Best of Catherynne M. Valente’s “Deathless”

Catherynne M. Valente is one of my favourite writers of all time. I have read almost everything she has written. She’s a feminist, her books always have queer characters, and her writing is nothing short of magic. She’s pretty much The Closet Feminist dream.

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Here are some of my favourite quotes from her book Deathless.

When Marya saw something extraordinary again, she would be ready. She would be clever. She would not let it ruler her or trick her. She would do the tricking, if tricking was called for. (p.24)

When I am Tsarita, I will break all these machines and I will set them free. (p.110)

A marriage is a private thing. It has its own wild laws, and secret histories, and savage acts, and what passes between married people is incomprehensible to outsiders. We look terrible to you, and severe, and you see our blood flying, but what we carry between us is hard-won, and we made it just as we wished it to be, just the color, just the shape. (p.215-216)

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This house, she knew. It stayed within her as it had always been, the architecture of her girlhood. The wood held the oils of her skin deep in its grain; the windows still bore the imprint—long gone, invisible—of her tiny nose. (p.239)

I cannot make you understand that I forgive you, that I know you loved both he and I, the way a mother can love two sons. And no one should be judged for loving more than they ought, only for loving not enough, which was my crime. (p.320)

Feminist Designers: SheNative

The Closet Feminist’s second instalment of Feminist Designers interviews Devon Fiddler, Chief Changemaker and Designer for SheNative Goods Inc. SheNative is based out of Saskatoon, and is a socially driven, handbag and accessories brand that aims to empower the Indigenous women.

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What inspired you to start your line SheNative?

I started SheNative out of a childhood dream of becoming a designer, my own life experiences as an Indigenous women, and my first career experiences. When I started SheNative, I had no fashion design background, little sewing experience, and went for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics (Aboriginal Public Administration).

After completing my degree, I worked as a Business Development Coordinator, working with clients on reserve who wanted to start a business. This sparked my passion of entrepreneurship, and brought my childhood dream swirling back into my head. I saw other entrepreneurs starting companies with a mission to have a positive social impact, and I decided that I wanted to start a fashion business that gives back.

I grew up out of a lot of negative experiences that many Indigenous women in Canada face, including seeing and experiencing family violence, being taken advantage of, domestic violence and more. I still see many of my friends and family struggle with what they went through; these experiences are so common among Indigenous women.

Through SheNative, I want to bring light into lives by showing the power of positivity, and showing other women that you can find it in yourself to make changes and overcome any negative experience you’ve had. I try to show that myself by practice, living healthy, and following my dream. I try to bring positive inspiration into the lives of others through the initiatives that we create in SheNative (Her 4 Directions Fashion Incubator), inspirational words, and showcasing what other Indigenous women are doing.

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SheNative focuses a lot on affirmations, positive thinking, social media campaigns beyond marketing, etc. Are there plans to evolve SheNative into a broader lifestyle brand?

Yes, I think that’s where we are heading with our brand. We are still figuring out what’s working and what’s not working. We are very new, so it takes time to build.

I started out with the idea that I would create very specific products. Initially, I wanted to start a clothing line that was more geared towards professional working women. After consulting with a product development company in Toronto, we found that it didn’t matter what we created: SheNative was going to be a company that empowered Indigenous women.

Initially, SheNative started by designing a handbag collection instead of a clothing line. Working with companies that hold ethical production standards, along with quality workmanship is really important to me.

Since starting, SheNative has really evolved as a brand, from quality handbags to graphic t-shirts. Our line goes from a higher-end to a fairly low price point. We are looking to build more products in the medium price point range. I think becoming a broader lifestyle brand would make the most sense for us moving forward.

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What have you learned working on SheNative that you couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

The fashion portion especially has been a big learning curve for me, and I am still learning a lot! I still leave the sewing to those who are best at it. I found the best way to learn is by just jumping in, doing, and being hands-on instead of taking technical courses in design.

For the business-side of things, I’ve entered as many entrepreneurship courses and classes, both online and in classrooms that I can find. I think you have to learn from mistakes along the way and pivot when things are not working.

What is a typical day for you as the head designer and founder of SheNative?

