A Dazzling Debut at VFW FW/22

A Dazzling Debut at VFW FW/22

Two talented Fashion Design alumni take to the runway in their first ever Vancouver Fashion Week, showcasing their hard work and tremendous skillset in fashion’s favourite form–a finished garment. Blanche Macdonald Graduates Sujitha Shivajothi and Laila Aouinati speak on their experience behind the curtain and the inspiration behind their debut designs.


A debut at Vancouver Fashion Week after a two-year pandemic hiatus can be positively terrifying. Fashion Designer Sujitha Shivajothi, however, was just thankful for the extra time to prepare. Her label, Shivajothi, is characterized by its refreshingly gender-neutral approach to fashion.  

“As a kid I always loved gender-neutral clothing, I grew up borrowing pieces from my dad’s wardrobe and from my mom’s wardrobe.  If I saw a piece I liked, I’d wear it. The whole concept of my label is to create one big walk-in closet, where anyone can go in and pick what they like, completely genderless.”

The brand’s pieces are designed to be oversized, but tailored, setting them apart from the shapeless outerwear synonymous with gender-neutrality. 

The whole concept of my label is to create one big walk-in closet, where anyone can go in and pick what they like, completely genderless.

Inspired by her late mother, the collection features pleating details that are an homage to Sujitha’s Sri Lankan heritage and her mother’s saris.

Restriction and confinement were prevalent inspirations within the collection.  In light of the pandemic, these are pertinent feelings for audience members. However, Sujitha explains that as the world’s burden lightened, so did the strictness of her garments. Colours were introduced and silhouettes became more open.

Her brand is also committed to producing sustainable clothing.  Ensuring that her material sourcing and fabrication processes are transparent is key in her quest to achieve true sustainable fashion.

With another season on the horizon, Sujitha offers a perspective on the future of fashion that is both respectful of her craft, exultant of her artistry, and indicative of her business acumen.   


blue crocodile jumpsuit designed by blanche macdonald graduate Laila Aouinati on VFW model

A teacher of Fashion Design at Blanche Macdonald, a custom clothing designer, and a newcomer to the VFW runway.  Such are the many hats worn by Laila Aouinati, the designer behind BAD DNA. In an oft-told tale of an artist pursuing their dreams, Laila had dreamed of starting her own label for many years prior to showing at VFW. 

Just do it and see what happens afterwards, otherwise you may regret not having tried.

“I finally said that it was the moment. Just do it and see what happens afterwards, otherwise you may regret not having tried.”

Over the pandemic, BAD DNA languished in wait for its inception on the runway.  However, the label stomped its way to the forefront of the Vancouver zeitgeist with a glamorous toughness on the F/W 2022 Runway.  Laila’s process is one half people-watching and one half emotion.  She cites that feelings are her greatest inspirations when it comes to creating. Translating abstract emotion into a physical representation of particular sentiment is the true artistry that Laila performs. 

“I like to imagine how this person would be seen walking around the city.”

Blending a casual biker aesthetic with the femininity of the fifties, Laila defines BAD DNA as a brand for people to show their true selves.  It has a sexy charm that emboldens its wearer to be unafraid. The BAD DNA woman knows who she is, and she has no qualms about making her desires known.

As Laila prepares her summer collection for BAD DNA, one eagerly awaits the manifestation of emotion that she will convey on the runway this autumn. 

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