Friday, November 07, 2014

Feature Articles Fall 2014

Let's Talk About Sexton by Dylan Dias
Unisex Fashion: from Art to Gender Equality by Leticia Rappe
Future Movements by Morgan Kendall
Canadian Clicks: The mystery behind the deficiency... by Elizabeth Pearson

Backup pieces
You Are Not Alone by Anna Shreyer
Interview with Luca Galardo by Camern Crawford
Darkness of garment manufacturer by Yinji Shin

Unisex Fashion: from Art to Gender Equality

Freedom of expression and gender equality has been part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for more than 60 years, and the Fashion Industry is finally taking a step to promote these ideals. The unisex garment market has been growing fast in the past few years, and fashion seems to become more about art than about gender. Fashion is examining the gender differences, focusing more in the creativity, but also reflecting changes in social mentality. Unisex fashion is a representation of a greater freedom of self-expression, but it is also showing that the ideal of gender equality is getting stronger in society.

Fashion is an art that is created from the self-expression of different thoughts, feelings, tastes, ideals or personalities. Unisex clothing promotes the freedom of self-expression from the designer to the consumer point of view by breaking the chains that bind us to the fashion categories of men’s or women’s. No matter whether we are creating fashion or we are wearing it, fashion is part of our daily life, so it should give us the opportunity to express who we are or how we feel without limitations. Unisex fashion has opened the doors to the designers creativity by giving them the option to create without the gender wall in their way.

For a few decades there have been few garments like jeans and tees that could be consider unisex, but today there are entire collections of clothes that can be worn either by him or her. Currently there is no need to go far to find unisex clothes, you can easily find them on-line or in a store like PARLOQUE or Untitled & Co, both based in the core of Toronto. The experience in a store that goes beyond the old gender norms is similar to the feeling of being unleashed, free to say or to do whatever you want. Gender-neutral stores are just about enjoying fashion by celebrating yourself with confidence, comfort and pleasure. Amrita Gill, the owner of PARLOQUE, has perfectly brought this atmosphere to her store.

PARLOQUE has a variety of brands that offers Unisex Styles like KYE, or Willis Chan a Toronto’s young designer. Analyzing some unisex clothes and accessories it is clear that by erasing the gender limits the designs become more unique, out-of-the-box and focused on the details. Gill comments that unisex garments can be a blend of minimalism, but there is a detail orientation in finishing, unique collars or asymmetric cuts. I have no doubt that gender-free fashion is bringing  art closer to fashion lovers.

However, unisex fashion is more than a personal choice; it is the mirror of a current social phenomenon. The introduction of gender neutrality to our wardrobes is just the tip of a much bigger movement. Gill explains how younger generations are more comfortable experimenting with clothes regardless their gender categories. These younger generations are more open-minded as they have been educated by principles that are concern about equality of gender and opportunities. The youngest generations have grown under a mentality based on respect and union between both genders, so it is not a surprise that fashion will also represent these new concepts.

Gender-free fashion is definitely showing that there is a confident communication between both genders, and also that society is considering the opinion and criteria of both sides. Amrita confirms that gender barriers are coming down, probably leading to the end of patriarchy mentality, and offering a much wide variety of opportunities to both genders. Unisex fashion is helping to teach the youngest about gender equality, but it is also giving to the oldest the option to learn and be part of it. The oldest ones may be more reluctant to get involved of the unisex fashion, but they are still being part of society, so they may have to participate even if it is in a subtly way.

Society is in a process of transition where men and women are trying to put aside their differences, therefore the Fashion Industry has to be adapted to it in order to satisfy designers and consumers. As an example of it in an interview in of December 2009 Rad Hourani said: “I could never find the kind of clothes I wanted to wear, either in men's or women's, so I made ​​a collection for myself." Rad is a Canadian fashion designer, and he was the first to show a unisex clothing line at the Paris Haute Couture in 2007. So it seems clear that unisex fashion is talking loud about the changes on gender roles.

Unisex fashion is not just a niche, but the result of an evolution towards a world free of gender discrimination. Gender equality was a dream that it is finally becoming true. Consequently, unisex fashion is demonstrating to the world that some dreams are more than illusions, and we just have to fight to make them come true. From an artistic view, fashion is announcing a new era that will go beyond gender setting people free to show  who they truly are.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Future Movements

Future Movements

It was only a matter of time until the world would be exposed to the individualistic and functionalist designs of Rani Kim. Growing up under the wings of two artists, Rani’s childhood was surrounded by creative energies, exposing her to the world of art and design – a realm that would become a home for her own imagination. Since she recently showcased her spring collection at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week, I was able to chat with the young visionary about mentors, aesthetics, and her success as a young designer.

As a young child Kim was always drawn towards fashion and design, able to recollect acquaintances’ outfits more than their names. It was only natural then that Kim entered the world of design “I draw inspiration from the environment around me. A lot of times, I get inspired by artists in different fields such as architecture, industrial design, and photography. I like to go to libraries in my spare time to see what I can connect with in artistic books," a wistful Rani says. Kim’s dedication and admiration for her art form has landed her opportunities many emerging designers could only dream of  securing a spot within the top three for the Art of Fashion Design competition and a place in Toronto Men’s Fashion Weeks, EMDA’s. Her structurally sound menswear line has quickly risen to fame, propelling its ubiquity within the industry. Rani believes that there is still much to explore in the realm of menswear, stating “…there are many conventionalized restrictions and I want to break these rules and create new boundaries in menswear.”

