When you’re booked with Stevie Crowne, you show up.
The artist, designer, and wildchild about town has had the year he always dreamed of. After about five years of all-nighters and a fully-booked schedule, 2016 saw Crowne drop his final day job. The 22-year-old from Saskatoon is now a full time designer, crafting custom jackets, denim, leather, and accessories for clients across Toronto.
“I make it sound easy but it’s not,” Crowne said. “It took me everything I had.”
Crowne is one of the most inspiring and artistic young voices we’ve come across in Canadian fashion. His work ethic — he will “stitch your lips shut” if you distract him while he’s sewing — and unique vision make his line unlike anything we’ve seen before. And now, he’s opening up his designs for all to shop at his flash sale THIS SATURDAY Dec. 3 at 580 King Street in Toronto, from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Us witches first met Crowne at Vancouver Fashion Week in the spring of 2015. It’s not easy to stand out at fashion week, but Crowne certainly did. We photographed him from a distance and went on our way. This year, a twist of fate brought our two worlds back together. Crowne had picked up everything to move to Toronto, we learned when we ran into him at an eco fashion event for Value Village.
“I turned into who I always wanted to be,” Crowne said.
Crowne first started creating bold, eye-popping designs out of old denim and leather when he was about 14-years-old. He knew he wanted to grab people’s attention, so one of his early trademarks was sewing large, upside down crosses onto toques, jackets, and t-shirts. That didn’t please some of the practicing Christians in his family.
But one open mind inspired Crowne to keep creating. His aging grandfather told him, “Stevie, your designs make me question everything I’ve ever believed in,” he said. “Keep doing it.”
So Crowne continued, eventually moving to Vancouver to spend a semester at one of the city’s most famous fashion schools, the Blanche Macdonald Centre.
Crowne truly “started from the bottom,” in Vancouver, he said, and then fell back there again when he moved to Toronto. “Despite going to fashion school, I had to learn 95 per cent of it myself.”
His personal struggle has seen him through cities, bad relationships, precarious work situations — but his passion for design has never waned.
“There are no regrets in life,” Crowne said. This year, it was actually losing his job that sparked him to work full-time on his own line.
“I knew I had to be entrepreneurial somehow, make a game plan.” He messaged everyone he’d worked with in the past to ask if they wanted a new custom jacket. “It doesn’t hurt to ask,” he said casually. It worked. The effort he’d put in for years finally paid off. His success snowballed, and he took on more and more projects.
Crowne’s apartment/fashion studio now overflows with leather and denim, and his hand painted patches line every wall and surface. He hopes to empty those racks at the pop-up this weekend, to make some empty space that his mind can once again fill. To browse through Crowne’s clothing is to go inside his head: youthful with a tinge of hopelessness; fun but at the same time, dark. Crowne’s clothes are a beautiful, intense reflection of what it is to be young in 2016.
Despite his long and sometimes tragic struggle, Crowne has learned to stay completely true to who he is. This year he attended Toronto’s Pride Parade, the first time he’s ever done so as an “all-out fag,” he said. Sadly, the event coincided with a horrific hate attack in Orlando that saw 49 people killed for the crime of dancing at a gay club.
Crowne’s reaction? He made a custom patch for himself that read “FAG” and wore it to Pride.
He thought, “I’m gonna dress like the biggest fag I know. If you have a gun, shoot me.”
That fearlessness and unwavering pride in who he is best encapsulates Crowne and his work.
“I’m taking the words that were used to destroy me and instead use them to empower me,” he said. “I’m gonna do what I do regardless of what anyone says or the events in the world, because I believe that it’s right.”
Visit the Stevie Crowne Flash Sale THIS SATURDAY, Dec. 3, in Toronto at 580 King Street from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m.