Thursday, November 05, 2009

"Go Green And Get Seen"

“Go Green and Get Seen”
Is Eco-Friendly Clothing The New Haute Couture?

Designers from all around the world are using and working with fabrics that are environmentally friendly as well as incorporating style and comfort all at a good price. Eco-friendly clothing is becoming more popular in the fashion world and retailers are noticing that they can still sell their line and make an even bigger impact on society by using organic fabrics. This in turn is bringing a new look to the fashion runway and is making a difference in the environment.

What is meant by eco-friendly clothing? The word eco is short for environmentally conscious. These eco-friendly clothes are being made with organic products, which indicate that the plants used to make the fabric were grown without pesticides from seeds that were not genetically altered. Magazine articles like the ones written for Elle Canada are discussing how “designers are using and working with fabrics that are low-impact dyes, pesticide-free, biodegradable, sustainable and organic such as; bamboo, soy, hemp, and organic cotton, making them all eco-friendly”.

Designers like the “Eco Zen Boutique” are making eco-friendly articles of clothing, accessories, and cosmetics that balance style and sustainability. The company mentions on their website that they,“ donate at least 1% of sales to environmental organizations through an alliance with 1% For The Planet and is a certified carbon free business by Carbon Fund”. The company is using eco-friendly materials to encourage people to live a “green” lifestyle with products that are used in everyday life.

Retailers are looking for a way to reduce the impact of buying conventional fabrics without eliminating fashion all together and customers are looking for an easy way to improve the environment. By putting these two concerns side by side and making one obvious solution, companies are making it more economical to buy eco-friendly products and also making them easy to find. Customers do not notice much of a difference from the look and feel of the eco-friendly products unless it is labeled as such. Therefore, they do not have to change their entire wardrobe style by making an environmentally friendly choice on the clothes that they decide to wear. According to an article in bnet by Blanca Torres, “ In the past organic cotton garments were less colorful, more neutral and the feel was different from traditional clothing, now, fabric production for organic cotton is much more sophisticated”.

What also has to be considered is that consumers are not only buying clothes for the fact that they are environmentally friendly, the clothing has to incorporate style and comfort at a good price. Retailers like H&M and Roots Canada are the world’s largest buyers of organic cotton, and offer it at the same prices as products made from conventional fabrics, because they are able to negotiate good prices overall.

According to the H&M website, “H&M has been using organically grown cotton since 2004, they began mixing some organic cotton into selected children’s clothing. Since 2007 they have had garments made from 100 percent organic cotton in all departments. They are also members of the Organic Exchange, which promotes the growth of organic cotton. H&M has been marking the basic babywear with the EU’s (European Union) eco-label, the Flower. This “certifies that harmful substances have been limited and water pollution reduced across the whole production chain, from the raw cotton to the final product”. It also “guarantees the garments ability to keep its shape and color”.

Even though a lot of us are trying to make our environment a more clean and eco-friendly place, how do we know if products are truly eco-friendly? “Clothing is made from organic cotton, but it could have been produced under poor labor conditions or in a factory that emits pollution”, says Blanca Torres for bnet. How many companies are truly environmentally friendly and who are just green washing. Green washing refers to “the phenomena of socially and environmentally destructive corporations or governments attempting to preserve and expand their markets or power by posing as friends of the environment, according to Tom Szaky for Inc. It is much harder to identify whether a retailer is truly eco-friendly unless there is research done to prove how their products are being produced. Yes, they may be using organic cotton, but if that cotton was shipped from China and then shipped back to the factory, how eco-friendly is it? Consumers have no choice but to take these products at face value.

Not only are eco-friendly designer dudes hitting the runway, but they are becoming more relevent in our everyday lives. We are seeing more and more eco-friendly articles of clothing in stores worldwide like H&M and Roots Canada. Organic clothing is becoming the new hot item and now more then ever there is a wide selection available in different styles and at better prices. Bottom line, consumers are looking for an easy way to improve the environment and what better way to do so then to incorporate it into our everyday lives. It takes each of us doing a little something to make a big chance all around. So, if you have the choice, why not buy the outfit that causes less harm to the environment and still look fabulous.

Celebrity Designers: Fab or Flop?

