Clothing Designer Lee Dekel of 100% Silk

Words by Odessa Paloma Parker

  • Photo by Luna Khods.

    Photo by Luna Khods.

  • Photo by Dave Ewenson.

    Photo by Dave Ewenson.

  • Photo by Dave Ewenson.

    Photo by Dave Ewenson.

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Clothing designer Lee Dekel has much to celebrate these days. As the proprietor of 100% Silk, the quirky fashion and decor haven in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, Dekel has become a voice for advocating the eclectic. Thanks to her eye for colour, print, and texture, the shop—and Dekel’s vibrant brand of the same name—has come to attract style magpies like artist Nadia Gohar and accessory designer Corey Moranis as fans.

Dekel, who has spent time in Ghana and Uzbekistan learning traditional practices like the ikat dyeing technique, credits her travels with giving her such an appreciation for the bold and the beautiful; she says her Israeli roots have also played a part. “The Middle East is an incredible place for style,” she tells me as we sit inside 100% Silk’s cheerful interior. “People will mix streetwear with traditional dress.” Her mother is also name-checked as a big inspiration: “All my friends who meet her want to dress like her.”

Thanks to its international flair, 100% Silk has become a gathering place for like-minded aesthetes, with a space in the back now occupied by makers and the store’s parties and art installations gathering an eye-catching crowd. “The job is so social,” Dekel says, touting her community’s “collaborative energy.” When I ask how she spends her time away from her work, she notes that she doesn’t bother much with self-care mainstays like face masks. “I don’t see myself as someone who needs those things,” she says, adding that “sleep is definitely something I could work on, though.”

It must be difficult for someone like Dekel, who’s so invested in her projects, to “turn it off” when she needs to. But investment is clearly something she values. Her shop, brightly decorated and boasting a globetrotting vibe, carries her own line (a velvet magenta coat, a terrycloth baby-blue shirt, and candy-coloured woven shorts are standouts from her collection) as well as German designer Julia Heuer, local brand Spa Boy, and Montreal-based jewellery designer Arielle de Pinto. They’re all labels that champion process and craft and exploration—things Dekel puts a lot of emphasis on. “I really try to make sure that the people that I carry in the store have the same ethos—people who love to experiment and get their hands dirty,” she explains. “People who are happy to mess around and try something new.”

For someone who went from a science background studying “how social movements inform fabric, and technologies inform textiles” to the fashion industry, Dekel has truly dug into making her work a kind of lifestyle. As we speak about fabric-making and design, I laugh at how much were nerding out. “Do you consider yourself a nerd?” I ask. “Oh yeah, oh yeah,” Dekel says with a laugh. “But nerd to me just means you’re passionate and interested.” And I heartily second that sentiment.