With Whitney Linen’s Signature Collection rocking fashion weeks and the brand’s Home Linen Collection now all the rage in houses across the country, it’s hard to believe that the Whitney Linen label has only been in our lives since 2012. Perhaps it’s because founder Whitney Westwood has been in the fashion industry for nearly two decades that the former Elite model makes launching a prominent brand look so easy. We caught up the the fashion maven to find out more about her exciting career and current obsessions.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
I was born and raised in Toronto, but my family has always had a second home in the South of France. We frequented our home in the Mediterranean for family vacations, and I also elected to spend my grade 13 year abroad in Southern France. My parents have always had an affinity for European fashion, and brought their cultural experiences home with them, having opened the very first Hermes in Toronto. Following in my family’s footsteps, I too grew up with similar sensibilities, which I have reflected in Whitney Linen. Linen is a lifestyle and a way of life – one that embraces classic elegance and chicness. Europeans wear and work with this luxurious and ancient fabric often, and I have aspired to bring this cultural flare to North American fashion.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
As with any industry, there are always challenges to overcome. Our current focus is on keeping our company 100% Canadian while also ensuring competitive pricing for shoppers. North America also has a very niche market for luxury linen, so we are working to raise awareness of this amazing fabric, its history, and its benefits, to build a wider following across North America. The design component of the company is also a fun challenge, as we are constantly pushing the envelope to think creatively and out of the box on new styles that stay true to our 100% linen concept. Rising to these challenges has been an amazing experience, and in only two years of operation we have seen amazing success, including great feedback from media and tastemakers following two seasons of shows at World MasterCard Fashion Week, and being mentored by notable Canadian fashion force Robin Kay. I would say those have been the most rewarding moments with Whitney Linen so far, and have definitely reinforced confidence that we are really on to something.
What are 3 things that you can’t live without?
Lip balm from The Soya Boutique, my eyelash curler (it makes such a difference in opening up your eyes, even when you’re exhausted!) and my Whitney Linen classic blazer (it’s so versatile and can be worn with almost anything!).
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…my family and friends are here, and I find the attitude and outlook of Torontonians for the most part to be really cool!
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
I love the Harbord Room (THR). There is always a great atmosphere, and they have the best burger in town. Nothing beats a good juicy burger once in awhile!
What’s one of your favourite go-to designers/brands or accessories lines, and why do you sport their fashions?
As a general rule of thumb I try to support other Canadian designers, and there are so many talented ones out there. For a classic cool blazer, you can’t get much better than Smythe. For evening wear, Wayne Clark and David Dixon are amazing. Great and Mackage are hands down the best picks for when you just want something a little bit more sexy. Pink Tartan makes perfect apparel to take you from boardroom to cocktail. And of course, Joe Fresh has perfect attire for everyday cottage country living.
What products are always in your beauty/grooming bag?
The Soya Boutique Vitamin C Serum is a necessity – it’s like an instant face lift in a bottle. Hermes 24 Faubourg perfume is sophistication at its best. And of course, elastics! I am very low maintenance when it comes to my hair; I’ll get a blow out and by the end of the day it’s either up in a pony tail or back in a French braid. This may have something to do with being a bit of an athlete and having my hair tied back when skiing, horseback riding, playing tennis, or just outdoors enjoying nature!
What style trends are you obsessed with right now?
I’m really loving the individuality and freedom that style trends are allowing people these days. I strongly believe the best looks are when someone is wearing whatever they feel most comfortable in, and nowadays we seem to be openly embracing that ability.