Christina McFaddin might not realize it, but she was probably destined to have her own lingerie label.
The Canadian designer was born in 1991, the year of the goat in the Chinese zodiac, which is considered
to be the most feminine sign in the astrological calendar. People born in goat years tend to be creative, gentle and private and they gravitate toward careers in arts, teaching and design.
Those characteristics “fit me to a T,” said the Regina resident, whose artistic nature and love of couture fashion led her to the fashion design and merchandising program at the Art Institute of Vancouver.
And when Christina decided to launch her own lingerie brand two years ago, she knew what to call it: Year Of The Ram.
“I wanted to have a name that stood out, because I think my pieces do that,” she told Lingerie Talk. “My pieces are meant to be comfortable, feminine and wearable. They are by no means overly edgy or structured. I’m trying to make a product that any woman can wear at any time.”
YOTR‘s new collection for spring 2015 includes soft bralettes, longline bras, chemises, bodysuits and briefs, all hand-made and hand-dyed in stretch lace and cotton.
Year of the Ram has not only the most unusual name in the business, it’s also a rarity in Canada’s busy fashion scene: a stylish intimates label born on the Prairies, where the sources of inspiration are few and the retail opportunities even more so.
“Growing up in a Prairie province there wasn’t much in the way of fashion,” said Christina, who was born in neighbouring Manitoba. “It was not something I was around a lot.”
As a teen, she fed her imagination by thumbing through Vogue and other fashion magazines, drawing inspiration from Dior and later Givenchy.
After graduating from college in 2011, Christina landed a job as assistant to Chris Kopeck, the Vancouver-based freelance designer behind the ultra-romantic lingerie styles of California brand Naked Princess. Spending a year with an established designer was “definitely a great experience,” she said, introducing her to the possibilities of fashionable, high-end lingerie.
Year of the Ram debuted in January, 2013 with an Etsy shop while Christina fine-tuned her aesthetic, and her business model, by hosting lingerie parties in Winnipeg and Regina. Attendees could qualify to win a free lingerie ensemble by simply trying on her pieces and filling out a survey that gave the fledgling label some invaluable feedback.
That experience helped Christina realize that her tastes might not always reflect market preferences. For example, her Alice longline bra and brief set (above) was an immediate bestseller, but customers wanted more color options.
“I already knew what my comfort range is,” she said, referring to YOTR’s palette of neutrals and muted colorways. “But there’s a huge market for neons and bright girly colors. I learned that you might not like these colors, but the customers do.”
As a result, YOTR will be “bringing in a pop of color per season,” beginning with a deep blue in its SS2015 collection, a forest green in its 2015 fall offering and brighter summery colors in its next spring-summer range.
As YOTR prepares to enter its third year, it has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance its growth and spread its message about fashionable, hand-made intimates. It’s aiming to raise $5,000 that will be used for a new website and e-commerce shop, photo lookbooks and other key items that will help the brand get noticed.
The brand has also found like-minded friends among the local fashion community, and Christina is considering a role in the next Saskatchewan Fashion Week as well as a pop-up shop in partnership with a local retailer during the lead-up to Valentine’s Day.
Christina sees Year of the Ram as an antidote to the fast-fashion sameness that women encounter in mall brands — a familiar complaint on the prairies and everywhere else in the North American marketplace.
“Year of the Ram strives to step away from fast fashion by offering women beautiful hand-made designs,” she says in her Kickstarter pitch. “These are not your typical throwaway pieces. These are treasures that you will cherish for many years to come.”