Whether it’s the daring and risqué clothing choices of Lady GaGa, or the sophistication of Michelle Obama’s wardrobe, almost everyone has a celebrity style crush. This idea of major style icons has been around since the times of Marilyn Munroe and Audrey Hepburn. Recently though, the trend of “celebrity gone fashion designer” has sprung, and exploded. Dozens of celebrities from Lindsay Lohan to 50 Cent have some form of fashion line. Whether its Miley Cyrus’s collaboration with Max Azria sold at Wal-Mart, or Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. line on the runways of New York Fashion Week, celebrity designers are everywhere. But do they even have any real talent or are people just buying into the clothing because of the celebrity title? And they here to stay, or are celebrity designers just a trend?
Many people have been quoted insulting this “celebrity-gone-designer” trend, saying that they have no credible training. In an interview with Telegraph UK, Sir Paul Smith shows his disdain for celeb designers. “They have neither the training nor the design awareness necessary in the business, which means it must be purely about ego and money.” While taking evening tailoring classes, Smith was discovered by the chairman of Harold Tillman, where he started off his designing career. From there he and his wife (an RCA fashion graduate) opened his first store, and went on to have his lines shown at London Fashion Week. He says that he “wouldn't bring in a celebrity to work at Paul Smith in a million years.” Anna Wintour has also been quoted criticizing celebrity designers. She recently told The Wall Street Journal that “Every D-level celebrity who thought they could make a quick buck by designing a handbag or whatever is going to disappear. And I think that's a good thing." Even the Olsen twins, former child actresses, think the trend is just a money making ploy. Ashley Olsen recently stated her opinion about celebrity designers at Glamour Magazine’s panel about the future of fashion. “When I look at it as a celebrity brand, it's almost silly to me, because I'm not coming at it from a celebrity standpoint” Having gotten out of acting at age 18, Olsen feels that her and her sister are in a different boat then these celebrity designers she speaks of. “(They) get involved because they get a licensing partner, want to slap their name on clothes, and it will add to their brand. And for us, it was totally different. That wasn't my point.”
There are however, some celebrities who have managed to actually prove to us, that they do have validity as designers. Take Gwen Stefani or Victoria Beckham for example. Stefani has been showing her very successful clothing line L.A.M.B. (annually grossing at about $90 million) at New York Fashion Week since 2006. Nicole Phelps, a writer for writes that “Stefani is the most dedicated of our celebrity designers, and certainly the most talented.” Stefani purposely did not name her clothing line after herself because she did not want people buying the clothes just because they had her name on them.
Likewise, Victoria Beckham has also established herself as a successful designer. She started out in 2007, with her line of denim and moved on to designing a line of dresses in Spring 2009, which was also shown at New York Fashion Week. Phelps writes about Beckham’s potential with her new line for Spring 2010, “The showstoppers—no surprise—were the evening dresses…When Beckham does want to join the big-timers on the runway, she'll probably need to expand further into daywear, but three seasons in, she's certainly established herself as a red-carpet expert.” In addition to winning over the fashion critics of the world, Beckham is also winning over our hearts as consumers. When her designs first hit stores they sold out within a month. This is clearly just the beginning for her fashion career, as Beckham is set to launch an accessories line in 2010.
Celebrity designers clearly have mixed reviews. Very few are raved about by those in the fashion industry while most are brutally criticized. Lindsay Lohan, for example, was recently named artistic advisor for Ungaro, her first collection for the designer shown at New York Fashion Week for Spring 2010, where New York Fashion Magazine called her debut “disastrous.” However, the magazine also reported that Tim Gunn’s compliments about Lohan, saying that she has “a great sense of fashion and (knows) what works and doesn’t work,” were what helped her secure the position because of his obvious authority on the subject. Lohan has obvious critics, however there are some that will stand by her side throughout her designing career (Lohan has a multi-year contract with Ungaro).
Whatever you opinion, celebrity designers do not seem to be going anywhere, any time soon, as more and more celebs are adding the word “designer” to their job descriptions. Those most recently joining the group are Alicia Keys, who is releasing a jewelry line, and Dina Lohan, who is said to be working on a line of shoes. No matter how many celebrities try their hand at designing and either crash and burn, or get placed into the “one-hit wonder” category, we can at least be thankful that a few of these designers seem to be in it for the long haul.

