February 14, 2021

I Found The One

Dear Donna, 

The moment I laid eyes on you, I knew you were The One. 

Spirits of the universe had their hand in guiding our paths that day, taking care to cross our steps in perfect harmony. What else could explain how I went back to Winners to exchange a pair of shoes I had bought only the day before? A little voice in my head told me to go exchange those shoes for a different colour—and only because of that did we meet. 

You were not there the day before; you must have been freshly brought out onto the racks for your debut that morning. And I am certain had I visited Winners any later in the day, you would have been gone, whisked away by one of the many others I saw ogling you from a distance. But I got to you first, and once I did, I vowed to never let go. 

Shimmering with effervescent energy, you looked divine. Your metallic blue finish lent you such a dazzling glam-rock vibe, while your classic motorcycle cutting grounded you as an investment piece. Your shiny silver hardware, branded with your logo and family name, LAMARQUE (I've always adored French), spoke to your earnest attention to detail. The only one of your kind in the store that day, it was a miracle you came in my size, fitting me like a missing puzzle piece. So luxurious and tender, your lamb leather touch, and at only $90 (down from a retail price of $725), you expected so little in return for your genuineness. There are others out there who demand even more of me, yet upon acquaintance, reveal their faux personas. With you in my arms, I wonder why I would have ever spent all those years desperately searching—why I would have contemplated any other leather jacket—when you were waiting for me at the end of the line. 

My dear, beautiful Donna, till death do us part, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

With love,

Image source: Anthropologie

January 24, 2021

Lululemon x Roksanda

As much as Lululemon can be the butt of the joke at times, it is clearly doing something right to be as successful as it is. From fitness buffs, to work-from-home professionals, to women looking for clothing versatile enough to show off shapely curves and perform lunges on demand, Lululemon has wide range of customers in its loyal, cult-like following. Despite the myriad of other brands available when it comes to workout attire, I can attest to Lululemon’s quality: its bottoms fit like a second skin, its fabrics do wick away sweat, and its Scuba hoodies are breathable yet warm. In terms of style, I think the Lululemon aesthetic is distinct, even if it is simple and repeated every season. Lululemon designs pieces that are interesting and have unique style elements, although overall I find its formula has been to produce functional pieces that are stylish—meaning, function comes first, always. 

That formula was flipped on its head when Lululemon released its first collection in collaboration with designer Roksanda Ilinčić in 2019, and then its second collection shortly before the pandemic in 2020. These capsule collections contain stylish pieces that are functional—and I’ll explain the difference.  

Roksanda, Ilinčić's namesake label, is a bold and colourful brand for the feminine yet joyfully self-assured woman. Ilinčić frequently uses colour blocking (or a single saturated tone head-to-toe), and ruching, ruffles or pleating to achieve sculptural shapes. Roksanda is basically a very unlikely pairing for Lululemon, but the result of their meeting of minds is incredible. 

This is the first collection of Lululemon’s I can say is truly fashionable. With punchy neon accents interspersed between rich jewel tones, you get a taste of Roksanda's signature colour blocking. Lululemon is no stranger to colour, but it normally plays with colour in controlled doses, a technique I would consider fairly standard in activewear. It might use geometric colour blocking on a single piece in ways that strategically highlight the shape of the body, or it may offer pieces with stripes, florals, or patterns in varied shades. Never before have I seen Lululemon produce an entire, cohesive look using colour so widely and in such abundance. 

However, the silhouettes are really what make this collaboration stand out. Lululemon generally adds flair in subtle, integrated ways, such as through crisscross or double shoulder straps, mesh inserts, or ruched detailing; it doesn't tend to stray from its tried-and-true, form-fitting silhouettes. Hence why I am stunned to see long, flowy skirts, asymmetrical hemlines, exaggerated bishop sleeves, drawstrings and belts made with thick bungee cord, and a puffer/trench coat ensemble that can be deconstructed into 4 separate pieces or mix-and-matched into 26 different combinations. None of these shapes are necessarily meant for hitting the gym—their purpose is to help you look great going to and from the gym—yet that's not to say these designs are impractical. Every Roksanda piece takes advantage of Lululemon's fabric technology, and the aforementioned coat boasts a hidden interior pocket for lipstick and a hood that can be removed and folded into a travel pouch. See what I mean by stylish pieces that are functional?

