- NASTY WEEK = Kanye West
- ADIOS, MALICE! = Social Media
- DIAMOND KETTLE = Kate Middleton
- ASCENT NOD = Conde Nast
- THANKS, AIRHEADS! = The Kardashians
- ANTIWAR NOD = Anna Wintour
- LAPEL MEN ERR = Man Repeller
- EEL FIBULA = Beaufille
- REC MORON = Normcore
- MID GENIUS = Sid Neigum
Friday, April 22, 2016
Friday, March 18, 2016
Girl Bosses by Kelsea Schnitzler
'Cause I Got A Blank Page Baby by Shannon McTeague
Creative Burnout by Roberto Lagman
IS BESPOKE WORTH THE INVESTMENT? by Chika Oraekwuotu
Is the fashion industry selling an impossible dream by Shaelyn Meier
George in the City
A Man About Gown: Christopher Paunil by Susannah Kiernan
80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide each year, which is 400% more than a decade ago. The fashion market is increasingly growing and most average fashion consumers don't bother questioning what it really takes to produce that cheap, trendy piece of clothing bought at the local mall. So the real question that we as consumers should be addressing is: when we buy cheap clothes and accessories made in developing countries, are we supporting a developing economy or taking advantage of underpaid workers?
Clothing is cheaper now than it’s ever been. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average shopper spends less than four percent of their total income on their wardrobes. Its the era of Fast Fashion, new products are being brought into stores weekly, if not daily. Cheap
clothing that keeps up with the latest fashion trends- its almost like you can’t afford not to buy it.
Fashion brands have the possibility to manufacture wherever they want. They have the ability to switch factories at any time, for any reason. This means that desperate factories in impoverished countries are forced to compete with each other by continually lowering costs and increasing the burdens placed on the garment workers who have no say or rights in this equation.
This business formula has proven remarkably successful, with many of the big brands posting record profits. The founders of H&M and Zara are both among the richest people on the planet. And they’ve done it by providing a nearly unlimited selection of super cheap, fashionable clothing that consumers reliably devour.
In a recent interview with NPR, Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Fast Fashion, explained that stores like H&M produce hundreds of millions of garments per year. “They put a small markup on the clothes and earn their profit out of selling an ocean of costing,” she says. H&M has about 2,800 stores in 48 markets and it’s growing rapidly, especially in China and the United States.
But if these companies are making billions and consumers are getting great deals, the cost has to be absorbed somewhere. And that’s where developing countries like China and Bangladesh come into the picture. Because there is no way the fashion profitability could be so high without an army of extremely low paid workers to quickly turn massive orders around. You could only imagine the harsh working conditions and unsafe environments these workers are forced to work in on a daily basis in order to keep up with the high demand.
Taking into account, the recent tragedy that happened in Bangladesh. Rana Plaza, the building outside of the capital Dhaka that collapsed on April 24, was owned by a local politician who illegally built three additional floors onto the structure and installed heavy textile machinery. The building housed five different garment factories and more than 3,500 workers. Even after large cracks were found in the walls the day before the disaster, factory supervisors – under pressure to fill orders – ignored warnings to vacate the building, and ordered workers to continue production.
Sadly, consumers never take a step back to take any of these statistics into consideration. There are numerous articles, documentaries showcasing the disturbing conditions the workers within a developing country work in order to produce that piece of clothing. That piece of clothing, that will than be marked up twice its price and sold to us at a reasonable price which won’t even cause a slight hesitation, before purchasing it. But, hey its business right?
It’s easy to blame the big clothing companies, many of whom reap enormous profits, fully aware of the conditions where their products are made. From a business perspective, it is a win-win situation since companies capitalize on low-wage labor in developing countries and significantly reduce production costs. They move more cheap product to low-end consumers and increase annual profits for the shareholders.
And then there’s us – the consumers. Because the reality is that none of this would be happening if the demand wasn’t there to fuel it. Factory conditions would likely improve if consumers were to demand it, especially if we were willing to pay more for our clothes and absorb some of the costs.
But doing so is a lot easier said than done. It’s one thing to be horrified by Bangladesh’s recent tragedy and to hope conditions improve. It’s another thing to voluntarily pay more for your clothes at the register. It’s easier to just pretend they don’t exist.
Which begs another question: how much more would you be willing to pay to know your clothes were being produced in an ethical manner?
Do you really care to make a difference?
Do you really care to make a difference?
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Karl Lagerfeld is a celebrated couture designer who can bring style and shape to any design fitting a modern, classy and edgy look with eccentric colours. A man of power
Since he was appointed creative director for Chanel in 1983, Karl has turned the legendary label into a fashion powerhouse.
