Fashion designer Tanya Theberge’s email inbox has been blowing up ever since Drake received a well-publicized $747,000 diamond-studded jacket from the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
The born-and-raised Calgarian, who now lives in Toronto, spent 30 hours embroidering diamonds onto the jacket. Three months ago, she received a call from Michael Nguyen, the owner of tailor Garrison Bespoke.
She got to work immediately.
The main challenge was that diamonds aren’t flat, so they can’t just be sewn onto fabric.
Theberge worked with a jeweler in California, who 3D-printed and custom-made every single setting so she could embroider them.
Theberge embroidered a large October’s Very Own (OVO) logo in diamonds onto the outside of the jacket, and a smaller version of the logo onto the inside, along with a Raptors logo. OVO is Drake’s personal brand, represented by a cartoon owl.
In all, 235 diamonds were used.
Since the rapper and Raptors global ambassador received his gift, Theberge said her sales have gone up, “and I’ve gotten a lot more inquiries.”
“One of the things I’m hoping with the Drake jacket is it opens me up to another market, like a luxury market,” she said.
It’s not the first time Theberge has worked on pieces for celebrities. The list includes Max Kerman, the frontman for Juno-award-winning band Arkells. She made him a jean jacket with a woman wearing sunglasses embroidered on the back and the word “love.”
Roots in Calgary
The road to haute couture wasn’t a straight one for Theberge, who first got into fashion in 2008 when she was a pre-med student in Calgary. She created a line of bikinis for pageants, called Theberge Bikini.
“I was really, really green,” Theberge said. “I feel like ignorance was bliss, because if I knew any more I wouldn’t have started a business during the recession.”
In 2012, she moved to Toronto to further pursue her fashion career. Theberge studied at George Brown College, and for a summer in Paris. But it wasn’t it until 2016 when she discovered her biggest passion.
Rethinking the fashion industry
“The damages and the impact of the fashion industry on the environment has really started to show itself in the forefront of my work,” the 41-year-old said. “Now that the knowledge is there, I can’t run my business and live my life without addressing it.
“It’s conflicting to be so passionate about something but also find it frivolous.”
To combat the environmental waste and worker exploitation she observed in the fashion industry, Theberge re-imaged the chain of production for her work.
One of her current lines is a series of jackets mostly made out of recycled water bottles from Haiti.
“I went to Haiti a couple years ago to meet everybody involved in the production chain so I could see first-hand how it affects everybody involved,” she said. “When you source things online you can’t take everybody’s word for it. I just don’t believe it. I want to see it myself.”
The lining for her jackets are made from hemp silk, and the buttons are made from bullet casings and landmines from Cambodia.
Theberge does her own embroidery in-studio, then travels by bicycle to her manufacturer who puts all the components together. Then, she mails them out to her customers on an order-by-order basis.
“If the process of production is positive along every step of the way, I believe the user will feel that energy,” she said. “It costs more, but I think it’s worth it.”