Why Fashion Shouldn’t Be Fast

As the gifting giving season rapidly approaches, we want to take a moment and address an issue that is seriously affecting both consumers & retailers…”Fast Fashion”. This is a term coined to describe a current trend in fashion, aimed at ensuring that consumers buy as many garments as possible, as frequently as possible. With the rise of online retailers such as RoseGal and Dresslily, that sell their garments at ridiculously low prices, consumers have come to expect these prices without the thought of the consequences.  But are these garments truly a great price? We want to explain what Fast Fashion really means and why it’s too good to be true.

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With cheap and rapid overseas production allowing some retailers to release styles weekly, Fast Fashion’s goal is to make the consumer feel out of style after the first few wears. Yes, that top may be $20, but there might easily be 100+ pieces to purchase by the end of the season. It’s not much of a deal if you feel obligated to buy every week, just to feel on trend.

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Which leads us to another point – Fast Fashion is literally designed to fall apart about as quickly as it’s purchased. Retailers know that if their garments fall apart, it will give the consumer a reason to purchase something new. Deliberately poor quality/low grade fabrics are not only dishonest but also lead to much unneeded waste, with an estimated 68 lbs of textiles per American, finding its way into landfills each year.

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These cheap materials often include chemicals such as petroleum & heavy metals like lead. In addition to being potentially harmful to your health, these materials take decades (at the detriment of our environmental footprint) to decompose. In short, by participating in Fast Fashion, you are guaranteed an inferior piece of clothing.

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If that’s not enough to deter you, we would be remiss not to address the ethical repercussions of supporting Fast Fashion. In addition to cost-cutting measures like poorly graded Plus Size designs (or excluding Plus sizes altogether) Fast Fashion also manages their bottom line by contracting factories overseas that do not have and uphold employment standards like here in Canada. This leads to extremely unfair wages and poor working conditions, in addition to the illegal use of “informal workers” that work from their homes in some of the poorest regions of the world. This unfortunately also includes children; Children whose small fingers are more cost-effective for companies to employ, than purchasing the expensive machines required to sew on embellishments such as beads and sequins. In fact, if you purchase a relatively inexpensive garment with beads and sequins, they were almost certainly sewn on by children.

As we’ve spoken about in the past, Diane Kennedy prides itself on its commitment to Eco-friendly, ethical practices in every facet of our company. From using local factories and Canadian employees to manufacture our line, to sourcing sustainable textiles such as our signature bamboo fabric. We believe that high end fashion simply cannot be synonymous with “cheap” and we understand that a good quality garment will be quality controlled and can stand by their factory’s standards.

Unless you’re purchasing from a company that is transparent about where and how they manufacture their garments, you cannot be sure that you’re purchasing guilt-free, quality clothes. It is a little-known fact that many outlet stores (Like Winners, TJMaxx, Marshall’s, to name a few) do not actually sell a brand’s out of season pieces or excess stock; In actuality, an outlet’s broker deals with large brand names, in order to put designer labels on the cheaply made clothing manufactured in their own low-quality factories.

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We hope that this peek behind Fashion’s curtain has helped educate on the negative effect that Fast Fashion has on the global community and industry. It is time we all slowed down and made a conscious decision to be more thoughtful about what we wear.

Diane Kennedy; Plus Size Model

What to do when there’s one new style that comes in last at the end of the season, when there’s no Plus Size Model around? It’s called the Pendrell Tunic and it’s last to come in, partly because of the extra time it took to embroider the scarf panel. It’s a charming image familiar to those living on the West Coast, that of the Pacific Blue Heron. I decided that I needed to put it on and be the plus size model, myself. 

I remember several years back, one of my California retailers said to me, “…you should be the model!”. I knew she was serious. I am my own target market; A middle-aged female, plus size, with a career and a grown son. I’m 51, size 1x and 5’2″. Many of my customers fit a similar profile. So, I decided to doll up and get in front of the camera. 

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We chose several rich shades of teal blue, highlighted with silver and salmon for the embroidery thread. Thank you to my charming and talented assistant, Tatyana, for her beautiful artwork. It was inspired by the lovely deco images on the Marine building in downtown Vancouver. For more info on our embroidery and inspiration, please check out our blog post, Embroidery Threads. 

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I love the new Pacific Pant I’m wearing with the Pendrell Tunic, too. Admittedly, I needed some very high heels to make the length and proportion work. A classically tall, Plus Size Model I am not! Perhaps there needs to be a new category; Petite Plus Size Model.

