sweet blogspotting

What happened to Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunch? I’m sorry fellow Toronto fashionophiles, my follow through on the project got lost between all the various jobs I’ve gotten myself into.

Don’t give up on me! I hereby set a date – Sunday September the 24th, on which to hold the first blogger brunch. Stay tuned to this channel for details and spread the word – send me your Toronto fashion links and email addresses, and tell your friends. This is a brunch for local fashion bloggers and readers to meet eachother and talk about whatever we feel like.

Adrian at fashion verbatim is a brand new fashion blogger who’s off to an excellent start with runway reviews, musings on the shameful dearth of good fashion television, and lovely photos by his friend Laura. Adrian’s located in Toronto, I hope he comes to brunch, and Laura is invited too.

Today I am giving some more shoutouts to the crafters out there – there is totally a significant overlap between crafting and fashion blogging – even though I would never characterize myself as a crafty person, I still find crafters fascinating as they often have a broad spectrum of interests, often including fashion or creating clothing.

I am also totally charmed by yarnaggedon – Mandy’s got a rocker aesthetic, shares her knitting and her customized clothing, and thoughts.

There are so many rocking crafters out there – Elizabeth at crafts of destiny has the cutest little chicks, flashbacks to the 90s, and street style inspiration.

Speaking of unbelievably cool creatives, check out what Stereoette is up to – she’s started her very own crafty store! She’s got cute tops and necklaces, and don’t miss the About. I’m excited by these little microbusinesses – it’s turning into a global craft fair.

Last but not least Aiar at right sides facing is truly cunning with a sewing machine – I am very impressed, check out her refashioning of a jacket from Walmart and see. She also has a determined take on the business side of crafting. Her blog is excellent and her links list is a treasure trove. I think she lives in Canada – I wonder if she’s close enough to come to TFBB?

Walmart and Levis

Some brands make me feel fascinated and furious at the same time.

Walmart is like that. One can’t help but be in awe of their logistical system; their staggering domination of fashion retail on this continent boggles the mind. This oldie but goodie that I stumbled across is a pretty compelling portrait of the behemoth.

The Levis story in the article embodies what drives me nuts about Levis – a once-great American company that has lost its authenticity. There is no reason why Levis shouldn’t still be popular – the 501 is an American classic that will never go out of style. The inheritors of the company have lost their focus – selling out to Walmart on one hand and chasing high-end collector-types on the other hand by co-opting Warhol. It seems to me that Levis core customers are neither Walmart shoppers or the ultra-fashionista – the true Levis customer craves the authenticity that Levis represented in the 1960s and 1970s. With the classic cuts are no longer available due to full-package outsourcing – Levis has lost their handle on what was once a truly great American brand. As quoted in the article – “if they stopped trying so hard to be cool, they might actually be more successful”.

I wonder what Warhol would have to say about Levis and Walmart.

He probably would have approved of his eponymous denims – Warhol could sell out with the best of them. But if Warhol was to select a image of a pair of denims for his own prints, I don’t think they would be the Warhol pair. He would have chosen the most iconic, most archetypal pair.

Levis can’t regain their icon status by printing even more iconography (Mao, dollar bills, etc.) on their jeans. The only way to do it is to recapture their authenticity – and it seems like it might be too late to do that. The reason people bought Levis was never because of the fancy marketing – and never because of the low price. It was always because Levi Strauss’ story represented the American ideal. Levis shouldn’t have to spend a cent on marketing their product – everyone already knows what it means (or what it should mean). I think that if Levis spent every marketing dollar on developing their products in North America, standardizing and perfecting the fit, and presenting the product honestly and simply without any extraneous jazz – they could stand a chance of recapturing some market attention.

the bra-makers manual

Currently I am working on a bra project. Now, like most fashion design graduates, I learned next to nothing about making a bra at school and as the “self-supporting” small type I have virtually no personal experience of wearing bras, or trying them on. I have in the past made a bustier and some corsetry, and understand the basic bits (cups, band, straps!)… but I really need to do my homework.

Fortunately, I live in southern Ontario, not too far from Hamilton where Beverly Johnson from Bra-Makers has her bra-making school. Beverly knows everything about bras. I had the great pleasure of visiting her school and speaking with her personally – she is so cool! Beverly was so kind to share her knowledge, and I was fascinated to hear the story of how she became a bra expert. I am so priviliged to have the benefits of experienced and generous industry mentors.

Now I’m back in Toronto reading The Bra-Makers Manual, Beverly’s book – doing my homework! Bras are such complex garments. It seems like every small niche in the fashion industry can easily fill a big book – and I know that this book holds only a fraction of the vast arcane knowledge from Beverly’s experience. It is an excellent book – full of clearly drawn diagrams, written with both the authority of experience and a wonderfully conversational tone. Since I’ve met her in person, I can hear Beverly’s voice in my head as I read it – intimate, amusing, and easy to learn from. She is a natural teacher.

