Monday, March 02, 2009
Town shoes Manager Interview:
Looking at the fashion industry at large it is known that when the cities, Paris Milan, London, and New York are mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is FASHION. These cities have proven that they are innovative in design and have a love for fashion which has ultimately given them a prestigious reputation for being the worlds fashion leaders. Whether it is Prêt à Porter, Haute Couture, or Avant-garde these cites are 10 steps ahead of the rest.
In Canada there has been a constant struggle in attempting to gain a reputation like the fabulous cities of Paris, Milan, London and New York. This is no longer just a struggle, but has become an issue. This issue has affected many people who are trying to make a name for themselves, or to get their ideal job in the fashion industry. Canada is seen as a country of freedom and endless possibilities, but has lacked in creating a globally renowned fashion capital. This issue has affected designers, buyers, merchandisers, management, retailers, business owners, and countless others. Individuals can continue to recognize the things their city lacks however, this is not leading to progression. It is known that in order to make a difference effort must play a key role. Canada’s fashion industry doesn’t stand out to its greatest potential and is instead out shunned by others.
By researching Canadian retailer’s one company that is standing the test of time is a Shoe and Accessory company that has received recognition for their company’s service and participation in the Canadian fashion industry. Town shoes is a prevailing shoe company that has opened the floor for the fashion retail industry. Town shoes is a privately owned Canadian shoe retailer founded in 1952 by LJ Simpson. Town shoes sells footwear, handbags and accessories for women and men. This company offers middle-to-high-end merchandise, and has their in main head office and flagship store in Toronto. Town shoes has expanded the company throughout Canada also now has over 82 stores and has more than 1,500 employees.
An interview was conducted for insight on the Canadian fashion retail industry, why Town Shoes is a prime example of a positive impact on the Canadian industry, and finally the global recognition town shoes has.
Interviewee: Jacky Vaisenberg (store manager)
Taken place on February 20th, 2009
Q: Do you feel this company is an asset to the fashion retail industry?
A: Town Shoes has been around for many years. When town shoes first came into the retail industry there was a lack of retailers particularly in the shoe and accessory sector. Town shoes has also led others to create new retail chains such as, Browns, and Aldo.Town shoes is like the Grandpa of shoe retailers. A Town shoe is an important asset to the fashion retail industry and still continues to strive for more.
Q: Do you feel that town shoes bases their company solely on latest fashion trends?
A: Town shoes is a very dynamic company .I would say town shoes defiantly bases their merchandise and store appeal on fashion trends, but at the same time they also have classic, and smart fashions for everyone. So my answer would be no. I feel that town shoes does not base the company solely on fashion trends. If we did I am almost positive we wouldn’t be around still.
Q: At Town shoes how up to date is the company on delivering customers with merchandise that is suitable for each season like; Paris, Milan, London and New York?
A: I have worked for numerous retail establishments and Town shoes has given me and many others the impression of merchandise satisfaction .At the store I manage we have new inventory that comes in 4 days a week ,which is AMAZING !!! Not too mention there are over 65 over nation wide who all have the same inventory shipment days. I remember last August my store was receiving new fall /winter merchandise it was very weird to see boots like Ugg’s in the store in 20 something degree weather, but it was good at the same time because. We as a company are preparing customers for the seasons a head. I know in fashion the fashion shows are taken place months prior to the actual season date, which is what Town Shoes is trying to give their customers.
Q:Now that all the major fashion show have now finished do you feel Town shoes is a leading competitor in giving customers a good take on world wide fashion?
A: I am a “FASHION LOVER” and can I tell you town shoes is the leader in the Canadian shoe world. What I lover about this company is they don’t go too over the top with trying too follow fashion trends .The buyer for Town Shoes goes to all the top fashion shows all over the world, too get a feel of what the customers in Canada will be keen on. Town shoes has their own private labels which are Savvy collection, and Town Shoes .With these two private labels Town Shoes is able to create their own take on the fashions .By creating their own labels they are becoming more known and called by many.
Q: What kind of clients and what are the well known labels Town Shoes carriers:
A:Town Shoes has an abundance of clients ,but the more common of women from ages 20-50 and men from 25-45.Town Shoes offers an ray of merchandise like the classic pump, round toe flat, running shoe ,the everyday working shoe and the hot and trendiest shoe for the season. It is understandable for them to have such a wide range of clients because of the merchandise. The Brands that Town Shoes offers comes from all over the world literally. Italy, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Slovakia and many others. Town shoes is a strong supporter of up and coming talent like David Dixon who is a local Toronto based designer who is trying to get notoriety in the fashion world, Miss Mooz which is a new York based designer, and more popular designers like Franco Sarto, Diesel, G-Star RAW, Betsy Johnson, Nine West and the list goes on .Town Shoes has partnered up with many designers to create an ultimate shoe company that continues to succeed , and gain more fashion notoriety to the world.
One can not help but be inspired by the positive, confident, free-spirited natured, presence of Josie, and this really shines through in her work. I’ve personally had the pleasure of wearing many of her designs and can not deny the way they make me feel, while enhancing and sometimes completely transforming an outfit! You can take something very ordinary – add a Josie Tecson piece, and bam – immediately glamafied! Not to mention the constant compliments I receive when wearing her line. This is likely due to the fact that each piece stands out on its own and catches the eye naturally. She is a true perfectionist and master of her craft.
Josie’s background and formal education landed her jobs as a freelance graphic designer. She was naturally drawn to hand painted glass work and beading, and from there it was no turning back. Her natural artistic ability had been tapped in to and there was no stopping this ball of creative energy and fire. Josie’s custom hand-painted glass designs became a hit, and put her on the map.
The young, passionate designer left all the stability and everything she knew to move from Vancouver, where her family still resides, to Toronto. This move represented a lot, considering how her close-knit family is her life. Josie intuitively knew it was the best thing for her to do though. Her second choice and possibly not far in the distant future would be a move to NYC! The fiercely independent woman that she is, took on a bartending job to make ends meet, and which eventually enabled her to purchase her own condo in King West Village. Her free time is spent on designing her collection, preparing for shows and doing custom orders. Josie’s exquisite made-to-order bridal collections have become quite a hit. They bring a uniqueness that every bride desires on her special day.
