Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is It All Worth It? How Will We End Up?

As the upcoming fashion leaders of this generation, we have to think to ourselves; ‘After the economic turmoil that North America is facing, is it worth it to put all our energy and imagination into something that may not even become?’

We pride ourselves in developing new fashion trends as students and coming up with new styles as designers, although not one of us will take a moment to stop and think; Instead of putting more ideas where they will not be recognized, why not try to revamp the fashion industry in Toronto and make it bigger and better than ever before?

More now than ever, the apparel industry is taking a big hit on sales, development, and even interest in the consumers. According to the LG Spring/Summer 2010 Toronto Fashion Week interview conducted by blogger Marissa Bronfman, interviewed Jeanne Beker, Host of Fashion Television, asking “In 10 years from now, what do you see for Toronto Fashion Week? “. Jeanne simply replied, “I don’t know if there will be an fashion week! I think everyone will just show their shows online”. She went on to explain that she would highly miss the live spectacle but would hope that the designers will make enough money to even broadcast their shows online.

This goes to show that either Toronto picks up their pants and creates a new environment and approach to showcase the talent for the Toronto designers that we all know is there, or Toronto Fashion will crumble. The defense to this issue is that Toronto fashion is still in the “development” process of putting their designers on the map along with high-rise cities such as New York, Paris, and Milan. However, due to the recession and great loss of spending from the consumers, it is extra hard for Toronto to establish itself. There is a choice, either to wait it out or see what we can pull together and make amazing for the world to see our talent, or seriously consider if it is worth the time, pressure, and waste of talent for our city.

The upside of developing Toronto fashion, and signifying ourselves to the rest of the world is that we have seen the other cities do their uprising, their failures and their recoveries, so we can watch and observe to prevent our city from doing the same mistakes. Toronto is such a beautiful, creative, and interesting city, and for our fashion to be considered one of the capitals of the world, our consumers need to take more risks, start trends, be fearless, and overall support our upcoming designers. If all these elements are combined, there will be no need to leave Canada for New York or Milan to scope ideas.

The advantage that Toronto already has over the other major fashion house cities is that we pride our designs on more Vintage, do-it-yourself, ready to wear, and mix and math clothing that makes it more realistic to the consumer to purchase these items rather than in Europe where their focus is Avant-Garde fashion rather than practical everyday wearing. Canadian designers such as D-Squared, David Dixon, Evan Biddell and JOE Fresh have showcased their designs as fashionable, trendy, new, and yet still affordable to the consumers and wearable for everyday. Personal feelings favour these types of designers where their thinking is to the end consumer. This is greatly appreciated from both the retailers, as they have hard-hitting designs to sell and for the consumers that they are recognized in the designers eyes to produce pieces for them that they can showcase in their own way.

All in all, the future of Toronto Fashion depends on the students, the future advocators, the future designers, the future retailers, and us. The only thing that we should focus on is the Future and if there is no vision as to what the future holds, then we should really start re-evaluating ourselves and make Toronto Fashion amazing and for the whole world to see. Let’s show the rest of the world that we are not underestimated, just saving our talent for our BIG DEBUT. Let’s show them what we are really made of and prove that It Is Worth It!


Pay Your Dues

Play your cards right; be fashion’s glass half full-personality

Relatives and acquaintances are frequently wondering what are you doing with your life and where you see yourself going. All the while, coincidently,you are asking yourself- how do I get that career I have always dreamed of?

It is in your reach. But how do you get there? Where do you start? Who do you go to, who do you mentor and volunteer for? In a phone interview with Cynthia Hall Searight, Creative Director of Self Magazine, I gained insight into the fast-passed and intensely competitive industry. We can examine and learn from her, the steps to further our own dreams and turn them into achievements, just as she has done.

Oh George!: How many years did it take you to get to the position of Creative Director?

CHS: I have worked as a creative director for 25 years and started in the industry in 19 83 and became a creative director in 1986. At the age of 24, I spent 1 year as an assistant art director and then became an associate director for 2 years working with a group of 10 creative directors.

OG: What type of education and experiences helped you attain this accomplished and successful career?

CHS: I went to school in Connecticut for Design and took advertising. After school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my education. By starting to work temping as a secretary I was put on a job for Red Book Magazine. That opened all the doors to where I was meant to work. Your first job determines the path of your career. It helped me realize what I wanted to do and helped me to make connections. The connection helped set up an interview with Weight Watcher Magazine. One of the people I worked for put in a good word. I started with test publications and gained experience working for a German magazine. Soon after, 1988, I started at YM Magazine and worked there for 5 years. My next move was to be the Creative Director at Mademoiselle Magazine for 7 years. Then I did 3 ½ years at Victoria Magazine, a home furnishing magazine. After which, I went back to CondeNast magazines to work with the Brides Magazine for 4 years. I have now been with SELF Magazine for 4 ½ years.

OG: What would a typical day at work be like for you?

CHS: 9:00am-6:00pm. There is little time for lunch unless I have a meeting with someone. The majority of the days consist of meeting for visuals. I collaborate with the styling teams and give direction for images. I read the text of the magazine but focus mainly on the visual packaging and website of the magazine.

OG: Which photographers and celebrities have you worked with that stand out in your mind and have made an impact on what you do?

CHS: The most exciting part of my job is shooting covers, like the one that took place in Los Angeles with Kate Beckensale. Also, the Photographers at Mademoiselle would always be different from the ones I would choose for Self. Each is very unique, has a different point of view, and perspective that is charming. They each have incredible strength and you need to give assignments that play to their strengths. If you give them a try and let them their own spin on it, you then get more creativity and it works out for the best. Celebrities can be difficult. The shoot with Kate Beckansale was difficult because there was a lack of communication with Bechansale’s personal stylist and she did not want to wear the 3 outfits that were selected for the shot. She refused to wear pink or v-necks. It is extremely important to gather information on all aspects of the celebrity’s image, because they are easily upset. It is always best to find out their sizes but also have something larger that can be easily tailored. It is also important to find out if the celebrity has any aspects of their body they wish to hide.

OG: Do you find you have time for a family life or do you find it difficult to juggle between career and personal time?

CHS: It was a lot more stressful when I was starting in the industry at 24, paying my dues and working my way to the top. You learn the ropes and experience how to deal with the stresses. It makes it easier that women run publishing. They understand that if you have to work till midnight to get the job done then you will. But they also know that if there is a kid’s game to be at @ 5:00 then you have a priority to be there. There are a lot of sacrifices that go into the decision to work this lifestyle but there has to be good support and communication at home to get through it.

OG: It is a very competitive industry, what advice would you give to someone interested in the industry?

CHS: The more experience the better to help you decide what aspects of the industry you would really love. Intern so that it will help you make contacts and open a lot of doors. It’s all about whom you know.

There are numerous career possibilities in the industry. Finding the right niche is really a matter of experiencing as much as you can. Connecting the applications and technical sides to any future endeavour in the industry would help in becoming a jack-of-all-trades. Experience and networking are of the utmost importance. It is all about whom you know.It is of course; a fast passed lifestyle, demanding, stressful, and competitive but also very rewarding. The more you work, the more experience you will gain, and the more successful you will become.

Working with fashion designers, photographers, celebrities and a talented team of co-workers, solving creative challenges, is an exciting job. To be able to work 9:00- 6:00, you really have to pay your dues. You have to be willing to put your nose to the grindstone to work your way to the top, with a glass half- full mentality about all your experiences. You will then find your niche.