Monday, May 18, 2009

Fashion Inspiration

Ever starving for inspiration with your style? Just look across the globe! Follow this link: to check out Japanese subcultures and their very unique sense of style.


A Loss or Gain?: Going Green in the Fashion Industry Part Deux

The going green movement continues with handbag designer, Anya Hindmarch who has created environmentally-friendly handbags. Clothing designer Rogan Gregory is known for using free trade cotton and organic dyes in his clothing for his work with Loomstate, which uses 100% organic cotton and Edun, which exists to develop free trade and sustainability in Africa. The going green movement not only benefits the physical vegetation and water resources of the earth but also the people living in it. Companies such as, Fair Indigo and Swati Argade are also taking part in apparel manufacturing in various countries in Africa as well as India and Peru. Taking part in fair trade assists the development of valuable working skills for individuals that may not have the opportunity to work otherwise and benefits the economy of these developing nations. However, there is a downfall to fair trade, including government and law restrictions and regulations with each individual country and the long distance shipping of the products produced in those countries. The longer the distance a product has to travel, the higher the amount of carbon emissions it produces. This also applies to the popular trend of eco-boutiques, which reduce the energy and money used when building or renovating a brick and mortar store. They are also easy to startup and convenient for business owners that may want to work at home, for example Los Angeles based eco-boutique, Avita sells clothing, accessories and shoes that are sustainable to the environment.This concept provides a quick and easy way for consumers to gain access to environmentally-friendly products however the shipping of the product poses an environmental threat when the products are travelling via airplanes and trucks which emit large amounts of air pollution. Fair trade and eco-boutiques have significant benefits to the environment and their have been actions taken to reduce the amount of carbon emissions for fair trade such as, manufacturing the products from start to finish in the given country.

Manufacturing environmentally friendly products can become a very time-consuming process because companies will have to investigate different ways to produce the same products. Many companies that do not have the resources or knowledge in manufacturing environmentally-friendly products will often need to form partner ships with other companies. For example, the company that produces Wrangler Jeans has partnered up with Avondale Mills to produce the eco-friendly Earth Wash collection. In order to achieve the right look and finish for the jeans, the company went through an extensive trial and error period in which dyes did not come out the correct colour due to dyes stuffs reacting differently than they would to the materials that are normally used. The time consuming and expensive process led to the Earth Wash collection which makes up for 85% of Wrangler Jeans, Rugged Line and at retail costs $29-$35. Although producing the Earth Wash jeans collections took more time than it would to produce the average pair of denim jeans, Wrangler and other companies know that in the long run it will pay off to go green. With 25% of consumers that purposely purchase products sensitive to the environment and 3% of that group willing to purchase environmentally safe products if they are equally fashionable and affordable, going green is an excellent marketing ploy for it not only benefits the desires of the consumers but it is also is a huge long term benefit to the environment.

Paying the price to go green includes the financial cost of researching, partnerships and trial and error for the company as well as the cost of time and in the apparel industry, time is money. However, taking the extra time to include environmentally safe products and processes in manufacturing a garment makes a bigger influence in the future. It makes the difference between a wealthy world today and an environmentally healthy world tomorrow. Although many companies use environmentally-friendly labels in order to be perceived as being environmentally friendly, for example fast fashion retailer, Forever 21 and the natural fibre, bamboo in their apparel products, which although requires little water and no pesticides to grow, it requires harsh chemicals and large amounts of energy to turn the stiff fibre into yarns that can be easily woven, there are still countless clothing and textile companies that have a genuine focus on producing environmentally friendly products and benefitting the environment. For example, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute which has established an “Environment Excellence” program that will set up environment goals and targets for textile mills. The apparel industry has a social responsibility to market products that are safe for consumers and the environment that we all live in. The green movement should set a new standard for how the apparel industry operates because paying the price today will pay off tomorrow.


