Archive for the 'canada' Category

Theories on Vancouver’s fashion industry

August 24, 2009

One of my daily reads, The Business of Fashion, came out with a post earlier this month, Vancouver’s new Fashion Cycle. I thought, cool, an article about Vancouver and fashion! Turns out the article had slightly more to do with lifestyle than solely fashion, but put a lot out there for me to think about. As part of my program, we have to design a collection in 4th year based off a niche market. In other words, we can’t just design what we “feel like” designing – we have to prove that there is a viable market and an underserved niche. A few years ago, this may seem more like a hindrance to students who think that all they want to design are pretty dresses for “real women”, and by real women, they are thinking women who look and dress like celebrities and socialites. When I first applied to the program almost 4 years ago, the concept of a niche market was foreign to me, a criteria for a school project, at best.

There is a lot to say and observe when it comes to Vancouver’s fashion scene, one that I think links a lot more to lifestyle than the traditional fashion capitals do. Vancouver seems to be starting to make an appearance on the list of “hot” cities on the international cultural who’s-who and what’s what. We’re young and have so much to build on, with tons of creative energy. What I’ve really noticed is lacking are the resources to really harness that creativity and create a strong industry base that could rival New York or London or even Toronto or Montreal (though organizations like Fashion West, formerly Apparel BC, and Fashion High are bravely trying to change that around). We don’t have a centralized location for apparel businesses. You can’t just walk out the door of a fashion company and pop down the street to look at fabrics or get retail inspiration. Everything is so spread apart in this city. I guess that’s because our infrastructure was built primarily before we even had an apparel industry to speak of. Our main purpose as a city is its convenience as a port location between North America and Asia – we weren’t built for manufacturing, we were built around trade. Of course, out of that comes what we are known for now: our beautiful landscape and natural environment. Though, when it comes down to it, what we have is, in my mind, not that unique. We’ve just marketed it well and as a city, have the right balance between an urban setting and a natural, clean, fresh environment, all due in part because of the fact that we are not a very large city in the grand scope of things. And because of this, we’re just the right size to be able to take on the new creative model. And this all leads to my theory, that we are well poised to become a big player in the fashion world not by competing with the traditional model of a fashion capital, but by paving the way for a new one: one that makes sense for the new knowledge economy focusing on holistic aspects of living, not just aesthetics. Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver, is a big advocate of not only sustainability, but creativity as well:

“A world-class city needs to foster entrepreneurial and artistic creativity, and attract innovators from all sectors around the world. It’s time we ditched the red-tape, ‘no-fun city’ label and embraced a culture of creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation, to help our artistic and small-business sectors thrive in a competitive economy.”

I’m interested in how Vancouver’s fashion industry will play out as this city makes strides forward where many cities have already plateaued. Our fashion industry is not at all big, but yet, we have many internationally recognized companies based out of here. As the article on BOF pointed out, there is huge potential for a niche market in lifestyle apparel for fashionable cyclists in the city. It’s interesting how Vancouver was singled out for this – as I was saying, we are seen as a fresh city with room to grow, and our international presence is about to get bigger with the 2010 Olympics slated to take the city in just a short 6 months.

I am excited to see Vancouverites making a splash on the fashion scene through innovative ways of looking at design, fashion, lifestyle, and marketing. Fashionable cyclist wear is one idea, but there are so many others to be dug up in this city that have to potential to percolate internationally. Plus, the only fashion degree program west of Toronto has as part of its criteria that the 4th year collections be based off a niche market. It’s not just a coincidence; someone was smart, and recognized that doing this was crucial in moving Vancouver fashion forward and creating careers in a city that isn’t known for Veras, Calvins, and Karls. I myself am examining niche markets in deciding my market and vision for my grad collection. Hmm, hmm, food for thought!

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Models, TV, and the Ugly Truth

July 8, 2009

I don’t usually review TV, but I have something to say. (Hey, I’m only human, I succumb to guilty pleasure television ie. Gossip Girl and the Hills.)

Last night’s CNTM reminded me of high school girlfights – I guess they are only 18/19. So whatever. Looking at these 4 pictures right now and asking myself if I would buy the product that these girls are advertising, I would not give Nikita a second look (she just looks like any girl picked off the street there – pretty, but nothing special), Meaghen‘s I would do a double-take simply because it looks amateur for Covergirl. And Linsay‘s picture is beautiful, but it would not sell the product to me because somehow she isn’t emanating a Covergirl-esque energy. Maryam, on the other hand, looks beautiful and happy. Isn’t that what they are looking for? Putting all four photos together and my eye jumps right to Maryam.

I’m glad that she’s going back to school. Frankly, I don’t care if she’s the best model in the world. As a model, you have to shape yourself to other people’s demands – you are not ever really free to be yourself, unless that self is lucrative, and then it will only be lucrative for a short while. And then what? You see the ugly side already on television when their job is to make more girls want to apply for the next round so that they get another round of advertisers so they can make money. What is the ugly side? The self-deprecation, the insecurities, the empty determination to be something. I’m sure there’s a lot more about the industry they can’t show to the millions of teenage girls who watch. And the judges seem to point a bad finger at those who don’t seem to “want it” like they should want the holy grail. The glamour of the industry is a lure. I hope these girls see modelling as either a platform to do something else for the world or simply a fun way to make money, not their life-long dream. Because really, at 18/19, do they really know what they stand for? Props to them if they do, but I’m 21 and I am only starting to understand what I stand for.

So in conclusion: CNTM, I am disappointed. I know your job is to make money. I think Maryam’s picture would make more money if that’s the bottom line. But what-evs, I know it’s just TV. That is why I wrote this post, to demonstrate that TV is mostly just entertainment made to make money. If they wanted a true top model, they already have model scouts scanning the globe for tall, beautiful girls with the “it” factor.

Anyway, I decided I’m gonna stop watching TV. Since I’ll be moving out next week, I won’t have a TV anyway. Looking forward to that.

Jason Matlo Bridal, Panty by Post

February 3, 2009

Canadian designer Jason Matlo has just launched a 10 dress collection of bridal gowns. It seems that the decision to do this was to give Vancouver high fashion, and the only way to make money off that concept is to do it with something that people are willing to pay more for in the first place, wedding gowns.

Also on my watch list, Panty by Post. They are a business that well, delivers panties by post. Exclusively offered are Blush Lingerie panties based in Montreal.

Hmm…despite the economic recession, new companies are still popping up, and these two represent a sector that is all about luxury. I’ve been reading articles that say despite recession, people still gravitate towards luxury. In fact, because of it, people desire it more, and that’s why these companies are launching at this time.

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What a strange coincidence that I have found myself working in both these industries…anyway, my position at work has definitely changed. I am now half sales consultant, half photo editor/web designer. Finally, I can do something I actually am good at, though working in actual sales was a definite eye-opener.

Thieves Spring Summer 2009

January 15, 2009

I just recently discovered this line by Sonja den Elzen, Thieves. I love the design philosophy. These are great clothes, innovative while still wearable. Forward without being flashy. I think that the colour has a lot to do with this. My general rule is that to avoid excess flash, colour goes best with simple silhouettes and pared down detail, and interesting silhouettes and details look best with neutrals. That’s my personal design rule. I like interesting minimalism.

Another added bonus, on top of great looking clothes: they’re made from sustainable fabrics!

The website does bug me a little bit though. The text is very small and hard to read :|.

Thieves S/S 2009