We Love Buying Local - Meet Quebec designer Iris Setlakwe

Iris Setlakwe founded her eponymous brand in 2001 in Montreal. The designer had only one goal in mind: to create high-quality, feminine clothing, tailored to the figure of the modern woman, while supporting the local workforce. Mission accomplished; 20 years later, she proudly produces 95% of her collections in Montreal. Since the Iris Setlakwe brand is continuously evolving, they now offer two divisions: i by Iris and Iris Setlakwe Home. 

Iris Setlakwe is a family affair as the designer proudly works with her partner Patrick Forte and her daughter Estelle. Meet a passionate woman who knew how to achieve her dream: producing her collections locally.

Can you describe Iris Setlakwe in a few words?

The Iris Setlakwe brand was created in 2001 to simplify the wardrobe of the business woman, by offering her items made of exclusive and comfortable material. We offer timeless styles that benefit every woman's figure and respect her physique.

How was the Iris Setlakwe brand born?

Back in the day, the entire planet was geared towards fast fashion and production made in Asia. I wanted to create a brand that connects with women through my product, made of exclusive materials. I also envisioned a brand that contributes to the local economy by creating products that are 95% made in Montreal. I founded Iris Setlakwe, a company that respects these core values.

What makes Iris Setlakwe different from other women’s retailers?

Three words describe the brand: simplicity, comfort and elegance. The Iris Setlakwe style is unique to the brand because of its feminine style. Over the years, we have launched two other divisions: i by Iris and Iris Setlakwe Maison. The goal was to create a store that offers different products to support women in all spheres of their life. Iris Setlakwe boutiques offer very exclusive products. We also offer different services to accompany women in these purchases, whether it is personalized service, private wardrobe, or alterations made by our seamstresses, the customer is accompanied and guided to make informed choices.

What is your creation process for each collection?

I always start with the color tables. Usually, I go to Première Vision in Paris with my team to see the fabric suppliers as well as the trends in colors, styles and silhouettes. Then, in order to inspire us, we do an analysis of the trends in big fashion cities; Paris, London and New York and we start at the drawing board with colors and themes. 

What prompted you to open your boutique at Center Rockland?

The desire to reach more people. The shopping center is accessible through its parking lot and there are essential businesses such as large chains and services, IGA, SAQ and restaurants. Thanks to the opening of our boutique at the Rockland Center, our clientele has grown and we have much more visibility.

What excites you about the fashion industry?

Creating collections and concepts, shoots to project my vision, working with my teams, traveling, merchandising styles and stores ... I love everything about fashion!

Your daughter Estelle works with you, what advice would you give her for her success in her career?

Surround yourself well!

What are the advantages of working with family members?

Working with my spouse and daughter has many advantages: trust, loyalty, respect and compassion.

Why is it important to buy local?

Buying local means contributing to the growth of our economy and our culture. It is also important in order to preserve the environment.

What are Iris Setlakwe's plans for the new year ?

We are launching Europe as a new market.