Q & A with Fashion Brand Ay Lelum

Ay Lelum

Nanaimo, Canada based designers

Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

We are a second generation Coast Salish Design House from Nanaimo, B.C. We are sisters Aunalee and Sophia who design and create a line of contemporary ready-wear and couture pieces utilizing our traditional family Coast Salish artwork.

We collaborate with and feature our father, William Good and brother, Joel Good of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. We are mentored in Fashion Design by our mother, Artist Sandra Moorhouse-Good and our garments are made both in our family home studio in Nanaimo, as well as manufactured in Vancouver. We are also recipients of the 2018 Indigenous Business of the Year Award in our category through the BC Acheivement Foundation.

What sparked your interest in fashion design?

Being second generation, we grew up as children of the designers of the first ever Coast Salish Clothing line called Ay Ay Mut in the 1990's. As our parents also practiced multi-media, we grew up in an art studio and worked in our parents studios and galleries since we were young. We were involved in all aspects of having a clothing company growing up, watching the design and production process by our mother, the art application process of our father, modelling and later facilitating community fashion shows, as well as being involved in wholesale and retail. We saw the importance of sharing Coast Salish Art on clothing and after our parents retirement, our interest was peaked by a Museum exhibit celebrating their artistic collaborations over a 35 year period. We were raised and trained to create wearable art and decided to carry on our parents legacy and traditions.

Can you describe your creative process?

We begin by looking at the artwork, music and legends, as taught by our Father. Throughout this process, there are usually one or more aspects that inspire us. We then begin creating all of the patterns on fabrics and art application with our family artwork, which is a detailed aspect of the foundational structure of our design process.

While we do this, we go into the recording studio to record and create the music that corresponds with the artwork and garment design. This creates a story telling process, combining the ancient and modern, while we follow strict cultural protocols and Hul'q'minum Law, as outlined by our Father. This all comes together in a showcase where we share art, culture and music for all people, while incorporating Hul'q'minum language. All of these components are part of the design process to create the whole.

What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

The collaborative process of creating wearable works of art and music as a family. We are driven by the desire to uphold our family legacy and to embrace the challenges of learning from our parents in order to pass it on to the next generation.

How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

Since we are celebrating traditional Coast Salish culture, as taught by our Father who is from the Heriditary Chief family of Nanaimo, our home is everything to us. Sharing culture with others and representing our family is a very rewarding aspect of working as designers in our home town.

In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?

We are looking forward to watching it walk the runway and to hearing the music. It is always exciting to see how everything comes together as a whole showcase and to watch the audience reactions.

What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

It is inspired by beauty, love and healing, as represented by hummingbirds and flowers.

What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?

We are hoping that they are drawn into the experience by stimulating their senses and they feel the essence of it. We would like them to receive the gifts that we share, as they are intended for all within our Coast Salish culture.

Thank you for speaking with us, Aunalee and Sophia. We look forward to seeing your brand on the runway!

Photos courtesy of BAHM Magazine

Photography by Helena Lines

@ay_lelum

aylelum.com