I am currently trying to create a typical day for me. At first it was chaotic; we had a lot of interviews and random media requests during our launch. Then, I started getting speaking requests, especially in the Indigenous community, as well as invitations to many different events like trade shows. At this time, I would often forget to eat, and stay up working on business stuff at all hours of the night.

Now, I’m establishing a bit of a routine. I wake up in the morning, have my breakfast, take my dog out for a walk, check emails, and then head out to our shared studio space. At the studio, I take on whatever tasks come our way from there including operational, sales, design, etc, which takes me to the end of the day; only sometimes do I take evening meetings. I also sit on three committees, so that takes of some of my free time. I now go to sleep at a decent hour, and always make time for myself.

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Your brand seems very dynamic with regards to how you reach your customer base—trade shows, craft fairs, farmers markets, pop up shops, conferences, and fashion week in addition to an online shop. How has this versatility affected/impacted SheNative?

We have been exploring what works and doesn’t work [in an attempt to find] our target market. Through this, we have found our target market is different than we thought it would be; you never know until you jump in and try. I have to admit, trying too much at once has had a negative impact on the business. After finding out something doesn’t work, you need to be strong at saying ‘no’, and moving forward with what actually works.

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SheNative recently completed a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, congratulations to the SheNative team! Be sure to follow SheNative and watch this exciting Canadian brand grow!

Shop SheNative here

SheNative on Facebook

SheNative Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

Images by Axis Imagery. All images used with permission by SheNative

Fashion x Feminism: Unisex Skirts by Skirtcraft

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Joe Quarion, founder and designer behind Minneapolis-based Skirtcraft  is on a mission, attempting to level the gender binary through fashion by making modern, rugged, practical skirts for people of all genders.

Quarion notes that the driving principles of his project, Skirtcraft, is, “skirts for all, functional pockets for all, and clothing that isn’t unnecessarily gendered.”

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Skirtcraft’s approach is informed by feminism, recognizing that though men have been wearing skirts throughout history, it has somehow become taboo today.

For women, Quarion joins other feminists demanding pocket equality for women’s clothing, noting,

“I think the lack of functional pockets in most women’s clothing is due in part to clothing designers thinking (and trying to perpetuate the idea) that women care almost solely about appearance, and care about function barely at all.  So they rarely include large, functional pockets in their designs.  Men, on the other hand, don’t have to deal with this – they get big pockets in everything, not to mention sturdier fabric much of the time.”

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We love Skirtcraft‘s mission, and are especially encouraged by the diversity of the project’s campaign photos–they didn’t go for thin, white models that nearly every other fashion campaign opts for. That, in and of itself, is a very positive sign.

Are the skirts super on-trend for the season? Nope, but that’s not the point of Skirtcraft as they are aiming for practicality and comfort. While this may be taboo for some, remember that Coco Chanel herself was revolutionary by placing comfort and practicality in her designs first above all else.

 

Want to learn more, including Quarion’s inspiration for this project? Read more on Skirtcraft’s Kickstarter page, here. The deadline to fund this project is August 20th, 2015.

 

All photos from Skirtcraft.

 

TV Icons, Spring 2015 Shows: Mashups Part 3

What if our favourite TV heroines shopped the Spring 2015 runways? Here is Part 3 of our series focusing on what we think they would pick and the occasion that they would wear this outfit for. As a bonus, all of the design houses chosen have a woman holding court as head designer! Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

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The Show: Orange Is The New Black

The Icon: Sophia

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The Actress: Laverne Cox

The Look: Nicole Miller Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: When we see Sophia (Cox) on OITNB, she’s usually in her prison uniform of course. Outside of prison, we could totally see her in this dress. The super-girly hem is balanced with the bold black stripes and painterly pattern–classy, but with just a touch of edge.

 

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The Show: Gilmore Girls

The Icon: Lorelei Gilmore

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The Actress: Lauren Graham

The Look: Jenny Packham Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: Fashion was always a hot topic for the Gilmore girls, and LG (Graham) in particular was fond of characterizing her style as a bit more bold and risk-taking. We think she would kill it in this bold romper. It would work for those infamous baby blues, but wouldn’t be too much since it’s just one uniform colour. Plus, the cut is relatively simple, so it wouldn’t be too wild for Stars Hollow.