Still, I love the outfit; I’m fond of wearing one colour from top to bottom, it gives a very long ‘lean’ look. Also, I can’t help but mention how comfortable this outfit is, It’s like wearing the softest PJ’s all day. 

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It never hurts to climb out of your comfort zone, and I’m speaking of modelling. I know it’s ideal for you, as the customer, to be able to see what an article of clothing on someone of a similar size and proportion. So perhaps you’ll see more of Diane Kennedy, the Plus Size Model, in the future.

Diane Kennedy, eco-fashion, plus size clothing, made in canada,

Embroidery Threads – Inspired Design

img_0603If you read my blog a couple months ago, you may know our 2016 Fall/Winter collection for Diane Kennedy was inspired by our beautiful city of Vancouver.  When I decided to use Vancouver as the aesthetic anchor point for this collection,  there was one building in particular that I definitely wanted to draw inspiration from, The Marine Building.  Once considered the tallest skyscraper in the city, The Marine Building is a breathtaking architectural beauty; covered inside & out with gorgeous Art Deco style, marine-themed imagery built right into the facade. I knew that I had to include it in this collection. It was the many intricate details in the architecture that prompted me to turn it into a beautiful form of textile art; embroidery.

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The activities of the new season begins with inspiration boards, colour ideas and reference pictures.  Later come choices such as design bodies and fabric.  My design assistant, Tatyana, having a lovely talent for drawing, helped take this marvellous inspiration we had amassed and turn it into a assortment of sketches. We then turned to a local Embroidery company to turn our vision into reality. It’s always important to me to support local businesses.

I want to share our evolution from inspiration to sketch, through the embroidery process, all the way to the final garment with you.

The Alberni Tunic

Named after a street in Coal Harbour (the neighborhood where The Marine Building is located), The Alberni Tunic is as modern & urban as its namesake. It features a crew neck as well as an asymmetrical, contrasting hem and handy pocket. The striking melange of bold geometric shapes and  stylized imagery from the brass elevator doors of the Marine Building became the basis for this feature embroidery design. The pocket was the perfect place to add this special detail.

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The Renfrew Tunic

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A new take on one of our comfiest shirts, The Soft Shirt, our Renfrew Tunic has the same fit and a wider placket, featuring a touch of elegant embroidery. We chose to take inspiration from the Marine Building’s striking facade and created a vertical image similar to those surrounding the main entrance doors.  The Merlot colourway features black embroidery, while the black features a more subtle antique silvery taupe thread.

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The Pendrell Tunic – Coming Soon!

 

The Pendrell Tunic is a new design this season which features some of our signature asymmetrical details at the neckline, seaming and hemline. The built-in side ‘scarf’ became the placement for another inspired embroidery design. Among the marine images on the building was a particularly beautiful image of a bird, we think a partridge.  We decided to use a more recognisable bird that is a frequent visitor to the coast of Vancouver, The Great Blue Heron. So here we combined the details of the architecture and our stately bird into our final design.  Vancouver can boast as home to North America’s largest urban colonies of the Pacific Great Blue Herons, but indeed Herons are common all along the Pacific coast.

This tunic will be available for purchase Mid-November!

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We hope you enjoy these tunics and our lovely embroidery as much as we enjoyed designing them!
Check out these tunics and all our New Arrivals here!

Diane Kennedy, eco-fashion, plus size clothing, made in canada,

 

Sizes For Every Body

dianekennedy_foreverybody_blog Here at Diane Kennedy, we pride ourselves on exceptional fit. With such a luxurious fabric like our signature bamboo knit, we aim to design styles that compliment its graceful drape. In order to ensure that each look fits perfectly, we always design two different patterns; one first for plus sizes (from 0X to 3X) and a corresponding pattern (with appropriate proportions) for regular sizing (from Small to XL).

By creating these 2 patterns, we are proudly able to provide a range of 8 sizes across the chart.

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This season, we have a great selection of items for the Fall/Winter season, that suit every body type. Here are just a few!

Diane Kennedy, eco-fashion, plus size clothing, made in canada,

 

Georgia Tunic

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Named after one of the busiest streets in the Financial District of downtown Vancouver, this smart tunic gives the illusion of wearing a zipped vest over top of a striped layer, while being a comfortable single layer.

