reasons I rock

canadiana,portfolio — Danielle on May 31, 2006 at 11:30 pm

I’m just as Canadian as can be. I love Canada. I listen to CBC radio, our national public broadcaster. I read Margaret Atwood novels. I rock out old school to the Guess Who. I say “eh?”. I both pity and envy Americans simultaneously in that smugly self loathing way. I am a proud hoser. My most Canadian trait of all, despite my bloggerhood, is my difficulty admitting that I rock.

In New York, my American friends would accept none of that crap. I’d say “hey, can I hang out with you guys? I don’t want to get in the way, eh?…” and my friends would be all like “duh! What a stupid question!” Or they’d introduce me as “Danielle, the amazing fashion designer,” and I’d be all, “aw shucks, I’m just a recent grad… nothing special really…”

But the truth is (this is hard to write – I feel like an ass) I do rock.

Recent events have demonstrated despite my own doubts that I have mad skills. I can whip up a croquis in seconds, and design a ten-outfit collection in mere hours. I worked hard to get this good. It took a lot of practice. I expect to get better. I keep working at it.
My drawings are fast and lively, while including relevant design data so the construction of the garments I design is apparent.

I do pretty darn fine flats, too. I can whip those up freehand or be more detailed and technical in Illustrator.

I’m a fashion nerd. I didn’t get into fashion for the glamour or the fame. That stuff is interesting to observe but it’s 95% overhyped crap. I just love clothes. And I am just fascinated by everything related to them – from minute construction details to the overall structure of the global industry. I am a total information junkie… culture vulture… I love it. I’ll talk fashion with anyone who’s interested… and I’m curious about what they have to say too.

I care about detail and quality. I strive for the best in my patterns and construction. Even my patterns have to look good – in addition to matching up. This is an ability I’m working hard to improve. It’s such a vast, interesting subject, and I feel like I am just scratching the surface. I’d really like to say I’m not so good at it, but honestly by virtue of how much I care about my work and the level I aim for, I think for a young thing I’m doing pretty well.

Also, I’m a reliable person. When I say I’m going to be somewhere, or do something, expect it to be done! I am punctual (actually early), organized and very conscientious. I love to get absorbed in a task, I don’t like to waste time. I’m happiest when I am working through a problem, using my mind and my hands, improving my skills, completing a goal. I always clean up before and after I work. Getting things organized makes me feel good.

So there it is! I rock, eh? I’ve been told I’m a great employee, so it seems like I’d be a pretty good catch. So pass it on.

Before I sign off this crazy post, I just want to add a couple notes.

1. I don’t want to design for my own label. If I ever do it, it will be in a small and unconventional way. Don’t expect it anytime soon.

2. Though I rock, I’m not perfect. I am all-too-aware of my own not-so-rockin’ characteristics. It’s only through honest feedback that I’ll improve, so tell me the truth, I can handle it.

3. I rock. Did I mention I rock?

lunch with Andrea

blog friends,blogging,fashion in canada,toronto — Danielle on May 30, 2006 at 9:50 pm

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Tung of making things. We had a lovely lunch and talked of many things… our shared alma mater, the enigma of Canadian fashion, job prospects in Toronto… we took a picture too but alas the file was lost!

So far all of my experiences meeting fashion bloggers has been so positive. I really want to have a Toronto fashion blog night sometime soon… I’d love to invite la femme, geekigirl, the gang at torontostreetfashion.com, Christy, Carolyn, and anyone else who wants to come. I’ve never organized an event before so if anyone has any suggestions for a suitable location or any other ideas please let me know!

heat

reviews — Danielle on May 30, 2006 at 8:48 am

Up until a few days ago it seemed like we may have been looking forward to a mild summer, but two record-breaking days later it seems there is no such luck. With a high of 35 degrees Celsius (that’s 95 F in America), under a thick blanket of smog, Toronto has suddenly entered the stinky, sticky, summer.

I know this isn’t a fashion post, but I do have interests outside of fashion, and so do you. The fate of human beings living on the earth depends on a delicate balance of factors. I have just read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and the most amazing thing about that book was the realization of how many extremely unlikely events came together to allow human beings to exist at all. While I have no doubt that human beings will continue for many thousands of years yet, as we are tenacious and hardy, I worry about our civilization. Civilizations are fragile, dependent as they are on the vagaries of weather and resources. I love my lifestyle – I enjoy comforts and entertainments that are so wonderful, I live a rich life despite being a poor university graduate. But it’s apparent that my life, and the lives of so many around me, are unsustainable. In the future we will have to learn to live with much less, if we want to stay alive.

Are you looking forward to An Inconvenient Truth?

I am. I’m hopeful that an interest in sustainability may become fashionable. As we’ve seen in the past with civil rights and women’s rights, fashionability for a cause has a great deal of influence on the political motivation for change. (See, I’ve tied in fashion!) Shiny movies help. So do blog posts. More than anything, so do massive heat waves and smog days. People need to make the connection between their actions and their environment, and nothing will do that sooner than discomfort. Unfortunately we can never rely on human beings to react logically, especially when prosperity in the short term requires myopic rationalization. Nowhere can this be seen more obviously than this continent’s bloated housing bubble… (Clusterfuck Nation is the relevant reading for this subject.)

