New York may be one of the fashion capitals of the world, but Raif Adelberg prefers Bowen Island, thank you very much. The designer’s home base in Howe Sound, British Columbia (for a little perspective: Bowen Island is comparable in size to Manhattan, at about 20 square miles, but with a population of just 3,402), is a key source of inspiration behind his new women’s collection, which takes classic knits up a notch with lush cashmere and bright tie-dyed hues.
We checked in with Adelberg to find out more about his fashion philosophy, his unconventional style icons, and his island.
Tell me a little bit about your background. Why did you decide to get into fashion?
I grew up in a world immersed with fashion. My father was in the garment industry and very successful in the business; my mother was into interior design as well as an art collector.
How does your location influence your work? Why stay in Canada rather than diving into the middle of the fashion world in NYC?
Where I live and work influences me every day, from the textures to the color palette. Living on Bowen Island gives me the balance I need in my life—I love the energy of New York, but I just love the tranquility of the island. It allows me to have the quality of life and enables me to create from a very pure source.
What inspires you and how does this translate into your work?
Inspiration comes to me from everything expected and unexpected. Progression, time moving forward—that inspires me. History and lineage is very inspiring also.
Who is the Raif woman?
The Raif woman is sophisticated yet a bit rough around the edges, with style and grace.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
‘Designer’ is just a title—my vision is what drives me, and the designing just comes naturally. It really is an extension of myself.
Who’s your personal style icon?
The icons I look at come from cultures, whether they are Haida Indians or Tibetan Nomads—I love the history and style. I feel fashion is just another accessory for someone who has great style. It’s really how you put it all together.
Who do you admire in the fashion industry?
I just love everything about the fashion industry, good and bad. I admire the individuals who are willing to put themselves out there and just willing to try and take risks. Fashion is a beautiful art form; it creates masses and individuals. For those who seek attention, [or] for those who don’t want any attention—the ones that want to disappear amongst the masses—it allows us to express to the rest of the world a little bit about who we are with out saying a single word. [It’s a] silent presence.
Main photo by Andre Pinces.