- What | Dakota Group Sampe Sale
- Date | TODAY!
- Time | 10am – 6pm
- Location | 102 – 256 West 7th Ave
This is the first post by DesireeAnne. Learn more about her here!
Tuesday evening the Style by Fire team had the opportunity to learn how to get ‘skin happy’ at Bare Essentials Skin Bar on Richards street. When I arrived I was greeted by friendly faces and industry experts. I then received a tour of the skin bar and browsed a variety of event perks, including food, wine, and even a photo booth! I was able to view products and speak to professionals, learning different ways to achieve ‘skin happy’ skin.
I was introduced to Shantelle Robb, a dermatology expert here in Vancouver. She taught me neat tips and tricks for my skin and introduced me to the skincare line Dermalogica. Upon asking about her biggest skin care advice, I was surprised with her response of “picking your skin’s favourite foods.” Shantelle went on to describe how certain foods are beneficial to specific skin types, “Pineapple is a great solution for oily skin because the enzymes exfoliate your skin from the inside out.” Most women (myself included), do not realize that good care of the inner skin will significantly increase the appearance of your outer skin.
After gaining insightful information from Shantelle, I had an opportunity to chat with Skye Lintott, who is not only a sales rep for PRIORI skin care, but a former member of The Real Housewives of Vancouver. She discussed her background in esthetics and skincare as well as her passion for ‘beautifying’ women. Her eyes lit up while talking about PRIORI, “I love working in the makeup industry because every woman loves to be beautiful.” Skye shared how easy it is to represent such an amazing brand. The products spoke for themselves as Skye was giving free mini treatments at the event.
Cleverly named after cocktails and drinks, Bare Essentials’ services range from target treatments to de-stress & relax remedies. The most popular menu item? The Mai Tai facial which hydrates customers’ thirsty skin with ingredients that reveal dewy and fresh skin. Not only did I receive an awesome gift bag on the way out, the entire Style by Fire team left with knowledgeable insight we can apply on a day-to-day basis.
Thank you, Bare Essentials!
Words by DesireeAnne Holder
Photos by Aurora Chan
Established in 2006, KNOWSHOW is a private bi-annual tradeshow which caters to Canada’s top lifestyle, fashion, and action sports retailers and brands. Every January and August, select brands and their representatives debut new products to retailers and media from across Canada over a three-day show at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Since its inception, KNOWSHOW has grown steadily over the years and by 2010, over 400 brands were represented and had access to 500 unique retailers.
Style by Fire was invited to check out the latest KNOWSHOW last week. Admittedly I’m not much of a winter sportive type. I am a very beginner skier and do enjoy it, but am too cheap to invest in the equipment and lift fees to take up the sport in a serious way. I don’t know how to snowboard and frankly, the thought of having both of my feet strapped to a moving board scares me considerably. So needless to say, I checked out the many wholesaler stalls at KNOWSHOW from a very layperson perspective.
One thing was immediately clear – unlike regular winter fashion which tends to lean towards the black and neutral colour tones, winter sport fashion is all about colour and lots of it, the brighter the better. Those who are committed to an active lifestyle want to stand out against the natural environment; the predominant look being ‘cool’, ‘rad’, ‘gnarly’, ‘wicked’….you get the idea. Amid the kaleidoscope of colour, I found many fun and bold fashion offerings.
Manitobah Mukluks combines traditional Aboriginal mukluks and moccasins with new materials and production techniques to create authentic footwear that is modernized to meet today’s needs. The general styling follows traditional design but is reinforced with a fur lining and high performance rubber sole made by Vibram. Despite the sole being a modern addition, it still connects to the past by having a traditional Aboriginal story etched onto it in pictorial form. Started in 1997 by a pair of Métis siblings based out of Winnipeg, the company supports the Aboriginal community while also producing fashionable footwear that are sold in high end retailers such as Holt Renfrew and Browns Shoes.
I loved how cozy and cute the mukluks looked with their swinging pompoms and beaded detailing (their Ugg-ly cousins should take note), and made by a socially conscious Canadian company to boot (har har). Manitobah is a brand to support!
