This Size-Inclusive Canadian Line Is Now Available At A Major Retailer (& Khloé K. Is A Fan)

Photo: Courtesy of Sasha Ruddock.
When Canadian designer Sasha Ruddock entered the SHEIN X design competition in May, she wasn’t expecting much. The Toronto born, Brampton, ON.-based designer wasn’t even going to apply at first, having already recently released a collection in collaboration with the popular fast fashion brand. “I spent so much time already doing this collection, and there were many delays with COVID and manufacturers. So it was already a lot of work and I was just ready to go and enjoy my summer,” she says. But the competition kept popping into her mind.
She spoke with her team of two about continuing on their firing-on-all-engines mentality. “Everybody was like, well, we're already in work mode, so we might as well just keep going with it.” Applying was also a personal challenge to herself. "Growing up in school, I failed every test that I wrote. So I got away from [competitions] and things like that. But I thought, let's give it a try. I trust that my brand can bring the heat.” So, she entered. And less than three months later, she won.
The designer — whose size-inclusive brand Flaws of Couture is all about making every person and every body feel fabulous — made a splash on the series (which streamed on the SHEIN app and the brand’s social media) both because of her passion and ethos (seriously, her tearing up in the finale while she talked about her mission made me cry), and her partnership with Khloé Kardashian, who mentored Ruddock throughout the competition. (The show featured 30 emerging designers, the final five of whom were mentored by celebs like Kardashian, Christian Siriano, and Jenna Lyons, with the winner’s final designs released as a fall/winter collection). 
But ultimately, it was Ruddock and her incredible team (who she’s very vocal with praise for) that brought it home, winning $100,000 to use towards FOC. It’s financial support that many Canadian designers know they wouldn’t receive within our country’s borders, and it's one of the reasons Ruddock wants to use her winnings towards mentoring younger designers here. Because if not her, then who else?
Just weeks after her win, Refinery29 spoke with Ruddock, who was back home after her time in Los Angeles (where the competition was filmed) about her time on the series, where she plans to take FOC, and why Canada can’t seem to get it together when it comes to supporting its own designers.
Refinery29: Congratulations on your win! I have to ask, who was the first person you called to celebrate with?
SR: I had my creative assistant and seamstress out for the last couple days [of the competition]. They were backstage, so they were the ones that I really spent that night with because they were with me the entire time. I actually didn't tell my family until I got back. We weren't supposed to say anything at that time, and I felt like they’d be way too excited to hold onto it. [laughs] 
R29: They'd be telling all the neighbours and their friends! You’d already released a collaboration with SHEIN, so did you go into the competition with any strategy or a particular approach?
SR: I wanted to make sure that I brought pieces that I never really felt like I had or I had access to in my size. With FOC being so inclusive, I just wanted it to really reflect the way that we feel on the inside and how we want to show up. What I learned before working with SHEIN is that being marketable is a big deal when it comes to selling pieces. At the end of the day, companies want to sell. So as much as I wanted to create something dynamic, I also wanted it to be something that I can sell, something that someone can look at it and be like, I can totally see myself wearing that. Sometimes you see things in the fashion world and they’re such a cool concept but you’d never purchase it because where do you wear it? I don't want that to be a thing. I wanted every piece to be something where someone was like: I am so proud that this is available now and I know for sure that I can purchase it, wear it, and really live my best life in it. 
R29: What's the best piece of advice Khloé Kardashian gave you? 
SR: I asked her how she deals with negativity or people not agreeing with your moves, because I was facing that before I arrived in L.A. As you grow, so many people have opinions on how you should do things. It was really getting to me. She just said, "sometimes you have to block out the white noise and focus on what you came here to do." And just remember that most times the people that have a lot of crappy things to say could never spend a day in your shoes or do what you do.

The idea that everyone should be shopping sustainable is a beautiful concept, but it's dripping with privilege.