From No-End to High-End

Fresh out of Paris and ready to take Toronto by storm, Marlo Szellos is the one to trust.

Fashion is sacrifice. That’s meant in a good way, of course. It’s a two-faced industry, with the one side being glamorous, and the other being draining and down-right dirty. And on one Wednesday afternoon I was fortunate enough to get a hold of Holt Renfrew’s Personal Shopper and fashion guru, Marlo Szellos. Keep in mind that this was no easy task, for a moment I’d wondered if I saught out royalty by mistake.

Once my courage took hold and I picked up that telephone, I began to be passed around like a saltshaker at Thanksgiving dinner. First contender being the reception desk for Personal Shopping at Holt Renfrew, next I’m onto Mini-Marlo, her assistant of course. Lastly, I find myself ear to ear with the lady in question; Marlo Szellos.

My nerves calmed themselves down right away upon hearing the voice of a woman so friendly, serene and welcoming. After explaining my status as a fashion student at George Brown College she graciously accepted my request to interview her about her career and expertise in the industry. Off we went into an hour long fashion filled adventure. Fancy that, I even managed to catch her during her lunch break.

Dedicated and working in the fashion industry for the past 12 years, and merging into her 3rd year at Holt Renfrew, Marlo still manages to balance her family life and work. This being her least favourite aspect of her job, constantly being away from her husband and her two children, ages 7 and 9. It’s tough, but just another factor in proving that she is a fashion powerhouse.

Marlo’s career began at Western University majoring in French language, amongst other French studies. She always had ambition and dreams of eventually moving to Paris. Once she completed her studies here, she and a friend made their way to Paris where they studied Fashion together. “I had never planned nor hoped for a career in Fashion, but I became infatuated with the industry quite quickly. I was constantly learning more.” But although it is with most fashion hopefuls, design was not her area of interest. “I knew I didn’t want to be a fashion designer, but it was the other aspects of the industry that fascinated me greatly.” And so it began.

Upon graduation, Marlo was offered countless internships. Before moving to Toronto, she accepted a position at a buying office, HGAF, where she spent 9 years of her fashion career. After moving back to Toronto with a year of Trade department experience under her belt but no styling experience, a Personal Shopper position opened at Holt Renfrew.

Marlo quickly snatched up the opportunity to apply, and was granted the job immediately. “I didn’t go into this position with any kind of client base, I managed to develop all of this on my own,” she says. But was she nervous? “If I knew then what I know now about this type of job and the industry that I’m in, I would have been very nervous”. What about now? “I was given many tools and connected with many people quite quickly, everything has worked out so well. Being a Personal Shopper here at Holt Renfrew and working in the fashion industry, it’s almost like owning your own business!”

A typical week for Marlo is Monday to Friday with many appointments laid out each day. All of which exist for one main reason: to shop. This is what Marlo does for all those men and women out there who can’t. “My duty is to really concentrate on my clients, build a relationship with them and focus and recognize their needs when it comes to fashion. And even their everyday life”. Sounds personal. “It is a very personal job, hence the title!”

Her favourite part of being a Personal Shopper is really her creative freedom, “I truly get to express myself and help my clients express themselves through fashion,” she says. “My biggest and most appreciated compliment is when a client is truly pleased with what I have picked out. I love hearing about how happy and confident they are, and how many compliments they have received”. As well as making her clients confident in themselves and in their fashion choices, she loves to break them out of their comfort zone and introduce them to new designers and styles. She believes that options are endless, and shuns fashion myths. “If you never play around and never try certain things, you will never know what works and what doesn’t. You won’t have fun with fashion”. The passion in her voice is evident, and there is no doubt that Marlo loves what she does.

Her client base is primarily women in their early 30s to late 40s, as well as men in their 40s. For a potential client to acquire Marlo’s Personal Shopping services and fashion advice, all it takes is a call to the Personal Shopping suites and ask to set up an appointment with her. “There is no minimum purchase required, and I do not refuse anyone”. Personal Shopping is entirely complimentary! All that clients pay for is the clothing and accessories that are picked out for them.

