George Sully – 2022 Change Maker Award

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Meet George Sully

Fashion Designer; Founder of Black Designers of Canada

The story of George Sully’s ascent to the upper echelons of Canadian fashion can also be the tale of an industry in need of systematic change. The Ottawa-born designer based in Toronto for the last 20 odd years, is presently known as the architect of Black Designers of Canada (BDC) — an endeavor to highlight, amplify and unite Black designers across the region to a more mainstream swath of eyes. But over a career that began with his first brand Limb Apparel in 2002, Sully has chipped away at the brick wall standing between the ill-judged stereotype of Black “urban” designers, and the rightful place he’s earned within the space of fashion.

With legacy brands such as Sully Wong in 2010, as partnered with longtime friend Henry Wong, Sully set his career tone through an assembly of pieces that defined a modern era spliced with today’s homme d’affaire.

Founding and co-founding ventures in the mid-2000s provided the Canadian designer with that precise forward-laned momentum, giving rise to more brands like luxury lifestyle magazine TCHAD Quarterly up until current brands and collections such as House of Hayla co-founded with his partner Hayla Amini in 2018, a brand centered around vibrancy combined with vegan synthetics in the shape of footwear for women. Then, Sully & Son Co., a take on the premium accessory — fusions between sophistication and minimalism — modern classic footwear and tech infused backpacks galore. The multidisciplinary designer has accomplished far more career feats, from being signed by prolific luxury menswear brand Harry Rosen and Hudson’s Bay to earning a piece of pop culture cred as the original maker of the Star-Trek Discovery Starfleet boot.

Having collaborated and designed for more than a dozen established brands from LG Electronics, EBAY, NOBIS, BELL MEDIA to DHL, he’s a two-time Bata Shoe Museum Inductee with a body of work That spans more than two decades.

Beyond his craft, he’s become a publicly transformative figure while remaining genuinely humble. He moonlights as a vocal activist by necessity, routinely pushing for change within a Canadian fashion industry that often ignores Black designers as a whole. With his omnipresence in the fashion world as a George Brown Honorary Degree Recipient in Brand Design, FGI Visionary Award 2020 Recipient and simultaneous giver of awards through his BDC endeavor, he’s moving the needle by asking an industry to learn, listen and grow out of antiquated customs through his words and personal example.