Throughout her recent success, beginning around 2006, Josie has remained completely grounded and been able to keep her well-rounded composure. Her family and fashion-savvy friends are continually harassing her for the latest and newest pieces. To satisfy their hunger, Josie started hosting themed events where she would showcase her latest collections for a preview to those closest to her. These are no ordinary jewelry parties. It’s a refreshing, unique experience as she effortlessly guides you through a fantastic evening whilst sipping delectable cocktails out of her custom made glass ware, and viewing the most delectable jewelry you’ve ever seen. You definitely want to arrive early to these events!
Her collection has been sold on Harbourfront, St. Lawrence Market and local Queen Street West retail stores. With the launch of her website in 2006, the pace picked up for her business considerably. It was a pivotal point in Josie’s life when she started attracting interest from the stylists of Nelly Furtado and Beyonce. Her collection was sported by Nelly herself on her European Get Loose tour, along with her dancers adorned with signature gem pieces and her band members who wore leather bands with semi-precious stone settings. Josie’s most exciting moment thus far – and I’d have to excitedly agree, occurred in August 2007. The House of Dereon’s (Beyonce’s, her sister Solange and their Mom’s clothing line) brand manager contacted her in regards to accessorizing the Canadian launch for the House of Dereon.
Josie understands how important it is to keep in the loop, especially in the finicky world of fashion. A true professional, she is constantly researching and networking while always maintaining her values and class. Not one to get wrapped up in the downtown party scene, she shows up to important events while leaving a lasting, personal impression with everyone she talks to. Jose recognizes the value of word of mouth and knows this is the truest and most effective way to get her name out there. She’s definitely not one to shy away from the ground work it takes a business to establish itself.
This hard work has paid off in the entertainment industry too. She’s already been showcased and involved in accessorizing for another fabulous local clothing company - Brazen Hussy’s fashion shows, providing accessories for a photo shoot with 2007 Miss Canada for Kavi Kavi clothing designs and featured in Fame Magazine’s June 2007 issue. She has also created personalized gift sets for Tara Reid and Elisha Cuthbert. She has accessorized Canadian celebrities, such as recording artist Cory Lee for the 2007 Much Music Awards and Narissa Cox, who hosts E!News Canada. Josie also designed a one-of-a-kind crystal jewelry set for the fabulous Vivica Fox to go along with her Brazen Hussy dress. To further round out this rising star, Josie is sure to do what she can with her talents, in the way of donating some of her signature pieces. Such causes include: charity events, like ‘Tarts for Tassles’ – a fundraiser who raises money to help cure cancer, and ‘Hotties for Humanity’ – a fundraiser for third world countries.
Josie’s most recent endeavors include her puppy bling called ‘Pretty Paws’ collection which she introduced in the summer of 2008. In the near future she’d like to branch out into an accessories line, including the always and ever-popular handbag. With no signs of slowing down, Josie Tecson is definitely one to watch…and for the fashion forward innovators out there, here is your link to fabulosity – www.JosieTecson.com.
When Money Shows the Lack of Fashion
For the average fashionista, she/he would shop till they dropped for the newest and greatest fashions. Not only would this include expensive clothing, they would be beautiful, body flattering, unique and self satisfying pieces. Unfortunately, this bubble bursts every time a bank statement arrives in the mail (email and postal alike)! I would like to mention that when I refer to the average fashionista, I am simply talking about the non-celebrity type who only dreams of having glamorous clothing thrown at us. Also, one can follow the fashion trends with little money; it is simply how you present yourself.
We all know celebrities have money; they flaunt it with their expensive cars, homes and designer handbags. With that being said, I would like address the real problem; if celebrities have so much money, why do so many have poor fashion sense?
Typically we cannot dress ourselves on our own when we are young, and apparently celebrities carry this trend until they are older. With the oversized tops and pants, colours may be completely off and boots may be paired with dresses. These are examples that are not fashionable and yet celebrities love to dress themselves in them.
Even though this may contradict what the idea of this article explains, celebrities can relate to us living in the real world when it comes to being put on the “worst dressed list.” With certain people, they just are not capable of putting an outfit together successfully; it is just not in their genes! Let me remind you of the What not to Wear: Worst dressed family episode where every member of the Jenkins family did not know how to dress themselves or even select the colours that suit their skin tones.
Some of you would likely argue that some are not blessed with the perfect eyesight; however celebrities can hire someone to style for them. When celebrities have no clue that their clothing is hideous and desperately in need of help, they hire a professional to get it right. This is when Hollywood stars do not relate to the average person. Even though they are on the worst dressed list on a regular basis, they still fit right in with the rest of their peers.
Let’s face it, these people may be famous but if they were to use a personal stylist for everyday life, eventually they would (God forbid) have to resort to dressing in DianeVon Furstenberg ’08 collections! Due to the mere fact that the stylist would rob them of every single penny they have, they may not be able to use a stylist all the time. This could be why they dress themselves in ridiculous outfits. They probably figure, if it is on the runways it is good enough to wear.
Some celebrities just like to make a statement. Whether that statement is supposed to scream “call girl” or “clown,” either way they are getting recognized for something. Recalling back to the shaved head era of Britney Spears, when she was photographed wearing ensembles such as bras and skirts. That moment in her life will always be remembered for her incredibly odd fashion sense and faux hair. Whatever her statement was at the time, it definitely screamed HELP!
On the other side of the spectrum, some celebrities do not care what the fashion is at the time and they turn to their own inspirations. These types of celebs are just not interested in being in the limelight, so they use the less is better approach. In order to blend in with the rest of the population they may dress as an individual. Take Johnny Depp for example, he is very much of a celebrity but is not willing to be chased around by paparazzi. All in all he keeps a lower profile with his fashion sense.
Everyone can relate to this next reason why celebrities do not have style; they are just too busy! Of course this busy schedule is referring to those frequent stops at the nearest Starbucks and getting ready for yoga class. However, I should not assume celebrities do nothing all day most days of the week, celebrities do make a living with their talents. I like to believe they work just as hard as the average person. But of course one can get lazy when you would prefer sleeping an extra five minutes instead of taking that time to pick out something semi decent.
