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Sunday October 17th, 2010

Posted at 12:04pm

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Chantel Dominique Maurice, modeling for Never Hopeless

Windsor’s FAM Fest 5 Fashioned By Local Talent

Photos by Laura Berry

Last week Harvesting The FAM Festival began concluding its nine-day run with the F Is For Fashion show hosted at The Loop which featured the work of Windsor designers.

Upon entering the building, vibrations rattle the floors, the stairs and the feet that tread them.  Tonight sounds promising.  Walking up the stairway to the top floor of the four-venue structure, it is dark with steps that creak, but on Oct.8, the only sounds are baselines and synthesizers.  Passing through the threshold, the sight is an amalgam of imagery and character. Hipsters, fashionistas and all who fall outside the lines of subculture are pacing and socializing, drinks in tow. High heels, oversized rings, pearls and denim -this is the cocktail being served and everyone is trying to place their order.

Tonight is about fashion, and even before anyone steps their six-inch heels down a runway,  all eyes are wide. This is a testament to the allure of well-dressed women, just for the simple fact that anyone is able to focus admist the litany of flashing lights surging and the sonically boastful dubstep and electronic. Quite the observatory, the streams of shimmering-black-studded leather and floral perfume anchor without a hitch in both the occipital lobe and olfactory bulb, this is the house of sensory overload. The neon-stained walls drip condensation – its hot in here and everyone can feel it. Tonight, Windsor is stepping out -strutting.

Scheduled for 9 p.m., the show began around 10:30 p.m. – fashionably late, no doubt.  There aren’t fashion shows often in Windsor so when we have them, designers seize the moment. Tonight the work of 14 of the city’s designers posed and strolled down a wooden runway with attire draped over both svelte figures and curves alike. Labels featured at the show included: Dilly Daisy, Ludo & Pig, The Other Bird, Spotvin Creative, Never Hopeless, Thats Sew Sarah and several more. The eclectic pieces ranged in look but a common thread was literally just that – an element of both fabric and motive sewing together both the sartorial and business efforts of these artists.  The goal is to sell clothing, but these items in particular are stitched with the hopes of bringing about a cultural and economic boost to our town. The materials are Windsor bought and the final products are for sale in Windsor.  So from a free event, the Windsor dollar is recycled.

Although the show was used to promote fashion, given several of the logos and prints, it would seem the clothes were used to promote Windsor as well. Homegrown brands like Cardigan Kid and Big Fish Small Pond have become regional marketing tools.

A.J. Jimmenez, BFSP, says his focus is producing quality items that will satisfy customers while shinning light on Windsor in the process.

“At this point Windsor has been the biggest influence on BFSP. The first design I came up with (Forest Glade neighborhood tee) was a result of my pride for the city and more specifically the neighborhood that I’m from. The big cities all have their slogans and t-shirts or whatever that promote civic pride. So why not Windsor, especially during these times of adversity that our region is facing. I hope that BFSP can contribute to Windsor’s renaissance through uplifting morale and showing people that Windsor is, for a lack of a better term, “cool” too,” says Jimenez.

Jack Bryan of Cardigan Kid shares this sentiment and says he feels as a native, he hopes the growing success of his company will directly reflect Windsor.

“Windsor is my home. If Cardigan Kid took off tomorrow and they wanted to sell all my stuff in every store in NYC, London, or somewhere in Italy, it would always come back to where I’m from. I always run into people who don’t own any of my clothes but love that it is a Windsor brand. I think things like that can inspire people in Windsor to do something different and do something they love,” says Bryan.

Fashion and design is a part of our culture that allows local artists to express their art, which oftentimes, is influenced by their surroundings.

Rachel Gray, Never Hopeless, says as a designer she’s been inspired by the city’s aesthetic and hopes her label can offer the city something new and affordable.

“I just want to shine a little light, Never Hopeless is really playful and it brings out the kid in you. I just want to show people that yeah, times are hard but you can still be happy. With all the things going on around us, we forget to just breathe,” says Gray.

Never Hopeless designer Rachel Gray

Our surroundings are like fluid and whether intentionally or unbeknownst we can be like sponges in that we absorb and take everything in. Perception is key, and while these designers have cited the Rose City as inspiration, they hope to reverse this process of perception and influence the way Windsor is seen via their artistry.

Jimenez believes local brands can provide a different element to the scope Windsor is seen through.

“Just straight up positive vibes.  As the city looks to diversify its horizons in other sectors such as the arts and culture as well as fashion, hopefully we can emerge to the forefront.  I think Windsor’s fashion can be very unique, the fusion of both Canadian and American influenced style can perhaps be considered a trend. I think all it will take for us to make our mark is for a local to make it big,”  says Jimenez.

If making it big is what is needed, the talent burgeoning across this city definitely has enough drive, energy and force for Windsor’s boundless trajectory.  Not for nothing, the bright lights at tonight’s show shone a light on more than dresses and updos. Lined in every piece worn is the creativity of local talent and civic pride.  While heads nod and Double Muds are sipped, its clear there’s no beat loud enough to distract from what is really going on tonight.  Tonight is about more than fashion. Tonight is about Windsor.

Bryan stands firm behind a belief that Windsor’s appeal is fully intact and that youthful ambition is the glue that binds.

“I care a lot about Windsor. Its a great city. This is where I was born, this is where I grew up. Windsor has a lot to offer. A lot of stuff is happening in Windsor and the people who care are the people who know. Windsor doesn’t need another minivan to come save it. It needs exactly what is has now: a bunch of young kids that are making a difference and care about the difference they are making. If we continue to do what we’re doing, people will start to make a trip here instead of everyone leaving. Windsor is fine, people just need to start realizing that.”

Never Hopeless model

Never Hopeless model

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