The rumours about the brand going downhill during the beginning of 80’s were of no secret, Karl was so to say destined to take over the empire of Chanel and bring it back to the spotlight.
He saw the potential and made it a big responsibility to transform Chanel into something more, into something extraordinary.
He did it with such mastery that today the brand is a point of reference in the fashion industry and women around the globe.
Each season the Chanel fashion shows are some of the most awaited events during the fashion calendar.
One would never imagine Chanel without Karl. He changed its character into an elite status by adding sex appeal and glamour.
He has the power to influence the industry to take a different direction, not always following traditional forms to become successful.
Criticized or praised, he aways delivers an unbelievable spectacle which keeps the media talking until his next move. As we say “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Karl Lagerfeld does what he does best, thats is being Karl. “I am a walking label. My name is Labelfeld not Lagerfeld.” as he himself describes it. He is a walking marketing icon.
His contribution to the fashion industry speaks volumes. While being the Creative Director of Chanel, he simultaneously worked with Fendi and Chloe while launching his own line.
Fashion is all about magic, evoking imagination and the senses, and he managed to create a almost mythological creature of himself.
Karl Lagerfeld, the power and the influence of a man that turned Chanel into a legendary icon.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Toronto boutique owners dispel millennial stereotypes of inexperience, laziness and technology addiction and CONVEY their secrets to entrepreneurial success.
After years of working in various levels of retail, Daniela Figliomeni and Jennifer Shotbolt were ready for a new challenge. As two young women approaching their mid-20s, both had secure jobs that were set to advance toward higher positions. However, the two had also reached a crossroads. Having felt uneasy about the trajectory of their career paths, Figliomeni and Shotbolt explain, “We questioned whether we would ever be fully happy helping someone else reach their dream rather than chasing our own. It was in that moment we decided to leave our jobs and create our own boutique, CONVEY.” The duo confronted an occupational dilemma that many millennials face when starting their careers: do I want to work my way up a company or do I want to be my own boss? More important, how do I turn that dream into a reality?
Following months of planning in the off hours of their full-time jobs, they finally needed a brick-and-mortar location to realize CONVEY. As it so happened, in 2014, Vogue named Toronto’s West Queen West the second coolest neighbourhood in the world. A national hotspot for arts and culture with a reputation of youthful occupancy, Queen Street West is a young fashion entrepreneur’s dreamland. It can be an intimidating playground for a new business owner, but these women readily accepted the challenge. The young entrepreneurs had a meticulous vision for CONVEY and ultimately found their perfect location at 754 Queen Street West in 2015.
|Image via shopconvey.com|
After CONVEY’s launch, the pair received impressive press coverage from Elle Canada, The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star amongst others. As young businesswomen that really do it all (Shotbolt is currently learning how to do the company’s accounting records), they’ve found not everyone has been confident in their professional capabilities, “We have definitely encountered people that assume we don't have the same amount of experience because of our age or who are intimidated by two young women in business. We don’t mind being the underdog and think that gaining respect and working hard is the easiest way to prove people wrong,” says Shotbolt. When asked which women inspire them most in life, Figliomeni replies, “We are both huge fans of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amaruso. We are also very lucky to have many amazing women in our lives: our Moms, friends and mentors are all such strong entrepreneurial women and we can’t help but to be inspired by them daily.”
So what exactly has CONVEY accomplished in the first year of business? Between creating an e-commerce platform, sourcing new brands from around the globe, adding menswear into their product line and collaborating with Toronto’s finest, the women of CONVEY have been full-speed-ahead since the boutique’s inception. With no signs of slowing down, they discussed how time-consuming the transition from corporate employee to business owner has been: “Our lifestyles have definitely changed since we started CONVEY but we both agree it's for the best. CONVEY comes first, so we don’t have all the free time or flexibility we did when we were working for someone else. That being said, our lifestyle has routine and that’s a big part of what keeps us rested and eager to work. Regardless of what you are doing for your career, you should never do anything you don’t want to do. That is something we truly discovered when our lifestyles changed,” says Figliomeni.
|Shotbolt and Figliomeni at Toronto Fashion Week. Image by Elaine Fancy|
When asked to reflect on their recommendations for entrepreneurial success, the millennials offered up ambition and integrity as their foundational source: “We think the secret to success is having integrity, being nice to people and working hard. Success doesn’t come to those who wait for it. Ambition and drive are skills that cannot be taught. We wake up every day running towards our goals both within CONVEY and in our personal lives." What exactly does having integrity mean to them? "Having integrity goes beyond doing what you say you will, it’s also the courage to admit faults and take responsibility. We don’t want to be successful by stepping over people either. Reputation and respect are two things that are very easy to lose and it’s important to us to never compromise our values to gain success,“ explains Figliomeni.