So you see, celebrities may have more money than one could dream of having and still dress atrociously. With that bold statement, I would like to explain that this is simply for the average celebrity. There are some very classy, elegant dressers and we cherish them for their style. These last paragraphs depict a few reasons why celebrities have no style, and will make us ponder why someone with so much disposable income can have such poor fashion sense. We should be happy to be among the average paid population, after all our fashion sense is only average.
There they sit, perfect in every way. Your eyes widen as you take in their beauty. Your heart beats faster and you begin to imagine all the different ensembles that will be complete by making this one purchase. You immediately hail down one of the pretty sales associates and hope they have your size. You wait, anxiously, for her to return with good news and she does! Oh they feel perfect. Your legs, they look longer. You feel taller. Something about them brings out your inner goddess. You walk back and forth in front of the mirror and finalize your decision. “I’ll take them!”, you say out loud trying to contain your excitement. And as you walk out of the store you feel like you haveaccomplished another great feat. In your possession is the perfect pair of five inch heels. Sarah Jessica Parker and her shoeaholic incarnation would be sooo jealous!An all too familiar shopping experience for many women. And one that can havean undesirable lasting effect on the health of your feet.
Feet seem to be an undesirable topic to discuss. Almost taboo inside the circles of the uber stylish. The only time feet are addressed is when you are sitting down and cannot possibly take another step. You and others like you will complain for hours on end about how your feet hurt. Why? Because those five inch stilettos that once completed you have in the end betrayed you. They look like wonderful pieces of art but feel horrendously like a torture chamber. Without a doubt, Mr. Blahnik, Mr. Choo and Mr. Louboutin, have not spent an entire evening in their creations.Aesthetically, there are plenty of reasons to gravitate towards heels. They make your calves look toned without having to spend hours at the gym. They create an illusion of a daintier foot. And emotionally, they make you feel sexy.“Heels are a staple in my closet” says Irina, a hostess at Milestone’s. “They aren’t comfortable but they make me feel like money.” When asked why she wears heels to a job where she spends most of her time standing she responded with, “I’m 5’4” and the extra four inches help me look people in the eye. I’m not overlooked in heels.” She spoke to me at the beginning of her shift looking confident and a couple of hours later when my party and I had settled our bill, she was leaning on a co-worker in an attempt to soothe her feet.Irina’s sentiments are echoed by other heelaholics like her. According to a study performed by the American Podiatric Medical Association 42% of women admit they would wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort. Even worse 73% had admitted to already having a shoe related foot issue.What do these shoe related foot issues consist of? Be forewarned this is not forthe faint of heart. Bunions (deformation of the joint where your big toe meets your foot), calluses and corns (yellow hardened skin around your toes and the sole of your foot), in grown nails and many more conditions that would make revealing your toes at the beach humiliating. Those are just conditions affecting your feet.
Your Achilles tendon is also a victim. Because your no longer using it to its full potential it begins to shorten and will then ache when wearing flats. High heels also distort your centre of balance. Your back is forced to compensate creating a strain on your back muscles which can eventually lead to severe back pain and tension related migraines.
How high is too high?The American Podiatric Medical Association defines a high heel as footwear with a heel greater than two inches. It is at this height that podiatrists have determined heels begin to wreak havoc on your body. Your feet are meant to evenly distribute the pressure placed on them when you want to walk from A toB. High heels prevent the pressure from being distributed properly. Most of the pressure is being absorbed by the front of yourfoot. Also, the unnatural position of your foot partnered with the earth’s gravitational pull and you have a situation where friction and tension destroy your once perfect little toes.Today, it almost seems impossible to obtain that aura of elegance and sophistication without the perfect pair of heels. But, be warned, prolonged usage of high heels can have detrimental and sometimes irreversible damage to your feet. From disfigured toes to back aches and migraines, you may just want to think about a fashionable flat the next time you go shoe shopping. After all, unlike Sarah Jessica Parker, you probably can’t afford a foot double with your heels.
What type of store are you?
“We are a single owned Boutique that sells fashion labels such as Bandolera, Bench, Buffalo Jeans, Diesel, Geox, Lady Dutch, Firetrap, Parassoco, Mexx, Kenzie, and Inwear.”
Who is your target customer?
“Our target customers are men and women. We sell kids, men’s, and women’s clothes, shoes, and accessories. Our main customer is women who usually purchase for them self, husband, children, and family.”
What is your Mission Statement?
“Our store Mission Statement is that we want to sell more and have a lot of business. Being up-to-date in fashion is very important in satisfying our customers’ needs. Customers are our main priority, everyone must be treated equally. The store must be kept clean at all time, and to keep a fun environment for customers and employees. The store must be color coordinated, and organized in a manner that is easy for customers to find what they need.“
What service(s) do you provide to your customers that not many other fashion boutiques provide?
`` We always try and sell fast fashion at affordable prices. When customers come into our store we make sure that they are provided with help whenever it is needed. Some of our customers will try on items and they do not fit because we may have sold out of their size. Or they may want an item in a different color that we do not carry. In this situation we offer to our clients that we are able to order the item(s) for them. If the customer agrees that they will pay for the item when it arrives then we are able to place an order. When their order arrives in the store we phone our client right away to let them know they are able to pick it up. This process takes one to two weeks. We also suggest our customers to sign up for our mailing list. Our mailing list will notify customers when our sales are taking place so they can be prepared to shop. “
What types of problems do you have with customers looking for labels in your store?
“Some problems that occur with foreign labels are that the European designs are ahead in trends. This means that European countries are fashion innovators and their fashion is not yet accepted in our society. A lot of our clients are fashion innovators and are updated in curt trends because they follow high fashion magazines. These clients are our first to try something new in the market. They rely on us to have appealing trends all the time. Some clients may have a hard time deciding whether or not they should purchase fast European fashion designs. This is because they want the feeling of comfort knowing that others are wearing it and have accepted it.
