Thursday, November 02, 2006
Hi Sarah Hood, i'm taking care of the student association back cover on the mag, and im trying to get the $200 cheque. Im having trouble with it because i called the guy that is supposed to take care of it weeks ago, and then he never called me back, so 2 weeks later i decided to give him a call back, and he said that hes new at this job and he doesnt really understand what im talking about(the mag) and he would like to know who handled it last year and any other info to help him figure it out. I told him i would show him a copy of a previous mag and come by to ST. James to see him, he said that wasnt necessary. So i was wondering if you knew who handled it last year so i could give him a call and tell him, other then that hes not sure what to do, so hopefully i can get it in on the due date, thanks sarah
White, vanishing in closets all around the world…but only after Labor Day and before Easter
Some, and many, often ponder the question “is it appropriate to wear white in the winter?” Over time there have been reasons and speculations of why white should only be worn before Labor Day, it seems everyone has made it a fashion faux pas. Some don’t even know why they don’t cross this line, but they go by this rule anyway.
One of the factual reasons has to do with temperature. Dark colors attract heat, and trap it into the skin, thus, some avoid wearing black throughout the day during the summer. White reflects light and heat, which means that it would make you cooler in the winter, so logically this seems like a great reason to avoid white during those chilly days.
Another reason dates back to the 1950’s, more and more people were entering being middle class society “nouveau-riche folks.” These people were unaware of the guidelines to follow for fitting in with the high end fashion looks, so there were rules made up to follow so that it would make it much easier to fit in, on of the rules happened to be no white during the winter.
G.R.I.T.S-“Girls raised in the South” have been tagged as refraining from using bad manners, fashion is said to be more formal, and it is rude to wear white before Easter, and after Labor Day. Star Jones is a home-grown girl, and has quoted white shoes, “are for Easter Sunday and not the dead of winter.”
To some, accepting the rule of this white category was descent, but to exempt some of this rule, white tennis shoes and off-white boots have been the exception. Crème colored shirts have sometimes been under the wind, but some don’t even want to touch the subject of white pants, that is absolutely niche’ kit for some.
Have we forgotten about L.A., Florida, and all of those hot cities that get a massive amount of heat during our winter, some that barely require wearing a coat during December. What rules do they follow? Tampa’s Kim McGanty says “I ignore those rules and wear white all year long,” but furthermore she quotes, “but in my native Virginia, I would have died before wearing white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. It just isn’t done.” Spoken like a true Southern Belle. So, I guess it is remotely decided that it depends on where you’re from, or where you live.
As it seems, each year this rule gets smaller and further away. People are now sports long white coats, knitted soft white sweaters, nicely done white stilettos, although pants aren’t yet worked into the mix.
As for men, a man pondered the question on askmen.com “I’m debating the questions whether or not I should be wearing light beige and white pants during the winter.” Askmen.com responds, “I’m personally strict on this, unless you’re lucky enough to travel to a tropical paradise where the weather is always sunny and warm. If you’re a really stylish fellow, then wearing white pants in winter might not be completely out of place. Some guys can get away with wearing things as silly as aluminum foil pants and still end up looking great. Alas, for the rest of us, darker colored pants are considered the proper choice for winter.” Therefore, it goes to show not only do us girls have our own little rule book of fashion, apparently men keep an agenda on the whether and faux pas as well.
There has been a definite increase in breaking this rule. There has never been a rule more focused on by society than a color, white being deemed unacceptable and being so widely embraced. In The Hilltop, 2002 newspaper article, it claims that designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Armani, Channel, and Versace, are on there way to break and make a new rule, having crisp white staples in their fall/winter collection. They call people who “dare” wear white after Labor Day innovative, creative and bold.
I found a list of new rules on a website called Downy.com, referring to this old school white rule, they believe that this white rule has been long gone, as long as you follow a new list of rules on how to wear it right, such as, “Take a classic white t-shirt and pair it under an oversized chunky grey or black sweater with a black pencil skirt or skinny jeans for weekends,” or another example, “It’s a cinch! Try on a waist defining belt to create an hourglass curve. Show off your shape and draw attention with a wide white leather belt.” Then again, why can’t we just wear white, with white?
When will it be socially acceptable to trash this rule, maybe it will go on for centuries more. All I know is that those crazy fashion designers will sometimes ignore, and go by there own book of rules, which in some cases, includes white apparel for winter wear, black jumpsuits for summer, and neon green leg warmers.
