Q&A: Designers Chloe and Parris Gordon of Beaufille on making this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list
It’s been a massive year for Chloe and Parris Gordon, the twenty-something siblings behind the Toronto-based fashion label Beaufille, beginning with their rave-receiving New York Fashion Week debut last February and most recently including a spot on Forbes’s annual 30 Under 30 list. Toronto Life spoke with the sartorial sister act about the importance of business chops, Canada’s fashion hot streak and what they’d say if Team Trump came calling.
Congrats on the Forbes’ 30 under 30 honour. How did you find out you made the list?
Chloe: We received an email saying that we had been nominated, and that they wanted more information. We had to fill out a very lengthy survey mostly about business and being entrepreneurs. We submitted that thinking this was not something we would make the cut for. When we found out we had, we were shocked and honoured. We’re creative people and we still feel so new in the business world.
Is one of you the more business-minded?
Parris: I think we’re both creative people who have learned business through doing it. Our mom is an artist and our father is a businessman, and the combination of those things has definitely fueled what we do. We also work with a business partner who runs that side of things and who we’re very fortunate to have.
You have been designing together for years, but had your big break came last year following your NYFW debut. Is the takeaway that Canadian designers really need to show in the states to play in the big leagues?
PG: It all depends on what your goals are. Chloe and I, even back in school, have wanted to be a part of mainstream fashion and to be a part of the conversation that’s going on with all the big houses and big designers. I think if your goal is to be an internationally recognized brand with sustainability and longevity, you do have to bring your product to other markets. There’s no industry in Canada for that. There’s not the same history. But then you have a brand like Canada Goose that is internationally known, and wouldn’t need to be doing NYFW. It really depends.
In 2016, New York Times called Canada “the hot new name in fashion.” Is that something you can feel?
CG: Anything in the arts in Canada has been attracting a lot of attention—you do get a sense that we’re onto something. Sophie Trudeau wearing Canadian designers is amazing and that’s exactly what she should be doing to bring attention to the many talented people in this country. She wore one of our handmade fabrics (on the cover of Chatelaine), which was really cool. She looked amazing.
“Beaufille is “handsome girl” in French. Is there a message in the name of your brand?
CG: I wouldn’t say it’s a message as much as a description of what we do. Handsome girl is not the usual way you describe a woman. Usually you hear “pretty” or “beautiful”. We want to create a conversation about how [the Beaufille woman] is not an average woman.
There has been a lot of discussion around the relationship between politics and fashion recently. Are you surprised by how many designers have allegedly turned down the chance to dress Melania Trump?
PG: I’m a bit surprised that people are taking that strong of a stance, but I guess Americans don’t relate to the leadership that has been elected. People really loved the Obamas, and it was an honour to dress Michelle. I think it just shows how divided the country is and how people dislike the Trumps to the point that they don’t want their brand to be associated with them.
CG: I do feel a bit badly for her. I mean, it’s not really a reflection of her, but of her husband. I feel like, in that sense, people have been a bit harsh.
And if Melania were interested in Beaufille, what would you say?
CG: If she wanted to borrow a piece from the collection, like other celebrities have done, I think we would welcome that. But I don’t think we would go as far as making a custom gown.
PG: In terms of celebrities and influencers, we want to make sure that the people seen in our clothing are representative of the brand. There are people that we turn down. When you think of the translation of Beaufille, which is “handsome girl,” I don’t think Melania Trump is what comes to mind.