I have no doubt some of those who adore Lululemon for its practicality will consider these collections out to lunch, but for those of us who admire displays of artful athleisure, this is a delightful and refreshing collaboration.

Image Source: CIIN Magazine, Chatelaine, Fashion Gone Rogue

January 3, 2021

The Impact of COVID-19 on Fashion

I have felt oddly obligated (in a unique way only those involved in fashion, writing and business can feel) to publish a post with insightful and analytical commentary about the impact of COVID-19 on the fashion industry. But then again, there are a plethora of articles written by individuals far more qualified than I available for your perusal on the Internet. I’ll leave the serious business inquiry to those among the likes of BoF, BNN and HBR, and stick with my schtick—which is the view of things through the eyes of an average fashion lover. We may not all be businesspeople or creative directors, but we are all consumers. And at the end of the day, it is the experience of the consumer that matters. So here are my observations:

Masks as Fashion: Functionality’s Makeover

At first, they were rare. They flew off the shelves along with toilet paper, and for a brief period, we were using anything we could find around the house—scarves, pot lids, menstrual pads—as makeshift alternatives. Now, they’re in oversupply. You can scarcely find a retailer who doesn’t sell them, and mostly everyone has a proper version of it in any colour, pattern and design their heart desires. I am, of course, talking about masks.  

Although already a commonplace accessory in countries like Japan, South Korea and China, North American culture has been uncomfortable with the notion of hiding one’s face day-to-day. Yet when push came to shove, we all adopted the practice. And when something functional becomes necessary, we have a tendency to try and make it look good (see: stylish scrubs and designer PPE for airline cabin crews). The introduction of face masks has opened a whole new realm of fashion. In the same way we analyze what clothing is most flattering on certain body types, I found myself fascinated by what makes face masks suitable for our own face shapes (fit and cutting), what designs look best both up close and from a distance (white masks with floral patterns look a bit like diapers, don’t you think?) and the innovative ways we can make masks fun (luxe lanyards and mask jewellery). Will masks stick around after COVID-19 passes? Probably not. But I hope they remain as an option for those who wish to complement their outfits with a new accessory.  

Digital Drudgery: A Reminder of Why We Gather

The start of COVID-19 led to a flurry of speculation about what the future of fashion would look like. The industry started questioning why everyone wastes resources by travelling so much to attend runway shows, meetings or events when we’ve now proven all of that can be done virtually. From live-streamed performances, to digital audiences, to miniature couture and marionette shows, designers tried their best to convey the magic of fashion—which is so sensorial and physical—through a screen. For a moment, it seemed the interweb advocates were winning. And yet, according to Business of Fashion, the virtual Fashion Weeks over the summer saw reduced online impressions and up to 55% less social media engagement compared to last year, and it’s undeniable people are feeling consumed by wanderlust. 

That brings us to the question of why we gather in the first place. Humans are social creatures, and there is no way virtual viewings will satiate us forever. We gather because we can gain a sense of closeness, community and camaraderie with those we share an experience with. Fashion shows will come back. Travel will return. In-person meetings will still be valued. COVID-19 is a turning point, but it would be a mistake to think of it as a turning point away from everything we have found so fundamentally enriching.

Slowing Down Fast Fashion

Even back when I was an eager newbie to fashion, I struggled to keep up with its frantic pace. If there is one thing I would like to see this pandemic bring about in the industry, it is a more thoughtful approach to what and how we produce. As COVID-19 forced us to catch our breath, we realized our never-ending thirst for newness had worn us out. We looked at all the unsold merchandise hanging in retail stores every season—the several million tons of textile waste we produce annually—and asked ourselves, why? Fashion can nourish our souls, but at what point does it become reckless and wasteful to not encourage better forms of production and longer-lasting apparel? 

