click click – 31-03-09

Welcome to Click Click, the regular roundup of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

Plus, fashion blog karma, the regular roundup of all my commenters, readers and linkers.

just a thought – dismembership disorganization

In the beginning, there were fashion bloggers.  Then came the coalitions, the affiliations, the communities, the aggregators and the networks to collect and organize them.

This post has been on my mind ever since The Grumpy Owl joined Sayntly.  Grumpy, like most owls, is not exactly a pack animal, and when he joined up (albeit as an agent of chaos) I felt a comment coming on, and it has taken a while to form itself into a semi-coherent thought.

I guess the need to network is born out of the challenges of being a struggling fashion blogger.  Seeking connections and invitations, being frustrated with getting lumped in with Perez Hilton and other bloggers with undesirable reputations, measuring your puny traffic against the clout of larger websites with more people behind them, and of course the ambition to turn fashion blogging from a hobby to a career.

With the best of intentions behind them, networks never seem to… work.  In my experience, networks create politics, not community.  Here is my story, from the beginning.

I started blogging on my old blogspot (RIP) in 2005.  I received no comments or emails for the first six months, but I continued because I enjoyed trying to express myself this way.  My first comments were from Julie Fredrickson at Almost Girl, another fashion blogger in Chicago.  Within a couple months, Julie had launched the first fashion blog “carnival” and the effect was that as a niche, fashion blogging began to have a group identity.  Around that time, the first “fashion blog network” GLAM started sending around long complicated contracts trying to recruit fashion bloggers.  Shortly after that Julie started her own collective community called (in retrospect, very aptly) Coutorture.

I have always been hesitant of joining up with any blogging group or organization.  I like being independent.  I joined Coutorture out of loyalty to my first fashion blogging friend.  Though I was supportive, from the beginning I never understood why fashion bloggers needed a community organizer.  Up until that point the power of Google and the informal network of emails, comments and links seemed to naturally create their own community, so why try to “herd cats”?

Though Julie is my friend, I do not always agree with her.  When we were blogging as ourselves, that was fun – it made for interesting debates and lively comment threads.  In our roles as a member and a leader of an organization, it was more problematic.  When she took positions I disagreed with, as the representative of a network I was a member of, I felt, well, misrepresented.  So I was not a very active member of Coutorture and always felt some misgivings about belonging to it.  The result has been an awkward distance between me and my first fashion blog friend.  Julie has since sold Coutorture, moved on to bigger and better things, and given up the social side of fashion blogging.

After Coutorture, the only blog network I have joined is Independent Fashion Bloggers, which I like a lot (terrific articles and a helpful, genuine community that actively fights the tendency to get cliquish) but still prefer to keep myself at arms length from it.

A lot of fashion blog networks have arrived on the scene.  As Grumpy puts it, there have been some “periodic kerfluffles”, the latest of which is the ridiculous Sayntly/Style Coalition spat.  The thing is, when I think of blogger networks, I think of all the power grabs, cliques, rivalries and exploitation I have observed over the past few years.  While not without exception, I have seen networks exacerbate the worst of fashion blogging, and worse, turn some very talented bloggers off of the medium.

The benefits of blogging independently, in my opinion, far outweigh the benefits of blogging as a member of most types of networks.  Its easier to choose who you associate (or disassociate with), and you have more control over your reputation.  If you choose to have advertising, you don’t have to give up a percentage of it to your representative.  You have the opportunity to form direct relationships with publicists instead of being subject to second-hand accreditation (or blacklisting).  As you build your pagerank, your content and hard work will direct traffic to your site and not an aggregator’s site.

Fashion blogging naturally creates its own informal community.  It is open to anyone, anywhere, and it is full of different characters and new ideas, changing all the time.  In my opinion, disorganization gives the best kind of fashion blogging room to grow.

Have a different point of view?  Or your own story?  I’d love to read about it in the comments.

a week’s worth – 27-03-09

A Week’s Worth documents what I did all week – a little peek into the life of a fashion illustrator and blogger.

