Chasing Unicorns: How Toronto Designer Hayley Elsaesser Creates Her Fantasy World Through Prints

The most recognizable and celebrities’ favourite Canadian designer is redefining the fashion scene and showing that style can be both fun and intellectual.  

When you think of the Toronto flourishing design scene, Hayley Elsaesser is the first name that comes to mind. The most recognizable and celebrities’ favourite Canadian designer (among her clients are such A-listers as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Lili Singh, Alessia Cara and more), Elsaesser is redefining the fashion scene and showing that style can be both fun and intellectual.

“Eccentric”, “loud”, “dizzy”, “audacious” – that’s how her brand is usually portrayed in the media. And that’s exactly what you see when you look at Hayley’s imaginative prints and bold neon colours.

Her design is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, but those who were brave enough to wear her creations even once, will never be able to look at fashion the same way again.

But don’t be fooled by the brand’s vibrant, loud and fun aesthetic. If you dig deeper, you’ll find out that Hayley’s fashion is vulnerable, mindful and intellectual, just like the creator herself. Drawing inspiration from pop-culture, cinematography and music, The Toronto-based fashion designer opts for high-quality materials, classic timeless silhouettes and believes that every print should tell a story.

And according to the designer, sometimes those stories can speak for you when you have no desire to make a sound. That’s one of the reasons Hayley believes in the power of colours and prints and how they can transform a person both inside and outside.

But how does the designer create her signature prints? Hayley shared that in her work she uses a special method called fabric sublimation using Epson’s digital fabric printing. This technology allows the designer to experiment more and to create custom prints faster. “Fabric sublimation allows for diversity of textures and materials and ensures that I do not have to limit myself in the design process. Products like Epson’s make smaller runs achievable and allow boutique brands like mine to flourish,” said the designer.

Digital printing technology has revolutionized the fashion industry and Hayley’s work is the best illustration of this. Not only does it allow designers to produce fabrics locally, but it also saves months of production time.

Being naturally shy as a kid, wearing bold prints was Hayley’s way to overcome her introvertedness and escape reality. Today the designer spends most of her time creating the reality of her dreams along with her husband and brother, who help her manage the store on Queen Street that she opened 3 years ago. Together they work on new prints, silhouettes and run the business as a family. The designer is sure that being supported by her family 24/7 while running her business, is the secret to the success of her brand.

If you want to see Hayley Elsaesser’s designs in person, visit her store located at 695 Queen St W.

Photos: Sarah May