           With her intrinsic love for functionality and movement, Rani’s vision became clear, favoring a utilitarian approach to fashion while re-conceptualizing modern menswear. “I bike around the city a lot, and I found my clothing was really uncomfortable. I thought I would make fashionable clothes that you could bike around in the city, while still being stylish. This specific concept of movement and how its surrounding environment affects its subject is the concept I explored. I tried to reflect different types of movements in my designs to recreate these combinations of experiences.” Rani says. But what is most captivating about Rani Kim’s approach is the constant creativity conveyed through her designs, juxtaposing functionality and innovation, and, in this particular collection, showcasing the dichotomy between stillness and movement. “The patterns and shapes of my arm casts really fascinated me, showing their ability to contrast movement by mixing materials such as raw wood grain and finished leather. It’s a stable shape attached to a moving object, and the shape really dictates the patterns of movement associated with the object.” Rani replies. With a strong understanding of her own aesthetic vision, Rani flourished during her exchange at the Teko Design School in Denmark, finding a mentor in world-renowned menswear designer Astrid Andersen. A little star-struck by her mentorship with Andersen, I was eager to learn more about her experience during her stay in Denmark: “The most important thing I learned was to not compare yourself to other people. Research on your own and listen to constructive criticism in order to make your true aesthetic stronger. Everyone has their own aesthetics, and in order to become a great designer you have to exploit it.” Despite all of Kim’s recent success, her views and attitudes toward the art of her work remains humble and genuine. The wunderkind’s unconditional passion is truly inspiring. “I really do love designing. I care about it in every aspect of my life. The more I create things, the more passionate I become. It makes me understand that I have my own aesthetics and that I want to continue perfecting it.” Within the ever-growing fashion industry Kim’s motivation and effervescence has proven strong, gaining her the right exposure and ever deserving success since her graduation. Rani speaks humbly about her recent successes: “It is definitely exciting, and I feel really honored. I am an emerging designer right now, I feel like I am getting a lot of spotlight because I’m new to the scene.  I don’t really see the fashion industry as a competitive thing. I see it as very fun. The deadlines are tight, so my time has been very valuable.”

        Observing this emerging designer with an immaculate understanding of her own talents and admirable passion for her designs, I look forward for the years to come – Watching her career take flight as she hones in on her aesthetic that she has come to know so well, while diminishing conventionalized restrictions; creating new boundaries in modern menswear.

Interview with Luca Galardo

When Diodati’s collection “Static” showcased at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week this past summer, the audience was embraced with a futuristic multitude of iridescence and contemporary royal blues flaunting the runway.  The brilliance behind the line is Luca Galardo.  I was a dresser at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM), and I was one of the first to see the captivating collection up-close and personal.  When I saw the garments, I was immediately smitten by his use of line, fabric and gender fluidity.  I was elated to have the opportunity to further my knowledge about Luca and his thought process in fashion designing.

            It’s always interesting to know if there was a specific moment in a designers past when they realized pursuing fashion as a career is a must.  With the hopes and ambition of someday having an artistic driven career, Luca started gearing towards fashion design in his teens.  “When I was 16 I bought my first sewing machine and it all made sense” he said.  Galardo is based out of Montreal.  The city is a major fashion capital of Canada and I was curious to know what role Montreal played in his designs.  “I am definitely a product of my city.  Being surrounded by so much diversity has developed my aesthetic and my way of thinking.  People are what influence me and Montreal has a lot of different people to be inspired by.” 

            In an interview with Real Style, Luca stated that he wants to inspire the way people get dressed by “creating a neutral canvas for self-expression”.  Being such a strong statement, I wanted to know what Luca desires from his fans to take away from this.  “I want people to fall in love with getting dressed again.  Clothing has become very basic; almost Orwellian in nature.  Most dress to fit in and not to stand out.  I hope the future is filled with more people looking to make a statement about who they are through how they dress.”  Inspiration can be found anywhere, and I wanted to know if there was certain times or atmospheres that Galardo thinks trigger his creativity the most.  Whether it’s people he already knows, new people he meets, characters from books, movies and history, Luca finds people to be his leading inspiration.  “When someone is being completely uninhibited and showing their true self, that’s what feeds my creativity.”

            When Static debuted at TOM Fashion Week, the models paraded ostentatiously down the runway donning translucent, plastic-like fabrics and neoprene.  Luca’s use of color was exquisite.  The way the electric blues caressed the clean look of white was a perfect touch.  I was curious to know how the designer picks his fabrics and color palettes. He replied with, “I usually start with an idea or theme.  I then source fabrics and look for things that inspire me; colors, textures, prints.  I go from there and let the fabric and theme guide the creation of the styles.”  Luca’s designs are referred to as androgynous minimalism and “designed for the person uninhibited by social ideals.”  With such impressive themes, I wanted to know why he chose them to reflect in his designs.  He said, “Androgynous minimalism has been a running theme for my past collections because it’s something that has impact, takes away gender and gaudiness and leaves true, pure design.  The person that inspires me is the person I design for.”

            Some of the most successful fashion designers never pursued post-secondary education to enhance their future career.  Luca attended LaSalle College in Montreal.  I wanted to know his thoughts on the importance of going to college or university to study fashion related programs.  He said, “I think knowing the trade is important, whether that be through school or an internship.  You need to know how the industry works.”  Already accomplishing so much at a young age, I was curious to know what Luca’s career highlights have been so far.  “Showing at TOM Fashion Week was definitely up there.  To be showing my work alongside more established brands was very rewarding.”  While at TOM Fashion Week, his exhilaration radiated.  Talking to his friends, I overheard Galardo say, “This is so surreal.  The clothes are coming to life.”  Diodati was most definitely alive. 

            The designer obtained the name Diodati for his line by using his mothers’ maiden name.  It 

roughly translates to “God given”, and his mother has always been one of his biggest inspirations.  

Diodati is a name we will be seeing more in the future.  Luca is currently putting together an online 

store, and hopes to have it up by spring of next year.  We look forward to seeing what the “God 

given” designer has to impress the runways with next.