Some people don’t understand how a single garment, a certain stage of the design process, or a single type of fabric, or even a single type of fiber, can easily provide a lifetime of fascination and work. The more I get into the industry and meet people, the more I realize that any industry segment has so much more depth than meets the eye. Someday I expect I will have my own arcane specialization too.

As we all have our different specializations and abilities, I am in awe of the interconnectedness of the whole industry. We all need eachother.

dear Jeanne Beker

I have just finished reading Jeanne Unbottled, and I’m glad I did.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Jeanne Beker’s show Fashion Television. On one hand I do really love to see fashion on video. Also, I really admire all the work that Beker does to bring Canadian content to a world audience.

My enjoyment of the show is really compromised by my hate for the “fashion soundbite”. Beker has a paparazzo/veejay style that I can’t get behind. No one ever seems to have anything coherent or interesting to say at fashion week. It’s nice to get a taste of what it’s like to go to the shows but please spare me the inane small talk. Designer interviews are also sometimes quite cringeworthy.

Part of what used to bug me about Fashion Television was watching Jeanne Beker get snubbed by the fashion snobs, again and again. Sometimes I would identify with the snobs (get that freaking microphone away from me!) and other times I would viscerally feel the snub myself as a geeky Canadian girl many rungs below Jeanne Beker on the ladder of fashionability. I’m a little jealous of her too. All of these things made watching Fashion Television an uncomfortable pastime.

Reading Jeanne Beker’s autobiography gave me a greater appreciation of her style: Beker’s got a ton of chutzpah, she’s got that brassy in-your-face attitude and her background at the CHUM group is really evident with her warts-and-all style of revealing the production of the show within the show. The success of Fashion Television makes sense when you realize it was about bringing fashion to the masses – no surprise that the show developed just as supermodel mania was shaking the mainstream. The celebrity/pop culture/sex angle on fashion was really effective counter to other fashion media of the time which took itself so seriously.

The mainstream aspect of the show is also what turns me off – as an obsessive fashionophile there isn’t the depth or detail there to keep me interested. Only the internet can satisfy my “weird” – all other media have too many people to please who don’t care as much as I do. Still, Fashion Television remains the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing the world’s fashion capitals and the fashion weeks.

The book was a quick read, and the personal parts were both awkward and touching as you realize that Beker identifies as a fashion outsider too. Honestly, after reading this book I do hope to meet her in person someday, and tell her how I admire her spunk. As Canadians we often under-rate our own and in this case I was guilty of that too. Jeanne is an honest and gutsy woman and her experience is worth learning from.

woo, weekend!

Hey! Working life is good. I won’t say too much about it (my policy is to keep professional details off the site – discretion is the better part of blogging), but I am really excited. My work aligns very closely with some of my favourite subjects; contrafashion, the convergence of design and marketing, vertical integration, and supporting the domestic apparel industry.

It’s nice to have weekends, too. This weekend I’m going to do another drawing session… and I’m thrilled verbal croquis is going to do a little drawing too – game on! Just kidding, but seriously! =D

Also, for your clicking pleasure…

Streetwear’s best blog: Don’t Believe the Hypebeast – I am laughing out loud. Streetwear is taken so seriously it’s now as much of a target for satire as any other kind of dandyism. To outsiders like me, it’s extremely amusing how nuances in style can spark such impassioned debate. Streetwear isn’t just about clothes – it’s about a style hierarchy, it’s about money, “authenticity” and extravagant “limited” versions of casual staples – jeans, t-shirts and hats – with ink on them.

I got that link via Footpath Zeitgeist. Mel has a thoughtful and satisfying take on streetwear and hipsterism, as well as a good point about putting a value to blog content.

Oh, and just for fun this weekend I got Jeanne Beker’s book from the library. I’m going to hold off on talking about it until I’ve read it. I must say the cover made me laugh out loud – Jeanne Beker in an evening gown yelling into her cell phone, with a giant floating perfume bottle next to her. Just kidding, but seriously – Jeanne Beker’s style of journalism both cracks me up and makes me want to hide behind the couch. I’m looking forward to learning more about her career and of course all the fashion anecdotes.

Okay, enough clicking – I’ve got to get sketching.


I quite like the new term I came up with – contrafashion – it’s got a little more nuance than antifashion.

What is contrafashion?

To my thinking, contrafashion:

  • Follows the pattern of long-term trends rather than seasons.
  • Focuses on perfecting a few styles gradually rather than developing a whole new collection seasonally.
  • Emphasizes quality and functionality over fashionability.
  • The design effort aspires towards elegant utility.
  • Doesn’t compete on price.