I’m curious to know, as a hopeful future Stylist or Personal Shopper myself, what advice she’d offer to someone like myself. As well as what challenges she faces in her career. “Finding certain pieces for my clients is not always an easy task. Sometimes pieces need to be ordered from another store in the city, or even another province”. Frustration can build up due to the fact that certain clients often work within certain budgets. This is difficult since Holt Renfrew only carries high end premium brands.

The job is also all about trust. “Clients and I face a challenge when we have contradicting opinions. But I always stand by what I believe in and I am always honest with my clients, they have to learn to trust my instinct and be comfortable with me”. She says that this trust will come easy after you have developed your own sense of style, and you are confident in who you are and your choices. A big suggestion she offers is constantly learning and studying the industry, knowing about all the different aspects. Whether it be designers, stylists, photographers or trends. You name it. “This is SO key that I can’t stress it enough, as well as product knowledge. Representatives for the designers we carry are constantly visiting to talk about their collections,” sounds nerve-racking. “You have to know your stuff”.

Marlo’s number one quality for a personal shopper is being great with people, and you have to be very patient. “I have my own style, and just because I may like something for myself, does not mean that it will work for my clients”. And also, for all you other hopefuls out there, “There is no salary for Personal Shopping. You only receive commission from the clothing you sell”. So, not only are you styling, but you are selling as well.

Before we knew it, the time had flown by. We exchanged our thank-yous and good-byes, when she was kind enough to extend a coffee invite my way. I quickly accepted. Excited, anxious and nervous all at once. Of course, weeks later, this date has yet to take place. But I understand, the Fashion industry never sleeps. Although I hope Marlo manages to catch up on hers! Fashion has swallowed her up, and thankfully for all those out there who are overwhelmed by the idea of styling and shopping, the industry has yet to spit her out.

Pushing The Envelope

How “Too Far” Just Doesn’t Exist In Advertising

As you flip through a magazine, drive down the freeway, or walk through Toronto’s downtown streets, you are surrounded by advertisements. When the average North American is exposed to at least 500 commercial messages per day, it promotes several questions such as; what is considered influential, and what is considered excessive. Advertising can be defined as the act of describing or drawing attention to a product, service or event in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance. The lingering question asks: what kind of attention are advertisers seeking? When does provocative become an understatement, or when is sexy too sexy?
Several retailers such as Sisely, Calvin Klein, American Apparel and many others firmly believe in the “sex sells” approach, and the “any publicity is good publicity” view when it comes to their abundance of racy ads. These businesses are well versed in the art of creating buzz, which is the main goal in controversial advertising. What better topic is there than sex? It’s sure to cause a clamor. Since sex is perceived as being personal, it’s a given that creating an emotional connection is crucial to effective marketing campaigns. The laws of nature play at the core of profitable fashion marketing. Sex is a universally understood concept, which cuts through the clutter and immediately grabs the viewer’s attention. When you notice a Calvin Klein ad, where the models are oiled up, scantily clad, and pressed up against each other, regardless if you are offended or excited by the idea, you’ve still given it a second thought: which is the sole purpose of companies pushing the limit. A shock value approach keeps a company designers’ name active in your memory long past the initial viewing of the advertisement.
A prime example of shock advertising would be the creator of the American Apparel brand, Dov Charney. Charney is directly involved in his company’s branding and advertising, with his print campaigns being perhaps one of the most talked about in the garment industry. The company is known for it’s simple and provocative ads featuring young teenage models (who are usually employees) in sexually provoking poses. American Apparel ads push the envelope of creativity, decency, and the standards of advertising today. American Apparel’s racy ads, as well as other company’s ads often pose the question of are these ads targeted at men or women? Since sex is a universally understood language, it can effectively be sold to both genders. Charney, and others grasp the full meaning of the notion that any publicity is good publicity, and they don’t fall short of impressing. American Apparel was forced to pay 5 million to Woody Allen after the director’s image was reproduced in a poster campaign without permission. In moments such as these, the free publicity and widespread media coverage typically far outweigh the monetary damages brought forth by lawsuits. In another instance, an American Apparel ad was banned (and it surely wasn’t their first) for featuring a partially dressed model who appeared to be under 16. The same situation occurred in a 1995 campaign for Calvin Klein when his images of pubescent models in provocative poses caused major controversy and debate when they crossed the line between fashion and pornography. Again, the controversy of these ads only creates a buzz, keeping the audience fixated, and taking a company’s recognition from a 5 to a 10.
Every now and again, now being more common in today’s grand scheme of advertising, someone causes a stir. Controversial advertising touches upon just about every human emotion at some point or another, which is why things are only getting more heated. Next time an ad turns your head, take a moment to think if the company took a step (or two or three) over the line, and ask yourself if it was too far. If the unanimous answer is “yes”, the advertiser has done their job. Sex sells; we know it and fashion conglomerates know it. The only question left is when is the envelope going to burst.