At the start of this week I was catching up after the rush of LG Fashion Week, finishing up the runway postcards and posts, and catching up on business.  I am just thrilled with the positive response to the runway postcards!  So many thanks to everyone who posted about them and linked to them, and all the lovely people who bought one!

On Tuesday night I met Deborah, a friend from university who is now working as a high school teacher.  She has asked me to come in and visit her class on Monday – something for next week’s worth.

On Wednesday I walked west to meet clients and run errands.  On my way I popped into Magic Pony to check out the pop-up Visionaire.  The nice salesgirl opened it up for me so I could see how it worked.  You can also see it in action on the website, very cool!  I would love to get commissioned to participate in Visionaire… someday.

Visionaire at Magic Pony

Down the street I dropped in on Steve at HUSH Boutique at 785 Queen West.  He’s been a client since I was in school.  One of that type of entrepreneurs I was writing about yesterday with endless ambition and a tireless work ethic.

Steve at HUSH Boutique

My last stop on Wednesday was at the offices of High Road PR for a “blogger roundtable”.  Anita was there too, and so were other bloggers including The Gate and Trendhunter.  Over sandwiches and beer we got to check out the new LG “Whatchamacallit”.  Its a small, clutch-sized computer that is easy to carry around and optimal for surfing the web.  As LG was the title sponsor of fashion week last week, the wee machines were in the Media Filing Room and also featured on the runway with the Pink Tartan collection.

Checking out the LG Whatchamacallit

Because there is some legal issue with the use of the term “netbook”, LG is looking for an original name for their new tiny computer.  The winning name wins the Whatchamacallit, so please go over and vote for my idea, “IT book”.  Like the “It” bag, get it?  You can also submit your own name.  If you don’t win, you can buy it at Future Shop next week for $549.

Slave to the SQUAREwave

Thursday when I was done working in the studio I walked west again (I often walk west along Queen Street!) to meet my best girls for dinner.  After that, I went to Tattoo Rock Parlor to watch Slave to the SQUAREwave.  My friend Penny Robillard was singing with them.  Slave is a very intense, committed band with a sense of humour, and I find them a lot of fun to see.

How was your week?

client karma – Adrienne Butikofer

I met Adrienne Butikofer way back in 2003, when she was a fashion student at Fanshawe and I was in second year at Ryerson.  We were both interning very briefly at Pat McDonagh, and she hired me to do some sketches for her.  She still keeps those sketches around and occasionally threatens to put them on the internet.  By my current standards, they aren’t very good at all.  But at the time Adrienne was happy with them and I was just thrilled to be able to make a few bucks drawing.

Adrienne Butikofer Fall 09
Concept drawing of Butikofer Fall 2009 – click image for big.

Adrienne contacted me again in summer 2007 as she was preparing her entry into the TFI New Labels competition.  I helped her with the illustrative part of the entry, and once she was a finalist in the competition she hired me as a studio assistant on an as-needed basis to help meet the deadlines.  Since then I’ve had the chance to work with her off and on for various projects.  Its a lot of fun to work with Adrienne in the studio, often doing cutting and patternmaking, and working on samples.  For me, its a counterpoint to the more solitary, less physical work I do in my own studio.  Our collaboration reached its apex (and the end, at least for the time being) when we went to Las Vegas with her Fall 2009 line.  She’s about to have a baby and take a well-deserved haitus.

Even on maternity leave, she still has a lot going on.  She’s currently delivering her snappy Spring 2009 line, and she’s having a sample sale on her website with a ton of terrific deals on favourites like her reworked menswear and skinny sweats.  I am very excited to be reading her brand new blog – I love her writing.  She has a great sense of humour and a compelling candour about her life and her business.

I’ve learned a lot of things from Adrienne about being a fashion designer, and also I think I better understand my other fashion designer clients because of her.  They are a hard-working, ambitious breed of individual who ride the seasons like waves.  From a world of possibilities at the beginning of the season to the rock solid delivery deadlines at the end, its a cyclical path that requires incredible determination, resources and support.

Above everything, designers are driven to do what they do.  Just as it seems that the demands of the current season are overwhelming, Adrienne is always finding fabrics and inspiration and enthusiastically making plans for the next one.  Amazing.  Having had the great luck to work with her in person many times, I am filled with admiration her as a designer and a human being, and feel great affection for her both as a client and as a friend.