R29: It was really touching as well to see how you connected with Khloé over wanting to provide plus-size women with clothing that makes them look and feel great. It’s integral to your brand and it seems obvious that it should be something every brand should is doing. Before FOC, where did you look for clothes that made you feel fabulous? 
SR: It's tricky because we didn't have many options growing up. When I started blogging 10 years ago, there were no options, especially here in Canada outside of Penningtons and Addition Elle. That's the whole reason why FOC even exists. It's gotten better over the years, but we still have a long way to go.
R29: Why do you think — especially here in Canada — that we’re still having these issues? 
SR: People are not taking it seriously enough that the average-sized woman is being excluded. I find that Canada’s behind when it comes to a lot of things, when it comes to just pushing the envelope forward fast enough. Don't get me wrong, I love being a Canadian girl, but the plus-size community isn’t seen here. Because it's considered plus size and not average-sized. The average woman is a size 16 or 18 in both Canada and the US. So they've literally excluded the majority of women. 
R29: There's a lot of negativity associated with fast fashion. But it's fast fashion brands like SHEIN and Pretty Little Thing that are investing and putting resources, money, marketing, and time into a more inclusive size ranges. 
SR: Exactly. I think we all want slow fashion and we all want to get rid of this waste issue that we have in fast fashion. But two things can be true at the same time. And what I mean by that is that the idea that everyone should be shopping sustainable is a beautiful concept, but it's dripping with privilege. A lot of people don't realize or don't care to realize that, yes, maybe you are willing to spend $100 on a sweater, but this woman who has three children and needs to put food on the table may not be able to buy a $100 sweater. Maybe she only has $100 to buy clothes for her entire family. And then aside from that, you have the average woman who is a size 16 or 18 and above looking for clothing to be sustainable so that she can say that she's a part of the sustainable movement, and nobody cares to make pieces in her size. 
If you're ever passing judgment on someone based on them shopping fast fashion trends, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, Is money not an issue for me? Am I potentially even a blonde, white, wealthy, size medium person looking at the world and pointing a finger? If we have the options, we would be indulging in that; but nobody cares because we're so rooted in fatphobia that we don't want to evolve and we're not caring about the fact that there are so many people who need to be dressed that have not been dressed even to this day. 
R29: Specifically as a Canadian designer, what does it mean for you to have won this competition and have this funding? 
SR: It means everything to me because it means that I am forcing other eyes outside of Canada to look here and understand that there is so much talent here. I’m just one person. I will not be the last. I'm just a realistic picture of how many super-talented designers, creatives, musicians, whatever it may be in the city of Toronto and the GTA. If we really started to invest in it, we wouldn’t have to leave and go across the border in order to really thrive. This competition is bringing a lot of eyes on this side of the border, and I hope that means better opportunities for us.
Canadians never really get to participate because Canada doesn't do things like this for us. We have [talent], and then use it and then it dies and you get discouraged and that's it. So if the U.S. is going to start opening up their doors to us, Canada better get it together because I think we'll have a lot more people leaving than staying.
R29: That’s a great point. Especially as it pertains to fashion. But also in music there's this idea that we're losing all of our creatives to the states, but they're not getting support here. 
SR: No support, no funding, no media coverage. It’s interesting because when I'm in the states, there's such an outpouring of love there when it comes to the media. And then I get home and it's quiet. A part of it is beautiful, the beauty of the quietness; it brings you back to square one and it's needed. But at the same time it's unfortunate because it's like if you really do love your home, which I do, then now you're forced to think man, in order for me to be successful I have to leave home. I can’t make it here because nothing's happening here. And that is a reality that we can change. We're just deciding not to. I just really feel like it's time to wake up and smell the coffee.
R29: During the competition you spoke about using the prize money to put towards mentoring and supporting other designers. Why is that important to you?
SR: It's important for me because we're not getting that from our country. $100,000 is not all you need in order to do something like that, but it's a start. There were many times I just wished that someone would have been like, hey, look, here's $100,000 I would like to put towards your podcast or this or that. It really would have made the difference. It could have made my wins happen when I was 25 instead of 31, if someone had invested in me. Some creators are just not in the same position I’m in. So I want to be able to help people and really invest in the people who are doing it on their own. And all they need is a little bit of cash to really get that ball rolling. 
R29: Are there any smaller Canadian designers that you really love? 
SR: I'm obsessed with Jennifer Le. She's a high-fashion shoe designer, and I'm obsessed with how she's been able to scale her brand and how she's just killing it. She's getting these pieces on so many celebrities! Another emerging designer is Téjahn. I give her another year or two and we’re not going to be able to afford her shoes. 

"If the U.S. is going to start opening up their doors to us, Canada better get it together because I think we'll have a lot more people leaving than staying."

R29: Is there a particular celebrity that you would die to have wear one of your pieces?
SR: Oh, my goodness, I would probably die if I could get Rihanna in something that I made. I feel like it's going to happen. I believe it's going to happen. From my mouth to God's ears, but also I’d love to dress Lizzo, because I feel like Lizzo really is standing up unapologetically and she's so important to the culture and the body-positive movement, period. I think it's so important for girls to see her, whether they're plus-size themselves, it doesn't matter. It's important to see women of all sizes celebrating themselves, loving themselves, and not apologizing for existing. 
R29: I could totally see her in one of the coats from the latest collection with a bodysuit or something.
SR: I think she’d kill it. 
R29: What are you obsessing over this fall?
SR: I’m loving the oversize look right now! I've always been an itsy bitsy, tiny dress type of girl, but I'm so in love with this oversized, drowning-in-it type vibe, with wide-legged pants. I'm really into that sleek hairstyle, really clean vibe, but with the dramatics when it comes to outerwear, I'm really excited for that. The purple coat that’s a part of the collection is one of my favourites and I can't wait to step out in that jacket. It's just got to be the right time.
R29: You have to have to make it a moment. 
SR: 100%
R29: You now have a second collection on SHEIN and $100,000 to use towards your brand. So what's next for you? 
SR: I always just put one foot in front of the other. I never look too far down the line. I try to keep as close to present as possible. But I will say that I really, really, really, really aspire to show at New York Fashion Week. I think having a spot on the runway next fall even would be so, so, so, so, so, so groundbreaking for the whole body-positive community, plus community,  but size-inclusive community, too; people who really believe that we should all be able to go into a store and be like, “I’m getting that.” That's the next thing that I'm going to tackle. 
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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