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Richmond fashion designers

20 Apr

There are a multitude of reasons to support local designers — whether it’s to build stronger communities, reduce environmental impact or just to avoid wearing the same mass-marketed outfit as someone else. But the most important reason to shop locally should be to bolster the creativity of talented artists. Some of these skilled fashion designers can be found as close as Richmond, at the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Fashion Show taking place Thursday, April 24 at the River Rock Show Theatre. Featuring collections from the graduating class of Design, Fashion and Technology, this city is home to a variety of inventive designers.

Cindy Luo

Local lingerie line ANASTASIA specializes in undergarments for petite women. Designed by Cindy Luo, the spring collection is inspired by nostalgia and takes its aesthetic cues from diamonds with the cuts and translucency of each piece. Sensual yet sophisticated, ANASTASIA’s versatility allows its garments to be worn on any occasion — underneath everyday apparel, for special events, or even lounging around at home.

A look from Cindy Luo’s lingerie line ANASTASIA. (Photo by Desmond Mok)

A look from Cindy Luo’s lingerie line ANASTASIA. (Photo by Desmond Mok)

“Each piece is designed with petite women in mind, making sure exact measurements are made to meet their needs,” says Luo.

“Most of the products in the market don’t fit a petite woman where it is supposed to be because of long straps, flimsy bands or big cups that don’t give them any form of support,” she says. “Due to these issues, many women resort to purchasing undergarments that are unflattering for their body shapes. A well-fitting undergarment is key in any woman’s quest to feel sexy and confident. I want to create a product where they can celebrate and embrace what they have underneath.”

Jan Bautista

For another local designer Jan Bautista, the focus is on giving clothes a story and sparking the imagination. Bautista’s move from the Philippines to Canada only strengthened his love for fashion. Exposure to different lifestyles made him realize the importance of craftsmanship and the meaning of true beauty. His menswear line, Maison Beautista, strives to redefine the post-modern dandy gentleman, combining fit and comfort with bold colours and eccentric designs. This season the collection is inspired by art from the Post-Impressionist movement, especially Vincent van Gogh’s Irises painting.

“This particular masterpiece represents the celebration and adoration life deserves despite the congested, materialistic society,” says Bautista. “The designs are influenced by the expressive and vibrant hues of the masterpiece.”

A dapper ensemble from Jan Bautista’s Maison Beautista. (Photo by Gene Figueroa)

A dapper ensemble from Jan Bautista’s Maison Beautista. (Photo by Gene Figueroa)

With his enthusiasm and love for bringing stories to life, Bautista hopes to one day design for the theatre and film industry, where clothes provide a crucial part in entertaining and narrating.

Venus Lai

For those looking for office outfit ideas from a local designer, there’s the HaNa line created by Venus Lai. Inspired by history and different cultures, HaNa differs from the usual business attire with its fashion-forward details. This season the designer was influenced by her cultural roots, updating the traditional Chinese cheongsam dress with a modern silhouette and chic, office-appropriate style.

A dress from Venus Lai’s businesswear line HaNa. (Photo by Matthew Chen)

A dress from Venus Lai’s businesswear line HaNa. (Photo by Matthew Chen)

“My ideal customers are women who work in a professional field and require clothing with an identity,” says Lai. “To showcase themselves in a fashionable sense, but also to wear clothing with a meaning and a story.”

“What I love most about designing is to create aesthetically beautiful clothes, but also showcase the skill and the thought put behind it. Having to produce something from a visual in your head into a 2-D fashion drawing, and then thinking about it technically to draft and design the pattern and make it into a 3-D garment is process I enjoy the most. The whole design process is not easy and can be strenuous and difficult, but the outcome and the accomplishment you feel at the end is all worth it.”

For more on the designers and the KPU Fashion Show, visit www.kpu.ca/theshow2014.

[Article first appeared in the April 16 issue of Richmond Review.]

Eco Fashion Week in Vancouver

17 Oct

Too often the phrase “eco-friendly fashion” calls to mind visions of scratchy hemp tunics and hippie tie-dyed tees. It’s a perception the sustainable fashion industry is reinventing by showcasing aesthetically appealing, comfortable clothes — pieces you’d actually want to wear regularly. Since we’re in the midst of Eco Fashion Week, I take a look at local eco-friendly designers and talk to the founder of the event about the importance of environmentally-responsible clothing.

