looking back, looking forward… need corrective lenses

Finally I’m relaxed and full of coffee… mucking about on my coat project. It is beginning to get cold and I’m already dreading wearing my woefully inadequate winter wardrobe for another year. So it’s time to get cracking – I’ll take some pictures once I have the first draft cut out.

After a rocky transition I am looking back on what was a pretty great summer. I lived lean and had enough projects to keep me going. I discovered that the traditional resume-and-interview route did not get me where I wanted to go. I realized that I really have no idea what I want to do yet. So far I’ve had a mixed bag of experiences both great and ridiculous… but they’ve all been apparel-industry related. The trend has been on the up and up. Though I don’t have anything much to brag about, I feel like I’m getting closer to what I was meant to be, whatever that is.

Now I have taken on a full-time position and I’m back in black as far as living in the city with a student loan goes. That am-I-going-to-make-it and what-do-I-really-want post-university stress is gone. It hasn’t been an easy transition, especially because the challenge is unusual – but I can’t talk about work stuff on the blog. I will let it be known that I am not a fashion designer – I am a production assistant.

Capital-F Fashion isn’t concerning me as much as it used to. This season’s runways were a blur – rather than catching them the minute they dropped as in the past, I figure I’ve got all season to catch up on what everyone is doing. None of it really seems that remarkable anymore.

I do need clothes though… I have to fix my wintertime urban uniform problem. I can afford to spend a little but I really don’t have the time to shop… and I don’t covet as much as I used to either. There is one thing I really need – new glasses. My old ones are all scratched and damaged. Glasses are pretty important – I have to wear them every day. It’s so difficult to choose a pair. I’d like something distinctive without being weird. Okay, maybe a little bit odd.

Gloria Steinem early eighties tinted?
Gloria Steinem

1950s plastic nerd glasses (like the man-nerd kind, not the cat’s eye)?

Square framed granny glasses? I’m already paralyzed by choice.

Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunch

I just had a fabulous brunch with some of my favourite fashion bloggers and readers! We’re all looking forward to making this a monthly event… maybe at the Drake or something. It’s so satisfying meeting fellow bloggers and readers – we all share so much in common, especially curiousity about fashion both online and around Toronto.


From left to right: Rachel from torontostreetfashion.com, Carolyn from the Toronto Fashion Incubator, fashion blog fan Tiff, a stylist friend of torontostreetfashion.com (so sorry I forgot your name =P), Adrian from Fashion Verbatim (Adrian’s friend Laura took the photo, thank you!), Sonja from torontostreetfashion.com, me, and Anita from I Want – I Got.

Thanks so much to everyone who came and if you didn’t make it this time, you are of course invited to the next one!

too peaked to post

It’s been so busy that I’ve been letting more and more days go by between posts. I miss all the blogging – thanks to everyone who keeps checking back on me and commenting.

First of all, Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunch is coming up – all fashion bloggers are courteously invited to meet at the Future Bakery & Cafe at 483 Bloor St. West this Sunday after 10:30 am for some coffee, brunch and conversation. Feel free to bring your readers with you. Toronto fashion bloggers, you are welcome to repost this on your blog.

Other stuff…

Naked Lunch is an interesting venture at The Toronto Star – Thursdays at noon, fashion editors David Graham and Bernadette Morra have an open discussion on a current fashion topic. Seems like a neat idea, I’d like to try it out some Thursday.

How did they do it? Philips is turning fabric into screens. Take this forward a few steps and we’ll be blogging on our shirts. Weird.

My fellow fashion school graduate Jenn is documenting a project that she’s doing. Take a look at the process she’s going through to create a beautiful, elaborate contest entry.

Here’s an interesting article on how to price an illustration. Guess what? There’s no set number. It’s a complex balance between what the illustrator is willing to do it for and what the client is willing to pay.

read all over.

Some ink and paper shoutouts to some of my favourite bloggers out there! The Financial Post featured a few excellent blogs both local and international in their labour day paper. Click on the image for bigger sizes.


La Femme featured – as well she should be. Adeleine lives a most charmingly fashionable life. Hope she’s back in Toronto for Toronto Fashion Blogger Brunch?

That’s right, Toronto Fashion Bloggers – it is coming up.

Sunday the 24th

Future Bakery & Cafe
483 Bloor Street West

Time: 10:30 am to whenever.

All fashion bloggers and fashion blog readers are welcome. Pass this along to everyone you know who blogs locally and let’s get together and talk about whatever we like =). If you’d like email updates feel free to email me at finalfashion@gmail.com.

stuff is hot

Julie got THE interview. This is an incredible post.
What could top that? Such a highlight.