Helmed by two brothers in California, Celtek produces a range of outdoor winter accessories, including beanies and face masks. But it was their gloves and mittens that caught my eye – not only did they come in day-glo and Daft Punk-esque gold colours, some of them were covered in cool graphics and patterns. You can never go wrong with mittens adorned with a picture of a kitten or panda, am I right ladies?! Gender stereotyping aside, your hands will probably never look so rad while also staying toasty warm.
Speaking of warm, Celtek also produces heated touchscreen gloves which heat up with a touch of the pad on the back of the glove. The top-of-the-line self-described ‘Mercedes-Benz’ of gloves features a touchscreen, heat system, OutDry waterproofing, and BOA closure technology. Polar Vortex? Bring it on!
Founded by two professional snowboarders in Vancouver, Airhole Facemasks combines fun and functional in producing accessories that protect you against the harsh elements while also bringing fashion to your face. Both half-mask and full balaclava mask styles are made of lightweight thin fabric knitted by hand that help to insulate heat while also featuring an anti-bacterial coating. The breathing hole has been carefully designed to be the correct size, shape, and positioning for maximum comfort that allows the wearer to breathe, talk, and drink while keeping the mask on.
The fun prints on the masks were what made me stop and chuckle. The face of a shark or tiger for men, awesome. And you guessed it, kittens and daisies for the ladies. Why look like any boring terrorist or burglar in a black ski mask when you can look like a vicious animal!
From the brainchild of French engineer and fashionista Emmanuel Lohéac comes Pull-In. He noticed how much today’s youth is attracted to colours and originality, with the exception of its drawers with their mundane black, blue, and grey colours. With Pull-In, Lohéac strives to bring style and fun to underwear. Collaborating with illustrators who design the patterns on the pieces, the mens’ boxer briefs I saw featured such themes as pastel popsicles, Pirates of the Caribbean, tropical fruit explosion, and African safari animals. These undies are not for the shy at heart, but who wants to be when you can don such whimsical underwear and no one knows about it except you? It’s your secret wild side that only select close ones get to see and what a great surprise they’ll have when peeling off your pants.
I took home a pair of these colourful boxer briefs and tried them on – comfortable and reasonably flattering! And mine were covered in ping pong paddles, how appropriate for the Chinese in me.
Words + Photos by Aurora Chan
The local print clothing company Mitmunk first came to my attention when I was invited to participate in a fun photoshoot to promote their leggings. I had never seen leggings like this before – covered in brightly coloured prints of chainmail and armour, transforming the wearer into a modern day medieval action figure. In other words, these leggings were super rad.
At the recent VALT Fashion Week in November 2013, I had the opportunity to meet the faces behind Mitmunk, Wayne Elliott and Heather Joan Tam. Since I was unfortunately unable to attend their fashion show at the event, they invited me to visit their studio and check out the stock up close.
Their homey studio, situated in the industrial area of East Van, consisted of a small showroom out front with a large storage space in the back. My friend Jenn and I were treated to a teacup of hot toddy, again a first for me. Over this cozy bit of whiskey goodness, Wayne told us the story of Mitmunk.
After many years in the video gaming industry as an artist and 3-D renderer in both the UK and Vancouver, Wayne decided to change direction and spent some time assisting a local designer who used a colour dye sublimation printer to create her fashion garments. It was this printing technique that sparked the idea to create his own pieces inspired by his background in video gaming.
The sublimation process first starts with the pattern being designed on the computer, after which it is printed life-size onto thick stock paper. This paper and the fabric are then both run through a sublimation printer, the heat of which converts the dye on the paper to a gas which diffuses onto the fabric and solidifies. Traditionally this method had been used to produce banners and cycling wear, but Wayne brought it into the fashion arena with the production of his first pair of ‘anatomical’ leggings (see photo) which highlighted the musculature of the human leg. After this first prototype, he expanded his designs to include chainmail armour and eventually bionic leggings.