As shocking as this sounds, some people have never been aware of this rule, some don’t even know it ever existed. I wonder, is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Everyone has there own opinion on fashion faux pas, and yes’s, but sometimes the average Joe doesn’t care. In a way this is wonderful, some people just rock whatever, and others are out to make a statement, I’m sure some people used to wear white just for the oh so shocking effect on people, and some could possibly have not been aware. Don’t always accuse someone of wearing white wrong, they might possibly be from that hot city, and woops, forgot. As much research as I did, the wires still aren’t touching, I am clueless as to whether we have agreed on making a new white rule, it seems everyone’s opinion is totally opposite.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Are we as a society obsessed with our looks?
It seems like everywhere you turn, whether it’s in the magazines or on television, we see celebrities with the “perfect look.” They have the best bodies and are camera ready all the time. Though it is often reported that these beautiful faces and figures, aren’t always 100% natural. Many celebrities go under the knife to achieve, what they call perfection. In recent weeks it has been said that Ashley Simpson has received a nose job. She has responded to these accusations by saying “maybe I have, or maybe I haven’t!” Though she isn’t alone, because there are many other celebrities, who have also been accused of having cosmetic surgery such as: Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Catherine Zeta Jones and Nicole Kidman. However they have denied these allegations. Tara Reid a Hollywood actress on the other hand, confessed to having cosmetic surgery, when it went terribly wrong. She admitted to getting liposuction and breast implants, but both surgeries didn’t go as planned, and she was very unhappy. She then had to undergo more surgery, to correct it. Tara Reid then vowed to never have cosmetic surgery ever again.
There is a certain amount of pressure these days to look perfect. Though celebrities are not the only ones, who are feeling the pressure. More and more, everyday average people are having cosmetic surgery, to enhance their looks. It has become so acceptable to society that it is almost considered normal. Girls as young as 18 are, getting cosmetic surgery everyday. What is the reason for this sudden urge to be perfect? It is now said that if you don’t like something about yourself, change it! Get a new one. Remove it, enhance them, it’s all completely okay, though is it? Is it okay to change your look if you’re unhappy? Apparently a growing number of people feel so.
It seems as times change, so does the trends in plastic surgery. There have been an increasing number of rhinoplasties in clients under 30 years old this year. Doctors have stated the trend used to be almond shape eyes, and then it was the pouty mouth. Now it’s the thin nose. It was reported that 300,000 rhinoplasties were performed in 2005. Thankfully rhionplasty surgeries have shifted from the one size fits all, to a more individualized refinement from person to person. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), over 1 million cosmetic surgeries were performed in 2005. Liposuction led the way, with Rhinoplasty (nose job) and Breast Augmentations following closely behind. There is such a high demand for cosmetic surgery these days, waiting lists for certain doctors, are over 1 year. The clients are mostly women between the ages 18 - 35. Though there are an increasing number of men customers getting cosmetic surgery as well. They too are feeling the pressures of looking perfect and being accepted. The cost isn’t cheap and liposuction can cost from $2000.00-$15,000.00 depending how much you’re having done. Rhinoplasty surgery can cost you $4500.00-$13,000.00 and Breast Augmentation, $5000.00-$12,000.00. These costs are very high, yet that hasn’t seemed to discourage these clients. There are many other procedures that are popular and they are: tummy tucks, brow lifts and face lifts. The healing time for these surgeries varies depending on the person. It is said that a nose job can take up to 1 year to heal and set properly. Botox injections are also the new craze among the stars. However they are not the only ones heading out to their doctors office, for the quick fix. It was reported that their were 3.8 million uses in 2005. Botox injections stop the aging process and help to find the fountain of youth. They smooth wrinkles in the face, raise/arch eyebrows and injections in the end of the nose can slightly lift the tip. This procedure has become so popular because there is no downtime, low cost, and minimal discomfort. Though botox is not a permanent solution, treatments must be repeated every four to six months to maintain results. The upside is that these minor procedures are harder for the untrained eye to spot. Injections are usually $500.00 a pop.
There have been many debates on whether plastic surgery is right or wrong. Some feel if you are not pleased with a certain feature or body part, you have every right to change it. They argue it’s their money and their body and they can do as they please. While others argue that plastic surgery is wrong. They believe that you should be happy and accept what you were born with. They also feel that if everyone gets cosmetic surgery to resemble their favourite celebrities, we will all eventually look the same. There won’t be any individuality from one person to the next. Though who is right when it comes to this argument. With shows like Extreme Makeover, Swan and Skin Deep encouraging cosmetic surgery, it’s kind of hard to not question your own looks. These shows basically take people who are very dissatisfied with their appearance and change them from head to toe. Sometimes at the end of the show you can barely recognize if it’s the same person. They seem happy and so does their family who is seeing them for the first time in several weeks, at their big reveal. Though are they really, once the cameras stop rolling. It can be quite an adjustment to the participant and their family. The person they’ve seen and grown to love, looks completely different. They often look overdone at the end, sometimes looking very unrealistic or too perfect. In some cases people can have excessive plastic surgery and it looks awful afterwards (ex .Michael Jackson). Usually they do this to correct a previous surgery they are unhappy with. Though they tend to never be satisfied resulting in more surgery, and the vicious cycle continues. We as a society have become so desperate to look beautiful, that we would go to the extremes of auditioning for a makeover on national television, for all to see. Forget being private or secretive, when it comes to cosmetic surgery, which is how it was back in the day. Apparently we don’t care if everyone knows we got a new pair of breast or a new nose, as long as we get them.