 

 

 

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The slimming vertical seam lines at the zipper add shape and detail, visually pulling you in at the waist, while the crew neck & 3/4 length sleeves offer chic coverage for your arms & neckline. The at the Hip length means it goes great with many of our bottoms.

 

 

 

Soft Shirt

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Nothing’s easier to wear than a collared shirt. Our Diane Kennedy version is a softer, comfier alternative to the standard button-up. Similar to a Polo shirt, our Soft Shirt features adorable cuffed 3/4 length sleeves and a decorative 2-button placket with a fold-over collar that frames your face and lengthens your neck.

 

Throw on a Recharge Vest and you’re good to go! Pairs fantastically with any of our bottoms or go casual with a pair of jeans.

 

Strength Tunic

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Find Strength in one of our most popular tunics!  The loose cowl neck and easy fit through the body means ultimate comfort and ultimate style!

 

 

 

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The striped fabric is used in a unique way to draw your eye to certain areas, while distracting from others and the always flattering black stripes are complimented by a touch of light colour.

Trusted Clothes Interview with Diane Kennedy

ReversibleOutfit_2_MG_9428Diane had the pleasure of interviewing with a very interesting website, recently. Trusted Clothes links people, organizations and brands that are ethical, environmentally friendly and health conscious. They are comprised of a group of volunteers with a diverse background in manufacturing, marketing and global issues dedicated to promoting Ethical, Sustainable and Healthy fashion.

Read her interview below!

-Team DK

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Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, my love of fashion started at a very early age. By the age of four, I received my first real sewing machine and I enjoyed a lot of mother-daughter bonding as she taught me how to sew.dianekennedy-designer_9405

A moment stands out in my memory of a time when my cousin and I were playing with Barbie. She disappeared into the other room and quickly reappeared with a miniature bathing suit she had sewn herself! The idea delighted me and I honestly think that’s what planted the seed in my mind that I wanted to create fashion.

After graduating from Kwantlen University Fashion Design program and several design and patternmaking positions, I bought a patternmaking service bureau called Fashionmark.  In total I spent 20 years perfecting my craft and honing my ability to design excellent fit across all size categories before starting my first fashion brand; Diane Kennedy

What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion to you?

Along with fashion, my other true love is gardening. When my son was little, he would play in my backyard often as I gardened and I realised very quickly that I absolutely did not want my young child sitting and playing on a lawn pumped full of chemicals and pesticides. This lead me to think more about what we put in our body, as well, and I made the decision to change our lifestyle to one of a more organic nature.

I guess you could say that when I became a mother, I became a bit more “Mother Earth”, too. From how I take care of my family to how I take care of my business, I want to make sure I am leaving a positive impact on our environment.

In terms of the ethical qualities of my business, when I hear tragic stories of factory accidents in Third World countries, it breaks my heart and only bolsters my resolve to uphold my  social responsibility to the global community as a business owner and consumer.

I strongly believe that it should not be anyone’s goal to make a profit at the expense of another’s quality of life.

In general, what is the company Diane Kennedy – its mission, productions, and vision?

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Diane Kennedy’s mission is to provide comfortable, yet flattering clothes to mature women of all sizes. We endeavour to accomplish this by ethically working with local factories & vendors and using Canadian made goods where possible.

Being a plus size myself, my vision for Diane Kennedy is a fashion line dedicated to making women feel beautiful no matter their size. We want our garments to find women who have struggled to find clothing that’s tailored to them. We want our clients to feel included and respected by the fashion industry (and by everyone!) by giving them something everyone wants: choice and inclusivity.

Aside from those basic descriptions, what makes the company unique?

albernitunic_oliveblack_frontDiane Kennedy is unique because nearly everything we sell is made from Certified Organic Bamboo that is knitted in Canada. As well, we only work with Canadian vendors and factories, so we can proudly say we’re truly “Made In Canada”.

The Canadian-made bamboo itself is incredibly luxurious and comfortable to wear because the fibres are very smooth and non-irritating, making it an excellent choice for those with skin allergies. The weight of the fabric gives a very elegant drape without being too clingy. It’s a high-end, luxury fabric with the comfort level of your favourite pyjamas.

On top of that, our line is well known for our fit. While many fashion lines use one pattern to cut their sizes, we create 2 patterns; one for Regular & Plus Sizes, to ensure the best fit.

You sell sustainable, eco-friendly, and organic clothing. What is the importance of these fashion trends?