I asked her a few questions about her career and her plans.

Why did you become a fashion designer?

I think I originally went to fashion school because I love to sew, and I expressed myself creatively through clothing and how I dressed. It wasn’t until I was at the University of Western Ontario studying science that I realized it however. I think starting my own label kind of just happened. I have always been driven to make clothing, pretty much since high school. I started selling one offs and small runs through little boutiques here and there in Toronto after graduating college. Eventually, I used the New Labels competition as a way to finally catch up with the fashion calendar, and turn my passion into a career. (Hopefully)

What do you love about fashion?

I am really inspired by technique and I love that fashion is a learned trade- skill level and design ability often go hand in hand. I love being blown away by something, when it takes longer than 5 seconds to figure out how someone achieved something with fabric. I find it really intriguing that it’s a necessity of life, and how that may or may not affect someone’s fashion choice. I myself am drawn to functionality, and when pieces have more than one personality. I get really excited by something making sense, with a complex idea but a simple execution, or the other way around. On the other hand- sometimes it’s just about making something cool, or interesting, or comfortable, or necessary. Like skinny sweats– all of the above.

When was the proudest moment of your career?

I don’t think there is one singular moment, but collectively the past couple of years have been great. I’ve worked really hard, pushed forward, and learned a ton. My trip to Las Vegas didn’t turn out that well, and I’ve been on a bit of a downer since- but I am still proud that I did it. The whole experience made me learn how to package myself and my brand professionally, and I really love my collection. There is a lesson in everything, and all these little experiences are making me a better, smarter designer. Unless I fall and hit my head and get amnesia, it’s almost a guarantee that I will never regress into a worse, stupider designer. Everything happens when it’s supposed to.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, I’m eight months pregnant right now. . . so who knows? I can’t possibly pretend to know what my life is going to be like in a month. I’ve pretty much made the decision to skip Spring 2010. I want to spend the summer doing all the things that I’ve put off over the years because I’ve been working 7 days a week- day trips to the country to look for farmers markets; going to the beach on a whim. I’d love to try my hand at canning, I’d love to succeed at gardening. I want to make frivolous things for the baby- like rhinestone encrusted silk dresses. I am hoping for a simple, non stressful life filled with pioneer-like activities that I can do with a baby on the hip. And I shall blog all about it.

But, back to reality, I’ve got my eye on Fall 2010-11. So, I am also going to spend the summer studying technique, researching inspiration and sourcing for it. It’s beginning to brew already.

fashion illustrated – salvaged runway postcards

Every week, Fashion Illustrated features a drawing created especially for Final Fashion.

salvaged runway postcard
salvaged runway postcard

Going through my many rough/botched runway postcards throughout the week, I found a couple scrawls from Philip Sparks‘ show.  As it was my first show of the season I was pretty raw and went through quite a few cards where the outfits were unrecognizable and the proportions were ridiculous.  Tonight I tried to salvage a couple of them with my sable brush.  Definitely looks better than before, and it feels good to use the cards for something better than a false start.

click click – 24-03-09

Welcome to Click Click, the regular roundup of what I find worth clicking on the internet.  This post-fashion week marathon clickfest is two week’s worth, so stretch your clicking finger.

Of course, a lot of links I collected the past two weeks feature Toronto and Canadian fashion news.

Wrapping up the post as always, fashion blog karma for all my incoming linkers, commenters, and friendly internet neighbors.  Bisous!

the LG Fashion Week media guide redux

Like I wrote last week, “Watching the clothes come down the runway at LG Fashion Week is only half the fun.”  The other half is peering across the runway watching the reactions of the other attendees, and of course checking out all of the reviews, responses, and coverage that results.

Since I had no media accreditation, I was a bit surprised to find that the original post was tacked on the wall in the Media Filing Room.  I had more than one editor come up to me insisting that they go to more shows than I see them at.  Well how am I going to argue with that – we have a competitive spirit in this town and the real winners are the designers.  Here is a collection of the best of LG Fashion Week media.