Some customers are not always completely satisfied with all of our merchandise. Our clients may go to a store such as Buffalo Jeans and see an item that they want but will not purchase it because they think we will sell it for less. When the client comes to our store and we do not sell that specific item they get upset. We do our best to try and order that item for them but not all companies offer the same items to sell to boutiques. Some companies will design a special line created specifically for selling to boutiques because they want their own store to be exclusive. In this case we try to offer something similar to what the customer wants.”
Do have any problems receiving ordered merchandise?
“Our orders usually arrive on time and in good shape. Sometimes our orders may be delayed which is a problem when we need to re-merchandise our store, and create window displays that are changed weekly. We do not like to fall behind in schedule. Items made in Canada that we purchase are usually delivered in one to two weeks. Foreign companies such as Diesel may take two weeks to a month because it is being ordered directly from the Diesel Company in Italy although it could be manufactured somewhere else.
Sometimes we m ay also receive the wrong merchandise. This means that we may have ordered ten blue cardigans in extra small and instead received 10 red cardigans in Large. We also have special orders for customers that usually come within one to two weeks and it could be delayed to three weeks and the size or color may be incorrect. We do our best to follow up on all orders so that there are no problems, but nothing is perfect and we do our best do be prepared for the worst.“
How do you prepare for the worst?
“In situation that we have received the wrong item order for a customer, we offer a discount off their purchase so that we remain on good terms with our client. We do our best to please our customers and hope that they will purchase fast fashion. Creating mannequins that show how to wear a new trend and being able to show them many ways to wear it is important knowledge for the customer and our sales. We want everyone to be satisfied and to return into our store with pleasure.
There are many different trends and people who will accept them. There will always be a trend cycle and it will come in many different shapes and sizes. Our goal is to create a larger market for fast fashion. “
From small town girl,
To high fashion supermodel
OhGeorge: How did you get started in the fashion industry?
Tamara McDonald: I was actually walking in a Zellers when a lady stopped me and my dad and asked if I modeled and if I would be interested in it. From there she took my picture into ford models and I got a phone call a couple days later. Now I’ am living in New York and I love it.
OG: Did you always know that you wanted to model?
TM: No not really, when the lady stopped me in the store it was really the first time I ever really thought about it seriously.
OG: What are some accomplishments you have made that you are proud of during your time in the fashion industry?
OG: What do you feel you are best at in this industry?
TM: I would not say I am best at anything in particular but my favourite part of the industry is the runway shows. There is always so much going on...it’s a lot of fun!
OG: Where have you travelled, and what country was your favourite and why?
TM: I have been to Tokyo, Milan, Paris, Switzerland, Cyprus, and many other countries but my favourtie country is Japan. The people are so kind, the city is surprising enough really clean, and of course the food is great!
OG: Finally making it to New York, how has that changed everything you have done in the past? Has it helped you grow as a model?
TM: I wouldn’t say it has changed everything but there are so many different opportunities in this city its something new everyday
OG: Who is a major fashion icon to you? Why?
TM: Karl Lagerfeld, he is such a major influential person in the fashion industry designer and photographer.
“There is always so much going on, it’s so much fun!”
OG: Do you think today’s economy is having a negative effect on the fashion industry?
OG: how do you feel when your agency tells you how to look? Cutting your hair off etc.
TM: Some times its hard when they tell you cut your hair really short but they always ask my opinion, these agents have been in the business for so long they know what is going to work.
Q: How would you describe Dagg & Stacey?
D&S: Well, we’re a women’s contemporary boutique line developed with our combined inspiration (Karen Dagg and Stacey Paterson). We’re really into tailoring so a lot of our stuff has got a lot of classic tailoring in it even though it doesn’t necessarily look like a traditional piece. It’s very feminine but it has a personality to it and it has a distinct nod to vintage detailing.
Q: Where does your inspiration come from?
D&S: It can come from anywhere. The season that we just finished, fall/winter 2009, started from classic fairy tale illustrations, early 1900’s. And that was basically something that just kind of came from a mood, a vibe we wanted to put across. We wanted to do something that was kind of dreamy but still grounded in some kind of reality. We didn’t want it to be too fantastical or too over the top. And then it kind of grows from there when we start researching our theme and other things pop up that you maybe didn’t know before or things that just seem to suit. Just little, little bits kind of come up along the way.
Q: Are there any designers in particular that you find inspiring?
D&S: It’s too broad of a question I think because we’re a little bit removed from what goes on in the fashion world. So I think we draw more inspiration from vintage things because things are not as well constructed now as they used to be and there’s so much disposable fashion now. It’s really hard when you go out to not get discouraged by the way things are because when, for example, we go out and see what’s going on, most of it is just the same over and over again, and it’s also is poorly made. So when we get inspired by something, it’s usually when it’s really well made. So every designer who puts that kind of attention into their work inspires us. It doesn’t have to be a specific one.
Q: What do you love most about what you do?
D&S: Well, you learn something new every day pretty much. I mean, that always keeps you on your toes. The design aspect is actually a smaller aspect of the business, which is something I think a lot of people don’t realize. It’s also, there’s a certain sense of accomplishment, you know? Like, every 6 months we have to start again, right? So every 6 months we have to reinvent ourselves but still stay true to what we do. There’s always a challenge in that, there’s always a challenge in pushing forward and growing and not staying the same so, you know, your line doesn’t become stagnant and boring.
Q: What do you find the most frustrating about it?
D&S: It’s the things that are really out of your control. You know, for an independent business of our size, you’re really kind of at the mercy of your distributors and a lot of that stuff creates the problems that you have to deal with. Whether it be fabric arriving late or arriving damaged or not the right colour, or you can’t get the fabric anymore that you made your samples from, or there’s a problem with the notions or the contract or whatever, it’s all of that because you spend so much time and so much effort and so much care putting together your collection and then you’re at the mercy of these larger companies. That’s probably the most frustrating thing because you just want it to be the way that you intended but sometimes it’s just not possible.
Q: You do basically everything in Canada, from design through to manufacturing. Is there anything you find difficult about being in Canada since it isn’t considered a fashion hub?