It’s funny that you should categorize them like that. What others may consider a “fashion trend” has been part of my business model since the very beginning, nearly 10 years ago.

“Fast Fashion” is a real problem in the industry right now. I think it’s incredibly important that both business owners and consumers make choices that contribute to our global community and does not support the manufacturing of poor quality, “disposable” garments. I want to be part of an industry that isn’t the 2nd largest polluter on the planet. We are a business in this industry that creates quality, timeless fashion.

You use organic bamboo. What are the benefits of bamboo for selling clothing?

I love the fact that the bamboo fabric we use is knitted right here in Canada, at a mill that uses eco-ethical practices such as Hydro-electricity and dyeing methods which meet high Canadian Standards. The fibre holds dye remarkably well, and the colours on our fabrics are rich and deep. Our black bamboo fabric is such a gorgeous, true black.

This means that, in addition to being incredibly sustainable (bamboo is incredibly flood/drought resistant, does not require pest/herbicides or water irrigation to quick grow high yield crops) it is also incredibly resilient, making it a long lasting textile, perfect for garments that are expected to be worn often! reflectcowl_regchargevest_front

You aim to create figure flattering clothing. What does this mean in more concrete terms?

My experience as a plus size woman, in addition to my extensive design and technical background gives me great confidence in my understanding of a woman’s figure and how to highlight our best features.

In my years of dressing women, I pay attention to how we dress and how we wear our clothes. For example, mature women like to have freedom of movement in their back & shoulders, while still having coverage for their arms. As well, women like to have a choice of pant widths to accommodate areas of varying sizes of bumps like at the hips, thighs and knees. A smooth silhouette in the front to accommodate a curvier bust and torso as well as extra fabric in the tummy area are all considered. These are just a few of the things I need to keep in mind when designing to flatter all body types.

What is the importance of a plus-size movement and plus-size garment niche?

While other brands are starting to finally recognize the Plus Size community as a relevant market, Diane Kennedy has always had all inclusive sizing from Small through to 3X.

When I began research for my brand, I came across some very telling comments from women in our target market. It quickly became clear that Plus Size women wanted to shop for the same clothing and brands that are readily available in regular sizes. It was dismaying for them to have to shop in the back corner of the top floor of a department store. These women wanted the respect of not being treated differently because of size.

And so, it became my mission to focus on providing a fashion line geared towards great fit  on both plus and regular sizes.

You work out of Vancouver, BC. What benefits come from having the company there?

Vancouver has a burgeoning but thriving fashion industry, fuelled by such local (but internationally recognized) clothing companies like Lululemon, Arc’teryx and MEC. These companies are very well known for their social/eco-conscious practices and it’s wonderful that we are all based in a city that is quickly becoming one of the most well known “green” cities in the world.

Our studio and warehouse is right in the heart of our garment district, where many of Vancouver’s clothing factories are located. This is such a boon for us, as it means we are within walking distance to many of our factories, giving us the ability to oversee production easily.

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Where do you see the company heading into the future?

While the Fashion Industry is constantly evolving and developing new fabrications and technology, we like to keep our roots firmly planted in the idea that the fabrics we use are proven to be of exceptional quality. Our clients appreciate the classic look of our items (like our Flex Pant & Serene Pant) and while we are always updating our catalogue of styles, we owe it to our loyal customers to always stock favourites. We are looking towards options for allowing a more personalized experience for our customers.

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What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

Several years ago, we launched a brand new fashion line which we can also proudly say is “Made In Canada”. Cherry Velvet Dresses is a line of retro-inspired dresses geared towards women of all sizes (from S-3X) who love the classic look of Vintage/Retro/Pin-up style.

While Diane Kennedy’s core values center around Eco/Ethical practices, Cherry Velvet revolve around challenging the mainstream beauty ideal by catering our designs towards underrepresented sizes and providing empowering content with our social media presence.

What meaning or personal fulfillment does this work bring for you?

I feel so incredibly lucky to be living out my childhood dream. While so many people are tethered to their 9-5, it gives me great joy knowing that what I do every day will make so many women happy. It’s such a pleasure to see my clients in my designs and hear them talk about how great my clothes make them feel (both inside and out)! It’s a satisfying feeling to know that every design I produce is created with love, thought and consideration for how they’re made and who they’re made for.

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?

Thank you for the interview. It was a pleasure to chat with you about my passion for size inclusiveness and eco-responsibility in the Fashion Industry!

Thank you for your time, Diane.