Brands can push out up to eight collections a year; in addition to two seasonal ready-to-wear collections across womenswear and menswear, the traditional industry calendar also includes pre-fall, resort and seasonal haute couture. Are pre-season collections really that different from seasonal collections? Does menswear and womenswear really need to be distinguished? New for the sake of new is not creativity. Some designers have already made adjustments to present collections in the season they’re actually designed for (instead of 6 months before), and Gucci is cutting its five shows a year down to two. As we emerge post-COVID-19, I would be happy to see the industry adopt a slower and more sustainable pace. 

The Brick & Mortar Website

Online shopping has shown itself to be extremely handy. Established businesses that didn’t have a robust e-commerce service in place prior to the pandemic were clearly already falling behind the times. So you may be surprised to learn that despite how unparalleled the accessibility and variety of goods online are, Business of Fashion and McKinsey & Company jointly report that more than 80% of transactions in the fashion industry still happen in brick-and-mortar stores. The industry is actually largely dependent on physical retail—and I believe there is a reason for that. 

Fashion is meant to be a 3-D experience. When it comes to clothing, I don’t trust any image online until I see the item in real life. Only in person are you able to verify the colour and design, feel the quality of the fabric, see how the cutting hangs and moves on your body, and scrutinize the item from every angle (including inside and/or underneath, which are not often shown online). And, most importantly, you can judge how a piece makes you feel once you have it on. You might have a positive emotional response when you see an image of a piece online, but that response is a weak predictor of whether you will actually feel confident once you put the piece on. For these reasons, online shopping is an injustice to what the fashion experience is truly meant to be. 

However, I’m not woebegone over the “good ol’ days.” I refuse to purchase clothing online (unless I’ve already tried it on in store), but I am aware of the limited selection available with physical shopping. I think we are facing a great opportunity for businesses to merge digital and physical shopping by establishing both an online presence and a lower-cost physical presence through “try-on” boutiques. Retailers need only maintain all sizes of each item at bare minimum quantities for customers to try on before they make the purchase online at self-service computer terminals in the boutique. I also hope this lower-cost option might encourage online-only brands to set up a physical presence, thus introducing more variety to the retail space and allowing those businesses to expand their customer base. Brick-and-mortar shopping is not dead; it just needs to be reborn. 

Don’t Sweat It—For Now

With nearly 40% of the Canadian labour force working from home since the pandemic, as per Statistics Canada, the way we dress on a daily basis has changed. There is simply no reason to don our office attire anymore. I’ve been in my house clothes looking like a schlep for a good 90% of my existence lately. And I’m not alone—loungewear sales are up, with sweatsuits, yoga pants and slippers becoming 2020’s most coveted items. Entireworld, a line of wardrobe basics similar to American Apparel or Uniqlo, saw its colourful sweatsuits fly off the shelves, landing the brand its highest grossing months since it was conceived by Scott Sternberg, former founder of Band of Outsiders, in 2018. On the flip side, Le Château recently announced its bankruptcy, citing the dwindling need for party dresses as a contributing factor (I’ve waited patiently for this brand to be defunct anyway, but that’s a rant for another time). 

Does this signal changing tides in the way we dress? I doubt it. Fashion is fickle that way. Sooner or later, we will yearn for a chance to dress up again. Why else would The Strawberry Dress, a frothy tulle confection embellished with sequined strawberries designed by Lirika Matoshi, have become a viral sensation despite having practically nowhere to wear it? Dressing in sweats all the time doesn’t do wonders for my mental health, and I’m sure others would agree. A global initiative called “End PJ Paralysis” encourages hospital patients to get up, get dressed in their own clothes and move around to aid in quicker recovery and overall patient experience. I’m glad for the acknowledgement that fashion can play a role in emotional health, and post-COVID-19, I expect we will have newfound pleasure in the act of dressing again. One day, we’ll be grateful for the freedom to do the things we once took for granted before we realized how precious they were. So don’t sweat it—one day, things will return to normal. 