D&S: In terms of manufacturing, no. There’s a lot more manufacturing in Canada than you would think. But I think that the problem with Canadian fashion is that people who are in charge of things, like Toronto Fashion Week and the TFI, are a little bit behind. There are at least 10 lines I can think off the top of my head that are like us, that are kind of independent boutique designers who do things that are a little bit different, not so trendy, well tailored, mid-range price point, everything like that, but the industry hasn’t really changed to allow us in. We either have to go elsewhere or we have to do it ourselves. That’s kind of the issue that we see. When we go to the states and show our collection, everybody comments on how great Canadian design is. But our own country doesn’t really embrace what we have. So I think we’re just a little bit behind. We’ll get there.
Q: On your website it says that you’re a socially conscious company. What efforts do you make to be socially responsible?
D&S: Well, for example, all of our stuff is manufactured within our city and every contractor that we work with pays their employees a fair wage, which is really important to us, especially in this industry where a lot of people aren’t. And the other things that we do are we try to use as much natural fibres as possible, we use organic fabrics and sustainable fabrics as much as we can, we only use recycled papers and things like that, and the list goes on and on. We do what we can with what we can because this industry is very wasteful.
Q: So what’s next?
D&S: Well, the spring/summer 2009 collection is done and it’s starting to ship over the next couple of weeks, so that’s really exciting. Right now we’re just kind of showing fall/winter 2009. That’s what we’ve got going on for the next couple of months. We have some things coming out in some press, some pieces in Lou Lou I think, but other than that, we’ll start working on spring/summer 2010!
Credit card companies have got these teens seeing red!
Amanda is a graduate student from George Brown College. She was enrolled in a three-year program at the school with big dreams of graduating college and getting the job of her dreams a day after her commencement. Wake up call Amanda! So here Amanda stands, with an ordinary retail job paying less then $18,000 annual salary and those big dreams slowly diminishing. Ready for the kicker? Amanda has also built up over $23,000 in both student loans and credit card debt.
Okay, rewind! Lets go back to the beginning. How did Amanda get herself into this mess? Well that vacation to Cuba during spring break might have helped. Or all those sales she had to shop at because well, it’s a shame to let a great sale go to waste. She has a closet full of clothes, a fantastic tan, and a mountain of debt to show for it.
But that isn’t the immediate problems. We must dig deeper to get to the root of student debt problems. Is it the easy accessibility to get a hold on a visa? Is it the lack of knowledge teens have about credit, interest rates, late fees and minimum payments? Maybe is because credit cards feel like funny money and we are lured to believe that we can spend now, and pay back later? Well frankly, all of the above are true and there are more underlying factors as to why student debt has become one of the factors as to why college students are dropping out.
Ready to read some scary statistics? In a book by Robert Manning published in December 26th 2001 titled Credit Card Nation: The Consequences of America’s Addiction to Credit, he states that nearly 7-10% of college students will drop out of school because of credit problems. Manning also states that 80% graduating college seniors have already accumulated credit card debt. According to certain statistics, 19% of people who filed for bankruptcy last year were college students. And in recent history, two college students in Oklahoma gave up on credit card debt and committed suicide with the bills lying on the bed beside them.
So who is to blame for all these statistics? Credit Card companies? Ignorant parents who do not teach their children about the repercussions of debt? It is actually a mix of everything.
Credit card companies pounce of college prey like a hungry wolf looking for fresh meat. For anyone who has ever been to a college or university orientation week, you would know what its like to be bombarded by all the credit card company booths that stand there trying to lure you in with a free t-shirt or other paraphernalia. People would be shocked at the aggressive and senseless marketing of credit cards to people who don’t even have jobs. You convince yourself that you will only keep the visa for “emergencies or gas” but the spending becomes deeper and deeper. We need to be honest with ourselves. A lot of us have a hard time handing a paper in on time, let alone paying a bill.
Another driving factor of teen debt is the inflation of prices in the entertainment and clothing industry. The cost of clothing and entertainment alone are so high that many hardworking employee’s and students find it hard to afford. Teens often feel pressured to keep up with the latest trends and spend the money to enjoy the luxury of being young. Having a card makes teens feel a little more independent from their parents and enables them the opportunity to purchase things their parents wouldn’t normally purchase for them. Online shopping has become a huge hit in the teen market. Not only does the visa feel like funny money, but also the idea of not having to stand in front of a cashier almost takes the guilt away.
And then there is always the topic of parental control. It can be argued that parents are the main reason for debt to incur on their children. Teens these days are being raised to believe that debt is inevitable rather than something to be avoided and parents forget the importance of teaching the value of a dollar.
So now what? Poor Amanda is stuck with an enormous amount of debt and feeling a little helpless. Well there is always help and always a way to get out of a sticky mess. The following is what I like to call a “financial I.Q booster.”
1. Always have savings for emergencies. Don’t rely on credit cards.
2. Create a realistic budget so you know what you have to spend and DO NOT spend more then you have.
3. Use cash or debit as much as possible.
4. Pay cash for items under $10 or things you eat/drink.
5. Only have ONE credit card and avoid interest or annual fees.
6. Stop charging if you find yourself in debt and try paying off as much as possible every month.
Teens need to take responsibility for their debt and begin to make proper financial decisions. The more aware we become of how credit works, paying on time, interest rates and late fees then the less teens will fall into the statistics. Lastly, for teens who feel consumed by their debt there are non-profit companies such as Credit Canada that provides a counseling service in Toronto who attempt to address the gay by running seminars at colleges/universities.
And this is a final message to parents because I believe that they are at the root of this debt crisis: you don’t teach you son the responsibility of holding a gun by letting him sleep with a loaded automatic weapon with the safety on. You also do not give a 16 year old a beer to teach them how to handle their alcohol. So why let them have any form of credit without any idea of how it really works? Young teens are the driving force behind family spending decisions and it’s about time parents take control.
After graduating in 2005, up and coming Toronto designer Frieda Cordoba looks back fondly on her time at GBC and how it helped prepare her for a fashion filled future
As I sat down with Freida Cordoba in her small basement studio, she seemed shy and a bit nervous about being interviewed. After graduating in 2005 from GBC’s Fashion Techniques and Design Program, Freida never imagine that a few years later she would be interviewed by the school that has taught her so much of what she knows today. After some hot tea and small talk, I get to understand how she chose her path of fashion design, how she wound up at GBC, and what is in store for her in the future:
Q: At what age did fashion first start to interest you?
