vintage and deadstock textiles to create one of a kind garments on a Made to Order and small batch Ready to Wear basis. With the help of a few incredible friends and interns, I'm responsible for the day to day operations, including sewing all the orders that come through our doors.

How did you get started and why did you choose the industry/career you’re in?

I launched Heavy Flow in early 2019 after many years of selling vintage clothing. I love the sustainable and unique nature of vintage, but I always felt a longing to work with my own hands. During this time I began collecting vintage fabrics, maybe subconsciously, which led me to pivot the direction of my business ventures and create something completely new. 

Heavy Flow is a serious breath of fresh air from other up and coming designers. What inspired you to create primarily from deadstock fabrics and how do you think this creative way of producing will inspire others to be more mindful and resourceful in their own everyday lives.

Thank you! I’ve always loved fashion, and dressing in a way that made me feel confident and myself, even if that looked different from what major brands considered trendy at the time. I knew I wanted to be involved in the creative process and dedicate my time to making people feel excited by what they were wearing, but I also wanted to be mindful that I wouldn’t be contributing to an environmentally harmful industry with my participation. The same thing I love about vintage clothing applies to Heavy Flow through the use of vintage & deadstock fabrics. Almost everything can be made only once in one style or size, leaving the customer with a completely unique piece they can cherish forever! It’s important to me to make pieces that last and to work with my customers to create customized patterns if they’d like any of my pieces outside of our set sizes. I still have a lot to learn and improve on, but I believe using pre-existing materials, producing small scale, and buying both less frequently and from independent and local designers/businesses is a pivot in production and consumption that is urgently needed in the fashion industry. 

What’s next? Anything cool you’re working on? 

I’ve always got something on the go. Right now I’m working towards opening up the studio more regularly for fittings and in person browsing. I’m slowly working on a few new designs as well that should be dropping early 2022, which I’m very excited about! One will be a variation on a patchwork slip dress I made for a more creative collection that I released last year. I got a great response when I shared the piece, so I’m going to work with my friend and pattern maker, Sarita, to perfect the fit and add some additional Heavy Flow touches. I’m also working on a couple of wedding dresses which is a completely new venture for me, but also a challenge I’m very much welcoming.

Photographed by Nathan Legiehn

Check out Isla and Heavy Flow on Instagram at @shopheavyflow.

Isla is wearing Bather’s Marmalade Crewneck and Red Checkerboard Swim Trunk.