Paying for these procedures is sometimes hard on the pockets, but there are many forms of payment available. Cash, credit card, certified cheque and money orders are all accepted. Now financing is also available to you if you can’t afford it. So if you want a procedure done, and you don’t have the money, you can still get the surgery. No need to save up anymore. Doctors are making it so easy for you to be able to afford it. You are basically given the option of putting yourself in debt to get your dream surgery. It almost seems like they are encouraging you to have cosmetic surgery, and why wouldn’t they, it’s more money in their pockets. There are also many dangers involved when getting cosmetic surgery. Doctors are required to inform you of all the possible complications that could occur. Though these danger warnings are not persuading the minds of these determined clients.
At the end of the day, the big question is “Why are we so unhappy with our appearance?” Is it because many of us grew up teased as a child, or did someone call us ugly recently. Maybe it’s the picture perfect role models we look up to, who give us the desire to change our looks to imitate them. Or, could it be that it’s just so darn easy and accessible to us, so why not give it a try. Being socially accepted these days, is so important to us, that we will go to extremes to look perfect on the outside, but does it change who we are on the inside. Some feel that it does because if you look better, you’ll feel better. While others feel, if you are unhappy with yourself, no matter what you do to your appearance you’ll never be satisfied. Unless you take care of what’s on the inside first. Cosmetic surgery, is it right or wrong? There is no correct answer because it all depends on the individual. If you are unhappy with your look, should you be able to change it?
“It’s an issue that has divided women much more than it has aided their cause”. The author Linda Scott, who also describes herself as a feminist, wrote these words. There has always been dissimilarity between women who are fond of fashion and women who believe that putting effort into the way you dress is a sign of low self-esteem. Can a woman put effort into the way she looks and still advocate women’s rights?
Feminism is something that the majority of women believe in and fight for on a daily basis, yet not always consciously. I believe that every woman has the right to be anything she wants. Still, not all women will agree. The harsh reality is that feminist women who care for their appearance are often not taken seriously or even scolded by fellow feminists.
Modern feminism is divided into two different categories, the “true” feminist and the “fake" feminist (the more common of the two) and this division is a gross hypocrisy. By definition, a feminist can be either gender. The definition of feminism has been so misinterpreted that it is like a secret society where only certain women can join. In the early days of feminism when women first started to work outside the home, feminists were displeased because some women still chose to stay home. “A housewife is a parasite”, writes Betty Freiden who describes herself as a feminist writer.
Feminism has helped women all over the world become their own person, through voting, and demanding to be viewed as equals to men. On July 19th, 1948, a resolution was passed that women had a right to vote, thanks to one woman who had the courage to stand up and be heard, her name was Elizabeth Cady Stanton. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Stanton and Susana B. Anthony, together became the driving force for the Women’s Rights Movement. Back when women were viewed as the property of men and a value of their home, these women, and women after them stood up and demanded rights. These rights now give us the freedom to become who we want and they give us equal opportunity. But this wonderful movement, taken to the extreme, can be counter productive and take away freedoms. They shun any woman who dyes her hair or paints her nails. It is wrong to say that feminism is bad, or has not helped our grandmothers, mothers and our children in the future generations. Modern women today choose to be married, while some are single parents and others live on their own. We have equal rights as men, and sexual harassment laws are in place to prevent mistreatment in the workplace and in society in general. Women are leading ladies of Canada, and many aspects of businesses around the world. Michaelle Jean is the Governor General of Canada, Anna Wintour is the editor in chief for Vogue (one of the biggest fashion magazine’s around the world), and Kimora Lee Simmons is the CEO of Baby Phat (one of the most successful female hip-hop clothing brands). These women would not be able to become these huge successes if it wasn’t for the women’s movement that began many generations ago. These women who came before us, through their act and struggle have created limitless opportunities for women to follow.
