Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's In Your Closet?: A look at where your clothing is made and how it affects it's retail price

Dragon Warrior
Have you ever wondered where your clothing comes from? Are you one of those people that reads the tag of your clothing before making a purchase? For a recent school assignment, I had to look through my wardrobe and record the country of origin, fibre content, brand name and price of 35 pieces from my wardrobe. As I rummaged through very full closet, I discovered that (expectedly) that the majority of my garments were manufactured in China with these items accounting for 42% of my wardrobe. The garments that I had purchased in China included a $100 Adidas sweater made of polyester and cotton purchased from Aritzia, a $15 fitted blue t-shirt made of spandex and cotton purchased from Garage and a $19 white eyelet dress made of polyester and cotton purchased from Reitmans. What I found interesting from this selection, was that the most expensive item (a brand name) used the same fibre content and was manufactured in the same country as the two lesser expensive items. This discovery made me realize that there is more to retail price than just the country of origin or fibre content for a given garment. Retail price can also be determined by brand name, designer prestige and store image.

Oh Canada!
To my surprise, Canada came in second place (WOOHOO!) with 19% of my wardrobe being manufactured in the North American country. This was something I was pleased to discover because personally, I am a very strong supporter of Canadian manufactured apparel items and although Canada does have a good reputation in terms of workmanship, the last thing that this nation in known for is apparel manufacturing. Clothing items that were manufactured in Canada include, Guido & Mary jeans purchased from Jean Machine with a retail price of $119.95, a plaid fitted dress from Le Chateau with a retail price of $89.95 and a floral printed tank top from La Senza with a retail price of $25.

Mass Manufactured Quality
As I continued with my treasure hunt it was revealed to me that (surprise, surprise) the majority of my wardrobe has been purchased from fast-fashion retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, Joe Fresh Style and Zara. Each of these retailers are known for providing trendy, affordable apparel items that often have lower quality standards, are made with less expensive fibres and are manufactured in countries with lower labour wages. My army green button-down quarter-sleeve length shirt from H&M, grey and navy striped sweater from Joe Fresh Style and polka dot halter top from Zara each contained high quality, more expensive fibres, including lambswool, silk and linen. This stood out to me because the average price of these items were $36, an affordable price for a top and they all contained a natural fibre, something that tends to be used with more expensive garments. After reviewing this I realized that budget retailers are able to charge lower prices for their garments because they tend to purchase them in larger quantities. In the apparel industry, the more fabric you buy the less expensive it is.

Winding Up
Taking the time to look at my clothing from a different perspective (not just admiring the beautiful details, prints and fit) made me realize that even though a certain item is manufactured in a particular country, it does not mean that the fibre content of the garment came from that country. For example, according to my results spandex is often used in garments that have been sourced from Canada, China, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. This activity has encouraged me to take a closer look at the garments that I purchase. Instead of only looking at the construction and aesthetics of a garment, I will begin to look at the country of origin and how it relates to fibre content, store image and retail price. Now, how about you?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

L’Oréal Fashion Week Spring 2009 Preview-NADA

Fabulous was the theme for L’Oréal Fashion Week’s spring collections and when it came to Nada, it was fabulous indeed. Being inspired by Athena, the Greek goddess of war, models strut down the runway wearing everything from a gold cocktail dress adorned with metal coins, high-waist grey pleated harem pants and a flowing belted magenta tent dress. The show was styled by former Fashion Magazine editor, Tammy Eckenswiller who brought a modern eclectic touch to the Grecian inspired designs. By styling the outfits with stacks of chunky gold bangles, cocktail rings and ornate chandelier earrings, the designer looks were ready to be worn right off the runway. Nada is known for taking inspiration from prominent women throughout history such as, Alexis Carrington from the 1980’s power soap opera, Dynasty and her spring 2009 collection did not disappoint. The collection included a colour palette of olive green, magenta, purple, white and gold. The clothing was mainly made up of sinuous silk and jersey skirts and dresses that were contrasted with braided shoulder straps and brown leather belts. A soft grey spaghetti-strap tank top paired with a high-waist white flowing skirt with a braided sash belt would be a perfect look for prancing around town on a summer day and for anyone who wants to show off their tough side, just slip into a pair of the distressed leather pants that were paired with a sleeveless top embellished with gold metal coins. Nada Shephard has once again brought out the strong, sexy woman in all of us with her spring 2009 collection and will no doubt continue to dazzle L’Oréal Fashion Week in the years to come.

