Canadian Breakfast Club: It's time to transform the way we do Fashion
Fashion is unlike any other industry, though the originality in my saying this mimics the faux shock in revealing clouds are ice crystals. Fashion, to press further, looks something like a large bouquet of varying blooms as opposed to one single rose. To thrive in this industry, we need many eggs in many baskets, with each slice of self nestled safely between diverse areas of expertise. To be successful creatives, we ought to be proficient accountants, savvy marketers, well-versed in admissions of the human experience, internationally-faced, locally-sourced, as creative as Steve Jobs but as sharp as Wozniak.
The problem, at least in our experience, comes with the weight of these expectations, the necessity in being a jack of all trades while externally being pegged as a one-trick wonder. We thrive in the diversity of interpreting the human experience but suffer beneath the convenience of riding one route, repeating one cycle to make ends meet. This is not only prevalent in Canada (our population is about 10% the size of the United States, which makes for some frustrating funding issues), but across the globe - with digital influencers diversifying the playing field in the myriad of ways stories can be told, a mass amount of confusion has erupted. Young influencers still figuring themselves out have more of a following than historic magazines, populated with jaded editors and a constant response of "we don't have the budget for this."
On top of this bouquet of skills, it’s proven beneficial if we look a certain way. Once we’ve made ourselves look this way, we’re then processed, transmuted, filtered behind the scenes - by someone like me, perhaps - or a retoucher, a special donut-shaped beauty light, or the selection process where some team like ours whittles down more than a thousand images to a perfect, candid-seeming handful.
That’s fine; this is art! When such art is done correctly, it can be empowering and inspiring. Not only for me; but for you, the viewer...the subject themselves.
The thing is, it’s become rather easy to blitz through these steps, adopting a status quo in the swiftness that’s racist, a little sad, perhaps weary - like the gorgeous mid-century home which shaded you from the sun on your walk to work. It's old now, but was beautiful once; highly-functioning, the peak of the neighbourhood, the definition of "American dream." Over time, people started wanting different things, however. Trends changed, size started mattering less, eco-friendly crept up in preference over heavy gold leaf that got dusty too often. As customs changed, the house remained. Bones still standing, devoid of the life and potential we were used to, we still, out of habit, protect this house with a fatigued sort of obligation. That’s how a lot of us feel about fashion right now - it’s lost the lustre it once had.
Everyone knows there’s something wrong, something slack-eyed about the creative process. We seem to be swimming in dialogue only; brimming with words and adjectives and heavy sighs as we - however bedrudgingly - wake up, make our coffee and set about perpetuating the same semi-alive bullshit.
So, in this series, under this team, we decided to not do that, so long as we can help it.
We decided to humanize the model, to work under the thesis of making humans feel seen, enough, joyful in the aliveness of it all. Oftentimes, people vocalize a reality of the fashion industry as having to be aspirational to make money, to represent 1% percent of the population to appeal to the other 99. In a different time, this worked. In 2017, with our internal and external lenses absorbing so many shocking, saddening, and isolating visuals, it seems like a direct affront to allow even a pixel of life become the whole picture, to submit to an unnecessary carrot dangled in front of the precious viewfinder of life.
What’s next? Well, this. We want to hire models who are old enough - old enough to see themselves as beautiful without our validation, though we will vow to provide it regardless, for people are beautiful in the way they laugh, love and listen to their favourite songs. Jackie - the model in this series - is full of life and understanding. She knows her limits, her likes, and most importantly, she knows she is free, at any time, to stand on her own feet and use her voice in standing up for what is best for her. We look up to Jackie a lot.
When it came to beauty, our makeup artist Tami El Sombati got to the nucleus of the very essence of the word. I’d been a fan of hers long before a friendship hovered between us, and looking through her past work will - truly, this is in no way a hyperbole - make you feel the same. Tami used a small amount of product and focused on enhancing what made Jackie shine. Her skilled hands applied artisanal beauty brand Flores Boticario to Jackie’s lids, cupid’s bow and cheekbones throughout the shoot, part of our goal to showcase homegrown brands in a way that often isn’t done here in Canada; something cool, desirable, honest.
Our hair artist, Justin Rousseau, is one of the most conscious and gentle artists I know. He offers his home to clients every single day, which as soon as the sun rises, transforms into one of the most ethereal, whimsical salons in the city. It’s full of paintings, green plants and the safest air you could ever undergo a transformation - or a trim - in. Justin’s gift, to me, is in making people feel at home in their bodies; after a cut, I feel like his clients gaze in the mirror and see themselves; the versions of which they’d been searching for in the tops of cereal spoons, treetops, or the mirrored window of a passenger’s seat. Oftentimes people use the cliched marble slab analogy to describe an artist at work, but Justin is the first person I’ve met to warrant that. He makes honest shapes that move with you; a response to the questions your strands are asking.
Our photographer, Brandon, is my best friend. I like to think of him, sometimes, as a secret force for good in both my life and the fashion industry - his ability to make anyone feel safe and respected on set is something that, when combined with his talent for taking beautiful images, defines the method and modus operandi I cherish so much in high-caliber creatives. When people look for something to define a photographer by, more than anything I’d say they’re looking at how they treat their process, over how each shot is lit, styled, or framed. The best photographers can stay adaptive and fluid, with the one thing not compromised on being the quality of the kindness, conversation, and respect on set. Brandon’s mind is full of a ridiculous suitcase of things, be it astrophysics, the metaphysics of time, or the twenty seven concepts he has archived away for the right opportunity. It is that diversity which gives him his edge.
Bottom line, the five of us are able to learn, listen, and laugh off of one another in a way that is productive and working to reflect a day well spent - infusing our good intentions into a piece that boomerangs love to the viewer.
We hope we’ve inspired you. We’re just getting started.