Canadian Fashion Connection – Fashion Prosthetics

In 2013, Ryan Palibroda and McMauley Wanner, who had met at the University of Calgary two years previously, formed the Alleles design studio. Their goal was to create affordable and accessible fashionable options for lower limb amputees using their skills in fashion, architecture, and digital marketing. Their digitally designed and made prosthetics can be created as unique statements for users, elevating prosthetics from the realm of medical necessity to fashionable accessory.

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Boot and shoe care, c. 1910

In about 1910, the English tobacco company, Gallaher’s Cigarettes, printed a series of 100 “How to do it” cards that included everyday useful and helpful tips including these three for boot and shoe care:

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Fashion humour

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FHM in the news – Two Recent articles about the FHM

NUVO magazine, by Deirdre Kelly

FASHIONING CANADA SINCE 1867
Sesquicentennial style at Ontario’s Fashion History Museum.

The fuchsia and orange gown by Toronto designer Lucian Matis that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau wore to the state dinner in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama last year highlights a new exhibition opening this week at the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario.

Fashioning Canada Since 1867, running from March 15 to December 17, 2017, coincides with the 150th anniversary of Confederation and shows how Canadian style has evolved along with the country. There are over 64 items on display in the museum (itself housed in a former 1928 post office) ranging from the practical, bulky knit sweaters to hand-beaded dresses worn in the presence of world leaders.

The fashion reflects the nation, tracing its evolution from dull colonial outpost to vibrant international player, observes FHM co-founder Jonathan Walford, a founding curator of Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum who opened the FHM with fellow co-founder Kenn Norman in 2015.

“Fashion encompasses everything,” Walford elaborates. “You can read in it all the outlining influences, the social, the cultural, the political, and the economic. It’s never just about clothes.” The four central displays describe distinct stages in the development of Canadian fashion over the last century and a half. Posing the question, “What is Canadian Fashion?” the first examines how geography, in particular Canada’s harsh climate, along with the fur trade, helped shape a national identity through clothing custom-made for life outdoors.

Items include a head-to-toe woollen outfit created for a member of Ottawa’s Snowshoe Club in 1890, several variations on a theme of a Hudson’s Bay striped blanket coat, Inuit knits, First Nations-inspired parkas and mukluks. Mixed in with the historical are pieces by contemporary Canadian fashion brands like Canada Goose, Linda Lundström and DSquared2, linking fashion today to what came before.

Next, Clothing the Nation takes a more indoor view of the country’s sartorial leanings. Presented here are bustles and taffeta, sleek Edwardian silhouettes and large plumed hats, gold silk day dresses, and matching gloves. Some of the clothing came from abroad, accumulated by Canadian high society women in London for parties back home. As the following section, Made in Canada shows, other items were purchased locally at Eaton’s, Creeds, and D’Allairds, an early Canadian department store chain, or else were made by professional dressmakers and tailors plying their trade in communities across Canada.

By the 1960s, Canadian fashion was starting to become internationally known, spearheaded by homegrown designers like Claire Haddad, the first Canadian honoured with a prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award, and Arnold Scaasi, the Montrealer born Arnold Isaacs who created gowns for first ladies in the U.S., including Mamie Eisenhower, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush, as well as A-list celebrities, among them Elizabeth Taylor and Lauren Bacall.

These Canadian fashion innovators broke ground for the designers who follow after in the 1970s, the focus of the final display, The Canadian Brand, which is where in the Lucian Matis dress is, among other pieces. The colours and shapes are as plentiful here as the names assembled, Wayne Clark, Simon Chang, Lida Baday, Jean-Claude Poitras, and Bernard McGee and Shelley Wickabrod for Clothesline to name a few.

Walford says this eclecticism mirrors Canada as a whole, a country not cut from a single cloth but representing many threads from around the world to form an attractive cosmopolitan fabric. “The fashion tells its own story,” he says.

Fashioning Canada Since 1867

Grand Magazine, March/April 2017 by Lynn Haddrall

 

 

 

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Dry Goods and Style c. 1888-2008

One of the best resources for Canadian fashion business history is the publication Style – not the online millennial fashion site, or the British fash mag, but the fashion trade publication that was in production for over a century.