November 15, 2020

Why I Don't Understand Patten Shoe Covers

As I was mindlessly scrolling through social media one day, I came across a sponsored ad for Patten Place, a brand that sells rubber shoe covers for high heels. At first glance, I was excited about a possible solution to a problem I have faced many times: the heartache of walking through unexpected rain or snow in a pair of shoes that were most definitely not made for it. And yet, the more I looked into Patten covers, the more bewildered I became about the concept.

Patten shoe covers are marketed towards the “heel lover” and are designed to work only with high heels. So…you’re telling me these are for people who love wearing heels so much they not only want to wear high heels at the main event, they also want to experience the agony of wearing torture devices on the way to the event? No one is even going to see how fabulous-looking your torture devices are if they’re concealed underneath a shoe cover—so you’d be wearing heels on the way to an event for the pure sake of wearing heels. Look, I know there are people who love their stilettos, but does anyone willingly squish their feet atop two sticks without being able to show off the beauty behind their pain?

Okay, even if we assume an unwavering commitment to footwear that would make your podiatrist deeply disappointed, what advantage does a Patten cover have over simply bringing another pair of shoes? You could buy your own set of wedged rainboots and change into them before/after an event, or just as easily store them in a drawer at the office or in the trunk of your car in case of flash floods. Pattens still take up the same amount of space as a regular pair of shoes, and you still have to find a way of carrying them around once you take them off, so functionally, I struggle to see a significant advantage of using a shoe cover. At $98 a pop, Pattens are practically the price of another pair of shoes anyway—and yet you can’t actually wear them as another pair of shoes. 

The only marginal benefit I can ascertain is Pattens may be a tad lighter than a normal pair of shoes, and they may save you the time, hassle and possible embarrassing awkwardness of switching between shoes. And I do acknowledge shoe covers allow you to “free up” shoes that would otherwise be relegated to the drawer in the office or trunk of your car, thus saving you from “wasting” a perfectly good pair of shoes by needing to assign it to backup duty.  

Of course, I am only remarking on the concept of Patten covers, and cannot comment on their quality or comfort. For covers designed to fit over heels ranging from 2.5-4.5 inches, I do wonder if there would be the possibility of blisters or scuffing in areas where it may not fit quite right. Aside from that concern, I would be interested in seeing Patten Place come out with more practical covers for flat shoes, or even a regular, wearable pair of rainboots in a design similar to its Pattens. With relatively sleek lines and buttons with its cursive logo in gold, I do think Patten covers—particularly in the camel colour—look chic compared to most galoshes out there.

As it stands though, I can’t sufficiently rationalize the value-add of Patten covers. Can you?

Image Source: Patten Place, Kickstarter

July 12, 2020

Product Review: Tissardi

I've always had more of an affinity for shoes than handbags. Regretfully, when I look at my collection of purses, I see this neglect quite clearly. I rotate between a selection of crossbody mini-bags (not practical), a studded faux-leather backpack (starting to fall apart) and a shoulder bag (bad for posture). What I feel like I've been missing is a larger crossbody bag that will enable me to carry my essentials around relatively comfortably and hands-free. 

As a result, I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity by Tissardi to review its designer-inspired Santio Leather Saddle Bag. Tissardi is an online shop offering affordable access to fashion and luxury products inspired by the most emblematic brands.

The Santio comes in seven colours and two sizes. I picked out the medium size bag in red.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the genuine cowhide leather. I was afraid it would come with a stiff sheen, but the leather is smooth, matte and satisfying to the touch—definitely this bag's winning feature. The cherry red colour is also true to what is advertised on the website, and is a fantastic hue to complement the bold shape. My only concern is the hardware appears to be plated in a slightly duller brushed gold, and while it is hefty, it will likely be the first area to show wear and tear, especially if constantly rubbing against the lobster clasps on the shoulder straps. Brighter, more solid gold hardware would have further elevated the well-constructed leather.