With such a demanding workload required to run an entire business on their own, how exactly does the duo maintain a healthy balance between work and play? Shotbolt explains: “We are both very good at separating business and pleasure. In order to have the ability to do the things we love outside of work, we need to stay focused at work.” Not losing sight of the implications of constant connection to technology, the pair notes, “We also find it crucial to unplug from time to time. Putting away your phone while sharing a meal or not reaching for your phone first thing when you wake up has proven to make the hours you spend working more productive.”
Happy with their continued growth and excited for the future, there seems to be nothing Figliomeni and Shotbolt can’t handle. As driven entrepreneurs who sacrificed certainty for the opportunity to create their own dreams, the duo have proven that youth not only have the same work ethic as previous generations but are also able to successfully harness passions into realizing goals. Next time you hear baby boomers lump all millennials together, tell them about the boss ladies over at CONVEY, because we don’t see any contribution to stereotypes here.
Living on the out skirts of Toronto is where one hidden gem is kept from the rest of the world, her name is Tyler Christoff. York University isn’t one of the most fashionable locations in Toronto, but Tyler definitely finds a way to out shine all of her peers. I am pleased to say that Tyler being my friend has definitely inspired me to step out of my comfort closet, which has actually created some pretty cool outfits. I sat down with her and we talked about how fashion became part of her life and where she gets her inspiration from, because I know where I get mine from…HER! Tyler isn’t just the beauty you see when you look at her; she has a lot of brains too. “Apart from fashion, education is an important factor in my life and in the future I plan to complete my B.A in law at York.” She tells me that going to school for Liberal Arts doesn’t have the most exciting wardrobes in the classroom but when she is there to learn that is all she does. Tyler is a very hard working and determined young woman and getting into her ideal school is something she is striving for right now. “Why I chose York University is because it’s a great school for law and also diversity is their trade mark. I’ve been waiting to apply for this school for a very long time and I am determined to get in”, as you can see she is dead set on this school and won`t stop until she is sitting in one of those classrooms. So enough about school, let’s get to the fun stuff!! Fashion is a way where this girl expresses herself from the classroom, to the downtown scene and to my house haha. I asked Tyler the question we have all been dying to hear and it was… Where do you get your fashion inspiration from? “Okay so where I get my fashion inspiration is from different designers like Rihanna, Kimora Lee Simons, Victoria and Kanye and sadly Kim k” let’s be honest not everyone wants to say that their fashion number 1 go to is Kim K but hey, it could be like 5th. Apart from Kim K being on her list, Tyler is very smitten with what Rihanna has brought to the fashion industry, the new age Goth pretty girl look. It’s pretty hard to pin point Rihanna’s exact style because she tests the waters in the entire fashion category and let’s face it, she looks amazing doing it. Tyler got talking about Rihanna and just couldn’t stop herself, “She gives off good vibes through what she wears. Her style is cool comfy and sexy all at the same time.” Another thing Tyler values in clothes is not just for expressing herself but also comfort, we all want to be comfortable doing our daily tasks and it’s so much better to look awesome being comfortable vs. looking like you just got out of hibernation, which us students know a lot about being comfortable and not looking good doing it lol. Now that we have gotten to the most important question of the interview, let me tell you a bit about Tyler and what she does when her face isn’t in a book, which is hardly ever… I would know. Okay so, Tyler is simply awesome. She’s always finding the cool new trend, making sure she can rock it herself (which she almost all the time does) and then passing it on to the world of the not so fashionistas. “Fashion gives me confidence to feel like a strong and sexy women which motivates me to work towards getting a better education” Tyler said it all in the last quote, she is very determined to get where she wants in this world and I know she will. Tyler gives off a lot of confidence but not the bad kind, I think in this day and age there are not a lot of people who are confident in themselves because of what the society has done to the picture of the perfect woman, not saying that we are doomed because we aren’t, there are people out there that are making a change and thank god for them because everyone is beautiful just the way they are and soon they will see it too. But! Back to Tyler, she is my “person” who is changing the world slowly or at least my mind. So everything good thing must come to an end, and I’m glad I got to sit down and tell you all about Tyler Christoff. Her fashion choices definitely inspire me and I plan to steal more and more of her ideas as well as her outfits. I hope you all enjoyed hearing about my style crush, she is indeed a hidden gem but I believe not for long!
Sunday, March 13, 2016
A few weeks ago I spoke with Clara Fortini about her swimwear line, Nua. She told me that Nua translates to naked in Portuguese, in which she is fluent, meaning that the suit fits in such a comfortable way that it feels as though you are wearing next to nothing, like a second skin. She wanted to bring life and colour to her customer’s life palette and that is reflected heavily when looking at the collection.
