Occupying a studio space on the second floor, designer Natasha Gatto has created a cozy workspace for Gattina Swimwear, taking advantage of the high ceilings and natural light. Natasha graduated from the Fashion Techniques and Design program at George Brown College. "It was a vigorous program that taught you how to design, draft and sew in today's fashion industry," Natasha explains, "Though it barely touched on activewear and swimwear, I was always interested in designing swimwear." After working at Niko Apparel, a sportswear manufacturer in Hamilton, Natasha founded her own label in the spring of 2013. I visited her to talk about her new studio, swimwear collection and sunny vacation destinations.
What are the main influences behind your brand and its designs?
I don't like to use the words vintage and retro. But I do admire many styles and patterns from past eras, especially the 60s and 70s, though my styles do not represent them exactly. I try to convey a sense of delicateness and simplicity in my swimwear. And I love to show off a woman's body and highlight her best attributes.
What is your creative process like in preparing for a collection?
I usually start to think of some styles I want to experiment with and when I draw one or two that I love, the rest start to follow. One idea inspires the next and before I know it I have a collection. Drafting and sewing follow -- I start to see my drawings come to life. It's a very gratifying feeling.
Your studio space is amazing. What made you choose Empire Times for your studio?
I looked at a few spaces in downtown Hamilton but the space at Empire Times just spoke to me. The moment I saw it, I envisioned myself working there. The other spaces I looked at just didn't give me the same vibe. It's truly in the centre of downtown and within walking distance to anywhere I need to go. The area is also seeing tons of unique and creative businesses and it's great to be among them all.
While at the studio you showed me the dresses you were working on. Do you have plans to expand into other design categories? What lied ahead for your label?
I am looking to release a knit line consisting of soft knits, sheer fabrics and very simple, minimalistic styles in dresses, shirts and skirts. The line will be out very soon for Fall/Winter 2014.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian fashion designers?
Rudsak is one of my favourite Canadian designers/stores because they have that rock and roll feel. I also love Pink Tartan and Mikael Kale, who I used to work for.
Describe your perfect swim suit.
The perfect swimsuit to me is something simple and minimalist, but also striking. I love a strong solid colour, with a cut that reveals whatever part of your body you love most.
Where would your dream vacation be?
Travelling across the south of France or the Amalfi coast.