Tag Archives: shopping in vancouver

Woo To See You: Unique Designs that Stretch Your Comfort Zone

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Words by Miranda Sam

Photos by DesireeAnne Holder

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Holy Grails of Fashion: The Sweater Dress

Photo by Lance Holroyd

Photo by Lance Holroyd

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.

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Photo by Lance Holroyd

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

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Filed under My Style, Shopping Blog

Betty’s Pop-Up Shop!

Betty's Pop Up Mar 21-22, 2013

Popping up during Vancouver Fashion Week, Betty Be Good by Suzanne Smith will be in Chinatown for 2 days only. Find coloured denim from $39 and cute tops from $12. Check out the pop-up shop and let me know if you find anything cool.

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Filed under BE SCENE, Sales

One Week Until Crate & Barrel Opens in Vancouver

Crate & Barrel Opening Date

Last year we got CB2 on Robson, this year we get the original Crate & Barrel. T minus one week until we get to experience it!

Crate & Barrel Opening Date in Vancouver

You gotta love the quirky and simple advertising!

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