November 21, 2013

Am I Materialistic?

Naturally, being in fashion, I have a deep love for things like clothing and shoes, yet I never considered myself materialistic until someone joked about it a couple months ago.  To an extent, like any fashion lover, I am materialistic.  The ridiculous amount of joy I get from a good pair of shoes should technically be enough to send me to an insane asylum, but is being materialistic really just about wanting and liking things?  Or is there something deeper that distinguishes between being materialistic and being a fashion addict?

When you're materialistic, you ascribe value to objects that exceeds the value you ascribe to things such as relationships and other people.  Right off the bat, I don't seem to qualify as materialistic.  I do attribute excessive symbolic value to fashion pieces, but that does not mean I value my handbags over my friends. The value of fashion to me is different from the value of relationships, and the two cannot be compared in parallel.

The value of relationships is the fulfillment they bring - they're what make me happy with the overall state of my life.  The value of fashion is the dose of satisfaction it infuses into my daily life - it gives me confidence and makes me happy knowing such amazing creative talent exists.  There's a difference between what relationships and fashion mean to me, and because of that, I think they can both co-exist in perfect tandem.

Yes, I love fashion, but the physicality of fashion is only half the story.  Behind every fashion piece is a culmination of passion, talent and dedication.  Behind every design is a designer who has slaved over the drawing board to give life to what initially seemed like an ambitious vision.  In the end, a love for fashion is really a love for people!  It's not just about the shoe, but the designers, the suppliers, the artisans, the models, the retailers, and the salespeople who all work together to make the shoe what it is.  I have a love for luxury fashion not because of the material goods, but because there is a real heart in everything that is done.  Sure, a Rolex would bestow upon me a certain reputation, but that's not really what I see. What I see is the quality of design, of mechanisms, and of materials.

So what's the verdict?  Am I a materialist in denial, or is there something to be said about the difference between a materialist and a fashion lover?

Image Source: Photo1, 2, 3, 4

November 17, 2013

Isabel Marant for H&M

Tradition continues with a post on H&M's most recent collaboration: Isabel Marant.

H&M went avant garde last year, but this year, they're going just plain cool with Isabel Marant. Isabel Marant is one of those labels that has a very loyal following, thanks to its consistent brand attitude and almost instantly recognizable aesthetic.  Marant designs for the cool girl - the girl with that easy slouch, that lazy saunter, and that nonchalant attitude you just can't ignore.  Her girl is androgynous and edgy, and never leaves the house without skin-tight pants, a loose-fitting tee, and a well-made jacket.

What does Isabel Marant for H&M offer?  A chance to be that girl.  With a collection consisting almost entirely of fitted pants, slouchy tops, and mannish coats, being a cool girl is just a hip jut and shoulder tilt away.  The colour palette revolves around grey, black, white, blue and red, and is accented with staticky prints.

I've always loved Isabel Marant for its model-off-duty ease and a complete dedication to its image.  I believe this H&M collection will be among the most accessible, providing girls and guys with easily adaptable pieces to achieve that Marant effortlessness.  Highlights of the collection for me are the nicely tailored jackets and coats. The thick knit sweaters with mind-tingling prints are also pieces I would consider worthy purchases (men, I'm talking to you).

As for accessories, Marant always completes her looks with a pair of boots or pumps.  In this collection, she gives us wide, slouchy boots.  I wouldn't recommend pairing them with her cropped pants or dresses, but otherwise, they are just what you need to finish off your new cool girl persona.

Image Source: Photo1, 2, 3, 4

November 4, 2013

Joe Fresh is So Fresh

Today, I was involved in a short discussion of Joe Fresh. It was briefly concluded that Joe Fresh was a "bargain" brand and that its decision to open a flagship store in Manhattan was a "bold" move. I was itching to add to the conversation, but once I start ranting about fashion, things get heated.

Firstly, I don't disagree that Joe Fresh is a so-called "bargain" brand (although I would rather the words "cheap chic" or "affordable").  Joe Fresh regularly has clothing discounted to around $10, and being associated with Loblaws/Superstore, it obviously isn't trying to be a luxury brand.  People are certainly not wrong in considering Joe Fresh a "bargain" brand, since that is a matter of consumer perception, but I would argue there is a distinction between "bargain brand" and "just plain cheap".

While Joe Fresh does have cheaper clothing and does position itself beside cereal isles, its clothing is hardly of low quality.  Comparatively to other bargain brands, Joe Fresh is actually quite impressive (have you seen the atrocities otherwise known as Walmart's George, Hudson's Bay's Jessica Simpson, and Forever 21?). In fact, every season, there are a handful of standout pieces that do cost between $50 to $100+, and are made from fine materials, such as silk, wool and sequins.  I own several Joe Fresh pieces, and I can assure you the quality is better than H&M, and quite possibly even Topshop.  Joe Fresh's designs are always on trend, and like any true fashion label, it has a distinctive brand image - preppy, chic, minimalist, wearable - almost like The Gap's younger, slightly more polished sister.

To move on to a more basic argument: Joe Fresh is a regular at Toronto Fashion Week.  True, having a runway show doesn't necessarily give you fashion cred, but it does say that enough people believe in the quality of your brand to warrant a show.

Finally, Joe Fresh is designed by Joe Mimran, previous head of Club Monaco.  Club Monaco is clearly a quality (and heartbreakingly expensive) brand, and Mimran's core design aesthetic is not lost in the Joe Fresh label.  In addition, Mimran's wife is Kimberley Newport-Mimran, designer of Pink Tartan, one of Canada's top luxury labels.  I mean, Pink Tartan and Club Monaco...Joe Fresh can't possibly be a mere "bargain" brand.

Joe Mimran is a respected designer, and Joe Fresh is a respected label.  "The Joes" revolutionized the way we shop by introducing the idea of being able to buy a quality pencil skirt in the same place you buy your weekly can of beans. This was an interesting look at Joe Fresh's either successful or unsuccessful shaping of consumer perception, but all in all, I don't think it was bold of Joe Fresh to open shop in Manhattan.  Joe Fresh was meant to eventually stake ground on Fifth Avenue.  If you ask me, it belongs on Fifth Avenue.

Image Source: Photo1, Photo2Photo3, Photo4, Photo5