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.

Toronto Fashion’s Foray in 2013

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, really, since I make resolutions all the time. Around my birthday in April, when I’m forced to contemplate my age, or in September, timed with the fresh start of a new school season. Actually, on any random day of the week I could be inspired to invite change into my world. 

However I do enjoy contemplating what a new year will bring and adore making lists. So here are a few Toronto-based fashion events I count as “must see” in 2013.

February 2, TFI’s Guilty Pleasures Designer Sale & Silent Auction
Held on two floors of the Drake Hotel, here’s a chance to scour fun indie and up-and-coming apparel and accessories labels. Proceeds go to support the Toronto Fashion Incubator, a model for fashion incubators worldwide. They may have celebrated their 25th anniversary last year, but all eyes are on this year’s TFI New Labels show. Target has come on board as a major partner giving the winning designer’s collection space in roughly 150 retail stores across Canada. TFI’s New Labels show is scheduled for April 18th. Tickets will be available soon.

February 26, FGI Toronto’s Digital Retail: A Look at Shopper Marketing
Fashion Group is an organization for professionals working in the business of fashion (full disclosure – I’m the regional director of the Toronto chapter) hosting events on emerging trends that touch on retail, design, business and marketing. With consumer behavior changing rapidly thanks to increased mobile usage, retailers are now forced to evolve they way they interact with their customer. After a chance to network over cocktails, a panel discussion of industry experts will break down the latest strategies and innovations on shopper marketing. Stay tuned to fgitoronto.org for more ticket information.

April 23 – 27, [FAT] Arts & Fashion Week
For a truly weird, wild and wonderful intersection of fashion and art, don’t miss [FAT]. This mult-arts festival features 200 Canadian and international artists across a variety of disciplines including fashion design, photography, performance and installation art and film. I have a special place in my heart for [FAT] Arts & Fashion Week ever since I had the luxury of hitting the runway for a special showcase by Evan Biddell. Yep, that’s me! Hit up the [FAT] website for schedule and ticket information.

June 21 – September 15, Christian Louboutin exhibit at the Design Exchange
There was a chorus of “OMG” posts across Twitter when this announcement came out recently – the Christian Louboutin shoe exhibit that premiered at London’s Design Museum last spring is coming to the DX. Expect a display of Louboutin archives including his first prototype, the origins of his signature red sole, a special ode to his “Fetish” collection and photography by artist David Lynch which were last seen at La Gallerie Du Passage in 2007. Until then, the DX looks to make us happy with The Happy Show, on now through March 3rd. Internationally renowned graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister invites us into his mind to explore what makes people, including him, happy.

Dates Unknown!
World MasterCard Fashion Week has yet to release dates for the Fall/Winter 2013 shows, but I’m hoping to see the tents erected once again in mid-to-late March at David Pecaut Square.

A documentary on Iris “I think style is all attitude” Apfel has been in the works for a while. Maysles Films, the production company, released a trailer last summer on the iconic style maven and interior designer. This darling woman may be in her 90’s, but her impact on the fashion scene hasn’t wavered a bit. I’m hoping for a summer release. 

New Labels Final Showdown

 In the last judging session for TFI’s New Labels, there was a poignant moment where the judges realized how far the finalists had come through the competition. Montreal-based Patrick L’Arrivee already had orders from 57 retail shops for his namesake outerwear collection. That’s right, 57. (Can you even name 57 stores in Canada that sell outerwear?!)

Patrick L’Arrivee’s Fall 2012 collection

An example of what to expect for his runway styling proved that Patrick had literally arrived. “You took everything we said, and appreciated it,” exclaimed Suzanne Rogers. To win over retail is one thing; to win over Suzanne Rogers is another. 

Patrick L’Arrivee’s Fall 2012 collection

The judges agreed ditching the red leather was a good move by Sid Neigum. “I didn’t have the time or money to make it meaningful,” he admitted. It’s important to know where and when to stop when a piece isn’t working. Given how many things Sid has had on his plate over the past five months, it highlighted his focus and strength. Between traveling, finishing both a women’s and men’s collection for Fall 2012, market weeks, store appointments, a fashion show at Toronto Fashion Week, producing and shipping 2012 and researching spring 2013….well, let’s just say there wasn’t a dull moment. “I love that.”

Sid Neigum Fall 2012 womenswear

Jameson Kane had “great hanger appeal” according to judges David Dixon and Arie Assaraf. “Very important.” Hard to believe six months ago the label was just a dream. Designers Genevieve Pearson and Stan Capobianco were unanimous in their enthusiasm. “We are so happy we listened to our hearts. What would have happened if we decided not to go for it? So now we are always listening to what our hearts tell us.”

Jameson Kane Fall 2012

For Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar, the challenge has never been knowing where to go, but the getting there. “Our challenge has been distance and time,” said Diego. “I live in Richmond Hill and he lives in Hamilton. And we both work full-time jobs.” Evidently, distance makes the bond grow stronger, as the boys noted that every step of producing the [blak]-i (pronounced black eye) was shared quite evenly.

[blak] • i Fall 2012 collection
On Thursday it’s all on the line, as Joe Zee says, for these four finalists. Only one can walk away with the big prize. But don’t expect anything bitchy behind the scenes. “You’d expect a group of people competing for $25,000 [cash] to be aggressive, to say the least. This is not the case at all. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of each other and everyone in the running is talented and deserving of the prize,” surmised Sid.

So Canadian, eh?!


Stay tuned to @TheFList on Twitter for updates from TFI25 starting at 6pm.

Countdown til TFI25 New Labels

There is only one week until TFI’s 25th anniversary celebration, a show which will no doubt leave a fashionable impression on Toronto. The multi-tiered evening weaves a Barbie fashion show featuring looks by Canadian designers, a retrospective installation of 25 looks from the past 25 years (styled by Flare Magazine’s Elizabeth Cabral) and of course the final New Labels competition show into one fantastic night at the ROM. 

We’ve been tracking New Labels since the start, and will be sharing insights from our interviews with the four finalists next week. In the meantime, you only have a few days to get your tickets to the show before they are gone. 

Expect quite show to happen off the runway too — the evening is black tie optional. I know you’re all wondering, what will Suzanne Rogers I be wearing?