Meet Aldeneil Española, a 25-year-old university student based in Saskatoon who just so happens to be Canada's most stylish thrifter as declared by Fashion Magazine. If you have yet to see the story, just know that Aldeneil's editorial debut comes as no surprise. Aldeneil has this *way* of effortlessly merging eccentricity and extravagance in his sartorial choices that often make our jaws drop. So, as an incredible stylist and thrifter, we were eager to invite Aldeneil to answer some questions on thrifting (and his best tips!), his definition of happiness, where to eat and visit in Saskatoon, who his style icons are and what legacy he hopes to leave on this world.
Who is Aldeneil Española?
Aldeneil Española is an artist, a lover of fashion and a thoughtful observer. I aim to be someone constantly evolving, learning and growing. I moved to Canada when I was 12 years old from the Philippines. I am now 25 years old and in my second year of Studio Art at the University of Saskatchewan. I am a freelance creative in Saskatoon and my work revolves around creative direction, fashion and styling. I was recently named Canada’s Most Stylish Thrifter of 2023 by Fashion Magazine.
Can you describe your personal style for us? How has it evolved over the years?
I would say that from childhood up to around 17 years old, I dressed like a small town boy. Which was all I really saw clothes as. Throughout elementary school and high school, my style was the "small town boy" look. T-shirts and jeans, button up if you’re trying to be fancy ;) Once I moved to Saskatoon, that was when I started exploring, and got into thrifting. Thrifting made it affordable to look fashionable. I am drawn to pearls, silks, prints, shirts and oversized shapes. I knew glamor and exhuberance made me feel alive and on fire. Aldeneil now is bold with color, a collector of quality things and a lover of makeup. I am a thoughtful maximalist and I model my fashion towards women a lot, they’re my first examples of fashion that moves the soul. I like to style myself in layers, adorn myself in jewels and I love to carry a handbag.
Photographer: Molly Schikosky, Makeup Artist: Kacie Hancherow, Assistant: Berit Johnson
Where is home for you?
Home is where my chosen family is. I can live in different spaces and make a home out of it, but what makes a place a home is my family and friends. Right now my home is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
How are you sustainable in your day to day life? Do you have any sustainability goals you’re working towards?
Thrifting was my gateway to learning about sustainability. I can’t say that my lifestyle is completely sustainable, because I’m a consumer. I could say sustainable-ish. I will only buy it if it's quality materials, and/or I don’t have anything like it in my closet. One of my sustainable practices would be making clothes. I like to sew statement art pieces, pieces that I want but can’t find anywhere. This journey has really given me a deeper appreciation for clothes and the people who make it. The process is not easy, it’s expensive and very time consuming. Overall, for me sustainability is about mindfulness.
Can you tell us your favorite thrift tips?
Go in with an open mind and enough time to explore because you never really know what you’re going to find in thrift stores. I like to touch clothes, feel them in my hands and definitely try them on. Find pieces of clothes that you’re drawn to, that you can’t put down, and most importantly find the ones that make you feel special.
Your definition of happiness?
Happiness starts from the inside, to be kind to myself, and to trust in my own power. Happiness is spending quality time with my parents and siblings. Happiness is in the people who show up, cheer me on and have endless belief in me; it’s also showing up for my people, cheering them on and to be inspired by them.
Favourite places to visit, shop and eat in Saskatoon?
I love spending time at the Remai Modern to look at art, and go on long walks by the river. For fashion, my favorites would be Hazlewood, Village Green Thrift Shop and Better Off Duds. For food, I really love Sushi Raku and I recommend their chirashi don. Shelter Brewery has really great burritos and sours. For drinks, I recommend 13 Pies for their cocktails and Pop Wine Bar for wine. And for something sweet, I’m currently obsessed with Fable Ice Cream’s Sour Cherry Cheesecake.
How would you describe your relationship to your clothing?
I’m in love with clothes and I’m lucky to be able to create magic with clothes. Fashion moves me, it empowers me. As humans we look for moments that make life grand and beautiful, and fashion does that for me; Clothes help me love myself deeper and make a moment feel more special. Styling clothes is one of my magic that I will continue to share in this lifetime.
"I like to think that I’m the person my younger self needed to see growing up to feel a sense of belonging in this world. So in that sense, I want to inspire people to be visible and to dress up, especially queer individuals who look like me. I want to be an example of the possibilities that both exist and thrive in this world."
Can you tell us who some of your style icons are and why?
Some of my style icons would be Hungry (@isshehungry), a drag artist who combines art and performance together. I’m constantly inspired by the looks they come up with. Hungry is also currently Björk’s makeup artist. My first love for fashion is Alexander McQueen, his designs and philosophy in clothing was so beautiful and moving. He taught me that fashion is art and is a powerful form of storytelling. Alok Menon is someone that I recently started listening to, their words and articulation about gender and fashion speaks to me and moves me; I think that the topics they talk about in their platform is super important right now and inspiring for young queers.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m looking forward to finishing my degree. I would like to have a fashion brand and design clothes after getting out of school. I’m excited to continue building my online presence and grow my community. I also want to travel, I want to see more of the world while I’m young.
What is the legacy you hope to leave on this world? What are you out to accomplish?
It’s hard to say what legacy I want to leave behind. I like to think that I’m the person my younger self needed to see growing up to feel a sense of belonging in this world. So in that sense, I want to inspire people to be visible and to dress up, especially queer individuals who look like me. I want to be an example of the possibilities that both exist and thrive in this world. In this lifetime, I want to create beautiful art that inspires and moves the soul. Most importantly, I want to be present, to have fun and to create meaningful moments with friends, family and my own community.