Tag Archives: vancouver fashion

MITMUNK: Not Your Average Legging


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

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Style by Fire featured on CTV News!

Miranda CTV 2

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!

xo, Miranda

PS Watch the interview on CTV!

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Shoppers Drug Mart to open flagship Beauty Boutique in Downtown Vancouver

Shoppers Drug Mart BeautyBoutique Beauty Boutique Vancouver Burrard Street Colin Arber Retail Insider

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.

BeautyBoutique layout

Shoppers first debuted its high-end enhanced BeautyBoutique concept last year at Toronto’s Bayview Village Shopping Centre; the second opened in the Toronto EatonCentre this past summer.

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.

Shoppers 1

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.

Shoppers 2

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.

Shoppers 3

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.

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Sale Alert: Obakki Warehouse Sale

Obakki Warehouse Sale

It’s sample sale season! Get your cash ready for Obakki. So why did we choose to have our anniversary dinner tonight?! Guess I’ll have to suck it up and see what’s left tomorrow.


  • What | Obakki Warehouse Sale
  • Where | 201-135 West 7th Ave
  • Friday, November 1 – 11am – 8pm
  • Saturday, November 2 | 10am – 4pm
  • Payment | Cash, debit, Visa, Mastercard
  • Why | Great styles, great deals

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Jarder Productions Celebrates Launch with a Local Fashion Show

Mark Jarder and his team at  Jarder Productions launched their brand new production company on October the 26th, at the Waterfall Building in Vancouver. Jarder Productions provides services for photography, videography, and publishing. The event was a fun fashion night out for the guests, as the dress code was “black tie” for the gents and “LBD” for the ladies. After the main speeches by Mark Jarder, and the company’s charity partner, The Looking Glass Foundation, a 3-part fashion show ensued.

Hummelle Design

Tira Hummelle of Hummelle Design is an Albertan native, and recent graduate of the Visual College of Art and Design. Her collection had a light ethereal flow, and would be great for making a splash at summertime events. I could very well imagine celebrities wearing them in Miami partying the night away. Although not pictured here, the backsides of most of her looks had interesting details too. For example, the black dress although modest in the front actually has a necklace-like drop chain in the back, fully bringing attention to the wearer’s ‘sexy back.’

Hive Mind Millinery

Dominique Hanke of Hive Mind Millinery always puts on a good show. This time around, she featured her mens collection. It’s always refreshing to see mens fashion on the runway, and especially when it comes to accessories. Hive Mind Millinery fedoras and top hats are the perfect addition to any dapper look. One female model came down the runway in a bowler hat, showing that range in the designs; a more adventurous woman who dares explore her masculine side can also rock Dominique’s mens collection.

Darius John Designs

Darius Tuliao is one of the most chill and relaxed designers we’ve met. His cool, calm demeanour shows a quiet confidence that we don’t see much of in this fast-paced industry. He sent an all-black fall/winter 2013 collection called ‘Raven’ down the runway from his Darius John Designs label. Although something else always seems to be the ‘new black,’ the designs were fabulous: it was classic, modern, with a touch of edgy.

Take for example the second look that had nicely draped gold chains at the hip to embellish a black pencil skirt, with a sheer blouse matched on top. A crowd favourite was the cashmere coat with larger Red Riding styled hood. I couldn’t help myself but just had to try on this jacket! So we went backstage and Darius helped me into it. Unfortunately I’m not as tall as the model, but it’s still a solid piece. While we were back there, we got to see the construction of the pieces up close, and each piece was flawlessly well made. This up and coming designer was scouted to show at RAW Vancouver and we can’t wait to see what he’s got in store next season!

Jarder Productions Launch

Mark Jarder by Xelha Rivera, Jarder Productions

Mark Jarder by Xelha Rivera, Jarder Productions

What makes Jarder Productions different from other production companies in Vancouver? It’s a solid ethical code Mark and his team have created that I believe will set them apart. As you may or may not know, a lot of work and activities that go on in the entertainment industries are unregulated. There are no laws that protect models nor are there established industry associations in Vancouver.

