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Macy’s embraces diversity with modest line for Muslim women

Macy’s announced their intention to sell a modest clothing collection that would target Muslim women. The Verona Collection will feature “versatile, ready-to-wear pieces including maxi dresses, tops, cardigans, pants and hijabs in a variety of colours and fabrics.”

“Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It’s a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and outside,” said Lisa Vogl, founder of Verona Collection, in a statement. “Macy’s has been an amazing partner, helping us strengthen the foundation of our business through The Workshop at Macy’s and now introducing our brand to their consumers through this collaboration.”

Vogl said she converted to Islam in 2011 and had difficulty finding both modest and fashionable clothing in regular outlet stores. She invested $7,000 in her own online company, selling her own line while acting as businesswoman and photographer. Vogyl is a graduate of Macy’s The Workshop, a retail vendor development program supported by the department chain.

“Through The Workshop at Macy’s, we want to nurture and support minority- and women-owned businesses to build their capabilities and become the next generation of retail partners,” said Shawn Outler, Macy’s executive vice president – Licensed Businesses, Food Services and Multicultural Initiatives. “We are truly encouraged by the successes of our graduated businesses, including Verona Collection, and look forward to hosting a new class of participants this spring.”

Not everyone is thrilled about the decision. Feminists are torn — with some applauding Macy’s commitment to diversity in fashion and others criticizing the oppressive background of the hijab. The latter is causing a number of people to boycott the department store.

Verona Collection ranges in price from $12.95 to $84.95 and will be available at macys.com beginning February 15.

What do you think of Macy’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!

Quebec passes bill prohibiting the niqab while using public services

Wednesday, Quebec’s National Assembly passed a law that will prohibit women from wearing the niqab while using public services.

Bill 62, ironically called the religious neutrality bill, bans public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. This ban also extends to using public transportation.

It should also be noted that those who voted against the bill did so because they didn’t think it went far enough. They wanted to extend the ban to include people of authority, like judges and police officers.

To be incredibly clear: if a woman choses to wear the niqab for religious reasons, she will no longer be allowed to work as a teacher, doctor, or government agent. She will also not be able to use any of the services provided by these people and will not be able to take the bus to get there if she finds someone sympathetic to her beliefs.

The bill carefully avoids using the terms niqab or burka, and specifically says people must have their “face uncovered”, and claims this includes people who wear masks to protest. However, there are very few instances where a face would be covered and it is easy to deduce what population is being targeted by this law.

People can apply for an “exemption” to the rule; however the bill also specifies the religious accommodation “is consistent with the right for equality between women and men”, which would most likely rule out the niqab. The bill also says that “the accommodation must be reasonable in that it must not impose undue hardship with regard to, among other considerations, the rights of others, public health and safety, the effects on the proper operation of the body, and the costs involved.” This makes exemptions extremely subjective and difficult to receive.

The best part of the bill is the little disclosure at the end that says: “The measures introduced in this Act must not be interpreted as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history.”

Honestly, if I was a politician in Quebec, I wouldn’t want this bill affecting the history or culture of my province either. It paints an absolutely despicable picture similar to other fascist countries.

I’m not a big fan of the niqab. Most women aren’t. But, I would never force a woman who chooses to wear one to remove it. I would also never prevent a woman from taking the bus or from picking up her child at school because of what she is wearing. This is not a security issue or a communications issue. This is racism in its simplest form. This is a group of people afraid of someone who dresses a bit differently. The law does not encourage “religious neutrality” as the government claims. It doesn’t prevent people from wearing a cross or a yarmulke on the bus or at the doctor’s office. It directly attacks one religion over others.

Personally, I’m hoping someone brings this bill to the Supreme Court. Quebec politicians should be ashamed at the blatant discrimination they just enacted in to law.

This is not my Canada. Is it yours?

The law is affective immediately.

Simons backing Save the Arctic tee-shirt campaign

Melting arctic ice is an alarming indicator of global warming affecting our planet.

