I discovered AGZ Designs last fall during World MasterCard Fashion Week during the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s Press and Buyer’s brunch. Using her impeccable craftmanship and detailed understanding of leather goods, Agata Pieniek founded AGZ Designs in September 2015 b after winning the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s Fashion Your Future program competition. AGZ Designs features a collection of handmade leather sunglass cases that have a multifunctional purpose. The hallmark of the brand’s aesthetic is linearity and simplicity of its designs.
1. What sparked you to begin a career in the fashion industry?
I wanted a change. At the time I was working as an urban planner, in a very man-oriented environment, and I felt like there was not enough room for creativity and self fulfillment. Fashion has always been an interest of mine and the idea of designing fashion accessories had been sitting in the back of my head for some time. I just needed an extra push to make things happen. Getting involved with the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) Fashion Your Future program for aspiring designers was the perfect opportunity!
2. What was it about fashion design that intrigued you the most?
I find it very empowering to be able to design a product that reflects my own vision and taste. Aesthetically, my brand AGZ Designs is all about linearity and simplicity with a practical aspect. For my first collection I decided to design multifunctional leather sunglass cases. Indeed, with the added option of cross body or wrist straps, they can be worn as little handbags. Some of the sunglass cases even have pockets in the back for holding credit cards/ID and a cell phone.
3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
For the MIRAGE Spring/Summer 2016 collection I got inspired by the Californian lifestyle, architecture and fashion from the 1970s. The collection revisits leather sunglass cases in a refreshing way and tells the story of living in the warm weather of the Californian desert. The 3 different lines have their own particularity; for instance, the “Blazin'” line is reminiscent of the stripes of old racing cars.
4. Is there a fashion designer that you admire the most?
The very talented Canadian menswear and luxury fur designer Farley Chatto with whom I had the opportunity to work with. He is an amazing mentor and is very knowledgeable about the fashion industry. He also knows how to push you to your limits. I really enjoyed working with him!
5. What has been your biggest achievement/obstacle so far in your career?
I feel like there is constantly a new challenge haha. Maybe it is because I am new to the field; one thing that I found difficult in designing my sunglass cases was focusing too much on what I initially envisioned the finished product to look like rather than allowing the creative process to evolve.
My biggest achievement was been chosen as one of the top three finalists of TFI’s Fashion Your Future program despite not having previous experience as a designer. It was also great being able to attend and launch my MIRAGE Spring/Summer 2016 collection at the World MasterCard Fashion Week this past fall.
6. Any advice for aspiring #CREATORS?
Being an emerging creator is not easy – there is the creative side of it but if you want to do it as a living, it is business. And I am still figuring out how to make it work, but if you are fortunate enough to choose your career, you should do what you are passionate about and what makes you happy. Believe in yourself and in your project, and persevere!