Of course there’s no war between contrafashion and conventional fashion. The market for the microtrend will continue unabated – but unlike fast fashion, contrafashion is a perfect fit for domestic manufacturing. Canadian contrafashion could be the keystone for creating our international identity as a source of apparel design and manufacturing.

Does this make more sense? Any questions, comments are welcome.

clinkity click

There is just so much to learn! Better yet, I can read and think about anything I want, now that I’m not a student anymore.

I am still doing my homework.

What You Can’t Say is a thought provoking essay. Paul Graham is using the idea of how clothing fashions change as a point of comparison to explain how fashions for morality work. Quotes I liked:

“Nerds are always getting in trouble. They say improper things for the same reason they dress unfashionably and have good ideas: convention has less hold over them.”

“By the time you get to social questions, many changes are just fashion. The age of consent fluctuates like hemlines.”

“We often like to think of World War II as a triumph of freedom over totalitarianism. We conveniently forget that the Soviet Union was also one of the winners.”

“The early adopters will be driven by ambition: self-consciously cool people who want to distinguish themselves from the common herd. As the fashion becomes established they’ll be joined by a second, much larger group, driven by fear. [9] This second group adopt the fashion not because they want to stand out but because they are afraid of standing out.”

I don’t agree with everything in the essay, maybe because I’m a giant fashion nerd, rather than a morality nerd. I love being lead down a path of reasoning – it reminds me how much I love and admire a good essay. It takes a lot of craft and work to make a good one… I’m afraid I’ve yet to write my own great essay…

Feel like wasting some time instead of crafting a fine essay? iSketch is like Pictionary on the internet. This is the first internet game in a long time that has held my interest for more than two seconds. Scary.

I’m also reading a fascinating book called Big Cotton… it’s about cotton. We take our commodities for granted too often, and it’s a revelation to realize how a fiber can have such a mercurial influence on politics, culture, and lives.


How can I describe it? I feel like I’m so close to putting my finger on the Canadian fashion enigma, but I am at a loss for words.

It might be anti-fashion but this phrase lacks the right connotations and confuses people. Sometimes anti-fashion is in fashion, as Joi pointed out. Ah, the paradox of Canadian fashion! Yet that paradox defines us.

Of course, I like “final fashion” even better. It’s funny how a phrase I coined for myself two years ago has never been more relevant to my point of view.

My semi-functioning descriptive phrase, the “antifashion Industry” also seems to do another intellectual two-step. On one hand it could be read as “anti fashion industry”. That is, rules apply, but conventions do not. For instance, this world hosts a cacaphony of second-tier fashion weeks. Toronto could have something very different.

I’m not saying that Toronto shouldn’t have another Fashion Week. I quite hope to be able to attend this year and do what I can to raise profiles in my own little way. But for the purposes I’m interested in, I’m trying to demonstrate that the traditional patterns don’t necessarily make any aspect of us stand apart from the international noise. I’m trying to dream up tactics that could save our industry from disappearing.

Antifashion doesn’t have weeks. It’s all the time.

The phrase could also be percieved as “antifashion industry”. That emphasizes there is an industry that produces antifashion. Because antifashion cycles last the entire length of a trend instead of a single season, the look is refined slowly instead of re-establishing every season. The details grade more subtly. Antifashion is so many different things; sports gear, high-functioning work clothing, fetish, as well as standards like outerwear. I find that people are willing to drop for the best when it’s related to their hobby, or to deal with situations that demand a highly functional garment. In these cases even those not into fashion will become extremely sartorial.

I’ve always had a dream of doing the perfect winter coats for Canadian girls. Perfect tailored wool city jackets, comfy and warm down jackets with belts… mainly all the coats I’ve dreamed of while I’m wearing Winter Coats I Hate (like, for 99% of my life). Coats I would build to last for years and years. I’d like function and slick good looks with longevity.

So yes, this antifashion thing is a big contradiction. Maybe it’s not antifashion. Maybe it’s…

contrafashion? opposifashion? defashion? unfashion?

Maybe it’s the word fashion that’s the problem.

double click.

Two new commenters also have neat blogs.

The great quality of my readers impresses me a lot. I always look forward to reading the comments and clicking on your links.

Beth’s site, loxosceles.org has it all… crafting, knits, all sorts of interesting processes and techniques… and bioinformatics. Very geeky, informative, and pleasant reading.

Nadia makes me laugh out loud – this girl should be a Canadian anti-fashion icon! Nadia’s Crafting Adventures is nerdy in the best possible way. This is coming from a self-confessed and proud fashion-nerd.