Ah fashion week. I guess I do kind of like it.

Even some of the clothes I like… even Marc Jacobs clothes!

I love this.

I liked quite a number of looks from this show. Marc takes the exact same boring themes as everyone else (still more mixed neutrals, poofieness and lacy looks) he actually does a great number with the cutting and the layering.

Jeremy Laing pulls the conceptualizing back a bit this year for a minimal, restrained, and very wearable collection. I quite like these looks, and the quietness of the design and the styling of the models is very natural… almost as unpretentious as a runway presentation could be.

fashion weak.

Is it just me, or is it hard to get excited about the clothes for spring so far? It can’t be because I am jaded by the scene – I can count the number of fashion shows I’ve been to on one hand.

The newest trend in fashion blogging is to tone down the fashion week hoo-ha. It’s true, after the last couple seasons of eagerly sifting through the show photos to pick out the best and the worst it’s no longer as interesting to me as it once was. The runway review has become a hacky fashion blogger convention.

Which is a damn shame because finally I can get my hands on some legit images courtesy of coutorture. So far this fashion week has barely moved on from last year – lots of whites and neutrals, lots of volume and layering, some of it awkwardly executed…

(from Ashish N Soni)

… and some of it sweet, but too familiar, too self-consciously “on-trend”. The man-tailored shorts, baby doll dresses, pegged and bubble silhouettes, lacy ladies, are all still there. The dull runways mean that I’m way more interested in Julie interviewing the press veterans, the insider juice from Style Bites, candids from The Sartorialist, and expert makeup analysis from The Beauty Newsletter than actually sucking back the fashion shows. And I know that Julie is running around exhausted trying to upload all the photos, but I don’t actually feel I can add much value to the coverage from way over here in Toronto, other than to point towards coutorture where all the best is helpfully aggregated.

I guess if I could pass any feedback towards Julie and Phil, it would be to avoid trying to be getty or style.com and keep giving us the essence of fashion week – the voices and the inside analysis. It seems to me like fashion week has never been less relevant or noteworthy and that might be this season’s biggest revelation – there isn’t enough behind the hype to get excited about this year. Let’s hope Marc Jacobs gets me all angry later this week so I can take that back.

New York fashion week is here…

… and Julie scored an interview with Cathy Horyn of the New York Times where they talk about the changing role of blogging in
the fashion industry…

Julie makes a case for why blogging should be respected as much as any other kind of media – and Cathy Horyn points out why established players find the concept of blogs intimidating. I agree with Horyn that gaining approval from fashion’s ivory towers is unlikely – despite the accessibility of the media, blogging is not something that everyone can truly do. Large brands lack the personability and authenticity to create a real voice with a blog – and companies that are already successful will fear adopting blogging because they are afraid of compromising their hard-won image. For big business, the status quo keeps them from taking risks in new media. Horyn is right when she points out that blogging will be most successfuly used by the newer voices, and that it is a new kind of fashion communication that is uniquely appropriate for brave young designers and journalists who have nothing to lose.

In my opinion, I’m glad that journalists and designers in the fashion industry are slow to get on the bandwagon – it leaves an avenue open for new voices to be heard. Whereas I would be just another wannabe voice in the crowd if I attempted to break through the mainstream channels (runway shows as a designer, glossy magazines and lifestyle journalism as a writer), blogging allows me a small advantage that I can’t get when I’m competing in established channels. In this world of deafening noise, I’ll take any edge, no matter how small or unpredictable.

And it is unpredictable – there’s no saying where bloggers will be sitting next season, and when labels that blog will be on the official schedule of the major fashion weeks. I’m not entirely sure that bloggers necessarily need to be welcomed into these mainstream channels to be successful. Blogging is not one-size-fits-all – it takes a certain combination of attributes to make it work – and in the area of fashion design it’s not entirely clear yet what a blogging success story looks like.


One aspect of the world of apparel that I struggle to make sense of is exporting and importing. It’s something I never had much of an interest in and I’m now overwhelmed with how big a part things like quotas, tariffs and politics play in the global fashion arena.

On January 1, 2005, quotas on imports from less developed countries were removed in both Canada and the United States. Six months later, after having its market flooded with 800% more imports from China, the USA reinstated quotas on many categories of garments. Which seems odd, considering how the States championed the WTA agreement from the beginning. This means that once the quotas have been filled, an embargo stops shipments from the country in question.