Artistic Disposition: The Future Face of Canadian Fashion

I first met fashion designer, Zoran Dobric this past summer while helping him with a small marketing assignment for an upcoming trade show. My first impression of him was that he was soft spoken and down to earth. As I got to know him better I realized that he had the fire inside him to succeed in the fashion industry. A fire that unfortunately is very dim in the Canadian fashion industry, with successful Canadian retailers such as The Hudson’s Bay Company being bought out by American retailer, Lord& Taylor. “It is unfortunate that this is happening as many jobs in Canada are lost that way”, says Dobric. However, when it comes to his designs, he remains optimistic, “this will not influence my work.”

Born in the former Yugoslavia, Canadian-based fashion designer, Zoran Dobric has known that he wanted to become a fashion designer from a young boy where he was, “always drawing pretty princesses in fancy dresses”. Since then, Dobric has gone on to winning first prize for the Art of Fashion: Hollywood-Rethink Breast Cancer Competition and Smirnoff Fashion Awards-Virtual Nature 1999 Competition. Having worked in the fashion industry since 1999 and participating in Toronto’s LG Fashion Week (formerly L’Oréal Fashion Week) for the past three years, Zoran continues to intrigue the fashion industry with his contemporary designs featuring abstract graphic prints that he creates himself, “I start with a hand drawing or painting, and then manipulate them in Photoshop or [Adobe] Illustrator in order to create the final print which then can be digitally printed on fabric.”

His Spring/Summer 2009 collection was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s semi-biographical story, Orlando and featured a colour palette of soft greys, pea greens and sky blues with a shot of black. The silhouettes were inspired by the many time periods that the immortal, Orlando travels through while transitioning from a man to a woman. A women’s leather bomber jacket with a nipped in waist paired with grey and white striped pants, resembled a 17th century doublet popular during the Baroque period. When describing why the gender themed novel inspired him, Dobric says, “The fact this person was immortal. I was able to borrow different historical references and inspirations, as well as the idea of androgyny, where I could combine masculine and feminine elements that were inspired by the fact that Orlando started out as a male and later turned into a female by the end of the story. It’s a really intriguing story.”

Dobric’s unique designs have become more wearable as the years have gone by, through focusing more on what the everyday man or woman would wear rather than his previous more avant-garde designs. A men’s turtleneck with a cable knit neck and sleeve attached to a chiffon bodice from his spring 2006 collection is now replaced by a short sleeved collared shirt, decorated with a gradated print the goes from pea green to grey. Even though Dobric’s style has evolved, the artistic inspiration in his clothing designs is always there. “I think fashion is a form of art or least an applied art. I would think art is what inspires me to design fashion” describes Zoran, when asked what influences his overall design aesthetic. Being European is another influence in his fashion designs, “it affects my aesthetic since I always lean towards European fashion style more than American style.” The hands-on designer has experienced success on both a national and international level. Most recently he participated in New York’s prestigious, “The Train” trade show in which he experienced great success through receiving sales orders from New York, Boston, San Francisco and Hong Kong. “The experience was great for learning about buyers and how they work. I got sales orders which will help move my business forward.”

With the recent economic recession in the United States and realities of global warming, consumers are becoming more aware of what they are purchasing and more conservative with their purchase decisions. In fact, according to a June 18, 2007 editorial by Footwear News, author Jennifer Carofano states that 27% of consumers are interested in purchasing green products. The fashion industry is no exception to these changing times and according to Dobric, “the buyers are clearly more ‘safe’ when buying then before.” The economic recession has also had an effect on fashion buyers purchase decisions, Dobric says, “It makes it hard for newer brands, as buyers go for old, tried brands. This means that new designers, including me have to emphasize uniqueness and quality of their products even more, in order to remain competitive. It also means that their offerings need to be a pretty safe sale, buyers don’t want too much risk at this time.”

