Don’t Call it a Comeback

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Toronto dominates worldwide lists of “best cities to live” when it comes to quality of life. But living in Canada’s largest city can have its drawbacks. Real estate prices have become astronomical, the traffic is unreal and, for many, it can be tough to succeed as a small fish in a massive pond. Enter Hamilton.

Canada’s Brooklyn

Hamilton has been tracking Brooklyn’s success in leveraging its gritty character and history to attract talent and investment from Manhattan over the last 20 years. Now the “Hammer” is banking on its own small town charm and progressive community building to lure young couples, creative and tech professionals and others looking for a slower, simpler way of life.

Hogtown, meet Steeltown

The Hamilton Consulate hits Toronto next week as a two-day pop-up event to showcase Canada’s “biggest urban comeback story.” (Yes we know, you’ve been there for years.) Through a collection of industry talks, luncheons, shows and parties, Torontonians can get a closer look at Hamilton real estate, fashion, food, music, art, tech, film and culture.

May 31 – June 1
The Burroughes, 639 Queen Street West

All of the events are free, too. RSVP here.

On the fashion front, organizers have teamed up with the Ontario Fashion Exchange to showcase the work of local designers with Hamilton’s Got Next fashion show and sale on June 1st. Doors open at 4:30pm for cocktails. The fashion show will begin at 5:15pm. Stick around afterwards for the Super Crawl featuring Hamilton music, art and food.

Fashion highlights include:

  • DeMontigny, whose native heritage (Cree/Metis) drives the inspiration for elegant, bespoke designs made in luscious leather and suede.
  • Coppley menswear appears with Charles & Hunt to offer custom works with distinctive British style and meticulous Canadian workmanship.
  • Rachael Warner, a 17-year old design wunderkind with six collections under her belt already.
  • Blackbird Studios designers Kerry Wade and Lynn Bebee create many of their own prints for their womenswear line.

 

Canada’s Fashion History Lurks in Cambridge

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At a recent fashion industry event, I was catching up with a writer friend of mine over a glass of wine when she dropped a bombshell.

“I just came from a Dior exhibit at the Fashion History Museum. Did you know we had a Fashion History Museum?”

Say what? I confessed I did not.

As she went on to explain her discovery of this little gem, we exchanged genuine shock and surprise that it even existed. If we – a seasoned journalist and a blogger – claim to have our fingers on the pulse of fashion in this country, how did neither of us know…

  1. Canada has a museum on the history of fashion.
  2. It’s located over an hour outside of Toronto.
  3. There’s a Dior exhibit on now.

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Located in a small heritage building downtown, the Fashion History Museum is a cheerful advocate of the role fashion plays in this country. In addition to its tiny homage to Dior, which includes designs made exclusively for Holt Renfrew, the museum features a hearty collection of Canadian fashion in celebration of Canada’s 150th. The opening statement for this exhibit, Fashioning Canada Since 1867: 150 Years of Canadian Style, could be our industry’s new mantra:

Canada is the only nation that can say fashion is the reason for its existence.

So unapologetic for Canadians, eh?

It takes under an hour to cover the entire museum, but admission will only cost you five bucks. If you’re going to be in the Kitchener or Guelph area this summer, plan a side trip to Cambridge for some Canadian culture that doesn’t include beer and hockey. The Dior exhibit closes July 9th.

International Fashion Exhibits

If vacation travels take you further afield – such as London, Paris or the Netherlands – check out FashionUnited’s round up of 2017’s must-see international exhibits. Take note of the dates, as some exhibits may have closed.

Zac Posen Comes Home in the House of Z

Fresh off Monday’s Met Gala date with Katie Holmes, Zac Posen touched down in Toronto for the international premiere of House of Z, an intimate documentary that charts his rapid rise to fame.

Katie Holmes 2017 Met Gala | photo care of Zac Posen

At 37, Zac Posen is already a legendary fashion designer, renown for artisanal craftsmanship. Celebrities like Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Natalie Portman flock to his atelier for red carpet wow. House of Z is a generous peek inside Zac’s well connected, Manhattan upbringing and a family that rallies behind his early success.