A: At the age 14 when I first saw Vera Wang on Fashion Television being interviewed by Jeanie Becker. She became one of my favourite designers. I am especially a fan of her ball gown dresses, so puffy and whimsical.
Q: Who inspired you to go into fashion in the first place?
A: My grandma. She was a seamstress in the Philippines. What inspired me the most was that she was never formally trained. She taught herself visually how to sew. She could spread out a piece of textile and draft the pattern just from looking at it. She used to baby sit me a lot when I was young, we were living in the same building. I would watch her all the time. The first thing she ever had me make was a pink [hair] scrunchie. She made me Barbie doll dresses, all my Halloween costumes, she is a very talented woman.
Q: Why did you choose GBC?
A: Well, it was between GBC and Ryerson. I felt that was much more hands on in terms of learning, which is exactly what I was looking for at the time. I also went to an orientation session for GBC which really finalized my decision. There were current students there who had set up displays of their designs and that was really inspiring. Also, I felt that GBC, with its shorter program, did not limit me or force me to make fashion design my sole career path. It was only 2 years, so if I wanted to do something afterwards, I still could without being 4 years in debt.
Q: What is your fondest memory at GBC?
A: Probably the GBC fashion show in my second year. I was tricked into going into the fashion show, I didn’t want to be in it because I’m a pretty shy person, but all of my friends were going into it. There was music, lights, make-up, it was something I had never experienced. It was my two minutes of fame and it was enough to get me hooked.
Q: Was there a particular class or teacher you felt taught you the most?
A: Yes, my teacher’s name was Julie, I don’t remember her last name, and she taught pattern drafting. I learned a lot from her, basically how to make skirts, pants, dresses, all the basics. She was very patient with her students and always optimistic.
Q: What was your absolute favourite class at GBC?
A: History of Costume – my favourite subject is history, so fashion and history combined together was perfect. And we had a project where we got to make a costume out of anything; pasta, pipe-cleaners, duct tape, you name it, we could use it. I made an Egyptian costume, a headdress made out of popsicle sticks and pasta and I painted it in gold. They put it on display in the fashion wing and come to think of it, I never got it back. I need to go pick it up! I loved that project!
Q: What advice would you have for potential GBC students who are deciding which college to choose?
A: GBC is a really good program. It’s really hands on and is a great starting point, or stepping stone, into fashion design. And since its only 2 years, if you still want to further your knowledge in fashion, you can. It gave me the basic, hands on knowledge that I needed to start designing. And it’s great because it’s a smaller school, so you get to know your teachers individually, and get a more personal experience.
Q: How have you been using your skills from GBC since your time there?
A: As you can see, I use a lot of my knowledge everyday from GBC. Even in my career, I currently work for H&M and I found it has helped a lot there, knowing all the textiles, and their designs also inspire me. I still sketch all the time, and in my time off, I still design and sew my own garments. I just wish I had more time.
Q: What would your dream career be?
A: To be a fashion designer, and have my own fashion house in Italy or New York. Or even maybe work for a fashion magazine, as stylist. I’m also interested in fashion PR too.
Q: Do you think that with the economic slump, that it will be difficult for GBC grads to find a job? A: I wouldn’t think so. I think there’s an opportunity here for students to announce Toronto as the centre of fashion in Canada. I know a lot of students in my class were very ambitious, and I’m still very ambitious. And GBC gives you the mentality that you will do well, which is great. There’s always going to be a place for fashion, and it’s always a stimulus for the economy. I don’t think people are going to stop shopping anytime soon.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for your clothing designs?
A: Personally I want to have my designs reflect a particular Canadian viewpoint. I want my designs to be distinct so that Canadian fashion designers become recognizable in the world. I personally like Pink Tartan and Dagg & Stacey. But I also look to Stella McCartney, Versace, Moschino, Chloé, they are some of my personal favourites.
Q: What type of clothing line would you like to design in the future?
A: Something fashionable, sophisticated, yet accessible to Torontonians. I would probably start with a women’s line, eveningwear and sportswear would be my main focuses. But I also love designing cocktail dresses, things that are fun and flirty.
Q: Who is your favourite designer? Who inspires you the most?
A: Vera Wang was my first love. Ellie Saab is probably my favourite right now – mainly because the collections are all haute couture dresses that are absolutely inspirational. They are Oscar worthy, and it’s always fun to dream about one day dressing a celebrity. I love their fabrics, intricate cuts and styles, and all the details to their dresses.
Q: Why did you decide to get a university degree after completing GBC?
A: Because I didn’t want to start working! [laughter]. Mainly because at the time, I felt a college degree just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to expand my knowledge in design. I’m also very passionate about history and wanted to gain more knowledge on a more academic level, to combine it with my hands on skills. I decided to take art history to broaden my view of art throughout the world and throughout history, and I also major in Italian. So who knows, this could be my start to my fashion house in Italy. Furthering my knowledge of art history also inspired me to make more designs and to be more aware of where fashion has come from. I like to base my designs on paintings, sculptures, any work of art that inspires me.
Q: So after university, where will you go from there?
A: I want to possibly start my own business, using the knowledge that I have gained from all of my education, network myself, and hopefully one day I can show at LG Fashion Week.
Q: So, would you ever go on Project Runway Canada?
A: I don’t think so. I couldn’t handle that sort of pressure. And I’m too shy to go on TV! I prefer to be in the background, backstage, working on my designs. It seems like too much drama!
Although we may not see Freida on TV anytime soon, we will surely be seeing her designs in the near future!
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Julia Seidl, Creator of Stylehog.com, Talks Luxury for Less,
Tips on Trends, and Apparel Industry Advice
When we are flipping through magazines it is not the ads of plus size models in lingerie that makes us take a second look but the ads of the supermodels in string bikinis that make us stop the page turning for a second and wonder where to shop for such items, even if we won’t look the same wearing it. In a study done at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, it was shown that women would rather see a skinny woman in an ad, even if it makes her feel bad about herself. When shown ads with plus sized models in them, the women still liked the products but not as much as the ones being advertised by the skinnier ones. Women have been brainwashed into thinking that only skinny is beautiful and if your above a certain weight then your less attractive and lower class.