A Loss or Gain?: Going Green in the Fashion Industry

In Canada, consumers spent $21 billion on clothing in 2002, a high number when compared to the $23 billion that was spent on motor oil and gasoline by motorists also in 2002. The apparel and textile industry is growing at a rapid pace and the media appears to have a heightened focus on the fashion industry. Within the last five years fashion focused television shows such as, ‘Project Runway’ and ‘The Fashionista Diaries’ have gained in popularity along with an increasing number of fashion related websites such as, ‘The Satorialist’ and ‘’. Fast fashion retailers, H&M and Forever 21 as well as high end fashion designers, Isaac Mizrahi and Karl Lagerfeld have capitalized on this by producing collections inspired by high fashion designs for a fraction of the cost. However, what effect does this increased production have on the environment? In Canada, 18,010,801 tonnes of waste disposal was produced in 2006 by non-residential sources including, manufacturing companies such as an apparel manufacturing company. Flame retardants used in textile products to manufacture uniforms for fire fighters have been known to contain the chemical polybrominated diphenylethr (PBDE) which has been known to be a harmful chemical to the environment and human health. 100% cotton t-shirts may seem to be environmentally friendly however, the processes that a cotton fibre must go through in order to be manufactured into a finished product, include herbicides, pesticides, bleaches and dyes that all pollute the environment. To attack this growing environmental concern and reduce the carbon foot print of the apparel industry, clothing companies such as Espirit are using FoxFibre, a company that distributes cotton that naturally grows in shades of brown and green to manufacture t-shirts. Also, there has been an increase in eco-boutiques, which are online retail stores that provide environmentally-friendly products. Despite the increased efforts made by clothing companies and retailers, there is still a downside to the green movement. Developing new ways to produce environmentally friendly clothing can be costly and time consuming. There is no official standard that certifies environmental products as being environmentally friendly and this can lead to companies using the green movement as a marketing ploy rather than an actual implication. Regardless of the negatives associated with environmentally friendly clothing, the long term affects of going green in the apparel industry out way the short term hindrances.

Clothing and manufacturing companies in North America are beginning to take notice at the negative effects the apparel industry has on the environment as well as taking note of consumers growing concern for the environment. Consumers with an interest in green products has risen 21% from 2002 to 2007 and to assist this companies such as, Bagir, Wal-Mart and Deja Inc. have invested in producing apparel and shoe products out of recyclable materials. Bagir applies the environmentally friendly movement to their manufacturing process by taking recycled plastic bottles and using them to create ECOGIR men’s suits. Retail giant, Wal-Mart does the same by producing t-shirts blended with cotton and recycled plastic Coca-Cola bottles. Deja Inc. has focused on non-biodegradable diapers, a product that is frequently used and filling up expensive landfills, by taking the trim from disposable diapers and recycling it into yarn that is used to weave into shoe fabric. The actions taken by these companies are thoroughly benefitting the environment by making efficient use of non-biodegradable products in apparel and using recycled materials that require less energy opposed to processing natural fibres. However, similar to the cotton t-shirt example mentioned earlier, only a percentage of these products use recycled materials. What about the remaining dyes and finishes that are applied to T-shirts, men’s suits and shoes? Also, Wal-Mart being a hugely successful retail company may use recycled materials in their t-shirts but they also use a significant amount of plastic bags when packaging their products for consumers. The positive effect that recycled plastic Coca-Cola bottles have may be minimal in comparison to the negative impact that a number of Wal-Mart’s other practices have. The going green movement encourages an increased amount of environmentally-friendly dyes and finishes which limits the colours and textures of a finished apparel product. Many garments and footwear that use recycled materials also blend those materials with other materials that provide the designed hand of the finished product but may not be environmentally friendly. Higgins Natural, a dye company that is known for using natural dyes to colour various apparel products, find that the colours produced from the natural dyes are not fashionable. In fact, in 2007 a poll taken from, “Shopping Smart; The Environmental Movement is Spawning its very own Brand of Fashion Retail: The Eco-Boutique” indicates that only 6% of consumers are actually buying green products. Even though, a small amount of apparel products are 100% made of recycled products every little bit counts toward a healthier environment.


A Day in the life of a Toronto Fashionista......

Ever wondered what it would be like to volunteer for LG Fashion Week? Read ahead to find out!

As a budding fashionista and proud Canadian, one can only imagine my excitement when I got the opportunity to volunteer at LG Fashion Week (formerly known as L’Oreal Fashion Week). It was February 2008 and I had been looking forward to the possibility of attending Canada’s premiere fashion event. Toronto’s fashion week was originated by the FDCC, an acronym for the Fashion Design Council of Canada, as a way to garner publicity and attention for Canada’s fashionably elite. LG Fashion Week aims to put Canadian fashion designers on the map and it has does an incredible job. Attracting the likes of Jeanne Bekker, Joseph Mimran, Nada Shephard and Shawn Husein, LG Fashion Week has definitely made itself the place to be for all things Canadian fashion.