Season five of Nua is about to debut in a few months and the collections have only improved each season. All of the pieces are constructed of thick nylon and spandex swimsuit fabric. As functional as they are for beach and poolside lounging they can all be dressed up into chic outfits. Fortini says that this was something she highly focused on during the design process. “You can’t wear swimsuits in the restaurants at some resorts, she says. But zip on the sleeve and slip on a skirt and it suddenly looks like a chic outfit” showing me a photo to demonstrate, wearing a white one sleeved swimsuit with a mini skirt, Michael Kors heels, a clutch purse, and hoop earrings.
Asking where the inspiration came to do a practical but glam line of swimwear she told me that it was after a vacation to the party island in Ibiza where almost all party goers were dressed up in bathing suits with stilettos and full hair and makeup in the early evening. Pop singers like Rihanna and Beyonce can be blamed for this “bottomless” look. Music videos showing woman in sleek bodysuits, high heels, and full glam are becoming increasingly popular inspiring a nightclub trend. The first season of Nua was shown in an actual nightclub on King Street West. “I wanted to show it off as a leisure suit, a lounge suit, and a chilling suit” she said, bringing it back to the first design goal of being able to dress it up into an outfit.
Starting to talk more about the business logistics of the company, she told me that she has space in a warehouse just North of the city that holds the product until it is ready to be sold. She has some samples at her condo to show or sell to people that are close to her but the rest is at the warehouse. The bathing suits are manufactured completely locally here in Toronto which really adds value to them. At first glance the $150 price point may seem a bit steep but seeing they are all made in Toronto it is a very reasonable price. Canadians love buying products that are made in Canada, supporting local and helping our own economy. Fortini says that her customers show this when giving feedback about the company always saying that it is an attracting feature. The Canadian manufacturing sets her brand above mainstream swimwear lines from companies like Victoria Secret which is made overseas.
The suits are sold exclusively online, the entire website is set up for just Nua. The website is visually appealing and shows not only this years collection but collections from previous years too which is nice for new and old customers being able to see how the brand has grown and changed each season. The website is split into two categories, swimsuits and cover ups. This arrangement is perfect because the customer can choose the perfect suit for themselves and then go over to the other part of the website and find a cover up to match.
Being sold online only makes running the company easier. Not having to deal with communicating back and forth with stores and transporting the product from the warehouse to each store saves a lot of time and money. Running the business strictly as an online store eliminates the second person. Once the order is placed online it can be received and processed at the warehouse. After the warehouse receives the order it can simply package it and ship it directly to the customer. This eliminates the amount of places the product has to travel to therefore reducing the risk of theft and damages. When asked if she see’s the bathing suits being sold in stores in the future Fortini says that she loves the operations of the online store but won’t rule it out as an option.
As fashion students this company can be inspiring to us all. Taking the concept of wanting every woman to feel sexy, Fortini was able to develop an entire company around it. Being able to connect her love for fashion, sex appeal, functionality, and empowering woman makes the company a model for anyone wanting to start their own business, showing that you can do something that brings all of your passions into one. The story of this company shows us that it is possible to create your own business without spending millions of dollars. Hopefully the glamorous, unique, but practical aspects of the bathing suits will allow Nua to be equally successful and grow in the collections and years to come.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
It’s no surprise that our generation is heavily influenced by technology; from MacBooks to smart TVs, we are constantly surrounded by, and live in a world driven digitally. The fashion industry has seen tremendous leaps of innovation, from 3D printing; wearable technology, and virtual reality, fashion has become a common denominator amongst these innovations. Business practices, consumer behaviour, and innovations have all been impacted by the developing relationship between fashion and technology. The landscape is constantly changing, and the traditional relationship between brands and consumers has evolved to take part in this game changing digital revolution.
Down to Business
There’s not denying that technology and the Internet has changed the fashion landscape. The rise of e-commerce and the need for digital and social media marketing speaks volumes already. The focus on digital is related to the changes in buying behaviour we see. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm that predicts that in the next ten years, the share of luxury sales online will triple. Going digital is an adaptive mechanism for as consumers enjoy shopping in the comforts of their own home
Increased number of touch points between brands and consumers means brands have more opportunities to generate sales via these interactions. The media landscape consists of a variety of platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, e-commerce sites, and much more. Brands are utilizing these platforms to cultivate their brand personality and to develop a reciprocal relationship with customers to increase engagement levels, ultimately to generate sales in the long run. This new digital marketing model changes how brands communicate with their customers, forcing them to embrace this unpredictable playing field. The digital influence has opened many doors of opportunity to brands but at the same time, it’s given them more work and has placed them in an arena of intense competition. With consumer tastes continuously changing, how long is this game of catch up going to take?