Here are a set of values that Jarder Productions stand for: Mutually Beneficial, Fair Trade (fair trade of value for products and services), Equality in the Workplace, Free of Sexual Harrassment, and Making a Difference. I think it’s great that the team has included these values as part of the company’s foundation, as these ideas always seem to be overlooked. We look forward to seeing positive change come from Jarder Productions.

I want to start by changing the culture in our industries in Vancouver. If you put all of your resources, assets, and networks towards a similar goal, things will change”, says Mark Jarder, CEO and Founder of Jarder Productions.

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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Jennyfleur Loves Farewell Shopping Party

Jennyfleur Closing Party-6

Jennyfleur Loves is a women’s fashion boutique that’s called Yaletown home over the past three years.  Owners Jennifer Gray and Shaughnessey Chow-Domos have decided to bid farewell to Yaletown and look for new digs. In the meantime, customers can still get their shopping fix via their online store.

JL held one last shopping party on October 24th to mark the end of a chapter and the beginning of the next with wine and appetizers, as well as major slashing of prices on most items in the store.  Browsing its intimate interior, it is apparent that JL specializes in unique funky pieces that bring out the rocker in you.  My friend Shay Lhea and I immediately noticed a pair of denim shorts by the UK brand Bitching and Junkfood which was covered in black straps and included a modified garter.  How often does one come across shorts that have their own built-in lingerie-like detailing?

Jennyfleur Closing Party-10

Shay tried on a two-piece dress, also by the same UK brand, which made her look like a slinky million bucks, and what do you know, the print on it consisted of rows of Japanese yen bills.  I bought a silver bustier by Nameless Apparel for a steal deal which will be featured in a future post.

Sorry to see JL leave but looking forward to see it pop up again in a new location!

Photos + Words by Aurora Chan

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Wear Else Gift Card Bonus

Wear Else Gift Card Bonus


  • What | Wear Else Gift Card Bonus
  • Where | Any of their locations
  • When | Oct 24 – 27
  • Why | Receive up to 33% of what you spend in gift cards!

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Lunch With Maria: A Fashionable Event That Means Serious Business

Jason Matlo-10

Jason Matlo showed his collection at the Ladies Who Lunch event on October 19th, 2013 at the Arbutus Club. As always, Matlo never disappoints with ultra-feminine styles that really work to highlight a woman’s body. I’ve always loved how his designs can have a bit of couture, such as the Valentino-like bow on the one-shoulder LBD, and at the same time are so wearable. Matlo mentioned this was the first time he’s really worked with accessories, with the show accessorized with Stella&Dot jewelry. As much as I love minimalism, the jewelled necklaces and bangles brought the look to another level.

The Spring/Summer 2014 collection marks his 10th year in the fashion business. What has allowed him to be successful in such a volatile industry? “Success is basically hanging on when everyone else has let go,” he says. He also commended the women part of his team who helped him along the way, “Behind every great man, there’s a series of great women.”

We were invited to Maria Kritikos’  Ladies Who Lunch event mainly to cover the Jason Matlo fashion show, and we went away with so much more. Hosted by Fashion TV host, Mandy J Ross, the theme of the event was “Secrets to Success.” A great lineup of speakers shared their golden nuggets of wisdom with a high-profile crowd of female entrepreneurs, consultants, and philanthropists, and fashion media.

Highlights from the speakers include Jennifer Halinda, who became Executive Director of Dress for Success Vancouver this spring. After losing her job, she kept volunteering at DFS, knowing she was going to make make some changes in her life, and make a difference in the lives of other women. She asked the crowd to look into themselves and posed the question: “If all jobs paid the same, what would you be doing?”

Next up, Tracey Drake, Editor in Chief of Niche Magazine spoke about a pivotal moment in her life when she decided at age 10 that she wanted to be in the magazine business. This inspiring woman had previously worked as a business consultant who has had experience helping many companies with their initial public offerings (IPO). She believes that success is composed of your natural DNA and personal IPO (Integrity. Passion. Opportunity). “Like the little black dress… women of integrity never go out of style,” said Tracey.