Some devious types try to get around the quotas by a sneaky practice called submarining, or “transhipment”. This is where garments produced offshore are finished or relabelled in a country whose quotas aren’t restricted. Though the USA is targeting other Asian nations suspected of rerouting goods made in China, Canada is not immune to opportunistic relabeling. Not only can the quotas be usurped, but the Made in Canada label holds sufficient cachet that the goods can even receive a higher price with their new labels. With Canada’s market also flooded with imports and the apparel industry suffering, the greedy or desperate go underground, creating temporary relabeling factories to capitalize on the situation.

Relabeling used to be a hack-job, simply chopping off the label and sewing a new one on top, but with the USA increasing surveillance and spending millions of dollars to inspect imported apparel, the submariners have had to take more care – unpicking seams and carefully sewing in new labels so it is not apparent that the product has been altered.

US customs has responded with an even greater degree of investigation and surveillance – even to the point of chemically testing goods to determine their origin and physically investigating factories to determine where the goods were produced. It’s disheartening to realize that despite this great effort the deterrent for submarining is often a nominal fine absorbed as the cost of doing business.

Some fraud is not so involved – there are many cases where goods are just misrepresented on documents. This type of deception is making it more difficult for companies that legitimately manufacture in Canada to export their goods to the United States – which is unfortunate because the United States market is much larger and more lucrative than Canada’s own.

Even the small packages of made-in-Canada apparel that I deal with are getting stuck in the border backlog. For two countries with a “Free Trade Agreement” there is an awful lot of paperwork and as I am no customs broker I worry about making mistakes. As I find myself trying to understand what all of this means I am overwhelmed with the tangles of policies, opinions and documents.

Lots of it (the stuff that applies to me) is soooo boring, and some of it, like submarining, is a little juicier. Often I’m lost in semantics as I couldn’t tell you the difference between duties and tariffs. I wish there was a book written in plain language that could make all of this stuff more interesting. Much of this article was inspired by one of my favourite industry mentors whose rants really bring these topics to life. Beyond the red tape and the incomprehensible charts and graphs the decisions of our governments and the actions of our industry effect everyone’s life – whether it’s your job, your business, or what is available for you to buy.

Are quotas a good thing or a bad thing? What does the US government’s increased monitering of apparel imports mean for the rest of us? I just don’t know… all I’m sure of is that it is “a little bit more complicated than that”.

words for right now

Two phrases have been popping up these days in my conversation as sort of self-amusing asides. Funny how phrases are like clothes… you wear them for a time until they are no longer relevant. Other phrases stay with you even after they’ve worn out.

“It’s a little bit more complicated then that,” a catch-all sort of phrase with sort of ruthless indifference… applies to everything and discourages explaining. Via the show with zefrank.

“It looks like a lot of butter, but it’s not.” I got this one from a cooking show my parents were watching. To be said while casually tossing a pound of butter in the pan. Should be blatently contradicting what is obvious in an offhanded, reassuring way. You can also replace “butter” with whatever applies in a given situation.

Something about the dualities of existence has been getting to me. The struggles of beginning things are all around me – the balance of what I can control and what I can’t, and those daily successes and failures, the imperfect nature of the world. I’m coming up to my birthday – yes I’m a Libra. The scales make me think of my own nature – I tend to see both sides of every question. Or is astrology a crock of garbage?

The other duality that strikes me is the hidden combination for making it in business – you have to be able to simultaneously care a lot and not care too much at all. That doesn’t mean half way – it seems to me you should be able have it both ways. I’m not sure if I can explain this well yet, maybe it will come to me later.

I’m blown away with the passion that Almost Girl has thrown into blogger access for New York fashion week. Julie has shown incredible drive, bringing real fashion week access to bloggers, including link-safe photos and invites to tons of shows. I’m not saying this just because Julie is my fashion hero – coutorture is seriously going to be where all the action is going down.

Julie cares very deeply about what she does – and is passionate about legitimizing our role as fashion bloggers. That means sometimes people don’t like what she’s promoting or how or why she does it – Julie is no stranger to criticism and controversy – and she has to let that stuff slide so it doesn’t get in the way of her mission.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to talk about – you have to be able to invest deeply in something but you also have to let go and keep it in perspective. It’s a balance I would like to achieve.

I’m finishing a novel, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It is set in Bombay in the 1970s, and has a palpable sense of humanity. A compelling set of characters bring a sense of life’s joys, mistakes and tragedies. It’s a very good novel.

A fine balance.