A community theater stage hand that’s trying to branch out” is how Elska Swandel, creator of local T-shirt line Love Elska, describes her style. “Recently I’ve been leaning towards more undone things, I really like layering. I wear black almost all the time and if I wear colour it’s usually just a pop.”
When Swandel, 18, started her line she notes that “it was definitely younger, very girly and aimed at cutesy teenage girls.” Lately, her style has evolved into “a more urban, electric, grungy look” and she wants the new shirts to reflect that.
“It’s really quirky, a little grungier, a little more urban.”
She doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. “I have insight to who I’m marketing to, because they’re my friends,” she says. “I am really lucky because I get to take inspiration from people I hang out with.”
Swandel describes her friends as “contemporary young people that have an individual sense of style that doesn’t necessarily fit or is a little off,” and as people who find that “happy medium by not sacrificing their comfort for their personal style, and still express who they are with clothing.
“Being young and seeing the world from a young person’s eyes gives me a really fresh perspective for designing clothes,” Swandel says, adding that “being immersed in youth culture, knowing what’s going on and bouncing off of that ” is where she gets her laid back look. It’s paying attention to what those around her are doing and discovering new things that allows her creativity to really flow.
Ultimately, she wants the Love Elska line to be something that grows with her.
“As I grow and my personal style and interests shift, I want the brand to keep shifting too,” she says. “I named it after myself, which was kind of weird, but now I have this connection to it. I want to keep it growing with me. ”
Elska Swandel’s latest collection will be sold at Paramix in Osborne Village starting June 25th.
Published in Volume 68, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 4, 2014)