Suited to the Task: Evan Rachel Wood

All eyes–and iPhones–were locked on Evan Rachel Wood at the Golden Globes this past January, when she chose to wear a custom Altuzarra tux instead of a gown. “I’m not trying to protest dresses, but I wanted to make sure that young girls and women know they aren’t a requirement,” she said, adding later, “I promised myself I would wear a suit to every awards show this year.”

  • Evan Rachel Wood in “Suit Yourself” by Wendy Kaur in Elle Canada April 2017

Other sharp suits for inspiration:

Above: Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Pre-Fall 2016

Above: Barbara Bui, Pre-Fall 2016

Above: Dondup, Pre-fall 2016

Above: Marni, Pre-fall 2016

Above: Ports 1961, Pre-Fall 2016

Above: Stella McCartney, Pre-fall 2016

Covers & Content Annual Review 2016, Part 1: Elle Canada

The 2016 publishing year is over for our three favourite Canadian fashion magazines, so it’s time to look back on every issue printed this year by Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, to see how diverse they were overall compared to last year. Up first is Elle Canada!

For a review of the Covers & Content project, please check out the FAQ page here.

Closet Feminist Terminology

Whiteout Issue: an issue of a fashion magazine where neither the cover star nor models booked/used for any of the major editorials are people of colour.

Token Diversity Spread: When a fashion magazine books/uses an ensemble of models, including some models of colour or models representing other minorities in the fashion world (i.e., plus size models or visibly older models), but are careful not to allow the minorities chosen to make up the majority of the spread or the majority of models chosen.

Has Elle Canada improved at all? Check out our data from the last three years.

Elle Canada 2013 Annual Review

Elle Canada 2014 Annual Review

Elle Canada 2015 Annual Review

***

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Elle Canada has made some steady improvements since last year. In 2016, they had four cover stars of colour–last year, they had none. Diversity within the pages has also improved. This year, Elle Canada had four Whiteout Issues, and last year, they had five.

Another big win for this magazine–this year, Elle Canada was the only magazine of the three studied here to do a fashion editorial featuring a plus size model. That would be their October issue starring Ashley Graham.

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And now the month-by-month breakdown.

JANUARY

The one and only fashion editorial in this month’s issue starred cover star Kate Bock, a thin, white model, which means that this month was a Whiteout Issue.

FEBRUARY

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Rita Ora was on the cover. There was one fashion editorial this month and it starred mixed-race model Mackenzie Hamilton.

MARCH 

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There were three cover stars for this issue: Lilly Singh, Ebony Oshunrinde (Wondagirl), and Maria Qamar.

Despite the diversity of the cover, there were two fashion editorials this month, and both starred thin, white models.

APRIL

The April issue of Elle Canda was a Whiteout Issue. Iggy Azalea was on the cover. There were two fashion editorials this month, both starring one thin, white model each.

MAY

Beyoncé was on the cover.

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There were two fashion editorials in this issue. The first starred two thin, white models. The second starred one thin, white model.

JUNE

Elizabeth Olsen was on the cover.

There were two fashion editorials in this issue. The first starred on thin model of colour. The second editorial was a particularly offensive editorial starring one thin, white model.

JULY

Amanda Seyfried was on the cover.

There were two fashion editorials in this issue. the first starred one thin, white model. The second starred a thin model of colour.

AUGUST

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Charlize Theron was on the cover.

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There was one fashion editorial, starring an ensemble of five models. Two of the models were women of colour.

SEPTEMBER

Demi Lovato was on the cover.

There are two fashion editorials in this issue. Both star thin, white models.

OCTOBER

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Ashley Graham was on the cover.

There were two fashion editorials in this issue. One starred a thin, white model, and the other starred one thin, Latina model.

NOVEMBER 

Dakota Fanning was on the cover.

The November 2016 issue was a Whiteout Issue, as there were two fashion editorials in this issue, both starring thin, white models.

DECEMBER

Miranda Kerr was on the cover.

There were two fashion editorials this month. One starred one thin, Latina model. The other starred one thin, white model

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

Feminist Designers: Vancouver’s own Only Child Apparel

Welcome to The Closet Feminist’s new series, Feminist Designers! This interview series will be focusing on the work and designs of clothing labels and fashion designers that explicitly identify as feminist. 

I am super-excited to kick off this series with Madison Reid of Only Child Apparel, a feminist t-shirt company based right here in Vancouver. Reid discusses the importance of diversity in fashion, giving back to her communities through her work, and what is next for this awesome local line.

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The Closet Feminist: What inspired you to start your line Only Child Apparel?

Madison Reid: I was volunteering at WAVAW (Women Against Violence Against Women) while working at a custom t-shirt company, and would daydream about making my own feminist designs.

I did searches online and found the feminist shirt market was seriously lacking in stylish designs. I consider myself a fashionable person, and I’m a graphic designer who loves great typography. I wanted to make shirts that people wouldn’t want to throw out after wearing one time. 