What’s next on the reading list? I’m looking at James Lovelock. Lovelock paints an uncompromisingly bleak picture of the next sequence of events that our species will have to deal with. Within our lifetime things will likely change very rapidly. It’s apparent that success as a species will take some very tenacious individuals. I’m on the fence on where my own attitude lies. On one hand, I feel that I don’t want to “spoil the party”. This may be the last great days of my wonderful civilization and I want to live and breathe fashion before fashion ends (this is one concept behind my title, final fashion). On the other hand I want to prepare some sort of plan to survive without my modern conveniences when the time comes. And yes, I want to get used to living with a lot less and apply the concepts of sustainability to my own life and work however I can. Will it help? It would be nice, but I’m not hopeful.

the quest – approach and tone

fashion in canada,theory,toronto — Danielle on May 29, 2006 at 7:53 pm

Well I dialed a few numbers today and was pleasantly surprised by some positive responses. You can look forward to seeing some intrepid journalism here at this space and on coutorture, as I take baby steps towards my goal of defining my nation’s fashion identity.

I want to briefly discuss the angle with which I want to approach my quest. Though I am naturally supportive of my local industry, I am not an uncritical cheerleader for Canadian fashion. We have our strengths and weaknesses and I want to be honest about what is working and what isn’t working in a broad sense.

That said, for my interviews I am being very selective of the companies and individuals I feature. I simply will not do a profile unless it is obvious that my subject rocks. I’m happy to announce that I am scheduled to interview one clearly awesome company this week! Stay tuned…

the quest – more online community

fashion in canada,toronto — Danielle on May 29, 2006 at 11:40 am

Beyond the big organizations there’s a little bit of grassroots online community happening to promote Toronto fashion.

Off the top there is torontostreetfashion.com, which actively promotes fresh, independent talent, features local talent in its editorial shoots and has great coverage of events, parties and shopping.

I’ve also found the Toronto Fashion Industry Meetup Group on meetup.com… hopefully they accept my membership application!

the quest – the surf

fashion in canada,toronto — Danielle on May 28, 2006 at 6:17 pm

I’ve been spending Sunday afternoon perusing the internet for pertinent information regarding my quest to understand my local fashion industry. Unfortunately, I am already pretty well aware of what’s on the net for the Canadian fashion industry… and it ain’t much.

The city of Toronto provides a brief overview of what’s going on here. Over 550 apparel manufacturers – well it appears I may have my work cut out for me. According to the city of Toronto, over 50,000 are employed in the local fashion industry, over half in manufacturing. In the same breath, with apparent lack of irony, the overview mentions that tariffs have now been dropped on imports from LDCs.

The apparel industry is represented by the Canadian Apparel Federation. This industry association maintains directories, provides information regarding government regulation, does lobbying, and promotes Canada’s apparel industry. According the CAF, Canada’s apparel industry employs 94,850 people. About three quarters of the industry is composed of small firms employing under 50 people. Census data indicates that 40% of workers are new immigrants. 55% of the apparel industry is located in Quebec, with smaller concentrations in Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia. The CAF also publishes Apparel magazine.

The CAF is associated with the Apparel Ontario, which also features industry news, directories, and a woefully empty online forum. I’m thinking I should post a topic. The question is about what?

The Toronto Fashion Incubator is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting new designer-entrepreneurs who wish to start thier own lines. I have visited TFI and found it to be a very helpful, encouraging atmosphere with invaluable resources for new designers.

Toronto Fashion Week has been rejuvenated via corporate sponsorship as l’Oreal Fashion Week, occuring twice-yearly and featuring local and international designers.

Style Magazine is Canada’s own industry magazine. Is it monthly? Not sure, the previous issues section is rather sketchy. There is some trend reporting and industry news, as well as some fashion editorial (featuring clothing from H&M? why??) as well as a buyer’s guide and directory.

Online, minimidimaxi.com presents itself as a hub for the Canadian fashion industry, also featuring directories, as well as up-to-date fashion show coverage, and ostensibly news, though there appears to have been a dearth of news happening since 2004, and the interviews and articles are also not so fresh. The editors are not named and no contact information is apparent.

Well, that’s the easy stage of my research. It’s pretty obvious that there is not a significant online profile for Canadian fashion in any organized or interesting form. It seems that there are periodic efforts to make sense of the industry but there seems to be a lack of traction or enough interest to merit updating and maintaining websites. There is a definite reluctance to properly promote Canadian fashion which leaves even Canadians wondering if there is any such thing as Canadian fashion. Is it because we are self-effacing or is it because there is nothing here to promote?

One of my favourite local characters, Accordion Guy, offers on his blog a recipe for Toronto to become Silicon Valley. It seems that fashion is not the only industry where Toronto struggles to define itself. Despite the fact that it is a city that is liberal, creative and economically strong, Toronto constantly deals with identity issues. Too often we define ourselves by what we are not or measure ourselves against inappropriate benchmarks (we are not New York and never will be) rather than positively asserting what we are.