I had so been looking forward to being a part of Toronto Fashion Week. I remember spending my Valentine’s Day sitting in front of the computer typing up my application to volunteer. I guess most people were celebrating the day of love with their sweethearts, but I felt my love for all things fashion satisfied me more. Passing up the opportunity to volunteer for LG Fashion Week was not possibility to me. The platform that it had created for Canada’s top fashion designers is something that had been very inspiring to me. Unfortunately, the last thing that Canada is known for is fashion and LG Fashion Week along with the FDCC assist with this by putting our Canadian talent on the map. It is events like this that make me realize why I love the fashion industry and why it is so important to support home grown talent.

It was now a grey February morning and as I followed with my daily routine of checking my e-mail, I saw an unread message and it was from none other than the FDCC! I opened the message and it was my volunteer schedule. I was to monitor the Fashion Environment and report to duty the very next day. The excitement bubbled up inside of me as I fantasized about all the fabulous clothes I would be able to see, the industry insiders I would be assisting and the gorgeous models strutting down the Canadian catwalk.

On my first day I helped with the set up the runway and main fashion environment at Nathan Phillips Square. I hustled down to the FDCC to package gift bags and assist with model fittings and got the chance to speak with one of the gorgeous models. It was a long day but definitely well worth it. After all, I was taking part in the hippest fashion event in town.

Finally the shows began. I fulfilled my duty as a LG Fashion Week volunteer that was to monitor the Fashion Environment. I picked garbage off of the floor, greeted guests and made sure the event ran smoothly. In between each of my tasks I couldn’t help but admire all the fashionable people that surrounded me. Toronto’s hottest fashionistas carried Gucci bags, wore the sleekest Louboutins and exuded style with their Prada sunglasses. The likes of Eva Avila, Stacey McKenzie and Iman mingled during the event and I could not believe that I was a part of it! Each fashion show played on a jumbo screen and I was able to watch Project Runway Canada winner Evan Bidell’s first fashion show. With all the fashion, excitement and fabulousness I was excited, overwhelmed and inspired all at the same time. Being a part of this made me realize that not only did I love the fashion industry but I belonged in it and the fact that this amazing event was held right in my hometown made me think, Oh Canada!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rant of the Day: America's Next Top Model

As we all know America's Next Top Model has been around for 12 seasons and despite the lack of public and professional success of the majority of the winners and contestants, the show is still going strong. No one can really deny what the popular television show has done for many young girls and aspiring models. Hell! There was even a riot at the auditions among the model hopefuls of the upcoming season.

Tyra and Co. have done more than just mould your everyday girl into a potential supermodel, they also focus on each contestants personal struggles and adversities that many of them have faced in their daily life and even more so on the television show. One season had contestant, Heather who had a rare form of autism, cycle 3 had Amanda who was legally blind and most recently, Tahlia who had third degree burns on the majority of her body.

By casting these girls, Tyra has shown that no matter what differences may set each of us apart to never let anything get in the way of your dream and this brings me to the premise of the upcoming season of America's Next Top Model, which will only cast potential models who are 5 ft. 7 inches or shorter. All I can say is, What The Fluff?

As an individual who is 5ft. 5 inches myself, I find this idea ridiculous! Within the fashion industry of the western world, please tell me where there is a market for models under 5ft. 7 inches? When people think of shorter models, they often bring up supermodel and fashion icon Kate Moss but like every rule there are exceptions and she is IT! The cycle 3 winner of America's Next Top Model, Eva Pigford was 5ft. 7 inches and don't get me wrong I was rooting for her all the way, but honestly how far has she exactly gone in the modeling world?

I guess I find this new premise to the popular modelling show puzzling because if Tyra would like her show to be unique, why not have a season devoted to only plus size models? How many cycles have had beautiful plus sized models? Diana Zalewski, Tocara Jones, Whitney Cunningham and cycle 9 winner Whitney Thompson for example. There is a HUGE market for plus sized models, why not capitalize on that and inspire all the big and beautiful ladies aspiring to have a realistic, modelling career?

In year the 2009, being plus-sized is no longer a taboo. Playdead Cult/Damzels in this Dress featured a plus-size model in their SS09 fashion show. John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier have done the same, featuring famous plus-size model, Velvet d'Amour in their respective fashion shows. So I beg the question, why NOT have a season featuring plus-size models? Where my ladies at?