Revolutionizing the Shopping Experience
Technology is making headlines in changing the overall shopping experience, and we’re not just talking about online shopping here. In addition to the virtual reality developments, companies are looking into a virtual change room experience.
Toshiba for one, has developed a ‘digital changing booth’ that allows customers to virtually try on clothes. This is done through a 3D scanner and camera that analyzes the customer’s body and then clothes are then sized to fit the customer. Additional apps can also be used in conjunction to allow customers to mix and match outfits and to place an order. It’s amazing to see how far technology has come to deliver such experiences that not only change consumer behaviour and way of shopping, but also positively affects sales for a company.
Another venture into digital changing rooms involves interactive mirrors. Rebecca Minkoff and eBay teamed up by opening a store in New York that merges online and physical shopping. The mirrors in the change rooms show videos, inspirational content, and allows for interaction with sales associates. Customers are provided with a touch screen that allows them to access a catalog and select which items they want in their dressing room. The customer then provides their cell phone number and they receive a text when their fitting room is ready. The mirror in the dressing room recognizes the items in the dressing room and it displays the different clothing on the screen. Technology is used to help customers have a more engaging shopping experience, utilizing all aspects of a brand in the space of a changing room.
Overall, these technological enhancements are definitely changing consumer behaviour by merging online and physical shopping. In-store experience can be transformed digitally to offer consumers a well-rounded experience. The growth of technology is altering the taste and expectations of consumers. To please an average consumer is going to take more work and research these days.
Fashion and technology are progressively colliding and this includes the merchandise brands are developing. The infamous Apple watch is a great example of fusing fashion and technology. It’s essentially a fashion statement, made up of luxury materials and the latest technology. People wear technologically enhanced devices to look good and to portray an image of who they are. One step up from that is the pairing of Apple and Hermes for the Apple watch. One may think it’s an odd pairing – heritage and tradition mixed with innovative technology, but this marriage works and has helped set an example of a luxury brand’s role with modern technology.
Apple and Hermes are not the only two players in this game. Many brands such as Rebecca Minkoff, Tory Burch, and Kate Spade have also taken a seat at this table and have dealt their cards right. There are many brands that have delved into the wearable technology market by offering either fashionable add ons to popular gadgets or by developing products that function to work with the existing gadgets in ones daily life. Technology can be integrated into our lives in products that don’t’ resemble gadgets at all. From having a charging station inside a purse, to a bracelet to has dual function as a charger, it’s evident that technology has invaded the fashion space to deliver products that are fashionable yet functional.
Friday, March 11, 2016
With the baseball season in full swing. The level of excitement is going to increase with every passing day all the more because of their amazing performance last year. Well we all remember the post season!! With Jays entering the post season after 22 long years everyone from fans to the players were going crazy with happiness. They for sure were the game changers last season and let’s hope they continue to do so this time as well. This is 40th season which makes it all the more special.
Winning and losing are a part and parcel of the game but the performance pressure is a thing of concern so the blue jays have a extraordinary team of players who make all round effort to give a phenomenal performance each time with David Price and Tulowitzki joining jays towards very end last season made a significant contribution, it is sad we don’t get to see Price this season. Efforts on part of team and the management are very essential. Looking at a micro level, Mandeep Brar an employee of Toronto Blue Jays says “ I have to stay in my office until the game finishes” , on talking to employees at their store I felt the last season was full of surprises where at one point there were hardly any people in store and then suddenly the store was catering to hundreds of enthusiastic fans everyday which according to Mandeep who happens to work very closely merchandise department said that “ 3000 to 4000 jerseys were being manufactured each week as the customer request for jerseys was surging” .
Blue jays have a huge fan following in Toronto and a traditional blue jays hat is a must have piece and as said by an enthusiastic fan “every single person in Toronto deserves a Blue Jays hat “ , which surprisingly is true as you get too see them everywhere be it subway, movie hall or shopping malls as everyone loves jays hat, which inspires them to make new collection each season for instance the famous pitcher Marcus Stroman created his own line of hats which turned out be very popular.
Blue jays is proud owner of two official team stores and they are very centrally located with one being inside the Rogers center and the other one in the heart of TO Downtown, Eaton Center. Both the store had a very busy season last year and their sales exceeded way beyond their annual target. Popular brands like Pandora, roots, Columbia are proud manufacturers of Jays merchandise, with roots being in the top league as their limited edition Jays Leather Jacket sold like hot cakes this winter. Pandora continues to make the super famous wooden, dangling and the baseball charm with the signature jays bird, they are trendy and expensive at the same time. Alex woo also makes pendants for Jays. On visiting the Jays shop located at Level one of Eaton Center I was taken by surprise as they carry a wide range of product from womenswear to pet gear. Don’t be surprised if I tell you they carry a very brief collection of swimwear, well a Jays bikini this summer is great idea for all you beach lovers. If this season you want to flaunt super cool jersey with your own name, check out the super cool customization option provided at the Jays shop where they heat seal the name and number on you jersey for $60 in their store .