It’s No Vogue

Have fashion blogs really taken the place of our beloved magazines?

Fashionistas all over the world have recently set aside their fixation, dare I say- addiction, with various fashion magazines (or at least until the release of the next issue) and are opting to hop online to peruse articles, entries, information and photo shoot-reminiscent stills from an entirely new breed of fashion icons; the style blogger.

With the economic times begging us to put that $5.99 into our savings, instead of nonchalantly adding the current issue of Elle to our grocery pile on the conveyor belt in front of us, it makes sense that the modern fashion savvy gal is turning to a cheaper, and often more bountiful, alternative.

Internet blogs come in many different styles and forms, offer diverse opinions, and are often updated once daily (sometimes multiple times). They are also opening the door for a fresh new group of entrepreneurs looking to voice their views on the sorts of things normally only found within the beautifully glossed-pages of Vogue.

This year, the front row of Dolce and Gabbana’s fashion show during Milan’s fashion week was filled with new, internet famous faces- two of those faces belonging to Bryan Boy and Tommy Ton, well-known style blog owners. Bryan Boy has even had Marc Jacob’s name a bag after him, a feat not easily accomplished. And there they sat, perfectly poised with their Mac books placed atop of their knees, between the likes of Anna Wintour, Hamish Bowles, and Vanity Fair’s Michael Roberts.

Tavi, a mere child at the age of 13, jumped from runway show to runway show at this year’s New York fashion week, all the while accompanied by her daddy dearest. She was also featured earlier this year on the cover of Pop magazine, all because of her rise to fame due to her internet journal entitled ‘The Style Rookie’. But a rookie is the furthest thing from what Tavi actually is, often jumping from the topic of her daily school yard dramatics to that of her opinions on Alber Elbaz’s Lavin collection for spring 2010 with ease. And don’t let the age fool you; she knows her stuff!

Jane Altridge, the Texas-born sweetheart who writes Sea of Shoes, has recently designed a collection for mass fashion chain Urban Outfitters and Karla Deras, of Karla’s Closet, was featured in a nation wide ad campaign for American Apparel.

With 88% of people saying that the internet plays a daily role in their lives, it seems like the concept of an online resource, such as a fashion blog, was bound to happen eventually.

But why the sudden rise in popularity? Fashion blogs can, to put it simply, do a lot of things that magazines can’t.

For example, at a regular fashion magazine, the articles take time, are normally planned months in advance, and are checked countless times by various people in order to make sure they are saying exactly what they should be. Stories go back to ‘the desk’ and are proofread, fact-checked, and circulated to Editors who shorten, squeeze content, and filter the tripe. The editorial process of a blog is much simpler. The content is created, almost as quickly as it is thought up, and then published. No shortening, no content squeezing, and definitely no filter. The world of blogging takes journalism to an entirely new, unedited, level- it seems to contain more real content with room for opinions and mistakes.

The rise of the fashion and street style blog seems to be the antithesis to the days when supermodels, celebrities, and fashion insiders dictated the world’s definition of style. Now, new style icons are made with the click of a mouse and a snapshot of one’s everyday wardrobe.

