All handmade, all Black-Canadian owned are the unique designs of the clothing line company Lab Carty. With the mastermind behind all these intricate pieces, Omar Carty, a fashion designer based in Calgary, Alberta.
While Lab Carty is a fashion company, it honestly spans far beyond that taking reign as a movement when it comes to Canadian fashion. No one is creating pieces like this in Canada. With that, Carty has carved out a space for himself as he climbs to the top of the Canadian fashion sphere. 10 at 10 sat down with Carty to discuss him and his creations.
Tell us about yourself. Who is Omar Carty?
My name is Omar Carty, I’m a 22-year-old self-taught fashion designer coming out of Canada just trying to make a way for myself! I make 1:1, custom, and limited garments of all sorts.
How did you get started?
Adversity and not being able to fully afford the clothes I wanted is a big thing that inspired me to make my own clothes to be honest. Lab Carty was started from me just wanting to expand and show my work to the world other than just du rags.
My intro to fashion is a bit different than most…to make it not too long, I’m fully self-taught, of course with the help of some YouTube videos. I’ve always had an eye and passion for fashion, or creativity, but never really took action. After graduating high school I had no idea what I wanted to do and had to figure it out. I just went to the thrift store one winter day with a broken hand and ran into a sewing machine good enough to get me by. I walked all the way home with it and ever since then I’ve been doing whatever I can to master the craft.
Has starting Lab Carty in your environment, living in Calgary, helped you or hindered you? Please explain.
My environment did hinder me quite a bit to be honest. From the small space I was in, to the city itself.. but I try my best to not let it affect me.
It took a while for me to actually sell a piece of clothing and it was from people outside of the city. I would get compliments here and there but there was a lot of doubt that I had to overcome. Calgary isn’t really a fashion city and that’s fine but it did hinder my growth a little.
I could be wrong but I feel like lots of people didn’t really understand the clothes I was making or believe in my ability as much, so it was hard to get off the ground at first. It’s still an uphill battle but I just try to stay focused and keep it pushing.
Why is designing clothes important to you?
The importance of designing clothes to me is the sense of purpose it gives me personally. Growing up and moving to a new province, it always felt hard to belong and this craft showed me that I was born to stand out. Also being self-taught, I had to overcome a lot of doubt, both internal and external. So, I guess that’s what keeps me going. Another reason I do this is to help my family and hoping to build a better future.
What impact has Lab Carty had on your community?
Humbly speaking, I think my work has had a big impact on my community.. especially those in my age group and with fashion. With the age groups before us, I don’t think there was that many people taking the unconventional route of entrepreneurship.. especially straight from high school. I’m just seeing a lot more hunger from our generation and of course, I won’t take full credit but I’d say that it’s creating a positive impact.
What are your goals for Lab Carty?
Honestly, I’m just taking things day by day with Lab Carty and seeing where it takes me. Many goals, but the main one is just to make an impact worldwide with my work. I also just want to be able to create opportunities for my family and friends.
What’s your advice for people wanting to start their own clothing line?
My advice to anyone wanting to start a clothing line is, stay persistent. One of the hardest things can be getting started due to the opinions of others and I say to just tune out the noise and chase your dreams to the fullest!