As a 20-year old Central Saint Martins drop out, Zac already had enviable media buzz but no business. In 2001 Zac’s older sister Alexandra and their mother (a former corporate lawyer) join forces to help him launch his design studio out of the family’s living room. The media darling struggles to exceed the fashion industry’s high expectations while supporting his family. It’s a familiar “fake it until you make it” success story, but one that nearly backfired.

The question this film seems to ask is, what happens when the business outgrows family?

Looking at his career now – successful designer of his namesake label, creative director for Brooks Brothers Womens, judge on Project Runway – it’s hard to imagine the pressure nearly unraveled him. We’ve seen mega talents get sidelined by success before. The question this film seems to ask is, what happens when business outgrows family?

Some of movie’s best moments are interviews with the celebrity set who play a major role in Zac’s rise to fame. Naomi Campbell, Sean “P Diddy” Combs and Claire Danes are just a few of the bold face names to make a cameo.

Canadian Connection

It’s no surprise they selected Toronto’s Hot Docs Festival for House of Z’s international premiere. The documentary was written, filmed and produced by Sandy Chronopoulos, a Toronto broadcast news producer at Rogers Television. As well, fashion philanthropist Suzanne Rogers serves as an executive producer on the film.

 

IMG Shuts Down Toronto Fashion Week

Sid Niegum 2013

It’s the end of fashion week as we know it. Thank goodness.

IMG has shut down Toronto Fashion Week due to lack of funding. While the closure itself is somewhat surprising, many of us in the industry could spot the writing on the wall. Vacancy at the title sponsorship level for more than a season can’t be a good thing. But since IMG’s takeover, the event had turned it into a bloated, corporate beast of a thing. From sponsor activations to designer fees and ticket prices, it was all about the money.

Let’s be clear – the end of Toronto Fashion Week is not the end of Canadian fashion.

Everything seems to be in transition today. The fashion business is being transformed by technology and social media, not to mention financial fallout around the globe. Designers large and small are rethinking, reimagining the purpose of a runway show. But no more fashion week, you ask? What’s this really about?

There are a few things at play here – the first is simply money. Anyone who works in events marketing can tell you how difficult it is to find sponsorship dollars for an event, especially in Canada. Marketing budgets are continually slashed, there’s stiff competition for the same dollars, and the demands to prove a return on investment are high. Not to mention a multi-year title sponsorship of Fashion Week is a six figure commitment. We just don’t have a lot of companies with deep pockets here.

Fashion weeks originated as an industry event for buyers and media but, over time, in order to attract new sponsors, it needed a consumer element. Toronto Fashion Week was one of the first to allow the public in — in fact, this very blog sold the first consumer tickets on behalf of the Toronto shows almost ten years ago. It worked for a while. But perhaps the event didn’t attract enough people – or the right people – to make this worthwhile to marketers in the long run.

The other consideration is the designers —  what did fashion week really do for designers? Participating in the shows was an expensive endeavour for Canadian designers  – creatives who don’t have corporate backing or access to government funding that other arts industries offer. Ideally, a runway show would introduce designers to buyers who pick collections for retail, but our shows happen too late in the season for that. So in essence it was a publicity tool. Sure, you might get some press, but if the consumer can’t find you in a store, what can that really do for your business?

You could say the model was already broken.

There are smaller, independent groups who produce curated runway shows – [FAT] Alternative Fashion Week and TOM* Toronto Men’s Fashion Week – and I expect we’ll see new grassroots shows in the coming years. The biggest challenge facing designers is how to find an audience and generate demand for their clothes in a very cluttered market. That’s a marketing issue, one that a runway show alone will not solve.

Time to rethink, reimagine and recreate the model. Personally I can’t wait to see what’s next.

As we bid adieu to Toronto Fashion Week and all of its title sponsor incarnations (L’Oreal Fashion Week, LG Fashion Week, World MasterCard Fashion Week), let’s take a trip down memory lane of Toronto’s most famous runway. Here are a few flashbacks from the F-List archive.

Down the Vintage Shopping Rabbit Hole (Giveaway)

Luxe Touch vintage bags

Luxe Touch vintage bags

Anyone who knows me knows my love of vintage. It’s a good bet that almost any outfit I wear includes a fashionable nod to the past.

When scouring shops for vintage, you can’t have expectations. Perhaps this is why vintage fanatics like me love it — the sense of adventure, of discovery, the thrill of coming across something so unique, so interesting, so potentially now again.