 

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The Show: Battlestar Galactica

The Icon: Kara Thrace aka Starbuck

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The Actress: Katee Sackhoff

The Look: Barbara Bui Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: The sporty, futuristic details scream Starbuck. They put her in dresses for more formal moments in the show, but really, she looked best in more tomboy looks. After all, she was the best pilot in the damn fleet and could drink anyone under the table.

 

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The Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Icon: Buffy

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The Actress: Sarah Michelle Gellar

The Look: Milly Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: The Slayer definitely favoured sexier-than-most looks in Sunnydale, but her occupation/destiny requires her day to day outfits appropriate for ass-kicking at a moment’s notice. This Milly look even nods to ’90s silhouettes–we’re sure Ms. Summers would approve.

 

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The Show: Adventure Time

The Icon: Marceline, The Vampire Queen

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The Actress: Olivia Olson

The Look: Marissa Webb Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: She’s a rockstar, heir to the Nightosphere, and is arguably the ex of the most powerful sovereign in all of Ooo. A bit of a recluse and a trouble-maker, her looks are just as eccentric–big floppy sunhats one day, overalls and rockabilly style the next. The Marissa Webb look above captures all those supa-fierce elements–except she would be wearing boots, not heels, of course.

 

 

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The Show: Masters of Sex

The Icon: Virginia Johnson

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The Actress: Lizzy Caplan

The Look: Tanya Taylor Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: Mrs. Johnson (Caplan) was a trailblazer–the show is based on real-life sex researches William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Johnson was a single mom of two, and despite not having the credentials ‘necessary’ to be doing the work she did with Masters, she did it at any rate. Her wardrobe in the show speaks to this outlier personality–note how in the show her outfit silhouettes and colours are very different from everyone else’s–darker, more form-fitting, etc. Here’s a boss outfit a bold lady of Science could wear today.

 

 

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The Show: Mad Men

The Icon: Megan Draper

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The Actress: Jessica Paré

The Look: Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: Can’t you just picture the ever-talented Megan (Paré) chillin’ at her LA apartment in this DVF outfit? Add a hair scarf and hoop earrings, and you’ve got the picture of an accomplished, multi-talented young woman int he late 1960s.

 

 

All runway images from Style.com 

Did you love this post? Good news–this is Part 3/3 of a series of posts. You can have a look at Part 1 here, and check out Part 2 here.

The Ultimate Girl Gang Style: “Electric Lady” by Janelle Monáe

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If there’s one celebrity who means more to us here at The Closet Feminist than anyone else, it’s Janelle Monáe. She’s an artist with an aesthetic that is incomparably interesting, complex, and inspiring. Monáe embraces intersectional feminism, still engages in all sorts of activism despite her fame, and her conscientious theories on clothing and personal style are pretty much unparalleled.

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Naturally, her latest video for Electric Lady has caught our eye for its girl gang/super-sorority style starring her Electro Phi Betas , pictured below (just go listen to the whole album to learn more, you won’t regret it).

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While the video opens with some super-distracting product placement, it more than makes up for it with the rest of the video. Monáe’s videos are the best for a few reasons:

1. They always, always star people of colour, more often than not almost exclusively.

2. People of all ages star in her videos.

3. There is never any girl hate, we are more likely to see friendship and ladies running the show.

4. Women are never, ever objectified.

5. You can totally tell that Monáe won’t compromise her vision, all her videos have a very specific aesthetic (just think of this while people like Katy Perry are busy moping they can’t just keep relying on cultural appropriation).

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If this video doesn’t have you wanting to run out the door for a Electro Phi Betas letterman jacket of your own (or at least something close to it) then you’re probably doing it wrong.

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“We’re about to make a whole new nation, with a million Electric Ladies, ya’ll make me so proud.”

-from Electric Lady

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Pink crop top, 21 CAD / Monki pink tank, 5.85 CAD / Avelon grey letterman jacket, 445 CAD / River Island slim fit pants, 64 CAD / Converse white sneaker, 87 CAD / Allurez jewelry, 720 CAD / Jeweliq stackers jewelry, 24 CAD

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