Fashion program teaches life skills

Scarborough has style too. Not to mention creative designers and beautiful models — as seen at a fashion show at Scarborough Town Centre this month.

ANASA (Always Nubian Always Scarborough Association) put on the event to show its members and the community it’s possible to have a future in fashion — even if you come from Scarborough.

The show, called Fashion Phoenix, coincided with Toronto Fashion Week. Three designers and ANASA’s youth committee sent four collections down the runway. The production took about eight months to plan.

Youth worker Nadine Peazer said she and most of the volunteers had no previous professional fashion industry experience, so putting on a show for 250 people was no easy task, but this was too important to give up on.

“We in Scarborough are lacking when it comes to resources and public space for people to create,” Peazer said. “It’s important to give light to young leaders doing new and inventive things in this area.”

The girls ages 14–24 learned new skills they can take with him to future careers.  Some of the girls come from Malvern and Scarborough Village and face social barriers unique to their environment, Peazer said.

Some of the young women she encountered were single mothers. Some told stories of dropping out of college for financial reasons, while others dropped out of high school because of an education system they felt marginalized in.

The Scarborough-based group helps the girls improve their self-esteem through workshops that address health, relationships, and employment opportunities.

“We want them to advance in all areas of their life,” Peazer said.
Meranda Frances, 23, is a designer with ANASA.  As a college dropout, she credits the group with helping her overcome her insecurities and fear of failure.

With the lack of black representation in the fashion industry she knows it’s going to be hard to have a future in the business.

“I take that as motivation,” she said.  “I can’t let it hold me back.”

Citing President Obama as inspiration, Frances said there are no excuses to not follow her dreams.