I bumped into three fashionable students heading to class: Sarah Merrill, Mariam Fageri, and Zlatina Pacheva. These students dare to say, “sweatpants be gone” in the face of rain, exams, and exhaustion by demonstrating that fashion can be utility and stylish while hitting the books.
Sarah Merrill: A typical rainy day in Vancouver is no match for Sarah, her Hunter rain boots in classic black splash puddles away as she heads to class. Wearing a 1920’s silhouette coat, a cowl neck scarf, and Cheap Monday skinny jeans, Sarah is noticed walking down Simon Fraser University (SFU) hallways, which could double as her catwalk.
Mariam Fageri: All great artist dress in black, and Mariam is no expectation. What stood out for me on Mariam was her brushed gold earrings and gold-embroidered vest. Her cowl neck scarf is on trend, but her unique persona is what makes this outfit standout.
Zlatina Pacheva: Often imitated but never duplicated is the tweed coat, skinny jean, and platform shoes that Zlatina wears. Her look is on trend for the season, but her presentation is flawless, easy and relaxed as she wears her look with confidence.
In 1997, Hong Kong was handed back to China after years of British rule. Vancouver witnessed this effect first hand, as Hong Kong (HK) residences poured money into Vancouver for fear of Communist party rule, and financial collapse. With bated breath everyone paused as China took control, fortunately nothing major went down and back to business as usual… Well, so we thought.
Fast forward; US and European economies on the brink of collapse; Japan continues a downward spiral to a never-ending recession; the world looks to China. China produces double-digit growth, while manufacturing a bulk of western products. Thus fashion hierarchy cast eyes towards China to secure brand dominance. Result: fashion suicide.
Hong Kong is China’s pearl, known for bold style and colourful plate, always wrong, but somehow right. Celebrity fashion Goddess like Wong Faye, helped launch mega brands into Hong Kong. Alas, with Canto-pop out, and Hong Kong’s film industry in tatters, China has picked up the style slack—which cast shades of grey.
China is like the “new” rich kid on the block begging for “cool” friends. The “cool” kids will hang with you, but watch your back because what you see as fashion is only FaceTime for the shops, with watered down clothes masquerading as style. The “cool” kids can be so cruel.
I spend a lot of time in Asia, mainly Japan, however this fall I landed my first trip to Hong Kong. With a chauffeured stretch Benz to whisk me to shops, excitement fluttered ready to unearth HK’s favorite shopping spots—I confess, I love Canto-pop and Hong Kong cinema—but I was not ready for what Hong Kong had to show me.
Hong Kong is one of the most breath-taking places I’ve been thus far in my travels, a majestic wasteland of panoramic scenery and industrial fortitude—HK is a metropolis. Like New York, HK is full of hustle and bustle with abundant cabbie, street food, chic restaurants, and shopping hot spots. Unfortunately this is where comparisons stop.
<a href="http://musecloset.com/2011/11/30/china-rules/img_4577/" rel="attachment wp-att-131"><img class="size-full wp-image-131" title="NY" alt="NY" src="http://musecloset.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/img_4577-1.jpg" width="640" height="856" /></a> NY
<a href="http://musecloset.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/china-rules/img_4789/"><img class="size-full wp-image-129" title="HK Business " alt="HK Business" src="http://musecloset.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/img_4789-1.jpg" width="640" height="856" /></a> HK Business
Mainland China has sucked HK’s fashion gene dry with conservative dressing and brand oppression. We’ve all heard the expression <em>money can’t buy you class</em>, I think China got the message lost in translation. Mainland girls pop out of chauffeured driven cars and maul fashion districts like; a Black AMEX cannot be stopped! I cannot blame China for its fashion despair as mega brands suck the life out of collections to please the masses. Magazines push brands over style to represent fashion, by fooling the "new" rich kid as presenting this as “cool.”
