Archive for the 'vancouver' Category

Obakki pieces from SS09

August 26, 2009

Here are my picks from Obakki’s Spring 09 collection, on sale now. I am loving the ethereal quality of the pieces, yet they are done in such an urban, wearable way, just the way I like it. Obakki is one of the fashion companies in Vancouver that I admire, for both their aesthetic and business sense.

obakki 1 Obakki 2

From the runway to the real world, if you can call it that: here’s Nickelback at the 2009 Junos held in Vancouver, wearing Obakki. Yup, they do menswear as well.



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!

2010 and fashion

April 14, 2009

I am in a lucky position to be able to witness the effects of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games on the fashion industry and Vancouver’s tourism and economy.

Plum came out with a t-shirt design contest for Qolo, a new line that celebrates Vancouver just in time for the tourism boom to generate a whole new set of customers.

Aritzia has created a line, Park Life, in a licensing deal, as have numerous other companies.

And I’m sure that as the time comes nearer, even more fashion companies will try to take advantage of this onslaught of people coming into town as well as residents who feel the urge to celebrate living in Vancouver.

This makes me think of tourism-themed apparel as a selling point. Back in fall semester when I had Textile Design, I was first introduced to this idea by my instructor, who said it was a very lucrative business because the people who buy are usually big corporations giving away gifts that are unique to the city. Think: Hawaiian screen-printed shirts, I Love New York tshirts.

Will Vancouver be fashionable enough for people to want to wear items that scream “Vancouver!”? And with that comes the question, what is Vancouver? I think it is time to rethink and reinvent the wheel, because a lot of the traditional Vancouver images and icons are out of date and tacky, and Vancouver to me is a very young and fresh city full of a mood I like to think of as relaxed vibrancy.

I think a city becomes fashionable to wear when it is considered world-class, and world-class is gauged in my eyes when the biggest luxury companies and top fashion retailers have flagships within these cities. Vancouver is definitely heading this direction with a whole new wave of stores popping up around the city now and in the near future (Sephora!).

I think this a great time for someone to run with this idea in creating tourism-themed apparel in a fresh and youthful way that is trendy and fashion-forward. $$!

Spring 2009 Vancouver round-up

February 21, 2009

Now that the Spring 2009 collections are coming out, I’ve picked a few of my favorites from the Vancouver fashion scene.

Evan and Dean: “Future Folk [represents the] study of marrying the ancient handcrafts – specifically appliqué and toll painting – with a modern minimalist landscape. So often the future is presented in a way that is cold and untouched by humans [but] we wanted to give the feeling of a future that embraces the warmth


of human contact.” – from I really connect with this concept, one that seems to be catching on, that the future need not translate into shiny space-age suits.

Dace: They seem to have a really good grasp on product development. The clothes are simple, nice, but together the collection is really well put together. The spring09 offering is crisp and fresh, as Dace is now known for.

Lily and Jae: Their collection has definitely expanded, as they are experiencing growth as a company. They seem to have a better handle on their target market and aesthetic after a few seasons. The Spring 09 collection is super cute.

The clothes are definitely very crisp looking, more lifestyle/casualwear-driven. Obakki has a nice Spring collection, a little more high fashion than these other independent labels. Overall though, most of the clothes are wearable and cute, but not necessarily on my “must have” list.

To be continued..

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.


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.

Another goal

January 8, 2009

As an addition to my last post, I’ll also try to bring in a global perspective to fashion, while keeping an eye on Vancouver’s fashion industry, as well as the Canadian fashion front at large.

Even though I myself don’t know where I will be in 1.5 years (geographically), it may only be because there is not enough support within our local industry to allow me to explore and pursue a career in fashion here. But if talent and skilled workers were more evenly spread out through the geographically concentrated areas in the world, then we would all have thriving fashion industries. Then again, I guess it already is as spread out as it can be considering that Vancouver’s population isn’t really that big when compared to other major cities. Its not that I necessarily have to work in a big city, its just that I feel like I may not get the chance to explore the many great opportunities out there if I stay here. But I do love Vancouver.

This is a topic I would like to explore more through research, analysis, and blogging. In a couple years, I may look back on what I write and think differently. I may go exactly where I thought I would, or not. Who knows. I may look back and think “wow, I can’t believe I was ever afraid of moving out and going at it on my own, in _____ no less!” Or perhaps it’ll be a “wow, I can’t believe I ever thought I needed to move to get where I want to go – I can do it right here!”