Since 2009, Eco Fashion Week has presented the collections of Canadian sustainable designers. Myriam Laroche, the president and founder of Eco Fashion Week, says the event helps generate attention in finding a balance between the environment and the fashion industry.

“The manufacturing of clothes, as it is right now, is in a very unhealthy space,” says Laroche. “We need to find solutions — eco, ethical, responsible or smart clothing offers solutions. It’s illegal to be naked, so we will continue to create apparel. We just need to do it the healthy way.”

A reworked sweater dress from Adhesif Clothing.

For a brand to be considered eco-friendly, Laroche says there are a variety of factors that come into play.

“At every step of the product development cycle, there is a choice to be made that will be less damaging to humans and the Earth,” she says. “Materials can be organic, recycled, upcycled. We look at the amount of wastage; chemicals in dyes, treatments, finishing; energy consumption; carbon footprint from creation to the consumer; packaging.”

While it may be difficult to decipher which garments are designed sustainably without first doing research on the brand, there are some key terms to look out for when shopping for eco-friendly clothing. Labels marked with third-party certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), SA8000 and Oeko-Tex Standard 100, for example, all independently assess the garment’s impact on the environment. For a product to be certified by GOTS, it must meet the strict requirements of being made at a minimum of 70 per cent organic fibres and also meet the standards of the International Labour Organization, which requires living wages and safety for workers. Similar to GOTS, an item marked with the SA8000 label means it meets their checklist for humane working conditions. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification is a check for harmful chemicals in the production of a garment.

Upcycled leather vest and zebra dress from RISE.

There’s a wide selection of eco-friendly designers in Metro Vancouver. Adhesif Clothing creates their collections by upcycling, a process where vintage or recycled materials are used to create new garments. RISE is also another label that uses upcycling. Designed by local upcoming fashion designers, RISE takes donated clothing and turns them into hip, wearable apparel. Nicole Bridger, a highlight of Eco Fashion Week, is one of the bigger eco-fashion labels to have come out of the city. Creating chic, feminine collections using biodegradable fabrics and GOTS certified wool, the majority of Nicole Bridger’s pieces are manufactured locally.

A rain slicker from Nicole Bridger, made with recycled materials.

Though buying sustainable clothing may not be for everyone, it’s definitely something to think about when shopping. Buying locally helps limits your environmental footprint in addition to boosting the local economy. And for us living in Metro Vancouver, shopping eco-friendly is made all the more easier with the abundance of eco-designers nearby. Laroche believes our landscape also helps us appreciate environmentally-conscious fashion more so than other cities.

“I think that being surrounded by nature has a big impact on Vancouverites’ lifestyle,” Laroche says. “It’s a slower pace here where people take the time to be responsible. Also, the City wants to be the greenest city in the world by 2020 — I’m sure the citizens are motivated to reach that goal as well.”

Eco Fashion Week runs until Oct. 19.

[Article first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of Richmond Review.]

Event: Langara’s AWEAR Charity Fashion Show

2 Mar


For those of you who live in Vancouver and want to give back to the community while attending a fun fashion show, the Langara Business Association will be hosting their third annual AWEAR Charity Fashion Show. Taking place Tuesday, March 27 at my alma mater, Langara College, the event will help raise money and awareness for the Kettleship Friendship Society. The organization supports people living with mental illnesses to lead healthier lives by providing housing, employment and support services. The Kettle provides over 3,600 individuals with 26 services, transition housing for women, and over 200 units of supported housing.

The AWEAR Charity Fashion Show will feature the collections of local designers, focusing on trends in business attire for the spring and summer seasons. There will be a silent auction where all proceeds will go towards the Kettle. Beverages, light food and other entertainment will also be provided.

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Location: Langara College Library, Second Floor Study Lounge

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from Zlata at (778) 668-8019 or through email at info@lbawired.ca.

It sounds like an entertaining and informative event and I will be in attendance so I hope to see some of you there!