Most style blogs feature a mix of high-low purchases and anonymous labels; some even highlight thrifted pieces, which readers can connect to. Not everyone is buying a new Louis Vuitton every season or the hottest pair of Yves Saint Laurent pumps this spring, so seeing how to wear pieces we could purchase at our local shopping district (for a tiny fraction of the price of the new LV messenger bag) helps define our own style without feeling like most fashion is unattainable. It reminds us that it truly isn’t what you wear but how you wear it. Style blogs also blend a snapshot of a daily outfit with a feeling of camaraderie. The more you read a blog, the more likely you are to check back on a daily basis because you feel connected to the writer, as though the bloggers are your stylish best friends next door with a really great Nikon and a penchant for witty reviews of the last Proenza Schouler show.

But does this mean that we are going to see the passing of the fashion magazine entirely? It’s hard to tell. Many women’s fashion magazines saw a decline in advertising sales this year, with most companies pulling back buying a page in Vogue during the recession and instead trying to experiment with more efficient places to invest their money- online or otherwise. InStyle, Vogue, and Elle saw revenue declines of nearly 21%, 26% and 20% this year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. And September issues of these magazines were almost a third slimmer than last year’s batch!

However, there are still things a fashion magazine can do that a style blog might never be able to. For starters, magazines keep the industry alive and thriving. The magazines need their advertising spaces to be filed just as much as the advertisers need their placements in between the pages of Elle. Many magazines have long-standing relationships with brands and designers and bring them to life in a way that no blogger can because the magazine can afford to. Only Vogue can provide us with jaw-dropping editorials using the hottest, off the runway looks of Alexander Wang or Rodarte. It is unlikely these samples would be sent to an internet savvy teen across the globe, but they will be sent to the fashion closets of our favourite magazines on a regular basis, where we are able to see them as up-close as it’s going to get.

Magazines also have the ability to take us to another world. Opening the first few pages and absorbing it all in can be a real treat; the colour, the sheen, the smell of the gloriously printed pages. Every young girl remembers their first foray into the world of the lifestyle magazine- whether it was snooping through your mom’s issue of Chatelaine each month or saving up your weekly allowance to be able to afford your very own issue of Seventeen. Buying magazines reminds us of that comfort, that tradition, and they offer us tangible keepsakes that we can carry around with us until we get bored…or see another issue gracing our newsstands.

Blogs can give us the information we are craving faster, provide us with a more realistic and affordable approach to style, and invite us into the lives of other fashionable, real-life women we can connect with and look-up to through our laptop screens. But even though the dot-com generation is moving to the internet for faster, more accessible information it seems as though magazines will always have a place in the heart of women everywhere. They are there for us on our longest plane rides, comforting us beneath the covers after the most terrible break-up, and tucked right within our purses for a little pick-me-up during the commute home. So are e-writers the ‘future’ of the fashion industry? Maybe not, but they are definitely the right (click) now.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Choices...College or University, Burberry or Louis Vuitton?

Just like the choice of what designer handbag to buy, there are choices in life that are hard to make. Like a tasteful accessory, your education is something that will never go out of style. Unlike a three thousand dollar bag, no matter how much it costs, an education is always worth it. Post-secondary education is always important when going out into the work world no matter what type of job you are applying for. Along with experience and who you know, education will help you to get that dream job.

They say education is the key to success, but what type of education are “they” talking about, a college diploma or a university degree? Rumors say that a university degree is always preferable to a college diploma but what fashion student pays attention to rumors or gossip anyway?

When fashion is the focus, it’s especially hard to choose between college and university when you are looking to further your education. How are you sure you are making the right choice? With fashion as a rising career choice among young students and the option of so many fashion programs and schools, how do you decide between university and college? Is one path “better” than the other? What are employers looking for; do they prefer one designation over another? These are all questions commonly asked by aspiring fashion students.

Finding universities that offer fashion programs is often difficult, especially in Canada. Many more universities in the United States offer fashion programs than in Canada. Universities offering fashion programs in Canada are scarce, but they are available. Ryerson University, in Toronto is recognized for its fashion programs in Design, Fashion Communications and Retail Management. Our very own George Brown College offers its own excellent fashion programs in Fashion Design, Fashion Business and
Fashion Management. There are many other colleges in Ontario and Canada that offer fashion programs as well such as Seneca and Fanshaw.

