Calgary Fashion Designer Paige Callaway
Calgary fashion designer Paige Callaway has taken inspiration from her and her families storied history in rodeo and has launched a new high fashion western brand, Paige 1912.
Photo caption: Calgary fashion designer, Paige Callaway.
Q: What’s your design/style philosophy?
PC: Function is key. I like to wear clothes I can get stuff done in, whether it be at my desk, or sewing or out and about moving. Ill-fitting clothing frustrates me and it’s so unnecessary now that I grasp the concept of constructing functional garments. That’s my biggest mandate in design; function.
When clothing properly fits, it gives us an extra boost of confidence. Imagine if you had that going into a meeting, or in the case of many of my clients, into an arena to compete on horseback. I was very fortunate to gain an education in garment construction and that knowledge has driven this mission of functionality and confidence.
Q: You and your family have such a storied history in rodeo. How do you incorporate this into your designs?
A: My great grandpa was one of the first people to settle in Bragg Creek, Alberta and he also competed in the first Calgary Stampede in 1912. Learning about him and about the first Stampede is probably what started this love for the Wild West as a kid. My uncles and my mom also rodeoed and I got into the sport after sampling numerous equestrian disciplines. I think I was 12 or so when I started rodeoing and not much longer I also started trick riding. That has been one of the greatest choices I made and has enabled me to travel across North American performing as a trick rider and competing at rodeos. Traveling has definitely played a crucial role in the inspiration for this line, along with the motivation to create functional shirts that transition from rodeo to streetwear.
Photo Caption: ‘Wild Rag’ silk scarf and ‘The Calgary’ shirt from Paige 1912.
Q: Describe the Paige 1912 line.
A: The line is a methodical union of Wild West bravery and rugged beauty with the proper finished tailored look of London fashion – Wild West meets high fashion. The clothing takes inspiration from my involvement in rodeo and trick riding and combines it with my education as a couturier and love for high fashion.
The line is composed of 6 new styles of western high fashion shirts and a vest. Along with the shirts are some different accessories and the Paige 1912 hats from my collaboration with Smithbilt Hat, an iconic Calgary-based cowboy hat maker known all over the world for their “White Hat”.
The Paige 1912 brand name comes from the year of first Calgary Stampede – 1912 – which my Great Grandpa competed in. In fact, each shirt styles in the line are named after the big rodeos in 1912; Pendleton, Cheyenne, Salinas and of course Calgary. The other two shirts styles are named London and Paris, after influential cities in the high fashion world in those days. Interestingly, 1912 was also the year Coco Chanel opened her first shop in Paris. If you’re not familiar, Coco did a lot for woman and fashion in terms of functionality. She was a trail blazer in her own right, who also enjoyed horses.
Photo Caption: ‘The Salinas’ shirt from Paige 1912.
Q: You recently hosted ‘1912 – The Wild West Fashion Show’ in Calgary to launch Paige 1912. Tell us about that experience.
A: It was the first fashion show I have done that was exclusively my designs, which made it special to me. It also allowed me the creative space to really draw on what the brand represents and create a Wild West high fashion experience.
The fashion show included special features like trick ropers and live music by a cowboy/singer-song writer. Everything from the details of food served to the hair styles of the models and the unique features helped express the brand and style of clothes in the context of the western culture of Calgary.
Photo Caption: Models, performers and Paige Callaway (middle) at the ‘1912 – The Wild West Fashion Show’ hosted at Hotel Arts in Calgary on August 11, 2017.
Q: What do you think is unique about Calgary culture and how does it inspire your designs?
A: Calgary has a rich history in the west, from the old ranches and cattle buyers that founded the agriculture industry, to the rodeo and the Calgary Stampede. The really neat thing is that whether you’re personally connected to the western world or not, as a Calgarian you automatically are. Having been to nearly all the major rodeos in the US, I can say, few cities get as involved as Calgary. It seems the whole city shuts down to go to the pancake breakfasts and take in the Stampede experience. I think that’s pretty awesome.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge/opportunity about being an independent fashion designer in Calgary/Canada?
A: One of the biggest benefits of being an independent designer in Calgary is the support for local businesses. Alberta – and Calgary in particular – has a very entrepreneurial spirit and supporting local and made local businesses is important to people here. Paige 1912 is proudly manufactured in Calgary.
The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is that there is a lot to learn as you navigate your way through. The options for the production to market process are endless and when you’re new to the game it can be overwhelming. So can the potential and ideas. It is easy to be distracted by so many options and ideas both in business choices and in brand direction.
Canada’s western fashion industry isn’t as large as it is in the states, especially the southern states. Which can seem like a down fall when it comes the company growth. Though it can seem like a slow moving wheel, it is also a great opportunity to be one of the only western fashion designers in Canada focusing specifically on design and functionality.
Q: Being a Calgary fasion Designer who is your customer?
A: Initially, my customer was more specific; ladies who rode performance horses. However, that has expanded quite a bit and the brand is enjoyed by everyone from a mature urban clientele to young equestrians, and everything in between. The urban-based or rural-based fashionistas are the bulk of the demographic. I am confident that is the starting point for the Paige 1912 line and it will be interesting how or if that diversifies.
Q: What’s next for Paige / Paige 1912?
A: The next step for Paige 1912 is to sell this line into shops. There is quite a bit of interest already and once I iron out some details, I will be focused on getting orders and reaching more retail outlets. I am hoping to go to a buyers market in Dallas, TX this fall.
For me, personally, I am focusing my fall on balance and scheduling my work. The past few years have been flat out and busy. At this stage in business, there is enough processes and structure in the company that I can set more solidified work hours and make time for my horses and boyfriend. The hard work, stress and even tears (which I can attest too), are all so worth it when I see my designs on the runway, or seeing people wear these products. I am very grateful to be able to do what I love and making a living at it.
To learn more about Calgary fashion designer Paige or to shop the line, visit: