Heading down the runway, one stitch at a time

Surrey’s got style with Sofia Gobbato’s designs

As a teenager the unnecessary zippers and buttons that Sofia Gobbato would stitch to her clothing was no indication that a career in fashion lay in wait.

“It looked pretty ridiculous,” said the now 22 year old, who didn’t even have the benefit of home economics classes at her high school.

But these days the budding entrepreneur is making waves on the local fashion scene.

Not only have she and long time friend Samantha Anderson been busy putting on shows at local venues, but they’ve also been working hard to establish their new business, Velvet Hanger Vintage.

The online store featuring vintage and hand made garments is set to launch in January. Gobbato will take care of the production end of things and Anderson, who graduated in October with a diploma in project management, will have a greater role in running the business.

Sofia Gobbato
(Sofia Gobbato. Photo by Bronwyn Scott)

“Sam and I went to Fraser Valley Christian High School, we both dressed like maniacs so it seems only fitting that we be starting our own fashion business,” she said.

Already they’re finding success and relishing in the realization of their dreams.

On Nov. 24 they had a successful fashion show at the Biltmore Cabaret’s Burlesque Bazaar.

“We had so many people asking, ‘So, where’s your shop?’ And we’re like, ‘You think we have a shop?’” Gobbato said, smiling at their unexpected reception.

Their most recent show, on Dec. 6, was at the Newton Fellowship Church’s annual Ladies’ Christmas Tea where they showcased eight looks that dated from the 1820’s to the 1990’s for an audience of about 130 people.

1980's Sequin Jumpsuit
(1980’s Sequin Jumpsuit)

1950's Inspired Rockabilly Dress
(1950’s Inspired Rockabilly Dress)

1940's Inspired Tea Time Dress
(1940’s Inspired Tea Time Dress)

Handmade 1820's Inspired Ensemble
(Handmade 1820’s Inspired Ensemble)

They’ve come a long way. When Gobbato enrolled in the fashion arts program at Vancouver Community College, she was completely fresh.

“Zero experience in fashion design, or the world of fashion at all,” is how she puts it.

But two years later and Gobbato can do everything from illustrations to pattern making and the construction of garments, and her repertoire of influence spans the ages.

Her impressive graduate collection of historically inspired costume lingerie won her the 2013 Gabriel Levy Scholarship, which she received in November.

“I had this whole big idea. I had the music that I wanted to do, I had the hair and the accessories . . . I had a really concrete idea of what I wanted,” said Gobbato.

Gabriel Levy, who died in the 90s, was a renowned Canadian designer who worked for Eaton’s, The Bay, Surrey Classics and Neto Leather, and was fashion editor for Vancouver Magazine.

“There are a lot of parallels between him and I, both being dreamers and having ideas that people might not see eye to eye with,” said Gobbato.

She attributes winning the award to the passion she has for her work.

“When I have an idea or I have an inspiration, I become very much consumed with it to the point of obsession, almost,” she said.

While putting on shows and getting ready to launch their business, on the side Gobbato is busy taking custom bridal orders, photographing models in her designs and making outfits for Flora Pigeau Dance Academy.

“My grad collection was corsets and bustle skirts, that whole field, and now I’m in the stretchy, kind of obnoxious, sparkly section of the fabric store, which is a lot of fun, but it’s just very, very different.”

Gobbato and Anderson plan to be at Vancouver’s Eastside Flea frequently throughout the new year. In January their online store will launch, and Velvet Hanger Vintage merchandise will also be available at velvethangervintage.etsy.com.

(Fashion photos by Sandra Minarik Photography)



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