The “anti beauty” ideology that has dominated feminist thinking about dress and personal appearance for 150 years is something that modern women have to struggle with. There are many aspects of the feminist movement that are also not fair, and are creating two types of women. Women, who do not color their hair, shave their legs or follow fashion. On the other hand there are women who find pleasure in “girly” things, such as manicures and facials. Who gets to draw the line of where a true feminist is, and one who is a plaything on a man’s arm? Instead of women joining together and standing in unison, certain women are delegating who is who. A woman who gets breast implants, or buys a coat that is worth more than her car, is more likely to do that for her self-confidence rather than to attract the opposite sex. But if a woman does get breast implants for more male attention, who has the right to tell her that she is in the wrong? Isn’t feminism about women feeling good about them and being confident in their skin? Women who are feminine and are into fashion and appearance should not be punished and looked down upon, they should have the right to dress and feel the way they want. Deep down no woman really dresses for a man anyway, it’s for women.
A well-known feminist author Jane Smiley was a feminist who believed that true feminists did not show themselves from the outside, and always had her hair cut into a short boy style. After many years of living her life this way, when she reached her mid forties she realized that she was not getting any male attention from the men she wanted. She went to see her therapist, who in turn sent her to his colorist. Standing in front of her mirror admiring her newly colored honey blonde streaks she realized that she would hate to give that up.
In the world of fashion, does it make sense that designers are making clothes for a population that only exists on the runway?
There has been a lot of controversy this past year surrounding celebrities and models looking deathly ill due to their weight. The amount of pictures that have been made public of actresses like Kate Bosworth, Keira Knightley, and Hilary Duff looking too skinny for words has put pressure on the fashion industry to stop putting so much emphasis on the weight of models. But is the answer to this problem making models eat a few “Big Macs” or is there more than one view to this issue.
People who are familiar with the fashion industry and fashion shows know that the average model is anywhere from a size 0 to a size 1 as well as being around 5’9” to 5’11” in height. But what some people and most designers forget is that the average woman is around 152 pounds and is roughly 5’3.7” in height. The clothes that a designer is making for a model cannot be the same cut and style for the average woman walking down the street, it simply does not work. Despite the fact the styles and trends are adapted for the regular world and changed for average people does not mean that a size 16 woman should be wearing the same type of clothing as a size 2 woman. Trends should not be universal for all sizes because it makes people either afraid of fashion, which is a horrendous thought, or it makes them look ridiculous just because they want to be trendy, and what is wrong with wanting to be trendy? One of the things that has been said a lot in regards to models and designer garments is that the clothes would look better on women with a little more “meat” on their bones, girls who have a healthier appearance and a curvier body. But the women who are saying that are the women with the curvier bodies. Those are some of the reasons why designers and models are getting such a bad reputation; they are ignoring the public’s needs and wants.
Another issue with underweight models being highly viewed in the public is the effect they have on the younger generation. Little girls are seeing super- skinny models and actresses on television and are looking up to them and all they see are the things they want to have when they grow up; fame, fortune, beauty, and a weight less than their age. Although there is some controversy in whether the fashion industry is solely responsible for the increase in eating disorders with young women; they are definitely a contributing factor to why things like dieting and exercising to the point of exhaustion are becoming increasingly common.
The other side of the spectrum deals with more of the opinions of the designers and the modeling agencies. One of the biggest reasons why designers make clothes for rail thin women with seemingly large heads, otherwise termed “lollipop girls” is because they are the ones with the money to buy the clothes in the first place. Most of us “average people” do not have to money to buy the clothes, let alone the body to fit into those clothes. Really the designer is marketing towards the audience at their shows who will order something right off the runway and who will make them the most money. The designer is not targeting the people who will wear their designs after they have been adapted and stripped of their designer name. To a lot of designers their designs and clothing is an escape; it is a way for them to express themselves without too many repercussions. So a lot of them believe it is their right to display their garments on whatever size a model they see fit. Some people also think that fashion and especially runway shows are a kind of fantasy so in a way it makes sense to have the clothing on people who look like they would only appear in the movies and on television. So in this way fashion goes hand-in-hand with people who play different characters as their career.
With the events that occurred this year in Madrid, another opinion in this everlasting debate was opened; is it alright that models are super skinny so long as they are healthy? During Madrid’s fashion week the organizers decided they did not want the typical “lollipop girls” to be modeling the clothes on the runway, they would rather portray a healthier image of beauty. According to CNN.com the organizers used the body mass index or BMI to decide which girls would walk and which ones would sit this one out. The body mass index uses a persons height and weight to determine if they are underweight, overweight, or at a normal, optimal weight. This was a very good thing for them to use because it makes it less about who looks too skinny and more about who can actually be that skinny while maintaining their health. The reason why the organizers did this was due to protests about younger girls wanting to look like models and eventually developing eating disorders.
