Heath scare reignites passion of De Ocampo Fashion House designer

Owner Andrea De Ocampo will be showcasing her retrospective collection, Time Capsule, this Sunday at Foundry on Whyte.

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A health scare three years ago was the trigger for Andrea De Ocampo to reassess her journey in Edmonton’s fashion world.

“The incident made me realize, OK, I can’t wait till I’m 40. I can’t wait till I’m even 30. My time isn’t guaranteed — no one’s time is guaranteed,” says De Ocampo.

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The 26-year-old owner of De Ocampo Fashion House will be showcasing her retrospective collection, Time Capsule, this Sunday at Foundry on Whyte.

The event will feature De Ocampo’s previous runway collections and private pieces created in the past decade. This includes her high-collared 9-5 belted jacket she designed in partnership with Issue Magazine in 2020. De Ocampo will also feature designs from her sister label, Partyz Over, a more affordable brand for younger professionals.

“It’s more like a pop-up museum,” says De Ocampo of Time Capsule, which she sees as more of an exhibit. “It’s going to be a whole experience that will essentially make you feel like you’re in New York.”

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A buyer from Hudson’s Bay met De Ocampo during her university years and told her that her style and aesthetic were representative of the Big Apple. She took it as a big compliment and has embraced it since then.

At 15, she was the youngest winner of the Emerging Designer Competition at Western Canada Fashion Week. This current collection will feature designs that debuted there in 2012, and two of her finale gowns shown at Vancouver Fashion Week that same year.

As a second-generation Fillipino Canadian coming from an immigrant family, she was expected to pursue a more traditional career path so there was little support from her immediate family as she navigated her place in the fashion world.

It was De Ocampo’s cousin who was studying fashion in Los Angeles who sparked her interest and encouraged her to take part in fashion competitions. She began Googling different events in Edmonton and self-financed her way as a competitor and new designer.

“Anything with regards to paying to enter the competition, paying for the fabrics, building things on my own — it was just myself,” says De Ocampo. “I did have the help of an aunt that was amazing to have, kind of teaching me the basics of sewing because I didn’t go to school at all for fashion.”

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After making her mark at Western Canada Fashion Week 10 years ago, one of her biggest supporters has been her grandmother, who gifted her with a sewing and a serger machine, commonly referred to as an overlock machine, expensive tools De Ocampo was fortunate to receive early on that helped her efforts.

These competitions garnered major attention for De Ocampo including from the owner of a high-end Granville Island boutique. At 16, she was offered a position as their in-house designer but made the difficult decision to turn down the offer in order to complete her high school education.

“The tough call of being in that fork in the road, being so young — yes, I had all that momentum, all that publicity. I could have ran with it but at the same time, there’s also a huge risk of, I don’t have a backup plan. I don’t finish high school, not even university; how will I fund my dream?” says De Ocampo.

With a background in human ecology from the University of Alberta, De Ocampo now has a successful corporate career with an international firm, allowing her to pursue her passion on the side.

De Ocampo is hoping to make her upcoming showcase a more accessible platform for those interested from all walks of life, and to reconnect with the fashion community which in her opinion, has a small local base. She’s set ticket prices at a fraction of what some other shows charge, and intentionally chose Sunday because of the free parking the city offers.

Time Capsule takes place Sunday at 3 p.m. at Foundry on Whyte, 10426 82 Ave., and tickets are $11.62 on Eventbrite.

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