Since Toronto-based designer Andrea Watley is known for creating tennis whites, crafting a frock out of bathroom tissue almost seems like second nature. The local ladies’ athletic wear designer is passionate about the sport, which led to the creation of her label AGame. Watley focuses on her tennis-playing clientele, who need to be stylishly attired as they rule the courts.
At last week’s White Cashmere 2016 Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Watley unveiled a pleated dress made of tissue. Real Style caught up with the sporty yet chic Canadian designer about her “Vogue Tennis” design aesthetic and her love of athleisure pieces.
Real Style: What was your inspiration behind your White Cashmere design?
Andrea: My brand is AGame Tennis, and it’s about playing hard. I went to strong women, Jackie O, Lady Gaga, Princess Diana and Cinderella. I kind of took it from there, and came up with something I call “Vogue Tennis.” A number of different designs are what I decided on. I thought it was strong, and it also had movement, so it was sporty and unique.
Real Style: How did you create tennis inspired pieces out of bathroom tissue?
Andrea: It wasn’t easy! I tried to find something that would provide some kind of angle for the body. I wanted to do one piece. I make and sell a lot of dresses, so I felt a dress rather than a two-piece would work more to show some luxury and movement. I felt pleating was different. A lot of skirts were pleated, and also a pleated dress that had some angles to it.
Real Style: What are some of your favourite fabrics to work with and why?
Andrea: I work with athletic fabrics- athleisure. The compression is a really important factor and provides a complementary silhouette. You can control how much compression, how little, and the wash and rip factor. It’s an interesting fabric. There’s a lot of crossover, day, night sleepwear, all the sorts of styles today have this kind of spandex Lycra cottony feel. It’s a lifestyle fabric.
Real Style: How do you feel about the athleisure trend that is currently taking over the runway?
Andrea: I think it makes a lot of sense for how we live today, whether pants or dresses. I also think different sizing, which is something that you have to live with, as a designer. Body shape is very complementary, and I think that makes it more universal.
Real Style: In your opinion, what does great style mean?
Andrea: Simple style is great style. My beginnings are always with the A-line, and take it from there.
Photo 1: Andrea Watley
Photo 2: Caitlin Cronenberg