The conclusions from this afternoon’s surfings? Well, I now have a set of directories of various levels of updatedness. So despite assumptions to the contrary, there indeed exists a fashion industry in Toronto and I have their telephone numbers. It’s time to start dialing.

If we know what we aren’t, what are we? I believe that Canada does have a fashion identity. I must define it, and then post it.

photo from NY

blog friends — Danielle on May 26, 2006 at 6:03 pm

I just had to post this photo from that same moment the Julie talks about in her article because I love it! Much thanks to Joi at Stereoette for taking the picture and letting me use it here!

Here you see verbal croquis, me, almost girl and behind us you can see millionaire socialite. It was a great moment and a thrill to be there. So glad to have this picture to remember it!

We’re the best-looking barbarians ever.

outsiders

blog friends,blogging — Danielle on May 24, 2006 at 1:52 pm

Julie‘s column about the Gen Art event is up at fashion wire daily! It’s interesting how she put the spotlight on us as outsiders… I am always more comfortable at a party outside, or in the kitchen, away from the crush of the crowd. Away from the loud music I can talk and chill with other outside types… it’s always the best place to be. Smoking is a good excuse to get outside but I don’t smoke, so I’m only there because the atmosphere suits me better. Do the “barbarians” at the gate really need insider’s permission to go inside? Even if I was an insider I’d wander back to the gate because frankly it’s the most interesting place to be.

the quest – discovering Toronto’s fashion industry

fashion in canada,toronto — Danielle on May 23, 2006 at 8:58 pm

Where is the best stuff getting made?

Where are the cool workshops?

Who knows their stuff?

I’m going to be making a survey of the State of the Fashion Industry in Toronto. As a spinoff of another project (aka mission: gainful employment) I am undertaking research in order to discover a selection of companies and individuals in Toronto worth posting about.

Never mind whether they’re hiring or not: I just want to meet people in the industry around here who I can admire and be inspired by. Toronto fashion is sort of an unlikely secret. There’s some great stuff happening here but a lack of exposure. Canadians are not great at hyping themselves. It’s a problem. A lot of the time, we’ve never even heard of eachother.

In my capacity as a blogger at Final Fashion, it has been suggested that I raise the fashion profile of my school, my city and my country just by posting. At first I resisted the idea, after all it’s just me – recognize a certain national-self-deprecation syndrome? Yet it certainly is in my own best interest to encourage my local industry. Imagine how high I could raise profiles if I was actually trying? So I will! I have a quest.

If you have any questions about fashion in Toronto or suggestions of people and companies to feature, email me at finalfashion@gmail.com and let me know. There’s not a lot of available, useful information on the Canadian fashion industry so I will attempt to tackle some broader issues as well. Perhaps if some great posts come out of it I will pitch to other online media too.

What do you think?

may two four

toronto — Danielle on May 22, 2006 at 2:36 pm

The vacation stretches out just a little longer because of May two four holiday, traditionally a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday, but in modern times just an excuse to take two-fours of beers into the woods and drink them. So Toronto is extra-quiet and I am skipping out on the mosquitoes and dirt and cold this year in order to get ready to get back on the path towards gainful employment.

Now I don’t want to jinx my job search by displaying it on the internet for everyone to see but I do have a couple of final interviews this week… I’ll leave it at that. Still hustling…. I’ll let you know when I know.

There was lots of time on the bus to ponder the perspective gained through a little travelling. I left Toronto feeling anxious about my future. Coming back I feel a lot more confident. Witnessing Julie create her destiny in New York City was inspiring. If Julie can do it, then so can I. The only thing that prevents me from meeting my destiny is my own anxiety and fear. These are obviously useless mental roadblocks which I am happy to ignore.

Everyone in New York wanted to know if I was living in New York, and if I wasn’t, when I would be moving there. Honestly, the possibilities there are far beyond anywhere else in North America as far as fashion goes. Hopeful young things like me go to New York all the time, looking for their big break. All sorts of opportunities exist there for young talent ready to hustle against the odds. It takes a very strong personality and a great deal of persistence, and basically a great deal of money makes it a lot easier. The point is that there is a chance that you could be big-time in New York like nowhere else on the continent. But how fast does a poor kid from Canada like me have to run just to stay in the game? Do I have the necessary drive?

Do I really want to be a big-shot? When I close my eyes and try to imagine my destiny, it’s an amorphous haze. There’s no certain desire to be a creative director for a big company or even definite goal to own my own company. There’s no specific material possessions that I want. Everyone wants me to follow my dreams but my dreams are awfully vague at this point.

What I do know: I love fashion. I am fascinated by processes – how things are made, how things are run, and how things work. Acquiring and using skills is my greatest joy. I’ve never regretted learning something new. I am ready to get working and gain experience. Maybe in the light of the real working world a plan will become clear.

So the time has come to take my little portfolio out there. I want to understand my industry, and eventually discover where I fit in. I am open to trying out new opportunities as they come. I think I’m going to be all right.

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