Pack Rat’s Guide to Traveling

Last month I attended the TFI Press and Buyers Brunch at World MasterCard Fashion Week. It’s a showcase of up and coming designers, and as such, a chance to discover a new brand. I always come away with one particular name that sticks. This season it was Ebby Rane.
Ebby Rane is a travel company aiming to revamp the suitcase for the jet-setting, luxury – and likely female – consumer. Its first product, the Quartermaster, is a carry-on fit for a weekend excursion. Ebby Rane (a nod to the creators’ grandfathers) takes design inspiration from the bespoke trunks that accompanied voyages in the Victorian era. 
The Quartermaster by Ebby Rane
It comes in three colour combinations. Beyond its beautiful exterior, the Quartermaster’s magic lies in the patented packing system that includes ten carryall inserts plus a leather clutch. It distills packing for a weekend down to a science – though its hefty price tag (roughly $1,000.00) leads me to believe I haven’t quite achieved the jet-setting status they’re going after. 
For the fashionably inclined, packing for a weekend trip can be challenging, at best. Whether its business or personal travel, there are shoes and accessories to consider not to mention the airlines restrictions on liquids and weight. I’m no expert in this arena (you’ll find me at the baggage carousel), so I called of some of most jet-setting friends for their hottest tips on packing light. 
Suzanne Cohon of ASC Public Relations, Inc. hits the road for business and personal travel frequently.  “I always pack white tank tops (as they go under everything), a blazer, large scarfs and a great pair of jeans. These essential pieces give me lots of options and flexibility to dress for any occasion.”
Yes, but what about shoes, I counter?  Suzanne’s tip: “I try to travel with minimal options – one pair of flats, one pair of heels and one pair of trainers in case I have a moment to go for a run/ long walk. And always wear your largest shoes when you travel. It saves room in your bag.”  
Bustle Clothing’s Shawn Hewson admits, “I’m the worst packer.”  As a designer, he’s solved part of that dilemma. “One item I always like to travel with is a knit blazer. It’s super handy when you’re travelling, since it folds up easily and fits in something the size of a toiletries bag if you need it to. 


Bustle’s French Terry Knit Blazer
“Since it’s a knit,” he continues, “it looks good even after it’s been folded, and it’s comfortable for moving through airports, lounges and planes.  And it’s always good to wear a blazer in the airport – helps to reduce your chances of being “randomly selected” for additional screening.”  Sage advice.
Holt Renfrew’s Lisa Tant takes a methodical approach to packing. “I make a packing list based upon where I’m going and the main purpose of my trip – personal or business. I’ve learned the hard way to not just throw things in a case the night before. I ended up in Paris for two weeks once with a suitcase full of boring black clothes.” Quel domage!
“I make sure that every piece can be worn more than one way and that I have my roster of wear-everywhere basics – jeans, black leggings, cashmere cardigans, a raincoat and motorcycle boots. I believe in layers and I always pack comfortable shoes including boots, cool sneakers (my new Nike Air Knits will be perfect) and flats. A couple of oversized patterned scarves are essential as is a roomy, but small, cross-body handbag.”
Nike’s Air Knit sneakers keep Lisa Tant comfy when traveling
“I make sure that every piece can be worn more than one way and that I have my roster of wear-everywhere basics – jeans, black leggings, cashmere cardigans, a raincoat and motorcycle boots. I believe in layers and I always pack comfortable shoes including boots, cool sneakers (my new Nike Air Knits will be perfect) and flats. A couple of oversized patterned scarves are essential as is a roomy but small cross-body handbag.”
When travel requires a mix of business and pleasure, packing smart is absolutement a requirement. Designer Monica Mei packs pieces that can do double duty. “Women love the Aime Olivia pant that can take them from the boardroom to drinks by just adding a smokey eye, statement necklace and sky-high heels.” In fact, Monica was so inspired by her recent travels she designed an entire collection for chic jet-setters. I’ll dish more on the Aime by Monica Mei Seasonless 2014 collection next month.
So now we know what to pack. My next question is, how to fit it all in? Stay tuned for A Pack Rat’s Guide to Traveling Light – Part II coming soon.

