A Day in the Life: Shernett Swaby

J.P. Anderson | March 19, 2020 | People

From Chicago to Toronto and—soon—New York, designer Shernett Swaby is ready to take her avant-garde fashions to the masses.

Swaby08-0001.jpgShernett Swaby’s self-described “edgy-chic” aesthetic has gained her fans in Chicago, Toronto and beyond.

Fashion is second nature to designer Shernett Swaby, who started sewing at age 8, making clothing for her dolls (“That was my happy place,” she reminisces), and eventually parlayed that talent into a top-five finish on Project Runway Canada. These days, Swaby bounces between her two storefronts in River North and downtown Toronto, both of which serve up her edgy-chic fashions—think dresses adorned with multisize bubbles or spirals of rope—with an eye on expansion to New York. “It’s not going to be easy,” says the 42-year-old Bucktown resident, “but I feel much more confident about it being the third store as opposed to the first.” Her ideal client? “A very busy female boss who knows exactly what she wants, and wants to look great and feel comfortable while she conquers her daily world.” When it comes to conquering her own daily world, here’s how Swaby gets it done.


“I’m obsessed with tennis, so I play regularly at Midtown Athletic Club. I’ve been playing for eight years and am so addicted. I play like they’re paying me—you would think I’m getting a medal at the end of every match. I definitely play mostly with guys because I always beat the girls.” 2444 N. Elston Ave.


“I’m mostly in my studio loft where I work and live in Bucktown. I might be finishing clothing orders and dropping everything off at the store, shipping whatever is needed to the Toronto or River North store, or getting dolled up to have appointments with clients—every day is different.”


“I’ll take a shopping break and go to John Fluevog. I love the shoes’ aesthetic because it reminds me of my work—it can seem over the top, yet everyone can find something wearable in their size and with great quality.” 1539 N. Milwaukee Ave.


“I go to Spavia in Lincoln Park when I need to pamper myself. Their deep-tissue massage relieves my back and arm muscles that ache from sewing.” 2121 N. Clybourn Ave.


“I love the atmosphere at Sunda—it’s always so lively, and I like the open design. My favorite things to get there are the oxtail pot stickers or the Red Dragon roll.” 110 W. Illinois St.

Tags: profile

Photography by: Katrina Wittkamp