We are headed up to Toronto today to bring you a fun and leather infused Studio Tour with Rosa Halpern of By The Namesake. Each piece that comes out of this studio is customizable and meticulously crafted. Read on for more!
Can you tell us a bit about your background and where the inspiration for By The Namesake came from?
I launched By The Namesake in 2016 with the goal to create a new outlook on the luxury leather industry. It was a trade I didn’t intend to pursue but fate and demand brought me to where I am today. After college, I was approached by a friend who had asked me to create a bespoke leather jacket as she could not find one that fit her properly. It was the first time I made a leather jacket, and the next thing I knew, I had a waitlist of people ?who wanted their own custom leather. It was then that I recognized a space in the market for high-quality leather jackets that could be completely customized to individual style and body type. An untapped niche… and so By The Namesake was born. My mission from day one has been to create clothing that is empowering and inclusive using carefully sourced sustainable material, produced in a mindful and ethical manner.
Named after two influential women myself, Rosa Parks and Rosa Luxemburg, I wanted each design to be inspired and named after women (and men) who were game changers and noise makers. I set out to create an atelier that focuses on versatility, durability and craftsmanship fueled by the rich history of the iconic leather jacket and the spirit of historical female and male visionaries who paved the way for today’s generation. Due to the custom nature of our product, no two designs are alike – just like our customers, each of whom are unique!
Can you talk a bit about the materials and process that goes into each By The Namesake piece?
Every single By The Namesake jacket is made to order and is handmade in our Toronto studio by myself and my team of talented artisans. We pay close attention to every single detail with each individual client’s personal style and body type in mind to execute a custom creation that is designed and fit to perfection. We aim for each garment to be made of the highest quality while minimizing impact and waste by using direct by-products of the food industry that follow particular production guidelines where the materials are processed and tanned in countries with strict environmental and labor laws. Any waste is then used to make small leather goods. As a natural material, leather will eventually biodegrade and become one with the earth again.
In addition to our home base in Toronto, we host traveling pop ups in the US (pre-covid!) and offer two virtual customization processes – a seamless online process (for jackets and pants) and a more in-depth alternative through our Try-At-Home kit. The Try-At-Home kit offers an intimate atelier experience in the comfort of your own living room where clients receive a package including sample jackets, material booklets, measuring supplies and a virtual consultation with me. The bespoke experience is a great way to get creative and even incorporate personal touches for each client — for example we’ve turned a fur collar from a jacket passed down to generations into a detachable accent on a custom leather jacket, a hood from a favorite sweater has been added to a custom leather bomber, a silk scarf for the lining of a leather jacket, and more.
What do you hope is the future of the fashion industry?
Long live the traditional in-person shopping experience! With the impact COVID has had on the fashion industry, there has been a major digital shift putting a burden on all physical retail locations where brands have to lean on online platforms and outlets. Although it is convenient for everything to be accessible at your fingertips, there is no better feeling, in my opinion, than sharing an intimate moment with the garment you are considering investing in and being able to fully experience a brand. I am a firm believer of investing in a staple wardrobe of quality items that can last a lifetime where each individual garment holds meaning, but it is hard to experience this through a computer or phone. It is similar to when people ask if you prefer to read on a Kindle or if you like to hold the physical book — the physical touch of a book provides a different type of moment and connection to the story that one will cherish. This is the exact reason why I decided to move forward in opening our new Namesake Studio space during the pandemic.
What is your relationship with your studio? Do you frequent it often? Was there a particular vibe you wanted when setting it up?
Namesake Studio is an interactive space that functions as a showroom, production facility, photography studio, event, and retail space providing a haven for our team and offering a dynamic space for clients and fellow creatives.
I was lucky to work with Ryan Gibson, my fiancé and owner of Against The Grain Remodelling, along with the talented Ali Budd, owner of Ali Budd Interiors, to transform what was once an industrial shipping warehouse into a leather wonderland. With our customized over-the-top decor (including a two-story cowhide runner and leather-wrapped bar tops and benches) the space is meant to inspire visitors to imagine the endless possibilities of custom leather. The vision for our new home base propelled us to create an extension of the By The Namesake rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle — we filled the space with an ever-evolving market approach, consigning from local businesses and artisans, along with items made in-house that would complement our leather jackets and pants like our new line of silk basics, jewelry and homeware. I am a home grown designer that takes pride in her community and sharing the experience of her brand beyond the items themselves.
The team is made up of myself and four hard working women that I am proud to work alongside every single day. The studio is open seven days a week, where we host private appointments on the second level and run our newly implemented curbside pick-up.
Your most treasured leather jacket and why?
The first leather jacket I ever made would have to be my ultimate favorite. It’s living proof that leather only gets better with time. We get so many inquiries about rain damage, wrinkles, and scratches but we truly believe that the beauty of a good leather jacket is that it only gets better with time and with wear. As the jacket is worn in, stretched to fit, and scarred from adventure it only becomes cooler.
I also have a habit of saying this one is my “favorite one yet” every time we develop a new style. Right now, that would be the launch of our first leather blazer, The Kamala. The Kamala, named after US Vice-President elect Kamala Harris, represents a fierce elegance and fashion forward take on a traditional blazer that she is known for impeccably wearing. A leather blazer has been highly requested by our clients and is one of our most refined and powerful silhouettes yet named after a modern day muse.