Last but not least, Miss Canada, Casar Jacobson told the story of the flipside of success, and is it really failure? This former farm girl told stories about how she forgot her own name on stage, and even tripped on stage during pageants. But it was the tripping and falling that allowed her to learn. “I’ve never done anything in my life without first failing… failure is a stepping stone,” she said.

It was an afternoon of connections, feeling powerful as women, getting inspired, and what I personally felt and had also overheard another woman say: Love. Maria Kritikos somehow got together a roomful of strangers, and turned the atmosphere into a supportive, loving environment – kudos to this creative catalyst!

Photos by Aurora Chan

Words by Miranda Sam

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Sale Report: Skout Sample Sale 2013

I always get excited when I receive notification of Skout Agency’s annual warehouse sale. Over the years I’ve scored numerous gems at steal deal prices.  This year’s sale features a variety of brands, including Colcci, Darling, Pinkstitch, and Funktional, all at 50 to 70% off retail.  The extra perk is they only carry one of each piece, generally in the S/M range.

Taking a quick survey of the room, the Bedstu leather belts caught my eye right away. They looked solidly constructed and classic in style, perfect for any variety of pants and such an amazing price.  I also noticed a great selection of supercute dresses that could suit any number of occasions, from an evening out at a lounge to a Christmas party.  I loved a white flirty dress from Lucca Couture (pictured), which featured interesting cut-out detailing and flattering hemline.

Skout Sale-1

Photo of Aurora by Joy Castro

I was about to leave when a long white sheer shirt caught my eye.  Ever since spotting girls wearing long flowy sheer skirts this summer, I’ve been coveting something similar of my own.  And there it was calling my name, made by the brand Covet, how about that.  I tried it on and loved the light elegant feeling it gave me as the tail rippled behind me as I walked.  I see it as being a very versatile piece that works equally well as a cover over a dress, and as a casual shirt underneath a vest and paired with jeans.  I wore it right away that night on top of a leopard print dress and topped off with a black leather jacket (pictured).  Love!

Skout Sale-6

The Skout Warehouse Sale is one not to miss if you’re looking for standout unique and generally dressier pieces to add to your wardrobe.  And don’t forget to check out the selection of shoes, handbags, and accessories as well.  Can’t wait for the next one!

PS. You can still make it to the sale too!


  • What | Skout Agency Warehouse Sale
  • When | Friday, Oct 18th 10am – 8pm | Saturday, October 19th 12 – 4pm
  • Where | 130-1355 Parker St, Vancouver

Sale photos and words by Aurora Chan


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A Night of Haute Hat Fashion: Hive Mind Millinery

Hive Mind SS14-10

The first time we met Dominique Hanke, we noticed her great style. Then afterwards, we also noticed she was the creator behind the stylish hats she’s always seen sporting. So we were definitely excited to receive an invite to our first ever hat fashion show!

The Hive Mind Millinery 2014 Couture and Men’s collections took place October 16th at the Frontier Flooring Services space. And I kid you not, the space looked more like an artist’s studio than your typical flooring centre, and a great backdrop to Dominique’s show.

The models not only sported fabulous hats, but were also styled meticulously by EFW Value Village Thrift Chic Challenge stylist, Kenneth Wyse. A neutral colour palette with some styles selected from Evan Ducharme’s EFW 68 Pound Challenge served as a beautiful canvas to feature the hats.

I think everyone at the show was in agreement that the couture collection was really something special! Carefully crafted geometric designs created a beautiful veil that still allowed onlookers to see the wearers’ pretty faces. Acascading ruffled fabric take on the fascinator also held a lot of visual appeal. And the piece de resistance very well might have been the couture take on the beekeeper’s hat: a wider brim and rows of beads created a modern statement piece.

Dominique did a great job on putting so much fun into an accessory that needs a big revival in Vancouver. Keep up the great work, and we’re looking forward to having more hat fashion shows under our belt!

*Update Oct 21, 2013: The article had previously mentioned the clothing was from Evan Ducharme, but was in fact curated by Kenneth Wyse. 

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