When a model or celebrity is “too skinny”, people tend to label them as “drug users” or think they must have an eating disorder to obtain such rail like features. There are the exceptions of a few that sometimes this is true but a lot of these models work hard to get the figures they have through exercise and diet. But because of all the models and celebrities that are going about it the wrong way we judge them all as we skim through magazines and browse fashion ads and we think their all anorexic or have done one two many rails in their days on the party train.
Suck It In Princess
And then there is the whole other side to it. When models and celebrities start to gain a little weight it is never overlooked. Everyone is allowed a little weight gain once in a while but if a model or celebrity does, they are picked apart and criticized for it until they become so ashamed of themselves that they go into exercise overload to get their body back to the acceptable weight of the publics eye. Recently Jessica Simpson has been at centre stage on the bloggers list due to that fact that she has become, once again, a little too curvy for their liking. She is still a beautiful woman and has fans around the world still buying her music and attending her concerts but because she gained some weight she is now on the don’t list of every fashion magazine out there.
I Wanna Be Like Me
Either way you look at it we are judging them on their appearance and what size their body is. We criticize them when they are skinny and we criticize them when they are a little overweight. And then we subconsciously decide the quality of a product depending on the size of the model selling it. We look to models and celebrities for inspiration, style and keen fashion sense and then put them down when their appearance and weight isn’t perfect. When we have a bad day and don’t look our best we are told not to worry and that nobody cares. When will be the day that it’s ok for everyone to not worry if their not perfect? When will be that day that the rule goes for everyone, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts?”
Are you part of a conspiracy for murder or are you just being fashionable? Some segments of the fashion world have been at war for years with animal activist groups. The subject for battle involves rights and ethics towards incorporating animals into attire. Debates and discussions kindle and burn for hours over ‘fur in fashion’. Opinions generated by this argument usually boil down to one of sympathy and empathy. However, when examining the leather industry and their fight with animal rights group’s different views are approached. Is leather a product of cruelty or a product of renewal?
‘Steer Clear of Cruelty’
Some boycott the purchase of leather products, which is fine. The idea of saving animals lives may help you sleep better at night. Maybe it will give you the feeling that you have made a difference. Or maybe you’ve gone Vegan to show the healthy humanitarian in you. Whatever waves your flag. The very thought of how some of these animals are treated can be unsettling. These cows can be subjected to muddy grazing fields, cruel crowd control from the farmers and uncomfortable living quarters. The lifestyle of a cow is not glamorous by any means. To increase milk production some farmers inject their cows with hormone enhancing drugs. The side effects are painful and grueling on the animals. Infected utters, deformed calf’s and calcium deficiencies can lead to poor production and premature death amongst the cows. Luckily it’s not the entire farming industry that is guilty for using these cruel practices. Further more there is not a clear link between the leather industry and the cruelty towards cows.
If you happen to still be unsure of what side of the fence you sit on for this matter, here are three ways to enjoy the beauty of leather while still sustaining your moral codes. The first method is a developing trend in the fashion business that involves recycling. Recycling leather is a way of gathering and sorting grades of leather so they can be used for other uses. This method cuts back on the amount of waste from leather that is sent to our landfills. The scraps and off cuts of the recycled leather is then produced into a new design, giving life to a new style of garment.
The second way to enjoy leather is by catering towards a trend of the 21st Century. The popularity of vintage clothing is quite astounding. Neglected boots and jackets are collected and put up for sale in numerous stores. Each article waits patiently for its new owner to come along and give it new life. This method allows you to enjoy the outlandish designs of past generations. Interestingly enough the older the leather, the more stress its been through. Like a human face every line tells a story, vintage leather is no different.
The last way to enjoy your leather guilt free is to do what a man from HappyCow.com does. He doesn’t eat meat and he doesn’t kill cows, however, he makes a living making leather goods. His prided company only uses cows that have died form natural causes. The logistics of this last method are complicated and unrealistic unless you live on a farm or have your own leather processing equipment. Regardless, these three ways can help you avoid any guilt or remorse you may have about wearing leather.
Cow bad is it?
It is not surprising that certain cultures around the globe identify bovine creatures as sacred animals. The amount of resources a simple cow can produce is mind blowing. The undermined fact of this leather issue is that leather is a by-product of the cow. What this means is that an entire cow is not sacrificed for one piece of leather. The case is quite different. The number one purpose of most cows is to live a full life of producing milk. The second purpose is for beef products. Most humans depend on beef for a source of food. After our grocery stores are filled with beef there is still use left of the cow. Fatty and steric acids from the animal are used for lubricants, cosmetics, dyes and prints. Many gelatinated products are produced from the bones and other internal parts of the cow. An industry that widely benefits from these by-products is the pharmaceutical industry. Gel capsules, iron supplements and a variety of other medications derive from parts of their organs.
When we are left with a slab of skin it seems pretty wasteful to just toss it in the garbage. What can we do? Learn from our First Nations people. Leather dates back to when Natives started processing leather to make products that would guard themselves form the elements. The resourcefulness of these people is what created an industry. When they killed a bovine animal they would get as much use of it as they could. They would eat it, use the fat as oil and use the bones as weapons. All that would be left is the skin; from there they would process the skin and use it for blankets, shelter and protection.
Is the issue more legible? Is wearing leather still just a primitive act for humans? Will you think any differently when you spot that leather hyde draped over a persons back. The question you have to ask yourself in the end is whether it is a sin to kill? Or is it a sin to waste something that’s already been killed?
Zoran Dobric is definitely a Toronto designer to watch! Earning his Bachelor degree in Fashion Design at the University of Manitoba, he then went on to study at the Instituto Marangoni in Milan, where he studied fashion illustration and gained impressive skills combining Photoshop techniques with more traditional ones. From Serbian descent Zoran Dobric, now, at age thirty-three, has worked with such companies as Urban Behaviour, Costa Blanca and Club Monaco. Teaching young fashion students of George Brown College the tricks of Adobe Illustrator on the side he is now designing under his own label. His designs are sold around the world - found in boutiques in Hong Kong, Boston, New York, San Francisco and in our very own Toronto. He designs for a very individualistic, intellectual and artistic type, who can appreciate his many artistic influences. Oh George! sat down with Zoran to take a peek into the whirl-wind life of an up and coming Canadian designer.