Moreover all the jays fan be ready to shell more money this season as the prices of tickets have increased substantially and “there is dynamic pricing system this season” says Mandeep. So be ready to spend those extra dollar for tickets.
Jays are the only Canada based baseball team in the American League which makes them all the more popular here. “We are expecting a huge gathering this time “says Mandeep Brar an employee of Toronto Blue Jays. He believes it is going to get crazy from the beginning this season, “our stores were crazy busy last season especially when jays made it to post season “he says. “ jerseys have always been the most sought after merchandise every season “ Mandeep adds. They have different types of jerseys authentic and replica priced at $230 and $130 respectively. Moreover they introduced new types of jersey with the 40th season badge on sleeve this season. So don’t forget to check their latest collection.
Blue Jays heart throb and MVP (Most Valued Player) Josh Donaldson continues to inspire the youth to try different hair styles be it the Dutch braid , fish tail , cornrow or the classic French braid so does Jose Bautista who again inspires the youth to a large extent. So let you hair stylist know well in advance, they are back in action!!
In the end all I want to say we all want them to clinch the world series title and yes Welcome to the 40th season TO Blue Jays.
EVALUATING THE VALUE OF CUSTOM-MADE
G. Bruce Boyer, renowned menswear expert and author of the classic menswear manual, True Style, is famous for saying that a great suit releases ‘unfulfilled potential’ in a man. He credits the 30s as being an “epoch of unparalleled elegance in menswear”. The reason, he insists is a simple one – at the time, “the level of sophistication for the average man matched that of the rich”. This simple observation stimulates so many assumptions, however, it is easy to understand why the 30s holds such prestige in menswear history – the decade brought about iconic firsts such as the creation of the classic double-breasted suit.
Men’s suits are typically distinguished based on their production process. The main categories are ready-to-wear, made-to-measure and bespoke. Ready-to-wear allows customers to buy a finished suit in-store. Made-to-measure offers customers finished suits which can be fitted to the individual’s size. While this option offers more control in terms of fitting, it does not compare to bespoke, which provides the ultimate form of customization and gives the customer complete control over the design process. The main difference between the two is perfectly captured in Master Tailor, Toby Luper’s famous quote, “It’s like comparing a Jaguar with a Bentley – both are amazing quality cars, but one is primarily made by machine and the other by hand.
Bespoke is the menswear equivalent of haute couture and literally translates into made-to-order clothing. Although its origins trace far back into history, it's back on the radar for the same old reason, a good suit lasts a lifetime. When asked why he prefers bespoke suits, Lim Chae Yeong, a local menswear enthusiast and Buyer at John Medley, says “the right suit will truly convey the individual, and highlight his best features”. He adds that while some men may look better in suits, most look best in well-made suits. In a 2015 interview with CNBC, Marshall Cohen, the Chief Industry Analyst at NDP Group refers to bespoke tailoring as “an underground market that is now at the street level”. According to him, “nobody knew about bespoke before unless you were wealthy, (and) now the common man is wearing them”.
Considering bespoke? The benefits are plenty and obvious. Bespoke offers customers the ultimate in fit while providing a strong sense of individuality that is achieved through the process of customizing a suit that meets their every specification and desire. The process of hand-making suits is sustainable and offers value for the customer and tailor, in return. While these benefits are reason enough to go bespoke, the hefty price tag associated with custom-made discourages most people.
In Lim’s own words a suit tells the story of a man’s pride – conveying just what he wants the world to see, whether it be power, professionalism, or sophistication. While most menswear experts have a strong preference for custom-made suits, Lim advises men looking to try bespoke to opt for a few functional pieces first –better yet, he insists on starting with custom-made shirts to get a great sense of the difference between a ready to wear and a bespoke garment.
Bespoke provides a tailored fit to customers that extends beyond individual sizing to include a compatibility with the individual’s lifestyle. The result of working closely with a tailor to develop an individual pattern based solely on the customer’s sizing, is a garment that offers a one-of-a-kind fit that is specific to the wearer. Most custom suits are created with the idea of timelessness in mind, for example, tailors would often attach excess fabric to the lining of suits for future adjustments that may be required due to changes in the wearer’s body. In his book, True Style, Boyer emphasizes the need for an experienced tailor’s keen eye when finding the perfect fit. By paying close attention to an individual’s stance, build, and posture a good tailor can create a fit that is not solely reliant on the measuring tape but also accounts for the little nuances that are unique in nature and typical in every body type.