These issues have come to the forefront in recent years but they have been a part of the fashion industry for decades. So will the fashion industry ever change, should it change, and who’s right is it to make some changes happen? In the fashion industry there are 2 kinds of people the super thin and the plus size; there is no middle ground for the average person. Should there be an average sized model? Is that how everyone will finally be happy with the fashion industry or will it just cause more problems? This is an issue that does not have an easy answer; it is up to the individual to make their own judgments and come up with their own conclusions. The only sure thing is that so long as there is fashion there will be controversy.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Please note that next week in class (November 7) will be the deadline for many things!
-You must read the feature articles posted on the site so we can choose two or three for the magazine in class on the 7th.
-Ideally, you'll have your Fashion Week reviews and your George in the City interviews ready to e-mail to me on the 7th. If not, we must at least know exactly what to expect so we can plan the page layout.
-Similarly, even if you're late with the money or the artwork, we need to know next week what ad bookings are coming in.
-Finally, I need the five writers of the services pieces that are going into the magazine to e-mail the edited versions to me this week, so I'll have them in both inboxes after class on the 7th.
(Also: a reminder to edit our online writing and sign it, even if it's not going into the magazine.)
Happy Hallowe'en, folks!
Physicians frown on fashionable gigantic gym bags. By: Abigail Jesion
Jessica weighs 125 lbs, and her cute, stylish, lululemon school bag is 35 lbs. She has three textbooks, a binder, her lunch and supper, school supplies and some personal items. She is walking from the station to school and is slightly bent over on one side, trying to manage her large load, coffee, and a cell phone. Can you relate to this?
Lululemon and Puma bags are all the rage for a choice of school bag. Have you given thought to the fact that these oversized bags can be detrimental to your body? Are you wearing your backpack properly? Are you carrying too many textbooks in your bag? It's become an all-too-common sight: students bent over from the weight of giant backpacks filled with heavy books, binders, folders, laptops, iPods, food and other assorted personal bits and pieces. Here is some information about the risks associated with heavy backpacks — and how to avoid them.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 21,000 backpack-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms, clinics, and doctors’ offices in 2003. Shockingly, 55 percent of students carry backpack loads weighing more than 15 percent of their body weight, and one-third of those students said they have back pain. Most of the students surveyed are carrying backpacks weighing more than 20 percent of their body weight. Doctors say that your backpacks shouldn't weigh more than 10 percent of you body weight. Take your bag and weight it on a scale if you have to.
This issue is a bit controversial, as there's no proof that backpacks specifically cause back problems. However, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Physical Therapy Association have set various guidelines that should be followed with backpacks to reduce the potential risks associated with them.
A heavy backpack might also contribute to students experiencing posture problems due to leaning too far forward, rolling their shoulders and causing a more rounded upper-back. They are forced to tilt their head up to see properly, which strains the back and neck muscles and can cause nerve damage in the neck. Carrying a heavy backpack can be a source of chronic, low-level trauma.
Students might also lean backwards from the weight, which can modify the bend of the back and cause stress fractures in the spine. If they wear their bag on only one shoulder, they might walk tilted to one side and experience neck pain. In addition, if the straps on the bag are too thin, they can dig into the neck and shoulder muscles and potentially cause nerve damage in that area. This is especially relevant to the large growth of gym bags as a preferred choice to students. They are putting all the weight on one side of their bodies, causing a lot of stress and trauma for them on a constant basis.
One problem seen in nearly 6 percent of students complaining of back pain is spondylolysis, which is a stress fracture in the back that can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. One could also experience apophysitis, which is an inflammation of growth cartilage, often found in the heel. It is commonly treated with plenty of rest, a brace, and stretching exercises. A backpack load that is too heavy also causes muscles and soft tissues to work harder. This may then lead to extreme strain and fatigue leaving the neck, shoulders, and back more susceptible towards injuries.
Always be aware of the warning signs of an overweight bag. A key sign is if you notice yourself complaining of back pain. There is something wrong if your posture changes ie. leaning forward, backwards, or to the side once you have your backpack on. In addition, excessive redness on pressure points such as shoulders means the bag is too heavy.
If these problems are caught early enough then back pain can be reduced or eliminated. Carrying heavy loads can cause serious problems down the road if it’s not corrected early. Be sure to be aware of how much your bag constantly weighs.
The first thing one should do is purchase the right kind of backpack. It should have padded shoulder straps, as it will distribute the weight of the bag evenly over your shoulders. Also, a bag that comes with a waist belt will help distribute the weight throughout your hips. Shoulder straps should be adjusted so the bag rests at the middle of your back. If the straps are too tight, it will be difficult to get the bag off; if it is too loose, it will cause you to lean back too far. A bag with a padded back can also be beneficial in removing some of the pressure. As a possibility, one should look into a bag with wheels that you can roll around.