Canada is considered a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the world’s efforts don’t seem to be enough to combat global warming. The world has become increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change, so once again a Canadian company, Simons, is at the forefront in bringing awareness, while demonstrating innovative ideas that could help our unhealthy planet moving forward.

Simons held a special event at their Park Royal South Store in West Vancouver to celebrate Earth Day. In collaboration with Greenpeace and Eco Fashion week, they officially launched Save the Arctic t-shirt created by fashion designer and activist Vienne Westwood. Westwood is passionate about environmental issues and is bringing awareness to the cause with her Save the Arctic tee-shirt campaign.

The tee-shirt design was created in 2015 as part of Westwood’s photography exhibit, with such Hollywood luminaries as George Clooney being one of several movie stars seen wearing them. The April Simons launch was attended by select media and VIP’s to support the cause. Pamela Anderson, a former Baywatch star, environmentalist and Greenpeace supporter, was one of the speakers, along with Myriam Laroche, founder of Eco Fashion Week, and Vice President of Marketing, Phillipe Normand of Simons, the leading fashion retailer supporting sustainability.

In a phone interview with Normand at his Quebec City office, he talked about Save the Arctic, which is now a national campaign, and other sustainability projects his company is involved with this year. Simons first opened its doors as a dry foods store in 1840, and since 1952, became Quebec’s fashion retailer, known today as La Maison Simons. The head office is in Quebec City, with 12 stores across Canada.

“The Save the Arctic tee-shirt campaign is still running and it spread like wildfire,” Normand said. The garment is made from organic cotton, with all proceeds from sales going to Greenpeace.

With the fashion industry generally known as one of the worst polluters, Simons is making a difference by creating brands that meet sustainability and environmental standards. “We do a sustainability review of (all) our fabric suppliers, not only in Canada,” said Normand. Simons’ other sustainability projects include an August launch of power stations for electric cars to be installed in the parking lot at their Edmonton store. They will also introduce LED lighting in the store, which will greatly reduce their electricity needs. “We encourage people to submit project ideas. We want to be involved as a hands-on community organization,” says Normand.

Westwood created the tee-shirt design exclusively for Simons in North America. As a fashion giant in the industry, Simons is making its mark in sustainability projects, from Save the Arctic tee-shirt campaign, to solar panel projects and much more. How will you step up?

 

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @christineruns

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Fall fashion #trending: oversized clothing is in!

I love the fall — pumpkin spice lattes, the changing of the leaves, and of course the return of cute boots. It is the one season you don’t have to worry about pouring rain, watery sludge, or below-freezing storms. Not to mention the sweltering heat wave this summer has brought us.

This changing of the seasons also signifies the end of shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits — all of the nice, but tight, fashion styles. Am I the only one ready for the return of jeans, light overcoats, and scarves? But, to my incredible delight, the biggest trend this fall is oversized clothing. That’s right, you can now flatter your body under comfortable, yet fashionable, layers.

Here are a few examples of top trending oversized outfits for this fall:

The Poncho: No, these ponchos are not water proof, but they are fashionable! These ponchos act like a blazer or overcoat, and can be worn with tank tops, t-shirts, and long-sleeve tops. They can add style, texture, and colour to your outfit. Depending on the style, they can also be appropriate for work as well as a casual outing with friends. The best part? Ponchos have the added benefit of being incredibly comfortable and flattering for all body types.

Le Chateau, $89.95
Le Chateau, $89.95

 

The Sweater: Who doesn’t love an oversized sweater? These items usually fall well below the hip and can be worn with pants or leggings depending on the length. If these sweaters are light and a bit short, try to layer it with a blouse or a tank top of a different colour. If it is long, try to wear it with your hair up and a chunky necklace. These sweaters are great for long-hour work days, outings with friends, or a casual walk on a cool fall evening.

MANGO, $309.95
MANGO, $309.95

 

The Suit: Gone are the days of tight pants and blazers that push your breasts forward. This fall business style is all about comfort. Loose pants and a top to match, maybe paired with a belt or some colourful jewelry, will make a true statement in the boardroom. The outfit extremely comfortable — allowing you to move, stretch and sit — and no one will tell you “no” when you are dressed to impress.