It was at this time that his life partner, Heather, herself a multidisciplinary artist, became his business partner as well. Together they showcased their creations at the local Blim Market, but it was their debut fashion show at the inaugural VALT Fashion Week in 2012 which catapulted their presence and attracted a fan base. Over the past year, they have expanded their product line to include tank tops, tank dresses, tube tops, boy shorts, and have plans to branch out into outerwear. They first started producing about twelve pieces at a time, and have had to keep increasing their batch sizes multi-fold to meet the increasing demand. For the foreseeable future, they intend to keep sales solely online, but do have select pieces available at Ayden Gallery in downtown Vancouver.
I tried on a few of their pieces, including one of the bionic tank dresses. This was done with great apprehension – a bodycon dress made of 100% stretchy material with zero forgiveness? I had fearful visions of looking like a sausage squeezed into a slightly too small encasing. Once I had it on however, I was very pleasantly surprised. Although form fitting, the material was just the right degree of elasticity that it held everything in without squeezing the excess bits out the armholes, while also being incredibly comfortable and lightweight. Not only that, the bionic pattern was both very cool and cleverly slimming – using strategic colour blocking and lines, the dress literally drew a flattering silhouette, including a shapely butt. What more do you want in a dress??
Mitmunk’s sense of aesthetic is an obvious favourite amongst the cosplay and nerd/alternative demographic, but it is clear that there is also a much broader potential into everyday street wear, workout and athletic attire, etc. Wear one of these leggings to a yoga class and you’re sure to be the coolest kid in the room. I only see a bright future for this burgeoning company and will enjoy watching Mitmunk’s rise to the top of the fashion heap. And if you’re wondering where the name Mitmunk comes from, as a little boy, Wayne would call a monkey “mitmunk”. How adorable is that?
Photos of the 3 models in leggings by Jeff Kew Photography
Individual model photos by GrindDown Photography
Style by Fire photos + words by Aurora Chan
Tucked away in the Yaletown Shops on Homer Street lies a little fashion gem: the whimsically named Woo To See You boutique. It’s where shoppers can find a well-curated mix of unique Korean designs, European styling, as well as local jewelry.
Two mannequins standing outside the shop gave a small indication that fashion existed inside the indoor plaza. From the outside we could see the entire shop in one glance. Although Woo To See You is small in size, it’s jam packed with great products, and a great shopping experience too.
Ours began when we met Hans Woo, store owner of Woo to See You. Dressed in a slick leather jacket, harem pants, winter tuque, and peep-toe pumps with socks, we could tell this was one woman confident in expressing her unique style.
In her down to earth manner she told us her story. A fashion designer by trade, Hans worked in Korea’s fashion industry but needed a break from her work. She first visited Vancouver in 2008 and immediately fell in love with the city.
In 2009, she moved back, got some experience in retail and started planning her own store. She created an e-commerce store in 2012 because she wanted a flexible schedule. But the charming and extroverted Hans soon realized it was more fun for her to meet people face-to-face, whether it was customers she introduced new brands to, or suppliers stopping by to check on how their pieces were doing. So in the summer of 2013, she set up shop in Yaletown.
The idea of Woo To See You was to bring Korean culture and style to Vancouver. And how exactly? It had to stay small and personal. Things have definitely changed since she started. Hans says, “When I first started this business I was only thinking about ‘Is this going to sell or not?’… It is a different culture and different style where I am from, so I was always thinking about if this will do well in North America… So I started thinking like, if this piece doesn’t sell, do I keep it? Am I confident enough to say this looks awesome, like you have to have this piece? Or do I need to wait for someone to walk in who really likes this stuff. So I started shopping by following my style.”
By sticking to her guns, she ends up spending countless hours researching the perfect mix of product for her customers. Each brand she brings in has to pass three tests: the design has to be unique, of good quality, and reasonably affordable.
I tried on an oversized blue and white Pink Berry sweater coat, and immediately noticed there were 3 different kinds of patterns in the knit. I confessed to Hans that although the oversized sweater was super unique, it wasn’t a silhouette I was used to seeing on myself. She assured me I wasn’t the first person who reacted to the designs this way, and went on to explain why she chose a looser aesthetic.
“I don’t wear really tight-fitting dresses. We did have a lot of straight fit last summer. I had so many people who came in and tried them on and asked me for a belt, and I was like ‘No belt! Not allowed here!’”