You should always wear both straps and compartmentalize your belongings so that all the weight in the bag isn't in one place. Gym bags do not offer this type of support because they are lacking in dual straps. In addition, you should sort through your bag every night, choosing only what you need, so that you don’t have to carry extra baggage. It is recommend taking multiple trips to your locker rather than carrying six books around all day. If you must carry a lot of books, keep some in your arms to balance out that uneven weight.
It’s understood that these suggested bags are not necessarily fashionable or trendy. Shop around and try to find a nice backpack. If you can’t find one, decorate one! Or just downsize on the amount of contents that enter your bag. You don’t really need ten pens or pencils and five lip glosses in your bag. Rent a locker and drop off your belongings throughout the day.
Fashion need not clash with one’s health, or come at the expense of it. Plan ahead, and realize the dangers. It is your prerogative to safeguard your wellbeing. Will you?
Faking it is big business and just keeps getting bigger. Consumer supply and demand has aided in driving it up over 10 000 percent in the past decade. With seven percent of world trade now in counterfeit goods, the International Trade Commission now estimates the market in illegitimate goods at least $600 billion and an enormous threat for the global economy.
In March of 2006, Washington acknowledged the need for international intervention with Bill 32, the “Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act”, the first threat to the Flendi bag in over 20 years. Revising federal criminal stature, this is setting a new international standard by adding the mandatory forfeiture, destruction and restitution of offensive goods not to mention increased prison terms by up to 20 years for the offenders.
Global response has stepped up significantly in the past year, with reports of hundreds of millions of dollars in seizures sending garbage bag toting vendors scurrying from Canal Street and Milanese marketplaces and lawsuits from Fendi, Tommy Hilfiger and Coach leaving retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club scrambling.
The economic impact can be startling when we take into account the depressed cycle created by counterfeiting that begins with decreased legitimate retail sales and ends in the loss of jobs in the manufacture, distribution and sale of legitimate goods. Equally concerning is that the FBI and Interpol estimated $250 billion in lost revenue caused by counterfeiting is money not paid into taxes and thereby schools and hospitals.
At the very heart of the issue is simply a matter of intellectual property. Though the idealism of recognizing and withholding the legally defined creative integrity of trademarks and copyrights can become cloudy when multi-billion dollar corporations are the benefactors, the principle remains unchanged. That LV Speedy bag was created by an artist whose monetary success shouldn’t jeopardize his right to exclusivity anymore than the fledgling designer in the studio on Queen Street.
This begs the question: if a bag isn’t making money for a luxury goods conglomerate, then who is it making money for? The answer is organized crime, terrorist groups and even dictatorships. Until very recently, the low risk of prosecution and enormous profit have built counterfeiting into an extremely attractive enterprise for criminal and terrorist groups to raise and launder funds. The China town Berkin is very often worth far more than its bargain basement price tag upon arrival, with illicit drugs smuggled in through its lining. The links between Al-Qaeda, Basque terrorists ETA and fake Rolexes, shampoos and high society handbags are charted in seizures containing terrorist training materials among the cheap couture and Montblanc pens. The business starts with imitation luxury goods and ends with narcotics, weapons, money laundering and grand theft which can leave us guilty of a crime far beyond simple thrifty materialism.
So criminals make the profit, but who makes the handbag? It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the answer is always child labour and in conditions far worse than any legitimate Nike sweatshop. The International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition reports that factory workers are often handcuffed minors in the most dire of all assembly lines. The metaphorical blood stains on a knock off often set the bargain basement price.
As a concerned consumer, is it possible to build a guilt free designer wardrobe at a fraction of the Holt Renfrew price tag? Not likely. The biggest rule in honing your consumer instincts to match your fashion sense is that when the price sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. This means closing your eBay account and coming to terms with the fact that the designer discount warehouse whose wares come out of garbage bags does not have a Louis Vuitton licensing agreement no matter how flawless its renditions. Yes it is true that authentic stolen bags can be found streetside from time to time but the moral dilemma remains unchanged. When haute equals hot, it also equals plain theft. End of discussion.
If you are in doubt as to the authenticity of a legitimately acquired purchase, check out the advice of websites such as www.mypoupette.com, which can help point out the details to investigate or take it straight to the source at an authorized dealer.
If you simply can’t resist carrying the silhouette of the season, make sure it’s a similar, or inspired by bag, which are entirely legal, very well made, inexpensive and obviously not authentic, despite familiar details. These are available legitimately at many retailers and will often only vary in the trademark pattern.