Zara
Zara

 

The Blouse: Heading to the market or going on a walk with your beau? The long blouse or plaid shirt is making yet another come back. Simple, comfortable, and stylish, you can’t really go wrong with this choice. Pair it with a single-coloured jacket, some skinny jeans or leggings, and a pair of boots within the same colour scheme and you have the perfect fall date outfit.

Aritzia, $110
Aritzia, $110

The Trousers: I’m in love with these trousers! Sleek and stylish, they take comfortable business style to a whole new level. They generally flare out at the thigh, creating a straight edge look that really works with either heels or flats. A lot of boutiques now carry these trousers — in multiple colours and styles. Just remember not to pair patterns with patterns when choosing a top.

Zara, $69.90
Zara, $69.90

The Wrap: Wear whatever you want, and then cover yourself in these beautiful bohemian wraps. Part poncho, part blanket, these wraps are perfect for evenings. Twist it to create a scarf, wrap it around your shoulder like a pashmina. The possibilities are truly endless. Something like this would be great for cold offices. Leave it at work and remain stylish while warm!

Three Bird Nest, $56 + shipping
Three Bird Nest, $56 + shipping

 

What are you wearing this fall? Let us know in the comments below!

FAT fashion transcends gender and culture definitions

“Please be seated. The show will begin in five minutes.”

I sat down in my front-row seats — which I sneaked into after certain sponsors decided not to show up — excited to experience the world of high-fashion. The blaring bass pounded as the music started up and the models started to walk down the runway in their high heels and strategically placed outfits. The confidence these men and women exuded while on the runway was varied — there may have been some amateur models in the mix, but everyone did well and there were no falls. Each day was different, with various performers gracing the stage and designers showcasing their beautiful pieces of art.

Fashion Art Week (FAT) is a week-long annual event that features live performances, art installations, and, of course, fashion shows and film. I attended three of the five nights and was incredibly impressed. Some of the outfits were not my taste, but it was fascinating to see how each designer interpreted this year’s theme: “Dress Codes.”

The theme was meant to express how fashion plays a role in a person’s identity and culture. The models strutting down the runway were both male and female, wearing an assortment of outfits that may, or may not, have met the stereotypical definition of what a man and a woman should be wearing. The designs transcended these gender definitions, and this proved quite refreshing. Men walked down the runway in heels, women went barefoot, and everyone modelled the lingerie.

Tuesday night’s ode to Bowie was especially memorable. The collection was designed by Evan Biddell, a Saskatoon-born designer and entitled “Rebel”, a fitting label for the show. Now, I call it a show because with the lights and background music (a compilation of Bowie’s greatest hits), full makeup and ziggy-esque outfits, it was quite the remembrance. There was no better way to represent this year’s theme then to acknowledge Bowie’s brave and iconic representation of sexuality.

Some of my favourite designers displayed a more casual collection. Designer Sun Sun, for example, used the slogan “Custom Androgynous Comfortable Clothing for anyone” to describe her collection. The designs were much more urban and the fabrics chosen were patterned black and white. Above everything else, the models had fun walking down the runway. Most smiled, struck poses, and literally bounced to the beat as they strutted. It probably helped that they were all wearing flat shoes. Friday night featured Padina Bondar, a Toronto-based designer whose work centers around the female reproduction system. It sounds a bit disturbing, but it was actually quite beautiful. The dresses were absolutely breathtaking, and I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat to see how they would make pregnancy and menstruation into such a work of art.

Every designer showcased something quite different and unique, which ultimately was what this year’s theme was all about: fashion isn’t gendered, rather it’s expressive of personality, creativity, and individuality.

