Meet Rosa Halpern, the creative force behind Toronto’s NAMESAKE leather brand. From an unsatisfied friends request to complete online customization, Rosa has successfully turned her passion into a business.

We catch up with her to ask exactly how all of this got started, her challenges along the way and what concepts fuel her brand.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

I have been interested in Fashion as long as I can remember.  I spent my childhood drawing dresses and making paper-dolls, eventually graduating to sewing and patterning by the age of 10.  As I “grew up” I dabbled in other fine arts but, always came back to fashion, as it is a perfect intersection between design and fine art — it is a design practice everyone partakes in as everyone gets dressed each morning!  I also love the power a good outfit has to transform someone’s confidence as well as their entire outlook on the world

You create phenomenal leather jackets, why did you choose this particular item?

My interest in leather started by accident. A friend asked me to make her a leather jacket as she couldn’t find one she liked.  Another friend was interested, and another, and another, until voila!  I really love the material aspect of working with leather — it has a certain permanence and strength to it.

Where do you seek inspiration? Who do you have in mind when you are creating? 

Honestly so much of what I make is the clothing I want to wear and can’t find elsewhere.  More generally, the creative women I surround myself with give me endless inspiration as well as being inspired by the material itself.  Sometimes, something as small as a new textured leather will dictate an entire new silhouette.

How important is the concept of individualism for your brand?

Our entire brand is focused on individualism – no two jackets are alike, just like no two customers are alike.  Unlike most brands, we actually get to reflect and celebrate what makes our customers special in each Namesake piece —  both through custom fit alterations but also through the choice of a wild lining or secret message hand painted into the facing.

Your creations bare the names of women who have made an impact on the world, is there a specific woman who has significantly left their mark on you?

All the women NAMESAKE pays homage to have left a mark on me of course, but especially my own namesakes Rosa Parks and Rosa Luxembourg. They are the original influences for NAMESAKE, and have left me cognizant of the fact that I have very big shoes to fill (or to follow!)

What has been one of your biggest challenges running your own label?

Letting go of doing EVERYTHING! I am a total perfectionist and if there were enough hours in the day I would do every single element myself – from the photos, to hand-sewing the jackets. I am so lucky to have found amazing and very capable individuals to delegate to.

 

What would you consider your most memorable career moment so far?

There have been tons of memorable moments to be honest, but seeing my designs stand up next to larger, renowned fashion houses has been truly special. For example, seeing how my customers style their NAMESAKE pieces with well-known European brands, and even seeing people wear them to cool events. Just last Paris Fashion Week, an influencer wore her NAMESAKE jacket to the CHANEL show – that was surreal to me!

You offer incredible services from ‘try at home’ to “build your own’ piece… how, and in what ways, are these services important to your business?

We want to be able to give EVERYONE the bespoke and personalized experience we offer at our atelier.  Through digital technology, we have been able to share this sort of intimate experience with more people from all over the globe. And, stay tuned for some exciting new developments in that arena…

Where can we find you during your spare time?

Playing with my dog, preferably outdoors!

 Is there a motto you live by?

I’ll sleep when I’m dead! – sort of joking.  More seriously…  it’s not the clothes that make the woman but the woman that makes the clothes!

 

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