Posted on July 13, 2022

VCC Fashion and CHIWARA Sportswear build inter-cultural fashion careers

VCC Fashion grad Jaya Growl and CHIWARA Sportswear logo

For many students in Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) Fashion Design and Production program, their final 120-hour industry practicum is a major highlight. As recent grad Jaya Grewal learned, these hands-on work experiences with local companies also serve as critical steps to launching careers in Vancouver’s fashion industry.

Jaya came to VCC as an international student with previous fashion design experience in India, and it was her inter-cultural perspective that stood out to local start-up company CHIWARA Sportswear.

“The partnership worked because of who Jaya is – she brought maturity, humility, and an openness to learning along with practical skills and knowledge in fashion design,” says CHIWARA Chief Product and Sustainability Officer Glencora Twigg.

Founded in 2021 by Malian-Canadian entrepreneur Oumar Barou Togola, CHIWARA Sportswear is working to develop a premium clothing line that embodies traditional Malian dyes and patterns while promoting Black excellence and reframing the African narrative around the world.

Working as a design assistant during this critical pre-launch period for CHIWARA, Jaya’s tasks ranged from attending fit sessions and conducting trend research to creating 20+ technical/specification packages. “In a start-up, there is an endless amount of work that needs to be done. From the start, Jaya demonstrated a willingness to jump in,” says Glencora.  

“My work placement gave me deep insight into the many details and decisions that go into creating a new design. By attending team meetings, I also got to see the business side and learn more about how CHIWARA was committed to incorporating African culture in their clothing line,” says Jaya.

Overall, Jaya says she appreciated the support, feedback, and mentorship she received during her practicum. After graduating in Spring 2022, Jaya is thankful for this real-world exposure to the design process that she received at CHIWARA and is excited to continue growing her skills and experience in the Canadian fashion industry.  

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Learn how you can bring your creative vision to life at VCC by attending our next Fashion Design and Production info session.