Oh George!: How long have you been designing your own label?
Zoran Dobric: I have been designing my own label since 2005
OG!: In the past you have designed for other companies, and now you're designing on your own. Which do you prefer and why did you decide to switch?
ZD: I prefer to design for my own label as it is more creative, but working for other companies is great too since you have risk-free pay cheques on a regular basis. When you are on your own there is a lot of risk and hard work involved.
OG!: You're still a relatively new label. What are your aspirations for the future of the Zoran Dobric label? What do you hope to accomplish?
ZD: My aspirations for my label would be to start selling in Europe, in addition to China, Canada and the USA where I'm already selling at several stores. I also want to grow the business to the next level.
OG!: You have a very strong artistic look. Do you design with a specific woman and man in mind? What are they like?
ZD: They are very individualistic, and have very intellectual and artistic tastes. It's more about the attitudes than the age.
OG!: You've shown at LG Fashion Week in the past few seasons. Are you planning on showing this March?
ZD: I am probably showing this March, I am almost certain.
OG!: Why do you choose to show?
ZD: It is good exposure, in order to generate interest with the media and buyers.
OG!: Do you find that this kind of media attention has a positive impact on your label?
ZD: Media coverage does not always translate into the sales directly or immediately, but it can help with brand awareness with the customers and the media in the long run.
OG!: Is showing at LG Fashion Week a stressful process? Do you ever worry about how your collection will be received?
ZD: You always have to worry since you never know what might go wrong, and because I am a bit of a control freak who wants everything perfect. There's a lot to be excited about also, since everything will come together and will hopefully look as I envisioned on the runway.
OG!: What's your inspiration for your f/w 09/10 collections? Tell us a bit about it. What can we expect?
ZD: The starting point for my f/w 09/10 collections were landscapes by Gustav Klimt. Also mixed with influences from music such as Technotronic, Hip Hop and Electroclash...It will be a crazy mix of influences.
OG!: You’ve said in the past that you design your own prints. What is your process? Why do you choose to do this yourself? Do you enjoy it?
ZD: Since I enjoy it so much, I create all of my prints that are screen printed or digitally printed. I start by doing the artwork in the computer or by hand, I then develop it in the Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.
OG!: Where can people purchase your designs?
ZD: You can find a list of stores that carry my designs online at www.zorandobric.com. I can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
With spring fashion weeks taking place all over the world fashion connoisseurs are sitting on the edges of their seats to see what treats their favourite designers will be offering them in terms of trends. In the past few years we have witnessed the growing trend of androgyny among ladies and men’s fashions as well as male and female models. Hedi Slimane can be said to have pioneered the skinny male model revolution. Once he joined the Dior Homme team he began to promote the stick thin figure among male models, and the clothing was made correspondingly. This was something new and different, and after some time suits designed for the more muscular male models began to look boxy and frumpy in comparison. This can be viewed as the turning point in the physical structure for the male model.
Though the current trend among male models is controversial, it took years for anyone to do anything about the staggeringly thin females. It wasn’t until the year 2008 that the Council of Fashion Designers of America called a conference to discuss the issue, and this was right around the time that the skinniest of the male models began strutting their stuff on catwalks around the world.
Though the models of today’s fashion industry tend to lead extremely glamorous and exciting lives, one has to take into account what they are actually in the industry for. They are simply the bodies of a fashion show meant to showcase the clothing. The type of model chosen to show off the work of fashion designers is meant to showcase the trends.
As all of us are painfully aware, not every trend is made for every person and the trend of today is that of androgyny. We are seeing skin-tight jeans on both ladies and men. We are seeing over sized plaids on men and women. Clothing companies that specialize in unisex clothing such as Cheap Monday have spiked in popularity. Doesn’t it make sense for the men to have similar body types to their female counterparts, totally based on the fact that they are supposed to be showcasing fashions made for both the woman and the man?
Due to the glamorization of being a model through reality television shows such as “America’s Next Top Model” people are taking an almost unhealthy interest in the physical appearance of models, when what we should really be watching is the fashions they are wearing. Right now, the message that designers are trying to send us is that ‘androgyny is in.’ We’re not meant to think too much into it, we’re supposed to wear it as best we can, and call it a day. We’re not mean to become obsessed with the models wearing the clothes. Though many criticize the shrinking frames of male models, couldn’t this also be viewed as the skinny boy’s time to shine?
On the other hand, 10 straight women were asked their thought on skinny male models. When asked what their ideal male counter part would look like, 9 out of 10 said that they would prefer someone of an athletic build who was in shape, but not considered “skinny”. The same 9 out of 10 women also said that they would prefer it if their male counterpart was larger than them. This goes to show that although the fashion industry may be promoting one look, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with how people feel about physical beauty.
Another issue to investigate is that along with the skinny male model comes a spike in male eating disorders. When eating disorders first came to the public eye, they were viewed as something that usually only affected women. Now many men have come out of the closet, so to speak, claiming that they too are have fallen victim to the pressures of being thin.
Though some male athletes have said that the pressure to be in peak condition is something that spiked an eating disorders among them, many male models have been instructed to drop muscle and appear “leaner”. There are only so many ways to do this, and the most obvious is to cut the intake of your calories, and up the amount that you burn. Its simply science, but also, this can develop into a potentially fatal physiological disorders such as anorexia, or bulimia.
These disorders have been flagging women for decades, and there have been notable incidents where female models have actually died from them. It is a societal obligation for us to do everything in our power to make sure that our male models don’t walk down the same path.
Throughout the history of fashion, the appearance of models has been something that has fascinated us, and has given some an ideal to struggle for, but its always been something out of the ordinary. Weather it was a tanned beefcake who looks like he lives at the gym, or it’s a waiflike man who stands at 6ft and has a 28 inch waist seems to depend on the current fashion trends.