Canadians to Woo China with World Music Fashion Festival

Photos courtesy Empress Communications | Two Flies Photography
The two worlds of fashion and music first collided during the Jazz Age of flappers and Prohibition. Ever since, this marriage of like artistic minds has played out in music videos, runway shows and commercials. Events like Fashion Cares and Fashion Rocks launched in 2003 brought music and fashion together for charity. This fall music and fashion come together for the future.  
The future of Canadian fashion. 
I heard about the World Music Fashion Festival (WMFF) on its first tour through China featuring Canadian designers Evan Biddell, Paul Hardy and Juma. Developed by Vancouver-based Empress Communications as part of the China Overseas Designer Program, WMFF helps expose independent designers and artists to the Chinese market. It’s only offered to a select number of designers each year.  Triarchy, Bustle Clothing and Lucian Matis participated in 2012.
Bustle Clothing’s Shawn Hewson
Luxury labels have had their eye on China for business expansion for years. While the recession has slowed retail growth around the globe, China’s middle class is booming, packing a lot of power behind consumer spending.  
Even though luxury is driving most sales – this year alone, Chinese consumers will account for about one-third of all luxury purchases* – there is also a growing demand for fast fashion brands and Western labels in general. That’s good news for young designers looking for buyers. So good in fact, that Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and the Council of Fashion Designers of America recently sent three American designers to China as part of a joint Fashion Fund program. Rag and Bone, Marchesa and Proenza Schouler staged a fashion show near the Great Wall of China last month.
Wintour explained the benefits of this kind of exchange program in a recent interview, “One of the reasons the European houses went to China is that they needed to expand. The U.S. didn’t have that sense of need at the time, but young designers are working in a very different environment [than] when a Ralph Lauren was their age and they are thinking in a very different way. They are thinking globally.” (The Malta Independent, August 1, 2013).
The World Music Fashion Festival is gearing up for its third trip East this October.  Once again the festival will take Canadian singers, DJs, models and designers through three major cities – Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu in October.  Stay tuned for more from WMFF.  Until then check out previous year’s WMFF photos here.
(From’s Fashion Retail Trends in China, June 3, 2013)

Toronto Fashion Week – Part One

Spring may have announced itself on the calendar this week, but the weather is still pushing its winter agenda, much to the dismay of the fashion crowds. Trust me, we are so over winter. It’s finally time for fashion week in Toronto. We’re both ready for spring and all about fall.

Snow gently falling on the tents

World MasterCard Fashion Week has become a fine mix of our emerging and pro designers. In between the shows we mix in a bit of business, like DHL Express Canada’s fashion industry panel moderated by yours truly. The event featured DHL Canada’s president Greg Hewitt, IMG Fashion Director Jarrad Clark, designers Christopher Bates (Christopher Bates menswear) and Adam Taubenfligel (Triarchy), Roxanne Joyal of Me to We and Mark Zimmerman from MaRs Discovery District. The panelists were a great bunch who offered insight on starting a business, global reach and logistics acumen.

DHL Express Canada fashion industry panel

Toronto Fashion Incubator took over the studio area for two days to present the annual TFI Press & Buyers breakfast event. This showcases up and coming designers in a boutique tradeshow platform.
The organization I head up, Fashion Group International, hosts our speed networking event on Friday.

Opening night included Canadian fashion stalwarts Izzy Camilleri (with a new line Miz), Pink Tartan and Bustle, with up-and-comer label Chloe Comme Parris snuck in-between. I had the pleasure of being asked by Sony Canada to shoot the Bustle show with their new Xperia tablet. Fun! 

My latest accessory, the Sony Xperia tablet
Shot with Sony’s Xperia tablet
Shawn & Ruth of Bustle Clothing

I love how designers support each other — Ruth is wearing Triarchy’s gold denim. The next night featured Mercedes-Benz Start Up winner DUY and last year’s TFI New Labels winner Sid Neigum. Major talent, these boys. But truthfully, would we see their true potential without the help of these design challenges? Likely not. There’s more to come this week, stay tuned.

Sid Neigum
Sid Neigum

Shut Up and Drive

Audi Downtown Toronto threw a fete Thursday night for the official unveiling of their new “masterpiece showroom” that merges design, architecture and fashion. The suit-filled audience of car lovers likely appreciated partying in one of the largest Audi workshops in the country, but the city’s fashionistas were in full force to scope out Bustle‘s limited edition Audi collection. Guests enjoyed cocktails in the showroom, but the runway show took over the spankin’ new, spotless service bay area. (Photo above: Bustle designers Shawn Hewson, aka Project Runway Canada judge, and Ruth Promislow welcomed the crowd before the show.)

Bustle’s looks bounced between sleek and sexy to prim and proper preppy, but all reflected some model of Audi. The trendy sportswear collection (which included ladies’ clothing, too) was auctioned off at the grand opening event with proceeds going to Sick Kids Hospital. Big applause for the hot rod (and mod) leather jackets…if they play their design cards right, they could give Mackage and Rudsak a run for consumers’ money.