We couldn’t help but crack up laughing because it’s so true: Vancouverites can definitely play it safe, but Woo To See You is here to push your comfort zone, in the kindest way. She takes great care of her customers by educating them that loose-fitting cuts, drop-shoulder styles and cocoon shapes are an aesthetic to be embraced, not belted. “I think people just need to try… and just experience,” Hans remarked.
I asked her to elaborate on what she meant by ‘good quality.’ Instead of luxury fabrics we would expect like silk and cashmere, she made a case that good quality also meant longevity. Hans said, “I do love cashmere but I stopped buying cashmere products because it’s so hard to take care of them… so I do think about those factors. If people do buy this, is it easy to wash or take care of?” I wholeheartedly agree with her philosophy; it might be a lot more closet-sustainable if you can wear it a hundred times rather than wear it only a few times before the delicate fabric tears, or having to endlessly pay for dry cleaning.
For many of us who are shop high and low, who pick up pieces at Forever 21 and occasionally drop a few bills at Holt’s, Woo To See You could be our new best friend. A beautiful black coat by Barcelona designer Nerea Lurgain retails at only $179 – a price which is nearly impossible to find in the mall let alone a Yaletown boutique. Anyone can afford to look unique here, as the store carries limited runs of each style.
When asked whether she misses fashion design, she said with a knowing smile, “I think I had fun with it but I am in a different place now. I have more fun curating pieces than making it. “
In the future, we will be seeing her own designs – although not in fashion. She and her husband, Justin, plan to start a lifestyle line (stationery, tote bags) named after his grandmother, Hilda, who had a passion for sewing.
“We’re really excited to do it! We just have to find some time to do it.”
Be sure to check out all the amazing designs at Woo To See You in Yaletown at 129 – 1208 Homer Street.
Words by Miranda Sam
Photos by DesireeAnne Holder
Please join us in welcoming DesireeAnne, Style by Fire’s first intern! We’re excited to have Des help us out as well as show her the ropes to the local fashion industry. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome girl!
My name is DesireeAnne, I am so excited to be apart of the Style by Fire team.
I grew up as your average tomboy girl on the cold prairies of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When I wasn’t at the hockey rink or the baseball diamond, I was gaming with my two older brothers at home. Needless to say, I was a bit of a jock! I ended up spending the past five years working with children with Autism. I learned so much about myself from working with such amazing kids, that they inspired me to follow my heart.
My life ended up taking a 180-degree turn, and I decided to pursue my new-found dream… FASHION! I packed up Gertrude (my 1990 Toyota Camry) and headed for the west coast. From lacing up my hockey skates and singing the alphabet in Kindergarten to scoring an internship at Holt Renfrew and discussing high-end designers at fashion school, it’s safe to say I have gone from one extreme to another. Now I can’t imagine living my life any other way.
I am currently attending John Casablancas Institute, taking a Fashion Business & Creative Arts diploma and am becoming more in love with fashion every day. I don’t know where I will end up in this exciting industry but there is something fascinating about the unknown. In the few months I have been in Vancouver, I have already met so many amazing people and I know this BIG city has so much to offer me. I am looking forward to sharing stories with you and continuing to learn about the exciting world of fashion!
Do you have specific fashion covets? And when I say specific, I mean you have a very clear vision of what this particular item looks like in terms of fabric, cut, colour, etc, in addition to how it looks on your body and how it makes you feel like the Queen of the world? And trying to find this very specific sartorial piece in the real world is an ongoing mission of indefinite time, and you’re not going to quit until it materializes because you’re just obsessively determined like that? I call these the Holy Grails of Fashion.
One of my many Grails has been the Sweater Dress. Conceptually to me, this item is the perfect solution to winter dressing; the fuzzy counterpart to the breezy summer dress. It is easy to wear and immediately stylish – just throw it on over your head, add a touch of bling around the neck, pull on knee high boots, and you’re set. They’re also incredibly comfortable, made of knit, jersey, or cotton with a touch of lycra, which move with you. Now the tricky part and what has made it to Holy Grail status for me is the fit. I have a naturally somewhat athletic figure, ie. not fashion model-boyish, which means the dress needs to cling to certain bits but not to others without adding too much overall bulk to the torso. Ideally it should be body skimming and create an hourglass shape. The neckline shouldn’t be too tight, but wider with a flattering shape to offset my wide face.
