With a mother who’s a seamstress, it seems almost predestined for fashion to be in her blood, but Toronto designer Mani Jassal initially didn’t see herself in her current field. When deciding where to study for university, she actually considered engineering over fashion design.
“I actually really liked physics, science and calculus,” she shared over the phone as we chatted about her career path so far. “I was really good at it, so I thought, ‘Let me just go in that direction’.”
Jassal would carry around a sketchbook as a child, and thought about fashion design as a dream career, but was torn between choosing passion over practicality. In the end, she decided to apply to both programs and let fate decide her career path.
When she was accepted to both engineering and fashion programs, Jassal decided to take a leap of faith by enrolling in Ryerson University’s Fashion Design program.
“It’s like following your happiness, following your heart,” Jassal said. “It sounds so cheesy but literally that’s what it was.”
Since graduation, Jassal has launched her own fashion label, opened a pop-up boutique in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood, and has her sights set on growing her brand of chic wardrobe separates that cross the divide between Eastern and Western attire.
Each collection within the Mani Jassal brand is filled with gorgeous pieces that provide options for women who wish to dress in comfort and modernity, while still maintaining their rich cultural identities. Each hand-made piece takes inspiration from Jassal’s Indian heritage, but adapts them for today’s working woman.
Famous faces like Hannah Simone, Bebe Rexha and Rupi Kaur have all worn Jassal’s creations, which have been in part influenced by some of her favourite designers. Jassal named Coco Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Karl Lagerfeld as her biggest influences, and has taken their boundary-pushing spirit to heart.
“Coco Chanel really paved the way for women in design,” Jassal shared. “I love Alexander McQueen because he was such a rebel. And [Karl Lagerfeld] was designing for four labels at the same time while also being a photographer. He was just such a go-getter and that’s a real inspiration for me as well.”
It’s easy to find traces of Jassal’s biggest inspirations in her own designs which feature plunging necklines and thigh high slits despite often conservative cultural expectations of Indian women. Her rebellious attitude comes across through her expressive designs that are meant to flatter and inspire confidence in every woman who wears them.
Looking to the future, Jassal is focused on securing a new permanent location to house both her atelier and her sales floor, while she also juggles planning an upcoming wedding in the new year.
Both her new collection and her recent engagement party were Tulum themed in honour of the location where Jassal’s fiancé proposed. The celebration also served as the perfect opportunity to showcase her new designs on family and friends, as strong and beautiful women in a real-life setting.
When asked what’s next for the Canadian designer, Jassal replied, “The dream plan or the five-year plan is to basically become a global brand and keep doing what I’m doing but also branch out. But baby steps, you know? Baby steps.”
Ready to find out what Mani Jassal keeps on hand at all times? See the designer’s everyday essentials below.
“The bag that I have is my Matt & Nat backpack. I have my MacBook in there, always.”
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“I have my agenda, I have a bunch of USB’s and hard drives, my wallet. It’s all work stuff honestly. That’s how my life just works. There’s nothing fun!”
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“I have bandaids in my backpack just in case. I am one of those people that has the most random things in my bag. Like if you need scissors, I got you. If you need tape, I may have tape in there.”
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“When I’m going out I have my Gucci bag that I put my wallet and a lip gloss.”
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“Right now I’m obsessed with the Charlotte Tilbury Bond Girl Lipstick. It’s one of my go-to’s. I love how natural it looks.”
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