I was terrified to take my Etsy shop live. I had such anxiety about putting myself out there. I took the risk, opened the shop with just 2 designs, shared it on Instagram, and it has been an unbelievably rewarding experience. My first Etsy sale was December 2013, maybe a month or so after I opened it. The following December I made my 100th sale.

I wanted to try this as a fun hobby to do outside of my full time job, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve sold shirts to people all over the world, and I love knowing there’s a person all the way in South Carolina, Germany, or New Zealand who cares about the issues I care deeply about. And now they own a piece of my art!

Why did you choose the name “Only Child Apparel”?

I didn’t want to spend too much time thinking on the name of my brand, so I named it after myself; I’m an only child. I also didn’t want to give it an overtly feminist name. I wanted to keep it neutral.

What is it about fashion that inspires your feminist activism?

Wearing a political statement on your body lets others know who you are, what you care about, and that they are not alone. It can connect you to others. It can inspire you to keep fighting, and it reminds you that you are not alone. We are working collectively to change the world.

I’ve had the occasional comment on Instagram from anti-feminists who stop by to say “Wearing a shirt that says ‘Smash The Patriarchy’ does absolutely nothing.” Yeah, no, I disagree with that. I feel like the people who say this are the same people who declare that we have achieved equality in the West—it’s easy to say that when you’re a white, heterosexual, cisgender male. Try saying that to a transgender woman, a Muslim woman, or an overweight woman, and they might tell you a different story.

There are obviously many other ways to be a feminist activist that are more impactful than what I’m doing. This is the path that inspires me most and is how I want to contribute. I’ve learned from this experience that if/when I quit the shirt biz and move onto something else, I am an activist and will keep making feminist art.

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In your opinion, what is the future of feminism within the fashion and personal style sphere?

Our generation is very conscious of our impact on the planet. We want to make our purchases thoughtfully. You see more brands popping up that say their clothing is ethically made in the US or Canada, and I consider that feminist fashion. More gender neutral clothing brands would be considered feminist fashion, as well as more inclusive choices of models in fashion shows. I think some great things have been happening in the fashion industry recently in regards to all of these.

What have you learned working on Only Child Apparel that you couldn’t have learned anywhere else?

I had no idea what this project would bring to my life. It has made me into a business person. It has forced me to push through the fear, because in doing so I might be rewarded by connecting with people in ways I never thought possible. I’ve suddenly connected with friends over Facebook I haven’t seen in years, because it turns out they care about gender equality too.

It has taught me self care because there truly are days I’m too overwhelmed with life and I just need to take a social justice break, and not look at my Facebook or Instagram. This experience has taught me a lot about pushing past those anxious feelings, even though I have them a lot. I have so much fear when I expose my heart [through my designs]. I get anxious about being targeted by a troll. I fear crossing the line and offending someone. I get anxious asking people to model for me. Occasionally, I get so overwhelmed I just want to cash in my chips and run out the door.

We are living in a difficult yet exciting time. When I started the Instagram account for Only Child Apparel, I followed a bunch of accounts that share feminist memes, and I eventually realized that the majority of them are run by teenagers. I felt a bit funny following them because I’m a wee bit older, but I couldn’t help but be blown away by these kids. There’s a community of enlightened, informed, and motivated teens who share amazing posts about self love, gender identity, race, etc. They are so fed up with the bulls**t patriarchal system. What’s with all this trashing of millennials these days? I wish I had been that smart when I was sixteen!

[Ultimately,] working on Only Child Apparel has taught me to focus on the positive rather than the negative because the positive truly always outweighs the negative.

Finally, I’m beyond fortunate to have friends who support me tremendously.

OC-4159

What is a typical day for you as the head designer and founder of Only Child Apparel?

I work a day job, so that’s usually what I’m doing Mon-Fri, and I make a few trips to the post office after work each week. Evenings often involve Twitter searches (love/hate it) for interesting articles I can share on Facebook. I use Facebook for more thought-provoking topics that I might say a few words on. Instagram is mostly just for sharing brand pictures or silly stuff. A couple nights a week I will browse Pinterest for inspiration for new designs, or for my photo shoots. I sketch in my sketchbook some nights; the majority of my designs for Only Child Apparel have been hand lettered.

I did a couple markets in 2014/2015, but because of the political content of what I’m selling, and my tendency to get a bit flustered when I’m met with hostility, I haven’t done one in over a year. The trendier markets in Vancouver serve alcohol, and I’m not interested in a hostile confrontation with someone who has been drinking.

What is next for Only Child Apparel?

I’m at a crossroads with this business. I didn’t know what to expect when I first started, and since this has been so successful and rewarding it’s given me pause to think about where I want to take this.

I think I want to start making this into a fashion brand, not just t-shirts. I did, in fact, study fashion design at VCAD when I first moved to Vancouver in 2010… for about 8 weeks, then remembered I hate sewing, and decided to study graphic design instead.

I have really talented friends I made in school that keep me connected to the world of fashion. They are very aware of some of the ludicrousness of the fashion industry, and want to do good things like make the industry more inclusive. I want to think I’ll collaborate with them at some point.

