Arts

U of O fashion club wants to bring style back to the capital

Photo by Suzannah Vo

Anita-Hosanna Kangabe wants to give Ottawa’s fashion scene a much-needed boost, and that means getting people to think creatively early.

The third-year political science student and style maven created a new fashion club on campus to rejuvenate the city’s style scene. With the help of eight other executive members, Kangabe started the University of Ottawa’s first fashion club called Fashion by U Ottawa. The club aims to bring fashion awareness to campus and give students the resources they need to follow their fashion dreams.

Kangabe initially dreamed of a modeling career, but the overcritical and competitive aspect of the business was a turnoff. Instead, she redirected her focus toward the artistic and creative side.

“I love everything fashion. It stemmed from modeling, and then it became a passion for creativity and style,” she says. “Coming from Vancouver, I’ve always been surrounded by fashion and I see that potential in Ottawa.”

Kangabe says the club has seen a sizable turnout so far, and she’s not surprised. ”My friends and I have always been interested in fashion and I was sure there are many others like us, but no one was taking the initiative, so I decided that I would.”

Club vice-president Mariam Sarr says she hopes the club will “inspire people in a way that they won’t be afraid of showcasing their individuality.” The club is focused on inclusivity, giving attention to personal style rather than designer labels.

“By putting our fellow students in the spotlight, we also want to show that anybody could be featured, and have more than a uni-dimensional relation with them,” says Sarr.

Grace Odumo, editor-in-chief of the Ottawa fashion blog 613 Style, says a campus club will be great—as long as it provides opportunities, such as networking and potential jobs.

“University life is full of stress, so it’s important to stick to extra-curriculars that provide a good return,” she says.

Sustainable fashion and the promotion of eco-friendly clothing and makeup will be an integral part of the group’s mission and values, say its members.

The club plans to hold a number of charity events and eco-friendly clothing swaps on campus. Fashion by U Ottawa will host its first makeup tutorial workshop Oct. 28 and a clothing swap and donation event Nov. 13–14. The club will also participate in the Ottawa Vintage Show on Nov. 1.

Kangabe also hopes to expand over the next few years and, if all goes well, be the one to bring back Ottawa Fashion Week, which ended its seven-year run earlier this year.

It’s all very exciting and ambitious, but she isn’t without her worries.

“My biggest challenge has been taking on a leadership role. It is definitely a work in progress and I’m learning to become more assertive,” Kangabe says. “We know that the interest is there. What is most difficult is getting people actively involved.”