The fitting process is the most important element of getting a suit custom made. After the initial fitting, tailors meet with clients for several more fittings over the course of constructing the suit. The construction process can take up to 55 hours if the suit is completely hand-made. With each fitting building on the last, the result is always a perfect fit.
Upon initial consultation, Boyer says that professional tailors will often ask clients specific questions such as what they typically carry around in their pockets in order to create a functional ease for accommodation or how they intend to live in their custom suit. This type of information assist tailors in creating a suit that truly takes the individual's lifestyle needs into consideration. When asked how he initially picks out a tailor, Lim emphasizes the need for a compatibility in personal style. He also adds that the average age of clientele plays an important role when deciding on a tailor. In his opinion, a tailor with a younger clientele may be better off creating trendy styles that appeal to a younger demographic while one with a more mature clientele would likely create garments that attract individuals with a more traditional aesthetic.
In the words of Colin Firth in his role as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service, “A suit is a modern man’s armor”, and while the film showcases spies meticulously disguised in dapper-style menswear, the message is clear, the right armor conceals that which the knight requires hidden and projects the illusion of power and grace.
Davenport, the neighborhood northwest of downtown Toronto, is located north of the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and Dupont Avenue and south of Davenport road. Located just outside of the Yorkville hub lays WorkingTitle. At just 25 years old Michael Fong co-owns and manages one of the most unique multi-faceted spaces in Toronto. From clothing, to books, and even art space, WorkingTitle blends all of these interests into one space and is quickly gaining exposure and establishing themselves as one of the most unique shops in Toronto. “I had a lot of ideas of what I thought I could do better or even do differently, so of course, naturally it had crossed my mind that I might open up my own shop”. Explains Mr. Fong after talking about his fair share in the retail industry. After graduating from U of T on a scholarship and working for many different retailers such as: Club Monaco, Foot Locker and American Apparel, he began to think of different ideas regarding opening up a store. “At the end of the day, it was all about having the right circumstances. I had friends of mine that I could work with approach me with a project that I was interested in. And it was great timing as well, given that I was about to graduate from U of T and just starting to try and figure out where to go from there” he says.
He then explains the strategy behind his shop being distant from the busy shopping areas in the city.
“There was a lot that went into the final decision of being on Davenport. First and foremost, we quickly recognized that what we wanted to do was definitely more niche. So, we thought it would be beneficial for us to be more of a destination shop. We liked the idea of there being an intent in coming into the shop. Not necessarily the intent of making a purchase, but more so the intent of experiencing the space whether it be the clothing, the bookshop or whatever exhibition may be going on. But of course, we didn't want to be too far out of the way. Davenport seemed like a natural choice given that it's just outside of Yorkville and fairly accessible. As well, the area does show promise for future development. It sits in the middle of some of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city. There's one luxury condo development that finished down the road and there's another one going up across the street. And of course the space sealed the deal for us. We've got great big windows that let in a lot of light. The layout was odd but it definitely challenged us in terms of finding the best way to use the space”.
WorkingTitle has been featured in many different magazines and website blogs including: style.com, Toronto Star, Monocle, Porter Magazine, Highsnobiety, Toronto Life, and Style Democracy. They have quickly gained global exposure and increased their clientele. Don’t expect your favorite WT merchandise to sit on the racks for very long. When asked about how he felt about being featured in these major platforms, Mr. Fong simply stated “Some of it was cool, some of it was done badly. Any exposure is good”.
One major part of the shop that puts WT on the map is their carefully curated selection of menswear clothing brands that they bring into the store. “When determining what brands we want to bring, we look at a number of things. Of course, the basis of everything is the clothes. Does the design fit our tastes and our aesthetic? How is the quality and fabrication? Do we like how pieces from this brand fit? Looking at pricing, how's the value? At the end of the day, we are not going to carry clothes from brands that we don't like and that we wouldn't wear ourselves. That's the biggest and most important thing for us to look at. Next, it's the brand. Is there a strong, clear and consistent brand identity? Is it popular right now? Does it get a lot of press or exposure? What other shops carry the brand? What kind of message is the store sending by carrying this brand? And finally, there's the business aspect. Is the brand easy to work with? What are the minimums? You never get everything on that list. But you need the clothing, the branding and the business aspects to come together. All in all, we're here to sell clothes. So we ask those questions to see if a brand is viable and whether we can sell their pieces”.