The differences between a university or college education are fairly straightforward. Most universities offer four year programs which earn the graduate a B.A. in their field of study. A degree on a resume often impresses employers and gives them a reason to offer an interview. According to a December 2006 article in the Toronto Star by author, Ellen Roseman, “Many high-level jobs require a master's degree, even a PhD, to get in the door”. This is one of the main reasons why one might say that a university degree is so important. Some sources state that a university degree will generate higher earnings than a college diploma. However, the cost of a university education vs. college is much higher. Is the extra expense worth it?

According to an online blog by author, Simon Ma “while a degree does not guarantee employability, it does improve the odds as well as the income potential that is associated with the field you are entering into. If you have a two-year degree, the decision to continue your educational pursuits can be a tough one but it is well worth the effort in the end.”

U. S. colleges offer an Associate Degree which is the equivalent to our college diploma. This degree also requires two years of study. Colleges usually offer smaller class sizes in an intimate environment. College is a hands-on learning experience; it’s usually a two to three year program that is geared to preparing the student to enter the workforce upon graduating. Often students are allowed to transfer their college credits towards a university program if they wish. Transferring credits means that students can use their two year college diploma towards a four year Bachelor’s degree. Sometimes the two or three years spent at college can give the student time to decide whether they really need or want to pursue a degree in their chosen field.

In an article written January 9, 2009, comparing the earning power of college grads to university grads, Grace Chen, from the Community College Review, states that individuals with higher degrees earn, on average, more than individuals with a high school diploma. As CNN reports, while high school graduates with no college education collect an average weekly salary of $585, according to Current Population Survey data, that figure jumps nearly 15 percent to $670 for associate degree holders. Grace Chen also points out later in her article that, yes, a bachelor degree holder does end up having a higher salary, but does the cost of a four year institution outweigh the intended salary benefit? This is something to think about as a young student. If you have prior student loans that you have to pay off out of your existing salary, is this going to affect your total net income?

In the end, sometimes it’s the simplest reason that defines why a student might choose one type of education over another. Often it boils down to personality and learning style. College definitely offers a hands-on learning experience, if you are a hands-on learner, you might want to consider attending college. University usually attracts student’s who enjoy listening to lectures and learn from taking notes, they might also enjoy being taught verbally as opposed to learning by doing. In today’s society, it’s almost understood that you must obtain some sort of post-secondary education to guarantee a good paying job. Your success in college or university all comes down to your personality and your attitude. School requires dedication and commitment; you need to take it seriously to generate success.

As far as fashion is concerned, employers in the fashion industry are definitely looking for post- secondary education. They aren’t necessarily looking for a university degree. Sometimes the work experience acquired in a college program is more desirable than the academic style of a university. A college diploma is certainly welcomed in the fashion industry. Creativity is one of the number one attributes that will help you succeed in this field of work. In my two years at college I have personally met a lot of George Brown College Students who have earned a position and created a name for themselves in the industry with their college education. Diploma or degree? Both are welcomed in the fashion industry so take your personality, pocketbook and your personal goals into consideration and good luck, the world is waiting for you!

Disposable Fashion - Has Fashion Become TOO Fast?

Disposable Fashion - Has Fashion Become TOO Fast?

In recent years there has been a strong shift in the way that consumers buy clothing. Fashion was once something for the elite, but is now accessible to everyone. Since the introduction of stores like H&M, Zara, and Topshop, people shopping in nearly any price range can access the latest fashions. These stores offer knock-offs and interpretations of all of the newest designer trends, sometimes within days of them being seen on the runways. These lower priced stores are known as disposable or fast fashion, due to the speed at which inventory comes and goes and how quickly fashions change. Fast fashion allows shoppers to constantly stay on trend and update their wardrobe on nearly a weekly basis. 87Fast fashion is considered by many to responsible for the growth in sales in the fashion industry over recent years. According to The Times Online as the price of clothing in the UK has dropped 25 per cent between 2003 and 2008, the amount of clothing purchased has grown by nearly 40 per cent.

With the current economy and price conscious consumers, disposable fashion’s biggest benefit is plain to see; More for less. Who doesn’t want to buy fashionable clothing at affordable prices? But what about the quality of these items, you ask? When buying such inexpensive items, quality isn’t as important. A new pair of boots might only last you one season, but because of the low price you can easily pick up next season’s hottest pair when they are worn out. Many of today’s consumers would rather have a closet full of inexpensive and easily replaced clothes, than own just a few expensive fashion staples, and fast fashion allows them to do just that.