These days, unfortunately, great vintage finds are hard to come by. As the Globe and Mail reported last month, the availability of high-end designer vintage has changed. Trolling through thrift stores today rarely reaps more than fast fashion cast-offs. Many vintage shops have evolved into high-end contemporary resale stores in order to maintain a viable business.

Well, get ready vintage lovers, this year’s annual Toronto Vintage Clothing Show is coming. And it’s going to be bigger than ever.

Featuring:

Luxe Touch, an independent Canadian based reseller of authentic luxury handbags and specializing in pre-owned and vintage Chanel flap bags in particular.

Ian Drummond Collection, a legendary fixture in the local vintage scene. Ian has been a passionate collector of vintage clothing since the early 1980s, and was responsible for the costuming of 3000+ background performers in HAIRSPRAY and CINDERELLA MAN.  Indulge your love of the 80’s and 90’s – this year Ian will be featuring a huge selection of outfits from a recent purchase.

If Victorian period is more your speed, The Fashion History Museum (located in Cambridge, Ontario) will be participating for the first time offering a one-time-only sale of some excess inventory (nearly 10,000 garments in the regular museum collection). This year guests can also explore a treasure trove of hand-picked antique and vintage decor at the Toronto Antique & Vintage Market.

Toronto Vintage Clothing Show
Admission $10 (cash only)
Saturday, March 5th 10am-5pm
Sunday, March 6th 10am-4pm
Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place (map)

Enter to win a pair of tickets to the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show by sharing your love of vintage on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #vintagelovah (a la Carrie Bradshaw’s “Hello, lovah”) by 11:59PM on March 2nd. Feel free to tag me @TheFList. Two winners will be contacted March 3rd to claim their prize.

Are you a vintage newbie? Here are my top tips for successful shopping:

  • By nature vintage is one-of-a-kind, so shopping is competitive. Arrive early.
  • Bring cash. Not all vendors take credit cards, and while there is an ATM on site you don’t want to miss out on a purchase while waiting in a long line-up.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle! This is why you bring cash. Prepare to cut a deal, but know when to walk away.
  • Inspect an item thoroughly before buying. Natural wear and tear on vintage may not be immediately visible, so be sure to check for loose seams, missing buttons, stains and such.
Photo courtesy the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show

Photo courtesy the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show

Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation Opens

JCF Fashion Innovators | photo by Joe Fresh

Joe Fresh Centre’s 2016 Fashion Innovators | photo by Joe Fresh

As my regular readers know, I rarely use this blog to promote my own endeavours. In this case it’s unavoidable. Last March Jeanne Beker reported on a $1 million investment by Joe Fresh in Canada’s Fashion Future. Today that investment has been realized, and I’m proud that a team I’ve been working with is officially a part of it.

The new Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation opened last month at Ryerson University, modelled after the highly successful Digital Media Zone (DMZ). Six start-ups were chosen through a nationwide a competitive entry process, juried by top executives from Joe Fresh and the Canadian fashion/tech industry.

During a 18-month program, each business — StyleID, Klothed, Formen, Wear Your Label, Blanc de Noir and Love Winter — enjoys physical workspace in the new Centre, access to Ryerson University’s equipment and facilities, professional guidance and a chance to receive up to $50,000 in funding.

Klothed is where I come in — it’s a mobile styling and shopping app that enables users to quickly and easily create a personalized model that includes a selfie of their face, and a body shape and skin tone that resembles their own. Working with the founders over the past two years, we’re developing something I believe will sit at the forefront of the omnichannel future of retail.

klothed style at your fingertips

The first iteration of klothed caters to men. Users can swipe to virtually try-on clothes, tap to share their outfits with their social networks to get input and advice, buy items and plan what they’re going to wear – all from their mobile device. Check out the quick demo video on our website now. I’ll keep you posted as we move to the next stage of development.

Learn more about our friends and fellow innovators at the Joe Fresh Centre here. They are a fascinating and diverse group of startups. And stay tuned for more from the fashion innovation sector on the F-list — it’s a part of the industry that’s close to my heart.

