Meet Reid Hepnar… 

Born and raised in Agassiz, B.C, Reid Everett Hepnar knew it was his destiny to work in the fashion industry. Growing up in a small town in the Fraser Valley, a place completely devoid of fashion, Reid’s mother established a small women’s boutique— Reid’s first exposure to fashion.
At the age of seven, Reid spent his summers helping out his mother at her boutique with tasks revolved around steaming clothes, organizing jewellery displays or sorting a closet full of wire hangers.

“You could tell that the small town community appreciated the option of higher-grade trendy apparel. The experience of working at my mother’s boutique as a kid influenced my desire to run my own business.” 

Watching Project Runway throughout high school, a television show for up-and-coming designers to compete for a chance to show their collections at New York Fashion Week, inspired Reid to realize the vastness of the fashion industry in regards to aesthetics and career avenues. It allowed him to understand that there’s always a niche or consumer for what someone creates. Project Runway also inspired Reid’s first illustrations, where he sketched looks that followed the designers’ provided challenges.

“These experiences shaped both myself and my brand, and contributed to me finding my place in the fashion industry.” 

“Lady Gaga, without a doubt, is my absolute biggest inspiration. She is drama and theatrically incarnates and I can’t thank her enough for what she does as a performer and fashion icon. I also live for fashion drag icons like Sasha Velour, Pearl, Violet Chachki, and Detox.”

Reid has always been inspired by those who see fashion as a means of storytelling and performance— creating things greater than just what you might buy in a store. Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, and Phillip Treacy all come to mind when Reid thinks of designers who fit that bill.

“Listening to Tim Gunn, my fashion spirit guide, give constructive and insightful critiques of what designers come up with on Project Runway has always helped me within my own craft. It’s a dream of mine to have my work critiqued by Tim Gunn, so he’s always in the back of my head telling me to make it work.”

Fast forward a couple years after high-school… 
After a co-worker convinced Reid to look into John Casablancas Institute, he took the advice and learned more about the Fashion Business & Creative Arts Program during his visit to JCI.

“I met with some of the most amazing faculty members and saw the learning environment which convinced me that this would be the right place for me to study Fashion. The view of Gastown alone was convincing enough!”  


Upon graduating the Fashion Business & Creative Arts Program, Reid enrolled in the Core Design Program at JCI, a program focusing more on designing and bringing a collection to real-lifesimilar to working in a real fashion design company.
For the past 7 years, Reid has worked for international fast-fashion brand H&M as a sales advisor, sales coach, and department supervisor. Now that he has graduated from JCI with two diplomas in Fashion Business and Fashion Design, he hopes to expand his skills in garment construction and pattern drafting.

“The biggest pro of working in the fashion industry is having creative freedom. This was a key factor for me when deciding on my career. I loved the idea of doodling something when a certain song or character inspired me and being able to turn a quick sketch into something tangible that someone could wear and appreciate.”


The fashion community itself is a diverse and creative environment for strong and unique personalities to work amongst. There is always the potential to travel for work, whether it’s for sourcing manufacturers or debuting runway collections during international fashion events. However, the fashion industry does have its cons which Reid acknowledges as a designer.

“I’d have to say the most significant con of the industry would be the quick turnover rate of trends and brand-relevance the industry is constantly subject to.”

A brand could be immensely popular and profitable one season and become completely irrelevant the next, which is something all designers have to worry about.

Reid intends to remain a Vancouver-based designer and set up an in-home design studio that’ll allow him to create custom pieces for clientele within the international television/film, music, and drag community. Aside from that, he hopes to acquire more experience within the industry working for established brands in design-oriented positions to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of a brand knowledge that can then be applied to his label.

“I would love the opportunity to present a runway collection during one the industry’s many international fashion events not only to showcase my label and gain a greater consumer following but to just bask in a moment where all eyes are on something I created and have it celebrated.”


Reid will be showcasing his Fall/Winter 2018 collection, entitled “LOIS” at the next John Casablancas Institute Fashion Show this summer. “LOIS”, was inspired by the life of Joan Crawford and her legacy in Hollywood, 86 year old American supermodel Carmen Dell’Orefice, and by contemporary drag fashion and culture. Lois, my fictitious muse for the collection, is a has-been Old Hollywood actress long past her prime and in complete denial of her fading significance amongst the Hollywood elite. She’s cutthroat, bitter, quick-witted, and unashamed to use any weapon at her disposal to get what she wants.

“The collection features semi-exaggerated features such as strong shoulders, high collars, and extreme wide-leg trousers and jumpsuits, implementing fabrics such as suiting and outerwear wools, jersey knits, upholstery brocade, and faux suede details. Think luxe, masculine, dramatic, ‘tongue-in-chic’.” 

Keep up with Reid Hepnar on Instagram for more behind the scenes of a fashion designer.


Love fashion and want to make it your career? JCI Institute Vancouver’s Fashion Business & Creative Arts Diploma Program provides students with a comprehensive overview of the fashion industry, combining creative and business elements. This diverse approach gives our fashion school grads a distinct advantage both in knowledge and skill. Prepare for many jobs in the fashion industry, including becoming a fashion buyer, fashion stylist, or for work in fashion merchandising. If becoming a fashion designer is more your speed, choose our Core Fashion Program. This course at our fashion design institute will give you all the skills you need to be a fashion designer. Choose between our fashion programs to find the best fit for you!