Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design
Degree: Crafts and Design - Textiles
Year of graduation: 2010
Anu Raina has made a splash in Toronto’s fashion scene in 2011, being called one of the “hottest upcoming designers in Canada” by no less than the President of the Fashion Design Council of Canada, Robin Kay.
The lauded textile designer unveiled her debut clothing collection at Toronto Fashion Week this past spring. She has been featured in The Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, CTV, Omni and Canadian Immigrant Magazine. And her work is currently being exhibited at Pearson Airport in Toronto. Raina was also selected as an Artist in Residence at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto with a six month scholarship.
Raina’s debut collection at LG fashion week was her graduating collection from Sheridan which included her hand dyed and silk screened pieces. It was an autobiographical collection entitled Chapter 2, Page1, and included excerpts from poetry, hand-painted motifs and intricate embroidery, reflective of her childhood spent in India’s Kashmir.
“My inspiration comes from an innate urge to give an expression to my thoughts and experiences,” she notes. “To me, the multitude of textures: rough, smooth, beautiful and sometimes mysterious are just like the woven complexities of life itself.”
Raina witnessed a mass exodus of her community, the Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 due to religious persecution in the state. “My family lost everything when we escaped; my father survived two heart attacks and we were forever exiled from our home,” she recalls. A mural that depicts a portrait of her late mother adorns the walls of Pearson airport.
When she came to Canada in 2004 with a degree from the London College of Fashion in the United Kingdom, Raina wasn’t keen on launching a career because she wanted to start a family. After spending three years at home caring for her son and daughter, Raina was ready to step into the fashion world once more. “I applied for numerous jobs, but my lack of Canadian education and experience proved to be a hurdle.”
Sheridan proved to be the ideal place for Raina to blossom as an artist. “I spent the best years of my creative life at Sheridan College” says Raina. After interning with the famous Canadian textile designer Virginia Johnson, she graduated with high honours from the Textile program in 2010.
Less than two years later, her work is selling not only in Toronto boutiques but in Vancouver and Quebec as well. Raina is now looking to show her designs in New York and Tokyo. But reaching this goal will be an uphill battle, concedes Raina. “Designers must persevere to make their brand known. There is intense competition because of the unbelievable talent everywhere,” she says.
But, she has her eye firmly fixed on the brass ring. “Your success is determined by how determined you are.” Or in the words of her mentor, acclaimed textile artist Dorothy Caldwell, “Be at it.”