I then explain to him how myself and everyone else definitely appreciates the passion and dedication they devote into their store and hope for nothing but the best in the future. He then chuckles and shakes my hand, “Thanks a lot. There aren’t many stores nowadays that carry what they like. A lot of it is what’s trending, what sells best and you can clearly see that in their space. It’s like going through a Tumblr feed and slapping that into a small space for everyone else to see”.
When asked about the future of WT, and what it holds for them, he explains “We’re always looking for new things to do. With the new website, we definitely want to get into more original content. We just finished shooting one video and we're currently planning another one as well as a photo editorial. As for exhibitions, we want to expand our network of artists to collaborate with and also expand the media we work with. In the New Year, we'll be working with an industrial designer on an exhibition for Design Week. If it goes well, hopefully we'll be able to get into offering small goods at the shop. As for clothing, we'll be adding Stone Island and Proper Gang to our brand roster for SS16.
The way WorkingTitle approaches every task is a true testament that shows how much passion, dedication and time they put into their store. They buy what they like and don’t think twice. They aren’t worried about competition because they are confident that their clientele will be receptive to the products that they have to offer.
Working two retail jobs I am regularly folding or hanging up clothes thrown in a pile or on the floor. Looking at these large pile of clothes I cannot help but think about the people who made them and how they would feel with the way their hard work is treated. Instead of being admired and respected, each piece is no more than a mess filling the store. People are continuously buying cheap clothes that in the end are meant to fall apart, just to be trendy. Are companies selling to customers supporting those developing countries making the clothes by providing jobs, but at what price, is it hurting more than helping? What will we be taking away from our job force by offering production, making, selling, and buying jobs to other countries?
SUPPORTING DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?
People in today’s society are constantly trying to keep up with trends while staying under budget, which means cheap, low-cost apparel. Companies are happy to use developing countries such as Bangladesh or Cambodia because they can make large volume goods at a low cost to fill the needs of their customers.
Livia Firth ‘The True Cost’ Exec. Producer and UN Leader of change talks about her trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, she says “we visited the factory in Dhaka, it was a game changer we were absolutely shocked because there was only one entrance to the factory. There was an armed guard to check workers on the way in and out. Inside there were three floors crowded with women and all windows had bars first thing you notice is that 'it's so hot', if anything happened like a fire there is no fire escape they cannot get out the windows can’t open.
The women had to produce 100 pieces per hour they had only two toilet breaks a day if they called in sick they would not be coming back to work the next day they were fired. This is my first time being exposed to this harsh reality of how the clothes were being made miles away from my home. Once you experience that you go home you can’t close an eye and say ‘ill go buy this anyway’”.
I am surprised to see that factory conditions in developing countries such as Dhaka have not changed much, considering the collapse of Rana Plaza that killed 1,127 workers and left another 2000 injured. If companies are going to continue to outsource they need to make sure that people are given proper human right and better working conditions. A lot of the people working in those factories are happy they can have a job and make money, but they should be able to do that without the fear of being injured or dying. They should be allowed sick days, frequent breaks and lower quotas of quantities. Factories should be properly constructed with extra fire exits and be allowed to have windows open.
START SUPPORTING OUR ECONOMY
` Is fast fashion hurting our Canadian job force by outsourcing to keep up with consumer demands? Sandro Contenta writes in The Star about one Canadian manufacturing company that had to shut down their shirt making business “At precisely that moment, in this very same factory, the owners of John Forsyth Shirt Co. told 110 employees that a century of shirt-making would end. The company, established in 1903, was closing its factory — the latest victim of a Canadian-made garment industry decimated by globalization and, in Forsyth’s case, government decisions.”
Forsyth’s is just one example of Canadians losing jobs to globalization, businesses keep sending their clothing production outside Canada. What about the Canadians that are looking for work and the people who want to start their own business, for people looking for production factories that would like to design locally? Wazana owner of Second Denim Co. “credits business success to being flexible in production according to fast changing trends, keeps his company domestic for ethical reasons after witnessing how poorly people were treated working in china’s factories. In Wazana’s decision to keep manufacturing locally in Quebec, it’s not about money to him it is about supporting the local job force.” If more companies were to produce and fully function in Canada, owners would know what the working condition are and be able to supply jobs to people in our country. There are a few manufacturing companies in Canada such as C&O Apparel and Toronto-based WS&CO. The government needs to start thinking about supporting our own economy, which means having the programs to train people for production jobs to allow the possibility for more Canadian bread companies to succeed.
Having clothes made in developing countries are boosting their economy while the job force in Canada continues to suffer. Apparel companies continue to mass produce need to be the first to start working ethically if outsourcing or start sourcing locally to support our own economies. Ethically if the companies continue to mass produce people will continue to buy. The government should create a lower limit on how much production is done overseas to equal out opportunities.