<a href="http://musecloset.com/2011/11/30/china-rules/img_4808/" rel="attachment wp-att-188"><img class="size-full wp-image-188" title="Nike HK" alt="Nike HK" src="http://musecloset.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/img_4808-1.jpg" width="640" height="856" /></a> Nike HK
<a href="http://musecloset.com/2011/11/30/china-rules/img_4807/" rel="attachment wp-att-187"><img class="size-full wp-image-187" title="Nike HK Causeway Bay" alt="Nike HK Causeway Bay" src="http://musecloset.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/img_4807-1.jpg" width="640" height="856" /></a> Nike HK Causeway Bay
What I did learn is that HK is resilient, as my favorite boutiques were packed each day of shoppers buying goods with style and flare: Joyce Boutique, I.T, and Bauhaus to name a few. The Mainland residences who flock to Hong Kong are looking to be taught personal style and attitude that will put them on-top. New York and Paris dictate fashion business, while Japan pushes style, Milan keeps it commercial, and China keeps money flying high. Fashion is a language used to express our personality each day, let’s not waste our chance. China’s growth is an opportunity to push fashion boundaries.
<a href="http://musecloset.com/2011/11/30/china-rules/img_4782/" rel="attachment wp-att-190"><img class="size-full wp-image-190" title="My View HK" alt="My View HK" src="http://musecloset.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/img_4782-1.jpg" width="640" height="856" /></a> My View HK
<p style="text-align:center;"><strong>My Favorite Stores: Hong Kong</strong></p>
Voted 3rd worst dressed city by GQ and MSN Travel, Vancouver needs to salvage its image. Magazines such as Vancouver View have been doing their best to revoke this vote by capturing stylish images from social events. One Vancouverite shattering our unstylish image is blog favourite Jen V. Her image has been used in fashion blogs all over North America because of her unique personality and individual style. Street fashion is all about attitude because as fashion becomes more commercial and mass-produced, deciphering your own style becomes difficult without access or skills in sewing. The seamstress, tailor, and atelier development custom-made items for individuals. However, not everyone has access or deep pockets to indulge personalized luxury. Therefore, street style has become fashion’s new frontier in style independence.
Jen has crafted her look from a lifetime of pieces discovered throughout her personal development; vintage, discount, and high-end clothes are included in her repeater of style. Jen is very thoughtful about each outfit she creates, thereby telling a story with every item she chooses. Her artistic background builds simple basics into statements. With a creative eye for embellishment, Jen utilizes accessories like battle armor, while on the side knitting beautiful handmade scarves to create a signature look. Jen describes her style philosophy as, “not necessarily being about expensive designer items or what’s trendy; it’s about self-expression through whatever means you have. This could mean pairing that old sweater you forgot about with that thrift store find to make a new outfit! Like any other form of art, fashion is a medium in which we can communicate who we are as individuals, and how we feel and absorb the world around us. Every day is a chance to express oneself in a different way.”
Style enthusiast can to take note from Jen’s philosophy because clothes are an extension of what you represent to the world. Income level does not hinder your experimentation with fashion; take two items you’ve never worn together and make them into something new; pair an evening piece with something extremely casual. These small steps create confidence and personal growth. I can see why bloggers capture her image for others to imitate.
The Downtown Eastside—Gastown—is one of the most historical and diverse neighborhoods in Vancouver. Hampered by drugs, prostitution, and crime; the Downtown Eastside has seen some dark days, as most retailers fled the neighborhood for richer grounds. Celebrity socialite, Jackie Cohen has kept her Army and Navy Gastown location as a neighborhood anchor. Today, Gastown is home to hipsters, artist, and fashion boutiques, which have taken this run-down neighborhood overnight. The gentrification has been good for real-estate agents and entrepreneurs, but little has done to include the low-income residents who are being pushed out of this urbanization. Across the street from Army and Navy is a small step in the right direction, Community, a small thrift and vintage boutique that is trying to do its part by including and employing struggling East Side residents.
Community is special because it joins fashion, art, and residents into one unified community. The vintage and thrift pieces are a handpicked mélange of histories finest: 1950’s collectibles and 1970’s fashion throwbacks; Community hits all the right fashion buttons. Walls are adorned with independent artist who will fascinate you, while this two level rustic boutique captures the historic atmosphere of Gastown.
Community keeps both men and women stylish with vintage denim, 80’s rocker t-shirts, and distressed leather. Stepping into Community is like a stylist closet of greatest hits, so run down and grab your recycled fur to support a community.
Support for Community has been impressive thus far, as a new location Frock Shoppe will be coming soon… I guess good ideas with heart always prevail.