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