Sacrificing a season must-have for a clear conscience is an effortless feat and only frees up cash to be spent on the wares of local designers and other beautiful and legitimate goods that don’t rob lives, ideas, jobs and security to line their own pockets. Also, there is absolutely no crime in finding great deals in consignment shops that flog the cast offs of the privileged or simply modifying your tastes to match your budget.
Monday, October 30, 2006
For many of us a typical day involves waking up for a day at work or school, a meeting with a significant other or group of friends, and perhaps a little shopping. Health and happiness are too often taken for granted in the consumer-driven culture of developed countries. And as we indulge in the fruits of our privileged society, people in Africa are dying by the million of AIDS, a disease that with proper treatment can be controlled. Amid the media’s constant stream of advertising and entertainment we are reminded that the need for donations to this cause is urgent. (PRODUCT) RED is a new and unique economic initiative that aims to eliminate this tragic issue by putting consumer power to work.
(PRODUCT) RED is a branded product line created by Bono (of U2) and Bobby Shriver, co-founders of DATA (Debt AIDS Trade Africa), the public sector of the global fund for AIDS relief in Africa. It was launched in the UK in early March of 2006, and next in America in October of 2006. Gap has also recently launched its (PRODUCT) RED line in Canada, France, and Japan, and other participating companies are sure to follow suit in the near future. Its main objective is to engage the private sector by using businesses and shoppers as a vehicle to raise awareness and money in the fight against AIDS. The plan is to have some the world’s most powerful companies create a line of products, and to contribute up to 50% of their profits to AIDS relief. Iconic brands such as GAP, Converse, Giorgio Armani, Apple, MTV, Myspace.com, American Express (UK) and AIM have all graciously signed on the dotted line, which means that these companies will license the (PRODUCT) RED mark. Companies that choose to market this brand make a 5-year commitment promising to produce unique products that reflect their individual personalities and appeal to their target market. For example, GAP and Armani are creating everything from t-shirts and jackets to sunglasses and belts, with fragrance lines to come in the near future. Converse has not only developed a line of (PRODUCT) RED sneakers, but has also decided to embrace its customers’ creativity by launching MAKE MINE RED, an online feature granting shoppers the opportunity to submit their own footwear designs. Motorola and Apple are the 2 electronic head liners for (PRODUCT) RED. Motorola has embraced this initiative by becoming its worldwide wireless partner, creating unique phones specifically designed for this cause. Apple has come up with a new, limited-edition iPod Nano with a shiny red enclosure and top-of-the-line features. Sound appealing? The incredible thing about this line is that it capitalizes on our consumer appetite; the products are everyday things shoppers already find in their favourite stores, but by choosing this particular brand, you’re not only helping yourself, but helping to save lives.
Shriver says that through this initiative "[w]e want to change history by writing its future. With (PRODUCT) RED, consumers can tap into the power of commerce to do something amazing and unprecedented. Our partners have created incredible products that consumers will want and need, which is the beauty of (PRODUCT) RED. We’re not asking anyone for a donation or for them to change their behaviour. People buy things every day. But now when they buy (PRODUCT) RED, they will look good and do good - and that’s good business."
AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa, with approximately 3 million people dying every year. Another terrifying statistic is that 25 of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the world are living in Africa. More startling still is that 60% of victims are women who pass the disease onto their unborn children, who in turn become orphans when their parents succumb to the disease. Bono describes the serious need for increased awareness and support in the fight against AIDS in Africa and the symbolic nature of the product line’s name: "AIDS in Africa is an emergency. That’s why we chose the colour red. When you buy a (PRODUCT) RED product, the company gives money to buy pills that will keep someone in Africa alive. The idea is simple, the products are sexy, and people live instead of die. It’s consumer power at work for those who have no power at all."
Surely doing your part to fight AIDS in Africa by buying (PRODUCT) RED sounds like a good idea. However, you’re probably thinking "but I don’t want everything I own to be red!" Those companies who wish to stay true to the brand name may do so, but making products only in the shade of red is not a requirement. What makes an item (PRODUCT) RED is the red logo superscript that each product will bear.
One thing that must be made clear about (PRODUCT) RED is that it is not a charity. As stated earlier, it is a commercial initiative promoting awareness and contributing funds for the private sector of the global fund to fight AIDS in Africa. Their intentions are not for consumers to donate all of their money, but to help save lives while living a normal life. It is believed that many will purchase these items completely unaware of this organization or what their purchase means for AIDS victims in Africa. Professor Richard Feachen, Executive Director of the global fund, describes (PRODUCT) RED as "a brilliant and effective response to the greatest global crisis of our time – the HIV/AIDS pandemic. There is no one way to solve this problem, but (RED) has come up with a smart and unique way to do so." I couldn’t agree more.