Dobric’s experience in the fashion industry includes, previously teaching at Ryerson University and currently teaching at George Brown College on top of designing his own fashion line and this multitasking gives him what it needs to succeed even further in the fashion industry. His name is continuously growing with appearances in Lou Lou Magazine, Fashion Television and NOW Magazine. With his focus on success and innovative design, Dobric has what it takes to become the face of Canadian fashion. Citing creativity as to why he loves the fashion industry as “there is always something new”, he continues to have high hopes for the future of his fashion line. When asked what direction he sees his fashion collection taking in the next 10 years, Dobric answered, “I am hoping the sales will grow and I will be able to continue designing” As for fashion trends, in the future Dobric feels fashion will continue to take inspiration from the past. “It will probably be something repeated from what was done before. I don’t anticipate nothing too radical.”

The former art high school student will be participating in the second annual Green Gala in Toronto on November 8th where he will be required to create three outfits made out of sustainable fabric. The environment friendly event is on par with a critical world issue as well as a current trend that is on its way to becoming the norm in the fashion industry and this fits perfectly with Dobric, who is definitely here to stay. In regards to the other future of fashion, which includes fashion students, interns and aspiring fashion designers, Dobric has this advice, “the best advice is either do it properly or do not do it at all. You need to invest a lot of time, effort, research and money into something in order to make it even begin to work, so persistence and believing in yourself is the most important thing.”


Sparkle and Shine-A guide to adding a little je ne sais quoi to your holiday party wardrobe

Christmas, Hannakah, Kwanzaa and Diwali are all holiday events celebrating the festival of lights. With the holiday season just right around the corner, fashionistas everywhere are in search to find the perfect holiday look and what better way to combat the cold blistering snow by incorporating sequins into your holiday wardrobe. From trims to decorated designs to full out coverage, sequins are a sure way to stand out and shine at any holiday fete. Don’t know how to sport the shiny look? Fret not and read on to see just how the dazzling look can work for you.

A Little Twinkle
For those who have a more demure approach to their fashion choices, adding a beret adorned with sequins, a sparkly belted sash or glittery chic clutch are great ways to incorporate the sparkly look into your holiday wardrobe. When paired with your little black dress or a great pair of menswear inspired wide legged trousers, the sequins take centre stage without overpowering your assemble. Some great items to try are Patricia Field’s rainbow bright sequined beret and Proenza Schouler’s black sequined harem inspired pants.

Guiding Light
For the daring fashionistas who aren’t afraid to enter a room with some extra glimmer and glitz, why not try a full fledged sequined dress? It looks exceptionally chic when worn as a shift style such as French Connection’s Gold Sequin Row Dress paired with patent leather Mary Janes and a shiny satin clutch. Feel free to choose a dress that accents a pattern with sequins to emphasize your extroverted personality. Abstract shapes, animal prints and stripes all get an added punch when presented in sequins.

Disco Don’t
To avoid looking like a disco ball or a modern day Liberace when sporting a sequined accessory or garment to your holiday party, keep things to a minimum. If you choose to wear a sequined shift avoid accessorizing with a glittery beret and sparkly shoes, the last thing you want to do is cause someone to wear their sunglasses at night, indoors. Keep hair and accessories simple so that they serve as accents to your overall look. A simple strappy heel and smooth strands keep the focus on the sparkle and avoid sequin overkill. The sequined look is all about adding that extra sparkle to lighten up your look during the exciting holiday festivities. Don’t forget to have fun and wear what makes you feel extra shiny.

Brilliant Expectations
Fear not fashionistas, no need to stash that sequined clutch once the snow melts, for sequins were fun yesterday, continue to be today and will be tomorrow. Sequined garments were all over the spring 2009 runways including looks by Diane Von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang and Erin Fetherson. A few standout looks include a purple ombré sequined shift and an iridescent pearl t-shirt. Whenever you feel the need for a little extra sparkle throw on your favourite sequined look and have a night on the town. Amanda