I want to do more local, handmade clothing. Possibly vintage items and non-clothing items. Collaborating more with other artists. Just about anything is possible, I guess!

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Do you have any advice for folks seeking to start a feminist business?

I think it’s important to really think about what feminism means to you and what about your business is feminist. Is it just your product or service, or how it’s also made? Is it your brand’s mission statement? Does your business acknowledge all of these things? Since I started this business, I’ve learned a lot more about feminism that I wish I had known then, and I’m evolving my brand as time goes on because of this.

I think having a thick skin can be beneficial if you would really like to join a debate, or fight to have your voice heard while running a feminist business. Anti-feminists can believe all the anti-feminist memes they have created as they want; I know that feminists are some of the most compassionate and caring human beings on this planet. Fully embracing my identity as one has made me a better person.

I admire activists who are out there shutting down the ignorance and not letting the pushback get them down, because it’s tough. But in the end, any harassment (online or offline) is just proof that misogyny is still alive and well and that feminism is thusly needed.

Only Child Apparel donates a portion of every sale to a local rape crisis centre. What inspired you to do this?

I felt that if I want to call my brand ‘feminist’ it needs to be more than just feminist slogans. I need to consider my role in feminism as a business person. Donating to WAVAW was the most obvious choice for me. They are the organization that gave me my empowered awakening nearly four years ago. WAVAW staff were among the first to buy shirts from me when I started making them. They brought an amazing network of women into my life, and I don’t know what I would do without them. The world is a better place for having an organization like them offering their services and supporting women. They are life changers. Donating to them is the least I could do. I’m not into running half-marathons, so I need to contribute a different way.

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Body positivity and inclusivity seems to be a big part of Only Child Apparel’s design philosophy. Why is this important to your designs?

I wanted these shirts to embrace intersectional feminism’s message of embracing everyone; not just through t-shirt slogans, but by how my brand presents itself and involves people from the movement. I could be doing better with the inclusive sizing with the shirts: this is a work in progress.

Intersectional feminism is tackling sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, fat oppression and ableism (to name a few). If I only use models who would be considered ‘traditional’ (tall and skinny), how can I really say I care about representation when I won’t do it myself?

Intersectional feminism is tackling sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, fat oppression and ableism (to name a few). If I only use models who would be considered ‘traditional’ (tall and skinny), how can I really say I care about representation when I won’t do it myself? I want models of different genders, races, and body types to appear in my work because these people exist and are beautiful too. 

I will mention that I know that I am white and blonde, and so I am included in the narrow type of woman that is often represented [in fashion]. I do model for my shirts a lot. I feel comfortable putting my face all over my brand, and I am obviously the most readily-available to appear in photos for my work. However, we have already seen women that look like me many times before. Representation is so important because our society is so quick to dismiss that other types of people exist. 

There are a lot of brands jumping on the female empowerment bandwagon. I see lots of fun shirts on trendy consumer sites where they still have size 0 models. There’s nothing radical about [these advertisements] and it’s clearly just to capitalize on what’s popular at this very moment.

Anything else you would like Closet Feminist readers to know about Only Child Apparel?

My photos are taken by Jackie Dives of http://jackiedivesphoto.com, who is so talented, so accommodating and so disarming. She did a series of photos on menstruation that were featured in Vice!

Want more of Only Child Apparel? Check out their social media and Etsy shop here:

Instagram: @onlychildapparel

Facebook: http://www.fb.com/onlychildapparel

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/OnlyChildApparel

All photos used with permission from Only Child Apparel.

Fashion’s Best Feminist Ally: Zac Posen

Fall2015RTW_ZacPosen_Naomi

Above: Zac Posen accompanies Naomi Campell, who closed his Fall RTW 2015 show.

If ever fashion’s feminists had an ally, it would definitely be Zac Posen.

Why, might you ask, does this particular designer deserve this title?

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Above: Zac Posen Fall 2015

Posen’s runway shows and lookbooks consistently feature more models of colour than his other New York design peers.

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Above: Zac Posen Spring 2015

He very frequently collaborates, works with, and otherwise supports of Canadian model and activist Coco Rocha, whose own work is no doubt feminist. Typically speaking, if you run with feminists, you’re a feminist yourself.

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Above: Zac Posen Fall 2015

Posen sought to make queer-friendly and tomboy looks accessible to the mainstream with his 2010 Target collaboration. This is a pretty notable action from a major designer, especially considering fashion has a bad habit of turning a blind eye to folks who prefer more butch and androgynous outfits.

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Above: Zac Posen Pre-Fall 2015

Posen is further known for embracing ‘plus’ size design, even tackling the tricky world of wedding dresses.

We’re not the only ones noting Posen’s efforts–Refinery29 has named him the Patron Saint of Model Diversity, and the fashion activist Bethann Hardison has applauded his efforts for years.

ZacPosen_Spring2015_01Above: Zac Posen Spring 2015

Here at The Closet Feminist, we highlight female designers as much as possible, and definitely consider Posen’s work a beautiful commitment to women as well. Three cheers for fashion’s most valuable ally!

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Above: Zac Posen Spring 2015

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