F-Listed: Milliner David Dunkley is the Tops

I have always believed in the power of the hat as an expression of personality and style. I attribute this to the endless selection of outfit-matching bonnets my mother tied to my head, a clever distraction from the little hair I had as a toddler. Last month I was invited to indulge my grown up hat passion as a judge for the RBC Woman to Woman event at the Toronto Botanical Gardens. This annual fundraiser brings together florals and fashion with ladies who lunch. It’s a gorgeous spread of food, flowers and femininity with women turning up in stunning hats and fascinators hoping to win bragging rights of Best in Show.

Who do I call for a proper head topper in Toronto? The one and only David Dunkley.

Couture Millinery DDFM show

After studying millinery in Toronto, David Dunkley headed to England for training by the former Royal Milliner to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Since then his designs have been sported by members of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s royal entourage and guests of the Royal Wedding. He’s outfitted racegoers from Kentucky to Ascot – including the Royal Enclosure. His celebrated Diamond Jubilee collection millinery has been inducted into the Fashion History Museum.

And this year David was named the official milliner of the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s most famous horse race.

“Hats have always been a fashion statement for both men and women at the races,” said Ann Scott Director of Events & Sponsorships for Woodbine Entertainment Group. “We expect the nearing Queen’s Plate to be no different. It’s our pleasure to name David the first ever official milliner of the race.”

The Queen’s Plate is the first race in the Canadian Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. This iconic sporting event celebrates its 156th edition this Sunday, July 5th at Woodbine. In addition to the action on the track, there’s a Hats and Horseshoes party for the ultimate in pomp and pageantry. The yellow feather pillbox hat I wore at the Toronto Botanical Gardens event was created for the 2014 Queen’s Plate, but he typically collaborates with clients to develop custom pieces for weddings, special events or real life runway.

This Sunday David will host a pop-up shop in the Hats and Horseshoe arena. He’ll also appear as a judge for the George Brown Millinery contest with hosts from CTV’s The Social .

David Dunkley Fine Millinery is located at 974 Bathurst Street in Toronto.

A Foot Fetish for the Ages

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The Bata Shoe Museum

“I want you all to close your eyes.” Sonja Bata, the 88-year-old founder of The Bata Shoe Museum is addressing a roomful of press. Canada’s fairy godmother of shoes wants us to imagine what stood on the very site of the Museum’s Bloor Street location over 20 years ago. “A gas station.” Hardly the state-of-the-art artifact storage and exhibit space here today.

Since its opening on May 6, 1995, The Bata Shoe Museum has become North America’s foremost shoe museum with one of the world’s finest collections. If what we put on our feet suggests our attitudes on life, then consider the history of shoes a fascinating sociological exploration. Footwear illustrates entire ways of life, providing insight on climate, religions, professions and attitudes to gender and social status of different cultures through the ages.

Yes, you can tell a lot about someone from their shoes. Over the past 20 years the Bata’s collection has grown to over 13,000 shoes and related items spanning 4,500 years of history.

And I thought I had a shoe fetish.

The Bata kicks off (shoe pun!) a yearlong anniversary celebration this week with a fundraising gala, a public celebration and a new exhibit Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels.

You read that right. Men. In. Heels. Used to be the boys loved wearing heels and no one minded. It’s only in the last few decades that Western culture has been unable to find masculinity in shoe height.

Persian, 17th century riding shoes

Persian, 17th century riding shoes © 2015 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada (photo: Ron Wood)

Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator, explains how the research for this exhibit has been a remarkable exploration. “For me personally, it has been unraveling a long history of the high heel and proving that heels were first worn by men in the Near East for horseback riding, and that European men happily wore heels for the first 130 years of their use in Western fashion.”

Photographer

American, 20th Century Justin and Tony Lama boots
© 2015 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada (photo: Ron Wood)

The Bata also features a number of permanent and rotating exhibits such as Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century. Turns out the phrase “fashion victim” was not the result of some red carpet accident. People actually died in the 1800’s as a result of wearing shoes made with poison-laced dyes and highly flammable materials.

Those blisters from your new Jimmy Choos pale in comparison now, huh?

American, early 1970s © 2015 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada (photo: Ron Wood)

American, early 1970s
© 2015 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada (photo: Ron Wood)

Expect plenty more to come this year including an appearance by distinguished guest lecturer Dr. Martin Roth, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London at this year’s Founder’s Lecture on November 12th. The Museum’s second anniversary exhibition, True North: Traditions and Technologies of Arctic Survival, will open in February 2016.