This specific dress has not been easy to find by any means. Over many years, I’ve settled for various not-quite-it versions which didn’t elevate me to Queen status. Instead, I would find myself a bit insecure and fidgety in them, constantly tugging here and there to try and re-direct the clingy areas. But I’ve never given up and always beeline to them whenever I make my shopping rounds.
On one of these rounds in early fall I was perusing Front & Co. on Main Street, my go to destination for retail therapy, when I came upon this charcoal grey Rachel Roy bias cut cotton/viscose blend dress. I tried it on and voila, had the Holy Grail of Sweater Dresses finally been found? Flattering wide neckline, check. Body skimming without too much bulk, check. Current and slightly edgy with an uneven hem, but basically timeless in style and colour, check. Sexy and yet still appropriate for the office, yes. And finally, at the $35 consignment price, it was a closer. Praise be to the Fashion Gods!
I have worn this dress several times to work and felt like the Queen of the office…except for the fact that after a few 8-hour days of wear, the knit started to loosen up and not spring back to its original shape, causing it to look increasingly baggy. I’m hoping that drycleaning will do the trick to bring back the shape; otherwise, there’s always a return to the quest for the Holy Grail…
Words by Aurora Chan
Photo by Lance Holroyd
Click here to watch the CTV interview.
This is kinda crazy, but it happened.
I received an interview request from CTV and a few short hours later reporter Shannon Paterson and I were shop-talking in front of Victoria’s Secret at Robson and Burrard – downtown Vancouver’s new retail hotspot. She found me via an article I had just written about Shoppers’ new BeautyBoutique for Retail Insider (check out their awesome website!).
I’m sitting in front of my computer and I still can’t believe this happened, and I’m really grateful that it did. I don’t think I would have even dared put a media appearance on this year’s list of resolutions!
Though my CTV interview might seem out of the blue, Style by Fire’s been 5+ years in the making. So I really shouldn’t be too surprised.
When I interned in New York, my uncle and I had many chats about life, career, politics, and other worldly things he was interested in. A lot of our conversations stayed with me, especially his open-minded views on work and opportunity. At the time, I was struggling to find a job in the States, and after realizing my degree wasn’t specialized enough to apply for work visas (ahem, like being a soil scientist), I got deeply discouraged.
Then with his lighthearted c’est la vie chuckle, he let me in on his secret: “Opportunity takes hard work… and luck. You need to work hard to prepare for something, and when opportunity strikes, you seize it.”
That’s exactly how I feel.
When I got the green light from my manager to take off early (DC you’re the best!), and confirmed with Shannon, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I went home, “clownified” my makeup for the camera, researched the latest downtown Vancouver retail stories, got some good advice from Retail Insider, made sure to wear something that stood out on camera, and walked into the interview knowing this was my opportunity to seize.
Thanks so much to the team at Retail Insider who gave me the opportunity to write that article!
This article was first posted on Retail Insider.
Sources tell us that Shoppers Drug Mart will open a 4,100 square foot standalone flagship BeautyBoutique in downtown Vancouver, next to the world’s second-largest Victoria’s Secret store. The street-level store will replace retailer ‘Off The Wall’ and will feature a Burrard Street frontage. It will compete with a new, massive Sephora store scheduled to open next winter on the 1000 block of Robson Street, only a couple hundred feet away.
Downtown Vancouver has several major cosmetic retail competitors, including Sephora. In addition to its current location at Pacific Centre, Sephora will also be opening one of its largest Canadian locations on Robson Street in the winter of 2014. Other competitors have either been upping their game or preparing for their entry into the Vancouver market. Hudson’s Bay, for example, has been putting much effort into the ongoing revitalization of its Downtown Vancouver flagship store. Its expanded cosmetics floor is close to an acre in size and is now the largest in Western North America. Holt Renfrew continues to show strong cosmetics sales, and future Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenuestores will even further increase competition for Downtown Vancouver’s cosmetics dollar.
