Fashion Designer of the Year 2011: Obakki
For Treana Peake of Obakki, success lies in keeping things close to home.
It’s early June and Treana Peake, founder and creative director of Obakki, sits in a windowless boardroom surrounded by racks of clothing from her Fall/Winter 2011 collection. Leaning against a wall is the “inspiration board” for fall: 25 carefully chosen images—photos of 1930s film stars, peacock feathers, oversize chandeliers—that set the mood, tone and palette for the season. “Marketing collateral comes out of [the board]; our fashion show, photo shoots and films are informed by it,” explains Peake. “It’s our reference point for all the work.” Down the hall, swaths of chiffon, lace, wool and custom-print silks are piled high around seamstresses bent over sewing machines. In an adjoining room designers are huddled around iMacs, hard at work on graphics for the upcoming spring collection. Through a large sliding metal door the factory is busy producing Fall/Winter 2011. Marketing, design, production, retail and wholesale all operate under the same roof. “It streamlines every process,” says Peake. “If there’s a question on the factory floor, a designer is right there to answer.” Founded in Vancouver in 2005, the edgy-luxe Obakki label grew slowly, keeping volume in check and maintaining the all-important sell-through rates. Today it garners plenty of international buzz, appearing in publications like UK Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily, and draping the lithe frames of celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson. Peake clocks serious travel miles: two trips to Cameroon and one to Sudan for Obakki Foundation work, two trips to Paris, two to New York, plus hops down to L.A. and stints on tour with her husband (musician Ryan Peake, guitarist for Alberta-bred, stadium-rock group Nickelback). “I’m a travelling, working mom with two kids, a dog, eight stick bugs, two bunnies and an active, social lifestyle. I design clothes to work with my lifestyle,” she says. “The Obakki woman loves fashion but wants it to be effortless. To make a quiet statement.” “These are clothes that make a woman feel real and sophisticated,” says judge Joe Mimran—a tidy summation of both the label and the creative mind behind it.