I wonder where our relationship with shoes is going, now that sites like Shoes of Prey, which allows customers to design their own shoe, are in vogue again.

“Historically shoes were, to some degree, a collaboration between customer and shoemaker.”

“I am actually fascinated by this trend,” remarked Elizabeth. “Historically shoes were, to some degree, a collaboration between customer and shoemaker. Industrialization erased the presence of the indiviual maker, and customers were required to find footwear that suited them from the range of ready-made shoes. It is interesting to me that the trend towards shoe customization is in many ways reviving age old practice.”

For more on the Museum’s ongoing celebrations including a public event Saturday, May 9th, visit batashoemuseum.com. Stay tuned for pics and stories from the Bata’s Twentieth Anniversary Gala event in an upcoming profile on luxury event planners Candice & Alison.

Exterior shot of The Bata Shoe Museum courtesy of @izsarah.

School is In

April has been a busy month for fashion schools. As the semester inched to a close, graduating design students spent their last weeks frantically wrapping up final collections for the runway.

Student fashion shows are a common event around Toronto thanks to a number of secondary schools with fashion design programs. Ryerson University hosts the largest and the oldest student-run show with Mass Exodus (shout out to Pay Homage by Anabel for the photo below). It blends three fashion programs in carrying off the event from front of house to back. Fun fact – it’s also one of the few (only?) fashion shows to occur in a hockey arena.

Mass Exodus

Seneca, Humber and George Brown Colleges also exhibit student work through runway shows and exhibitions. Showcasing your fledgling brand is an important step as a young designer. I worked with London, Ontario’s Fanshawe College for many years as a guest judge during their annual student show, UNBOUND.

Winning academic accolades for a collection can often kick start a career. Sebastian Guarin, who won Best Collection at Fanshawe in 2014 explained. “Winning the David Dixon Award for Best Collection helped validate my point of view as a designer,” he said. “And helped get my foot in the door…in terms of legitimate recognition.”

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Atelier Guarin

As a student designer, figuring out how to translate your design vision into great looking clothes is only part of your task. These shows often bring out high profile industry professionals who have both advice and opportunity to share. It’s on the student to take advantage of these networking opportunities. With a little perseverance they can earn a leg up to start their own label, as Sebastian found in launching Atelier Guarin  after graduation. “I was able to feel part of the industry right away,” Guarin noted.

Not all fashion industry leaders recommend starting a label fresh out of school. Steven Kolb, the CEO of Council of Fashion Designers of America, has been advising students to work for someone else for at least six or seven years before starting their own brand. Essentially, he’s suggesting they learn the business on someone else’s dime. The business of fashion.

That phrase, the business of fashion, is getting a lot of play these days. There’s good reason. Central Saint Martins captured the state of the industry well:

“With the explosion of new media over the last 10 years, the fashion industry has been democratized. Opportunities in fashion are no longer primarily focused on the role of designer.”

Things are changing, and they’re changing at warp speed. Fashion has been blown wide open with the influx of Wall Street finance and Silicon Valley technology. The conversation on global supply chain is gaining more traction that should help bring accountability to fast fashion. In a few years the entire retail sector – and perhaps even the fashion calendar – may look vastly different.

Enter Centennial College’s Fashion Business & Management program. Full disclosure: I was not paid for this article, but I am a paid employee of Centennial as program coordinator and part-time professor. This program is the reason I am.

The two-year Fashion Business & Management diploma program will teach students how to demonstrate business acumen across finance, communications, human resources and ethics. As well, students will drill down into all areas in the lifecycle of fashion – product development, sourcing and manufacturing, retail, marketing and media. Every step of the way the way they’ll experience the latest innovations in technology and sustainability. In fact, every student enrolled in the program will receive a brand new iPad.

We are committed to bringing relevance to our curriculum with program advisors and faculty who are who still embedded in the industry. These individuals have diverse experience – from Odessa Paloma Parker, fashion editor at The Globe and Mail – who also helped bring this program to life last year – to Tomas Romita, founder of MADE Custom Clothing.

Tomas Romita, founder of MADE Custom Clothing

Tomas Romita, founder of MADE Custom Clothing

Last week we enlisted the help of more advisors to be in a soon-t0-be-released video touting the program. It featured Shopgirls owner Michelle Germain, industry vet Marlene Shiff, designer Jennifer Fukushima and factory owner Kathy Cheng. (See it first! Stay tuned to the @TheFList on Twitter and Instagram.) I’ll share more about our other program advisors and faculty soon.