With all of these different cosmetics retailers in Downtown Vancouver, it’s hard to say whether BeautyBoutique will create any extra excitement for Vancouver shoppers. Competition will be fierce. Shoppers Drug Mart already has an existing higher-end concept, Murale, though it hasshuttered two of eight locations across Canada. Let’s take a look at the differences between Murale and the new enhanced BeautyBoutiques, and how the new concept might prove successful.
For those unfamiliar with Murale, it is an offshoot brand launched in 2008 by Shoppers Drug Mart to move into the high-end cosmetics category. Murale’s brands include Bobbi Brown, Anna Sui, Cargo, Caudalie, Nars and more. These brands make a distinct differentiation between drug store brands such as Maybelline and L’Oréal, but share some crossover brands like Clinique and Stila. The store design is clean and minimal, with a lot of white space, and merchandising isn’t structured in aisles as in the drug store BeautyBoutiques.
Introduced in 2003, the in-store Shoppers Drug Mart BeautyBoutiques occupy prominent real estate, many of which have separate entrances to create a different experience for cosmetics lovers. The South Granville location in Vancouver, in particular, takes up the majority of the second floor of the neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart.
The new “enhanced” BeautyBoutique takes the in-store concept one step further by bringing in higher end brands (Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, for example) and stepping up the store design, which was inspired by a gift box, and the unravelling of a ribbon to reveal a gift. According to Shoppers, “The ribbon concept can be seen in the elements of the store design including the digital signage wrapped around the boutique and the finishing elements extending over the fixtures to the ceiling.” In a nutshell, it’s a Sephora-like experience.
If one high-end Shoppers beauty concept (Murale) didn’t work out, why would the company repeat similar efforts? One reason could be because a new store like Murale might have required stronger branding support for customers to understand its relationship to Shoppers Drug Mart. On the other hand, the new high-end beauty concept is also located separately from Shoppers, and it was a great idea to leverage off the existing BeautyBoutique name instead of creating a whole new brand like Murale, even though the BeautyBoutique brand seems strong enough on its own. According to Sandra Sanderson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Shoppers, in a Chain Drug Review article, when consumers heard about BeautyBoutique they already had the impression it was a separate store. We don’t know whether they had done similar research with Murale.
There’s also a direct correlation between Shoppers’ BeautyBoutiques and its popular Shoppers Optimum rewards program. This may be a key difference between it and Murale. If consumers didn’t know Murale was a Shoppers concept, for example, there would have been less incentive to shop there. This is especially the case since Sephora has a strong Beauty Insiders loyalty program. Lastly, we’ll have to see whether the new enhanced BeautyBoutique will help drive online sales, as Amazon, Walmart, and Sephora’s e-commerce platforms are highly competitive whereas cosmetics sold at Shoppers Drug Mart concepts rely heavily on foot traffic.
If the enhanced concept proves successful, it might be in Shoppers’ best interest to shutter the Murale chain and concentrate on what’s working. Either way, it will be interesting to see another beauty giant enter Downtown Vancouver’s retail landscape.
A while back, I stopped by the Citizen Grace and Eco Diva pop-up at The Chinatown Experiment. It was great meeting the lovely duo behind the online boutique: Christina Heemskerk and Shannon Heth. One of the best things that came out of visiting the pop-up was getting introduced to the Australian Bardot brand. The girls brought on the line in July 2013, and since I haven’t seen it at any Vancouver boutiques, I think we all need to head on over to the website to check out this brand. It’s got great detail and interesting prints – way to stand out from everyone else shopping at the mall.
Garcy Fry is the CEO of Eco Diva , an online boutique specializing in sustainable and luxurious beauty products. According to the website, her mother, founder Charlene Swanson Crawford believed in finding a better solution to makeup products and now runs the online store with her daughter. Not only are the products sustainable, the business also has a strong ethical foundation. Currently, a portion of the proceeds benefit one of four charities; with every purchase, you get to choose where your donated dollar goes toward.
The most interesting brand I came across was Kjaer Weis, which offers refillable eye shadow compacts. Check out the rest of the eye colours here on Eco Diva.
Photos + Words by Miranda Sam