Fast fashion allows consumers to keep up with ever changing trends, without worrying about their budgets. A trend item might only remain in fashion for a short time, but if it is purchased at a store like Topshop, the shopper won’t feel guilty about only wearing it a few times. Take a look at the red carpet and magazines; celebrities wouldn’t dare being seen wearing the same thing twice. While not quite as extreme, today’s shoppers have a similar viewpoint. They constantly want new things, and get bored more quickly than in the past. Fast fashion allows consumers to update their wardrobe more often. With disposable fashion, new items are constantly being added. Stores like Zara get new stock nearly every day. This allows shoppers to continuously update their wardrobe, replacing items as they see fit.

Another benefit of fast fashion is that it has resulted in many designers collaborating with lower priced stores in order to maintain their popularity. A group of people who would ordinarily never be able to afford clothing designed by Karl Lagerfeld, Victor & Rolf, or Roberto Cavalli were suddenly given the opportunity to wear clothing by these designers when they released exclusive lines at H&M. This not only boosts the store’s status, but also introduces a new group of shoppers to a designer they may not have known about. In the past, consumers who shopped for clothing on a budget were not considered fashion conscious or aware of designers. Fast fashion is certainly proving that idea wrong.

Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? Why shouldn’t the newest trends be available to everyone? The industry’s lower prices mean that fashion is accessible to more people, and that people can afford to buy more. While disposable fashion has won over thousands of shoppers, it brings on an army of complaints from people across the fashion and environmental industries.

…………..Environmentalists argue that disposable fashion is anything but environmentally friendly. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste reported that in 2005 nine million tonnes of clothing, footwear, towels, and bedding wound up in landfills. According to The Times Online over two million tonnes of clothing are purchased in the UK per year, and 74 per cent of that ends up in landfills. The Times Online also reported that these masses of clothing sent to landfills are mostly made of acrylic fabrics, which are chosen because of their low cost, but do not break down quickly or sometimes at all.

…………..The negative environmental effects do not end where the garments are purchased and disposed of. This pollution spreads back to where the garments and textiles are produced. As prices of clothing have become lower, production has been shifted to countries offering the lowest costs. China is the leader in production of clothing, producing 30 per cent of the world’s apparel according to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database. In Pietra Rivoli’s novel, The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy, she discusses how the fashion manufacturing industry plays a large role in China’s pollution problem. Rivoli states that Americans purchase a billion garments per year that come from China. Maude Barlow, Canadian author and chair member of Food and Water Watch, revealed in 2008 that China had destroyed 80 per cent of its rivers through the use of chemicals and dyes used in the production of exported apparel. China is now facing water shortages due to the amount of toxins it releases into its water sources. This is due to the increase in Chinese production that the fast fashion movement brought on. Pietra Rivoli also reveals in her novel that Africa, India, Brazil, and Mexico are among other areas suffering from apparel industry related pollution. These countries manufacture apparel for such low costs, that they cannot afford to implement proper systems to reduce the environmental impact of production.

…………..Disposable fashion also draws criticism from the fashion industry. Fashion has become less exclusive, and buying a designer brand has lost some of the allure it previously held. Spending hundreds of dollars on a designer garment is much less appealing when the girl next to you on the subway purchased what looks like the same jacket for a fraction of the cost. Fashion and couture has long been a status symbol associated with the elite and cultured. Fast fashion has put an end to this, robbing designer fashion of its glamour. Some designers also feel that collaborating with budget stores is not a positive step, but rather something they are forced into in order to maintain their popularity and attempt to recruit future customers.

…………..With the current push for green living, including the recent rise in reusable shopping bags, energy efficient products, and going organic, the fashion industry remains to be an environmental threat. Is environmental responsibility enough to make consumers think twice about where they shop, or will price continue to win? Fast fashion may seem like affordable luxury; buy today, wear tomorrow, and forget about it next week, but the price must be seen in more than dollars and cents; the cost to the environment must be considered.