This is an exciting phase in fashion, and I’m quite proud to help further the education of the industry’s next generation. Check out the program detail on Centennial’s website and stay tuned to the F-List for new developments.

For more information on Centennial’s Fashion Business & Management program and admission requirements, click here. Have a specific question? Feel free to contact me directly at lbutler at centennialcollege dot ca.

How to Wear a Revolution

FashRev

Face it, fashion isn’t always pretty. The industry has a long list of atrocities to contend with, from the unethical treatment of workers and animals to environmental concerns around industrial waste and sustaining overtaxed resources.

This month marks the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapse where 1,133 workers lost their lives and over 2,500 were injured.  In response to the tragedy, a Fashion Revolution was born. This global, grassroots campaign aims to remind us of the continued social and environmental dangers lurking in our fashion supply chain.

Fashion Revolution wants you to find out who made your clothes — from who spun the threads, to who sewed them together, to who grew the cotton in the first place. On April 24th, you can join the Fashion Revolution by taking a selfie showing your label. You could turn your clothes inside out to make more of a statement.

Tag @fash_rev and the brand on social media and ask #whomademyclothes?

Fashion Rev chain

Making squares for the Fashion Revolution chain

Want to join the revolution close to home? The Toronto-based Fashion Takes Action has been holding sew-ins with Ontario schools to create a literal fabric chain that will later be displayed in events and a possible museum installation. Students have been collecting used clothing and fabric, which they have then cut into squares to sew together and form the chain. The chain of fabric is both symbolic for the supply chain and acts as a petition encouraging transparency in the fashion industry. Swing by the public sew-in this Friday at OCAD’s main lobby (more on the event here) from 10am – 2pm.

Traceable

Emerging Canadian designer Laura Siegel takes on the supply chain issues in TRACEABLE, a new documentary movie airing this Friday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV, Bravo, M3, and E!. The doc connects viewers to the individuals and communities involved in designing and producing garments, illuminating the harsh realities that are woven into the fashion industry. Written, directed, and produced by first-time filmmaker, Ontario’s Jennifer Sharpe, TRACEABLE follows Siegel as she develops her 2013 Fall/Winter collection using ethical and transparent practices.

UNCRATE Africa

Meanwhile some retailers and designers are helping build global communities through fashion. Last year Holt Renfrew unveiled H Project, a shop-in-shop designed to highlight and support different cultures, crafts and artisans from around the world. After a successful debut with UNCRATE India, this month they launched UNCRATE Africa with exclusive collections from over 22 renowned brands, including Dannijo, Stella Jean, FEED Africa, Indego Africa, Me to We, Otago, Kiya Kenya and Chantecaille.

Vancouver-based Obakki is also one of the participating brands. Obakki’s founder Treana Peake is the driving force behind the label and the Obakki Foundation, Obakki’s philanthropic counterpart. The charity focuses on providing clean water and education in Africa. The clothing label absorbs all the administrative fees of the charity, allowing 100% of Obakki Foundation’s public donations to go directly to its charitable initiatives. And Peake’s work with the foundation seems to drive the inspiration behind her Obakki collections.

Obakki-Foundation-Cameroon-700x467

Treane Peake in Cameroon, Africa with her Obakki Foundation

You don’t have to look far to find brands with a sustainable, ethical footprint, but you do have to look. Uniikii, a Canadian-based online retailer, features apparel, accessories and housewares from “partners who are socially conscious, environmentally responsible and dedicated to ethical manufacturing processes.” A pair of handmade felt boots that takes eight days to make? Why not. That’s a much nicer story than your cotton t-shirt using 2,700 litres of water before you even buy it.

Speaking of water, let’s get really real. California’s apparel industry is under a serious threat from the current drought. According to the Wall Street Journal, Southern California produces 75% of the high-end denim in the U.S. that is sold world-wide. Water is a key component in the various steps of the processing and repeated washing with stones, or bleaching and dyeing that create that “distressed” vintage look.

We are on borrowed time on this planet. The choices you make as a consumer have a butterfly effect on the rest of the supply chain. If you’re not yet considering where and how your clothes are made, isn’t it time to start?