contrafashion conversation

canadiana,fashion in canada,theory — Danielle on October 11, 2006 at 8:37 pm

Nadia just did a post about contrafashion!

She elaborates on my loose points and then adds some of her own, highlighting the utility/appearance divide, as a continuum.

While I don’t think that the categories utility/appearance are mutually exclusive, I *do* think that all clothing companies have priorities and that these are ordered; either something is designed with more importance on one aspect or another.

A fellow Canadianophile like myself, Nadia brings it home:

I think that a lot of Canadian fashion falls under the heading of contrafashion, clothes which aren’t made to impress or to “improve your image”, but are made for living in. Companies like Mountain Equipment Co-op, Mark’s Work Warehouse and Lululemon Athletica are all companies which aim to clothe the middle class as they life their everyday lives. You’ve probably never heard of these companies if you’re not Canadian.

All this talk about the utility/appearance divide, that gives me an idea! Let’s make a quadrant graph!

Untitled-1

What quadrant do you think Lululemon is on? What direction is it coming from, and where is it heading? Feel free to add arrows and repost. I’ll add my own arrows later… thanks Nadia for giving me something to think about!

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    12 Comments »

    1. Just read an interesting article in CDN Apparel Magazine (Sept/Oct issue, Workwear as Fashion )
      They use Winnepeg’s Richlu Manufacturing’s Tough Duck brand as an example that workwear has certainly made a successful crossover to the fashion side and is becoming quite popular in Europe. It can be found in many high end boutiques in Milan and Paris . I just love the fact that their European distributors stipulate that the styles MUST be Made in Canada, while consumers here get stuck with stuff made in Bangladesh and China.
      Another observation I have made is that many young people are buying brands such as Dickies, a traditional US workwear label and it is becoming as visible as a pair of Levis. This trend has been big amongst certain US urban segments for awhile. I think it
      has finally filtered into Canada to stay.

      This going to totally screw up your quandrant as it is now a very fashionable time for workwear.

      Lululemon should occupy upper right box .

      Good topic Danielle.

      Comment by big Irv — October 13 2006 @ 1:12 pm
    2. Well, I have a bit of a beef with Lululemon. I am a fan of their clothes when they are worn as active wear – not as an everyday, all day, every occasion wardrobe staple! Sometimes it seems that Vancouver has turned into a city of Lululemon (or knockoff) wearing clones. Yes they are comfy and well made and they fit great – but come on people, try a bit of originality, creativity! Not every occasion calls for stretchy pants…and not every body looks good in them! Some of us (including myself) could do with a bit more structure and tailoring.

      I disagree with Nadia’s statement that Lululemon clothes are not about image or impressing people. Lulu is a major brand in Canadian Activewear, and branding is all about convincing people of the need to impress others by their brand choice…the need to conform to an image represented by the brand. In this case the image is trendy, active, youthful but also environmentally conscious (they’ve recently come out with a new line, Oqoqo – organic fabrics I think) and very urban. It’s an image that is tailored to appeal to everyone from the trend-obsessed teen to the still-trying-to-be-hip mom (or dad). The fact that they’ve been able to push their product beyond “activewear” into every-day casual wear is proof that this image is highly desirable…and that little iridescent Lulu symbol is definitely a status symbol in Vancouver and Canada at large.

      When you’re paying upwards of $80 for a pair of stretchy yoga pants, they better come with some sort of status symbol attached.

      Not sure where they fit into your graph, but I thought I’d put my 2 cents in…

      Comment by Stylefinder — October 13 2006 @ 1:46 pm
    3. Lululemon is huge, many people outside of Canada have heard of this company.

      Comment by geekigirl — October 13 2006 @ 11:45 pm
    4. Just another observation. Lululemon is internationally known. In the US, Europe, and Asia. In fact, Chip Wilson specifically came up with name utilizing as many L’s as possible, so the Japanese people would easily pronounce it.

      Why this brand has taken off like it has, being knocked off by so many competitors, I just don’t know why. I know so many others who have done this type of clothing successfully, but none have come close to replicating Lululemon’s relatively fast rise to international prominence.

      Comment by Big Irv — October 14 2006 @ 12:55 pm
    5. I so wish I had the technical skills to do a graph! I guess I’m going to have to go there eventually … in the meantime, I LOVE yours.

      Why doesn’t everyone want to live in the upper right quadrant? It seems the only sensible thing to do.

      Comment by Rebecca — October 16 2006 @ 2:44 pm
    6. I so wish I had the technical skills to do a graph! I guess I’m going to have to go there eventually … in the meantime, I LOVE yours.

      Why doesn’t everyone want to live in the upper right quadrant? It seems the only sensible thing to do.

      Comment by Rebecca — October 16 2006 @ 2:44 pm
    7. I so wish I had the technical skills to do a graph! I guess I’m going to have to go there eventually … in the meantime, I LOVE yours.

      Why doesn’t everyone want to live in the upper right quadrant? It seems the only sensible thing to do.

      Comment by Rebecca — October 16 2006 @ 2:44 pm
    8. OOPS!

      hehe …

      Comment by Rebecca — October 16 2006 @ 2:45 pm
    9. [...] Some interesting comments popped up after my last graph. First, no category will simply stick to a single quadrant. Big Irv correctly pointed out how workwear seems to tumble towards fashionability. I thought that Lululemon is a blend of sports clothing and fashion with a moderate to high degree of functionality. So it floats at the most fashionable edge of the “sports bubble”. [...]

      Pingback by final fashion » more graphery — October 16 2006 @ 8:38 pm
    10. Damn, you are intelligent!

      Comment by Isabel — October 19 2006 @ 3:39 pm
    11. You know, sometimes I think the comments posted around here are better than my own posts!

      Isabel – I’m not intelligent – I just look intelligent because I used a graph. =)

      I’m no Da Vinci!

      Comment by Danielle — October 19 2006 @ 7:34 pm
    12. veryyyyyyyyy interesting your post

      Comment by patricia miranda — October 22 2006 @ 7:22 am

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