For more information on the (PRODUCT) RED line visit www.joinred.com.
In recent years the model figures that are gracing the covers of our magazines and starring in the movies we watch, have created and immense confusion to the actual definition of a healthy body image. Actresses of such include, Heather Locklear, Nicole Kidman, Calista Flockhart, and Renee Zelwigger. And more are becoming stick sisters as we speak because of the high competition in the industry. But have these stars gone too far? Choosing frailty and fame rather than risk of being criticized for having curves? As quoted from this past years Emmy Awards red carpet, Jennifer Aniston, 30, adds, “My God, these girls make me look fat!” Feeling the pressure much, Jen? This is having personal trainers around the world fuming mad and losing work. Years ago working out was the only health conscious way to lose weight and now drastically reducing carbohydrates in your diet is the sure fire way. Here is the beginning of our serious dysfunctional journey. As the beautiful figures of our time take eating disorders to a whole new level. Diseases of poor nutrition like these can cause infertility and osteoporosis, just to name a few, which can put them at risk for fracturing bones depending on the type of activities they are involved in.
So let the beautiful-yet-emaciated beware. This year Pasarela Cibeles (Spain’s most important fashion event) has barred catwalk models with a body mass index (a weight-to-height ratio) lower than 18. After noticeably starved models took the runway at last year’s event, Spain’s health and women’s organizations as well as Madrid’s regional government pressured organizers to change the look of their shows. With further explanation, the Vice-councilwoman for the Economy in Madrid’s regional government states,
“Our intention is to promote good body image by using models whose bodies match reality and reflect healthy eating habits.”
With these new set restrictions it will prevent 30% of the 50 models that participated in last year’s event to attend in these years Cibeles. The girls must be taking it hard. For an industry that was difficult to get into from the start and traditionally having rake-thin models for hire, it’s making it more difficult for them to keep their jobs. Research shows that being tall and thin boned does not necessarily mean that your sick, but the World Health Organization defines a BMI below 18.5 as “underweight” and the show organizers have made exceptions for the naturally thin. So does this mean that we’ll be seeing models reaching for burgers and milkshakes? Probably not, but anything to gear the woman in the industry away from unhealthy eating habits is a great start.
On the FLIP side …
Jean Paul Gaultier has swapped size 0 models for size 20 models!
To define his comments, Gaultier found his own way to debate the reasoning of size 0 models by putting a larger model down the catwalk to show off his clothes. A somewhat amusing sight but the message was clearly made. The plus sized model dwarfed the other models in their place. Being a size 20 made the controversy known to all his viewers but at the same time, is it fair to say that overweight women should have the same opportunities as a thin women in this industry? Or is more of an exploit? In Gaultiers show the model was clearly overweight, and that could easily be considered an eating disorder as well. So, with plus-sized models gaining ground, what are the fashion insiders saying about this? Fashion, although having Health Ministers on top of height-to-weight ratio standards, cannot be regulated. Fashion cannot be regulated it is an art form. To many in France, they laugh at this controversy and feel super skinny will always be in. But in Countries like Britain and Italy obesity is becoming a larger fact of life. In the Haute Couture world plus-sized models are a rarity and we have yet to see more designers take advantage of the “real” women as their models. They tend to be sectioned off for ready-to-wear.
Who knows were this is going to lye in ten years from now, but the main message is to promote healthy eating to all those that are figures to our children. Actors and Actresses, Models and Singers, Mothers and Fathers, your roles are more important than you think. When huge corporations and field events are planned out, there is always over seen thoughts on the “what ifs.” But in the Fashion industry there is still and most likely going to always be snob appeal to this art form. There was an original form of the female body that we consider sexy and we all know that sex sells. There just comes a point when a higher decision has to be made when something could possibly be crossing the line. Women and men see themselves with their own eyes whether they are distorted or not, but there should be a line that people can understandably know is being crossed especially when it comes to being healthy. Majority of the people who suffer from eating disorders are proven to look up to a certain figure that they admire because of their insecurities. In an eating disorder such as obesity there tends to more depressed thoughts of themselves because of certain figures that they cannot imagine to posses in themselves. These thoughts come from trying to fit in to the norm. Everyone out there should know that they are the norm, they are beautiful and we all should see that in ourselves. In the Fashion industry the beauty should be held in the styles and medias we use to express feelings and emotions and not with the bodies underneath the art. And a person/body is what they make of it. You are what you make of yourself!