Hayley Gibson, designer and founder of Birds of North America
Hayley Gibson, designer and founder of Birds of North America

Though the seasonal birds of North America are often seen migrating south this time of year, we always have lots in stock at General 54. Hayley Gibson’s Birds of North America line are some of our most consistently wearable (and favourite!) fashions – for every time of year. Hayley recently told us about the cues she takes from the vintage-store finds of her youth and how her interest in deconstruction remains an integral process in her work. Rather than being swayed by trends, she’s motivated by a more timeless sense of beauty. Take note of her current suggestions: bolder silhouettes and roomier cuts and inspirations from earlier eras made modern!

Birds of North America Clothing
Birds of North America Clothing

Q: How did you get your start?

Hayley: I hit a point in my mid-twenties when I realized that I wasn’t inspired by any of the traditional life-paths I had expected to feel drawn towards at that age. The only thing I had been consistently passionate about and good at since I was young was making clothing. Though I went to university to study fashion design, I actually became aware of the independent fashion scene not through school, but through a friend. The fact that you could start a line of clothing yourself, from the ground up, without needing an investor or going the ‘fashion week’ route had somehow never come up! It was everything I had been seeking – a place where I could be a designer, on my own terms, if I was willing to work hard. I started by showing a tiny collection that I sewed myself to three stores, all of them bought the line, and it grew from there.

Q: How would you describe the objectives of your look?

I ultimately design Birds clothing for myself, and my personal objectives are to flatter my shape, be comfortable, and to wear something that expresses who I am. I also value practicality in clothing – I want to be able to work and live life in a dress and be able to forget that I’m wearing it because it isn’t hindering me in any way.

Q: Are there any childhood inspirations that remain in your current designs?

When I was a teenager, I did a lot of second-hand shopping for things I could either alter or totally re-invent. A lot of the most interesting styles to be found in terms of cut and fabric were vintage. I taught myself how clothing was made by disassembling and reconstructing so many things, and the inspiration of all those vintage styles still permeates my designs.

Q: Which artists, designers, films, music, or literature have influenced your art?

I’m not so much explicitly influenced by other’s work as I am inspired by creative people who are uncompromising in their vision and who move forward, no matter what the cost, with what they believe to be beautiful and of value. I want to have the courage to do my thing, my way, regardless of what the market says, what trends dictate, and what others think about what I’m doing.

Q: What are you most excited about in your upcoming design aesthetic?

70s inspirations for a roomier pants
70s inspirations for a roomier pant
90s inspiration for longer jacket lengths
90s inspiration for longer jacket lengths

I am excited by what seems to be the fairly broad-reaching shift in silhouette and style that is happening in fashion right now. Just when I start to feel like a current look is getting a bit tired, fashion seems to sprout something new that I don’t expect. I am excited by the longer lengths I see in dresses and coats right now, as well as roomier pant and top cuts. I love the 90’s and 70’s inspirations that are mixing in strange and delightful ways, and I’m looking forward to integrating the new elements that I feel will work into Birds designs.

Q: Your personal favourite piece to wear this season?

It changes every couple of weeks, but right now I’m digging the Cormorant Dress in the graphic navy and green teardrop print.

Birds of North America Cormorant Dress in Green and Navy tear drop
Birds of North America Cormorant Dress in Green and Navy tear drop

I get a frisson of excitement every time I put that print on – it’s so uncompromisingly bold. Will I get compliments or ridicule? Who knows! It’s always exciting. All the best things live in that elusive zone between love and revulsion.

Q: What’s the best thing about Winter?

I feel freer to work long hours in the studio without the pressure of having to maximize summer fun. Summer can be such hard work!

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