Dress: Marie Saint Pierre | Tights: Unknown | Handbag: Tissardi

In terms of functionality, I adore that not one, but two, adjustable and removable crossbody shoulder straps are included: one in leather and one in fabric with metal medallions. This kind of versatility is exactly what a modern woman needs! Additionally, an outer pocket with a magnetic closure along the back of the handbag is convenient for slipping a phone into when in a rush and/or for easy access. A head's up though, the unique saddle shape will pose some limitations in terms of what you can carry. Although I selected the medium size, this purse carries only slightly more than my usual mini-bags. But if you're curious whether the slanted bottom will cause items to slide down to the corner, rest assured the design is narrow enough for something like a wallet or a pair of sunglasses to stay put inside the shorter edge.

Overall, I am happy with the look of this Tissardi bag and will definitely be using it to fill the gap in my purse collection. The impressive quality of leather and stitching build a firm foundation for the shape, colour and cheeky hardware to make an utterly fashionable statement.


Handbag courtesy of Tissardi in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 5, 2020

I Like That

K-pop is having a growing influence on the international music scene, but despite going crazy for BTS, I haven’t found myself interested in other K-pop groups. I am, however, aware that BLACKPINK has risen to the top among girl groups, and while it took some time to warm up to, I did jam briefly to “Sour Candy”, their song with Lady Gaga in her latest Chromatica album. So when I saw BLACKPINK made a comeback with their pre-release song, “How You Like That”, I decided to check it out.

And my goodness, that song is tight.

I am far from being a Blink, but “How You Like That” has been on repeat lately. And it seems I’m not the only one: the music video for “How You Like That” scored the biggest premiere in YouTube history with a record-breaking 86.3 million views in the first 24 hours. I found the styling overall impressively punctuated the song and dance; nevertheless, there were a few parts where it could have been refined to give more punch. Let’s break it down.

0:07 – Lisa gives grandeur to the opening in a black sequined gown from Celine Fall/Winter 2020 RTW, strutting down the stairway to deliver the signature line, “BLACKPINK in your area.”

0:13 – Jennie in an aquatic dream scene with a jewelled teardrop, AREA crystal headpiece and Bell & Nouveau embellished cape to leave her smooth vocals dripping with glamour. I also love how the crystal strands in her ponytail accentuate her blonde bangs, a trend I learned of through YouTuber Edvasian’s latest hairstyle video and a trend which Jennie is absolutely slaying.

0:20 – Jisoo tugging a floral embellished, chiffon blindfold from her doe eyes. The aesthetic…need I say more?

0:58 – Lisa in an embroidered Celine bolero, Stussy bralette, unforgiving manicure and gold tooth, serving up ‘boss b*tch’ attitude to retort, “Look at you / now look at me / look at you / now look at me.”

1:12 – Lisa alternating between a heavily embellished Dolce & Gabbana bustier crop top accompanied by a cascading Bell & Nouveau waterfall necklace, and a straight-off-the-runway asymmetrical ensemble from Off-White Fall/Winter 2020 RTW, looking like an Egyptian empress with swagger in spades. “What’s up, I’m right back / 방아쇠를 (trigger) cock back,” hits the spot with precision.

1:27 – Jennie’s cherry red bodysuit with a crystal chain slip dress has potential, although it falls short for me because it would have more dramatic elegance in a longer length. I want to like it, but as it stands, it resembles too much an elevated child’s dance costume. The jewelled eyepiece, on the other hand, is perfect. It reminds me of the humorously offbeat accessories in Schiaparelli Fall 2019 Couture, and when she tosses her head back at 2:08, the swing of the strands heightens the act. “ 미소를 띠며 (With a smile on my face) I’ll kiss you goodbye.” Powerful.

1:35 – On its own, this pointelle lace dress on Jisoo from Alexander McQueen Resort 2020 looks like a presentable prêt-à-porter runway piece (Alexander McQueen has been killing it lately), but for a music video, it lacks lustre. This is the kind of dress suited for the red carpet or worn by fashion editors to the front row, not as a theatrical showpiece for a K-pop music video.