It’s origins and ends are a bit of a mystery: There are references to it originating in 1888 but the earliest publication in existence (which is identified as issue #1) dates from January 1891 when it was known as the Canadian Dry Goods Review. This was one of the first trade journals published by J.B. McLean Publishing.

By the 1930s the monthly magazine was being called Stylewear Review and was officially renamed as Style in 1946. In an effort to keep the New York publication Women’s Wear Daily from publishing in Canada, the format was changed to a biweekly (fortnightly) tabloid, and coverage was expanded to include fashion trade news from correspondents in Paris, London, and New York.

The publication went monthly with glossy magazine covers in the 1970s, however, the Canadian fashion industry grew substantially in the late 1970s and the monthly format couldn’t keep up with timely news, so a biweekly tabloid format was revived in 1981.

Soon after celebrating its centennial in 1988, the publication went into decline. In July 2001, McLean Publishing sold off its shares to Rod Morris, who resold it to Rive Gauche Media in 2008, headed by Olivier Felicio. From there the trail goes cold. The publication is no longer in production, but there is an online based (Style.ca) magazine. When I asked if they had any association with the former publication they answered “We have no information on this”…

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There seems to be a glitch with the blog…

It is becoming increasingly difficult to post blogs – not sure if its the host or what, but if the blog suddenly disappears, or I don’ t post for a few weeks – you’ll know there is a problem beyond my control.

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A Sneak peak at our latest exhibitions

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Canadian Fashion Connection – Brampton Knitting Mills

We were recently offered a spool of labels from the Brampton Knitting Mills. I had not heard of the company before but with a bit of googling came up with a pretty complete history:

John McMurchy founded J.M. McMurchy & Sons knitting mill on March 18, 1913 in Brampton, Ontario. The company specialized in hosiery but did other knitting as well. The mill was sold on May 14, 1925 to Abdo Aziz and was expanded in May 1934. On September 18, 1952, the company was renamed The Brampton Knitting Mills. The company survived until 1995 but was not officially dissolved until 2004. The former building is now a Brew Pub.

I also found an interesting quote about the company from the book Canada’s Greatest Wartime Muddle: National Selective Service and the Mobilization of Human Resources during World War II – by Michael Stevenson:

“In February 1943, A.K. Aziz, manager of the Brampton Knitting Mills plant, protested that many of his employees, both male and female, were leaving his employ to work at the Victory Aircraft plant in nearby Malton… In April, Aziz reported that all five of his experienced male knitters had either quit or handed in 7-day separation notices. This action has created a production bottleneck that forced the company to cancel its war order with the DMS. In the same vein, officials of Penman’s Ltd. of Paris, Ontario, reported in April 1943 that their outerwear department had been reduced from 120 to 44 employees. At the same time, the Penman’s plant in Brantford had been reduced to a staff of 210 from a normal complement of 375…”

The maker of the tape was P.P. Payne, an English company based in Nottingham, U.K., that has specialized in making labels for companies since they were founded in 1911. They are still in business but were renamed in 2013.

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Patent Fashions – Umbrella with windscreen 1930

U.S. Patent 1,774,909 for an umbrella ‘tent’ or windscreen was granted on Sept.2, 1930. The article gives credit to the woman, presumably in the picture, for coming up with the idea after walking into the street and being struck by an auto because she couldn’t see through her umbrella, but the patent is for a man’s name…perhaps her husband? 

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Another season at the FHM

We open for another year this Wednesday, March 15 with two exhibitions. In Gallery One from March 15 – July 9: Dior, 1947 – 1962. Ten dresses from the first 15 years of the House of Dior that illustrate Dior’s design perspective and savvy business skills that resulted in a leading fashion brand.

In Gallery Two from March 15 – December 17: Fashioning Canada Since 1867. Sixy-seven examples of Canadian fashions that celebrate the sesquicentennial of Canada through the history of Canadian fashion design, manufacturing, and retailing, as well as the development of a national identity.

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