Despite the long wait between shows, I enjoyed my time at FAT. What I loved most was the creative atmosphere. Guests would walk up to each other and compliment their outfits (most said they made them themselves), asking what colour of lipstick they were sporting, and cheering loudly after each performance. After speaking with some of the designers and guests, most said this was the biggest difference between FAT and Toronto Fashion Week — the atmosphere and the focus on art and photography as an element of fashion.

What about the fashion trends? Here are some of the observations from the night:

  • Pastels are just as popular as bold colours: About half of the designers chose to use light-coloured fabrics or pastel themes. There were a lot of whites, pinks, and light blues. There was an understated elegance in these collections. In contrast, most of the lingerie was darker and bolder.
  • Short in the front, long in the back: Many of the skirts and dresses had a flowing silhouette or a sheer train that followed the “short in the front and longer in the back” mantra. Personally, I loved the movement this type of design created.
  • Texture is our friend: Bold jewellery and chunky designs was a recurring motif throughout the week. Crinoline was used to give the shorter dresses some pouf while bows, flowers, and belts were used to provide texture on seemingly normal black dresses. It’s all about the accessories ladies.

To be honest, my favourite part about covering FAT was dressing up myself. As someone who works in an office most of the day, my typical office-wear includes a nice pair of pants and a light top/cardigan combination. This gave me the opportunity to test some of the lesser-used tops in my closet, including a flowing butterfly shawl with tassel and my dark purple lipstick.

 

What do you think of these designs? Let us know in the comments below!

Blaze up! Six business looks for the winter

Are you going to a job interview? An important meeting with a client? Maybe even a work party? In this uncertain weather, it’s hard to commit to heels and a pencil skirt. Instead, try a blazer with a patterned or brightly coloured shirt.

But, blazers are a bit boring and dull, aren’t they? Wrong! The blazer is the perfect accessory — it can be incredibly professional, powerful, sexy, and it can have as much personality as the person who wears it. Here are some options for those of you who think the only way you can wear a blazer is with a pencil skirt or a well-tailored power suit.

The free falling blazer: This type of blazer has a classic notch collar and boyfriend styling, making it the perfect accessory for both a business meeting and a night out. It is perfect for women that are petite or who have curves, because there is no need to button it up. Let your blazer hang loosely, and professionally.

Le Chateau, $89.95
Le Chateau, $89.95

The academic: Nerdy is in! Try your hand at some tweed, corduroy, or a blazer with some coloured elbow patches. This look is clean, professional, and adds just a bit of cheek into your wardrobe. Your colleagues will see you as smart, clean, with a little bit of edge.

Zara, $89.90
Zara, $89.90

The vest: Some may say the vest is “out of fashion”, but I say otherwise! Pair it with a blouse or a funky longer shirt. Wear it open for a more relaxed, artsy look, or button it up with a skinny tie for a chic business look. For women with a bit of shape, a blazer can be daunting — the sleeves are either too small, and then if they fit your arms, the shoulders look like they swallowed you whole. The vest is the perfect compromise.

Convey, $258.00
Convey, $258.00

The crop: Not all blazers have to look…well, like blazers. This cropped and zippered jacket works in a business setting or an afternoon with friends. It will make you look chic, elegant, and put together. The best part about these neutral coloured blazers is that you can pair it with a high patterned legging or pant and heels for a more polished look.

Additionelle , $120
Additionelle , $120

The pattern: Luckily, there are a lot of options for those who may not like the traditional blue, black, or brown suit jacket. This type of blazer is a lot more feminine, and features a strong collar and a zipper instead of the typical round buttons. This type of blazer would look amazing with a pair of dark jeans and converse shoes, or a pair of fitted black dress pants and heels.

Judith and Charles, $237,50
Judith and Charles, $237,50

The wild: Need a little more colour in your life? Try one of these multi-coloured blazers. I don’t suggest wearing them with a patterned shirt, but they are the perfect compromise for those with a bit of a wild and fun side. It looks professional, but doesn’t scream “I live in a cubical.”

Aritzia, $90
Aritzia, $90

Do you have a favourite blazer in your closet? Describe it or send in a picture using the comments below!