1:40 – Nothing particularly exceptional about these looks, besides that Jennie’s chest pops and Lisa’s body rolls are given the chance to shine in the abbreviated tops.

2:12 – Unfortunately, from here on, I think the music video loses its steam. Rosé looks like a mother-of-the-bride in a feathery dress that is simply trying too hard to fit the avian theme when she lifts her arms to declare, “그때쯤에 끝내야 했어 (You should’ve ended me when you had the chance).” I also don’t understand why this series of black evening gowns barely make an appearance in the video. The most consistent screen time they get is for a few seconds at the beginning in dim lighting, and yet, the dresses are also so underwhelming they should have been chopped out entirely. The empire waist on Jennie’s Chanel Spring/Summer 2020 RTW frock makes her look more juvenile than sophisticated, and whilst Lisa had her moment in the opening scene, her full body shot reveals how the Celine could be shapelier. Jisoo’s heavily embellished number is most promising, but again, what’s the point?

2:27 – I appreciate the display of modernized hanbok from the brand Danha, though I wish the music video allowed us to admire these pieces more. In between the pulsating lights, background dancers, frequent cuts in editing and energetic choreography, the details of the outfits are lost—a shame because the embroidery, pattern and material are intriguing.

Regardless of the wins and wanes of the music video, the song itself is a commanding comeback that demonstrates full force how BLACKPINK can inspire girls of today and tomorrow. It’s a song by women, for women—and that’s what I like.

Image Source: Regard News, Vogue, hellokpop

June 28, 2020

Product Review: PaintByNumbers.shop

Last month, I collaborated with PaintByNumbers.shop to host a giveaway for a paint by numbers kit. PaintByNumbers.shop is an online shop that sells art canvasses with small numbers indicating a corresponding colour for a certain area, making painting a masterpiece a piece of cake. In addition to sponsoring the giveaway, they also graciously offered to send me a kit to try for myself. After perusing their varied collection, I landed on Magnolia Blossoms, a beautifully serene and simple floral painting.

Shipping for my kit took 9 business days, exactly as advertised on the website. What I really appreciate about PaintByNumbers.shop is their paintings come with the canvas already stretched on a wooden frame—something many other companies do not offer as a default. Also included in the kit are varnish, canvas hangers and even a level for when you're putting your finished piece up on the wall. The attention to detail in providing a thoroughly complete kit helps make paint by numbers less daunting for those who are new to it (such as myself).

Despite having done art throughout high school and taken private acrylic painting lessons, I don't consider myself either an experienced or talented artist. I can't comment with certainty on the quality of the brushes and paint, but both of them did their job, which is really all I'm looking for. The paint was not dried out, and despite some splitting on the wide brush, I did not encounter any issues with the brushes shedding hairs. There are definitely higher quality brushes out there, but the ones provided were adequate for the task at hand. Although this painting did require at least two coats in areas with lighter colours to fully cover the numbers and lines, there was a sufficient amount of paint provided to complete the piece.

Left: Picture on website | Right: Picture on kit

The only drawback with this particular painting is the colours and composition do not closely match the picture on the website or even the picture on the kit. The paint provided for the blossoms are pinker than expected, and I could tell many areas—particularly the background—require much more finessing to be as subtle as what is depicted in the original picture. However, I have seen reviews of other paintings from PaintByNumbers.shop come out exactly as advertised, so the discrepancy I'm experiencing is just a lesson in how not all artwork is suited to the paint by numbers method. As you can see, I decided to take some artistic liberty and blend the colours together, using the numbers and lines as more of a guide than a strict science.

Overall, the hours flew by doing this activity. I normally don't end up painting artwork appealing enough to hang on the walls, so it was refreshing to be able to enjoy both the process of painting and of seeing the finished product come together nicely into something I actually look forward to displaying.

Discount Code

If you'd like to pick up a kit for yourself or someone you know, be sure to use the promo code REDSOLED at checkout for a 15% discount!


Kit courtesy of PaintByNumbers.shop in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.