Ok, so maybe all of the columnists really did get a memo from their bosses to join the twitter train.  Still, having everyone on twitter for fashion week made it a lot more fun – and a bit more competitive.  Best – @AndrewEs and @DerickChetty having a tweet-down for the Heart Truth show.

Sponsorship does a blog good, if BlogTO‘s coverage is any indication.  The city blog was fast with the photos and videos, plus party pics and show reviews.  Congratulations to the (big) team, great job!

Torontoist‘s dishy dailies delivered (while frustrating the fashion-illiterates) – Sarah Nicole Prickett’s style satisfies fashion mediaphiles like me.

The Subadult Years learned the lesson I learned the hard way two seasons ago – the people you write about do read your blog, and respond.  Especially when your opinions are very candid and your facts are off.  On the other hand, for those without sensitive egos, the peek into someone’s show notes without editing and softening is a very refreshing read.

The Yuppie Activist wants it both ways – you be the judge.

Calgary Fashion came to the tents for the last few days, her first ever “official” runway beat and she did a terrific job with a lot of enthusiasm.

Fashion in Motion used her all access pass well, bringing daily videos and reviews of the shows.

New discovery (for me) Carelessly Clothed took pictures and posted daily.

Toronto Street Fashion has lots of party pics, outfits, and Daniel’s daily diary.

Other blogs to add?  Tip me in the comments.

The National Post arts blog, The Ampersand, has the fastest reviews by Nathalie Atkinson.  She files them right after she sees them – if she’s too busy to chat in the tents, its because she’s working.  The reviews never disappoint, her impressions are fresh and to the point.

The Toronto Star‘s team had all the angles covered – David Livingstone, Derick Chetty, Diana Zlomisic, Bernadette Morra and Erin Kobayashi, and a team of photographers did profiles, opinion pieces, reviews, videos and photo galleries.  What they didn’t do this season was starred reviews – and as a reader I didn’t miss them.  The Star can be counted on to dig out the conflicts, real or not, which makes reading entertaining and a bit maddening.

The Globe and Mail came to some shows and delivered some reviews, six months early by their standards (or right on time if you follow fashion news).   The G&M a paper with a sophisticated readership, and the style section tries to function more like a magazine than a newspaper I suppose, but for my own purposes it isn’t a go-to paper.  Or website, for that matter, as they insist on charging for archived articles.

NOW Magazine has the cutest feature (a take 7?) on The Deadly Nightshades this week.  Online, Andrew Sardone delivered the fashion week special by blog, as pithy as I promised, and with photo galleries.

EYE WEEKLY brought both the up-to-the-minute coverage on twitter, plus a thoughtful article on Toronto’s forgotten fashion week past.  Well done Rea!

Fashion Television had their videos up fast.  Did you even notice that not every look makes it on the runway videos – I wonder why?  Better yet, check all the interviews with the big honchos.

Fashion File blogged LG Fashion Week – skimming over it I see a lot of photos, an interview and a few paragraphs, but not a lot of video for a TV site.  Do we have to wait until it is on “real” TV?

FASHION Magazine gets it – dailies, reviews, and videos all in one handy link.  Plus, they gave my project a bit of link love!

It took a little bit of looking to find it on the homepage, but FLARE blogged LG Fashion Week daily and a few more goodies can be found for the dedicated searcher.

ELLE Canada has videos on the main page and reviews of past seasons in Toronto but not this one yet.

Did I miss anything?  I love being fact-checked by the best editors in the city, uncap your red pens in the comments.

runway postcards – Evan Biddell

LG Fashion Week in Toronto is all wrapped up now. This season, I am doing watercolour pencil sketches on 4×6 postcards at all the shows I am invited to. The original artwork is for sale for just $50 CDN – if you’d like to receive a fashion postcard, email me for details.  Stay tuned throughout the week for more postcards from more fashion shows.

Evan Biddell Fall 2009
Evan Biddell Fall 2009

Evan Biddell was the proud outlier at LG Fashion Week this season, showing his own signature blend of loud music, loud prints, fierce models, hoods and hefty shoulders.