Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oh, Cotton!

While scavenging through piles of clothing at a rummage sale recently, I came across a fun graphic 80’s style t-shirt, that was way too big for me, but had some DIY boxy cropped-tee potential. When I got it home, I was amused to see the label – Cotton Ginny! As a child of the 80s, I fondly remember the over-sized logo-ed sweatshirts and hot pink leggings of my youth. I wondered – whatever happened to Cotton Ginny? Do they still exist? Have they thought to capitalize on the 80s/90s revival? This, of course, led me down a Canadian 80s retailer Internet rabbit hole. 

Pricey Cotton Ginny Look-alikes by Splendid, MSGM and Alice + Olivia

Yes, it turns out, Cotton Ginny does in fact still exist. No, they are not capitalizing on the resurgence of ‘fashion’ sweatshirts and leggings as pants. Why? God knows. They should be in the midst of a grand resurgance. Instead, they’re half-assing it as on online retailer, all of their brick and mortar locations having closed ages ago due to bankruptcy (damn those fickle customers! Stirrup pants 4evr!).  Their site looks so sad and abandoned – prominently advertising their fall 2012 collection, with an About Us section that says ‘Coming soon…’. Really? How is it possible that a company who have existed for 34 years can't come up with anything to say about their business? They carry a small selection of mumsy clothing in drab colours, with nary an 3X in sight. I remember Cotton Ginny Plus flourishing for a while, even as their original line lost popularity over the years, but their current line maxes out at XL. 

Even boring Beaver Canoe has made a comeback

Sadly, I wasn’t able to find any Cotton Ginny ads from their heyday, but my exercise in procrastination research, did lead me to Au Coton. I had always considered them to be Cotton Ginny’s slightly lamer counterpart, but they seem to have a much bigger online presence.  They even have a Facebook group for former employees. Their site advertises a new collection coming this Spring (although I’m guessing ‘this Spring’ isn’t actually this Spring), with non-functioning twitter, facebook and RSS links. It’s too bad, because the vintage 80s pic on their site definitely suggests their trying to use nostalgia to their advantage. If only they would follow through…

The 80's: So much colour! So much fun! So much fabric!

It’s particularly unfortunate that Cotton Ginny isn’t seizing this opportunity. They have the retro nostalgia /much neglected plus-sized market double-whammy going for them. Ignoring this seems like such a missed opportunity to be seen as relevant again.

Oh well, there's always Etsy

Fashion revivals only last so long – grunge is already back, and soon enough the runways will be teeming with phat pants and neon fun fur everything. In the meantime, maybe their new Islamabad location will be a success…?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Refresh Your Spring Wardrobe with some DIYs

Spring is almost here, so it's the perfect time to start thinking about what to do with the winter clothes that (as-is) aren't worth storing for next year. Here's some DIY inspiration:

Boot Cuffs from a Sweater (Petit Elefant)
A great idea for sweaters that are pilling or moth hole-y, but still have useable cuffs. Sure, you won't really need boot cuffs for much longer, but they take up so little space, packing them up for the fall is no biggie.

Tassel Boot (P.S. I made this)
Booties will still be in season for a while, so why not update yours with some cute fringe?

Floral Painted Purse (studs and pearls)
A little floral enhancement is a great way to amp up a cute purse for Spring. I'm excited to try this in with a less high-contrast combo than the tutorial. Black and lavender is a good look, but I think the subtlety of tone-on-tone paint job would work well too.

Crop Top (Melissa Esplin)
Short shirts are in for Spring, so if you have the confidence, take a pair of scissors to some of your long tops.

Colour-blocked Trousers (Adventures in Dressmaking)
...and while you're at it, why not revamp your boring old khakis?

Sweatshirt Dress (Prudent Baby)
This is probably more of an early Spring/Fall dress, but check out So, 'Zo... What Do You Know? for ideas on Spring-ifying it.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: N/A Collective Co-ed Clothing Swap

Last weekend I checked out  the Co-ed Clothing Swap, organized by N/A collective and Shop My Clothes. The rules were a bit different from any other swap I’ve been to before – it was free to attend, but the clothing on offer was for sale. Swappers were asked to bring a bag of clothing, which they could exchange for 2 tickets to use towards new swap finds. Any additional items found were $5 each (or a bit less for the items in bins). I was initially a little put off by the idea of having to pay for each item of clothing donated to the swap (and the idea of the organizers profiting from the individual items of clothing I brought), but I was won over by the possibility of some cool vintage finds.

Down a little alleyway at Brock and Dundas, the studio was a bit hard to find (for less observant types such as myself, who missed the sandwich board on Dundas advertising the event - oops), but upon entering was met with a very well merchandised space, that had the feel of a tiny cute vintage boutique. There were a few tables and baskets, flanked by clothing racks on either side of the room. Men’s clothing was on one side of the narrow studio, women’s on the other. I was initially a bit disappointed by the selection, although that was mostly due to being an unlucky size at this particular event. There were some great pieces (both older vintage items and newer mall-store labels) in the 8-12 size range, and a few really great XS finds. Unfortunately the 4-6 range it was mostly H&M and Forever 21 cast-offs, none very appealing. I did manage to find a great shoulder bag, and sheer black 1980s secretary blouse with some cool asymmetrical detailing. Despite my initial curmudgeonliness about the cost, I ended up feeling guilty about leaving without spending any money, so I also picked up a cream-coloured mini with metal studs on the shoulders (which is cute, if a little too small).

In the end the concept actually did kind of grown on me. I was forced to be a bit pickier than usual, so a few items I was considering, but was a bit iffy on (and probably would have taken if it had been a straight item for item swap) ended up, thankfully, back on the racks. I’m also very excited about the two items I settled on (the third, not so much, but you can’t win ‘em all). It's also a good option for people who have nothing to swap, but are hoping to find some cheap wardrobe additions. The atmosphere was nice and relaxed; there was a makeshift changing area in the back, and some snacks for sale, as well. It was an all-day affair (11am-6pm), with people trickling in and out, so it seemed like the kind of swap that would merit a few visits throughout the day. Also worth noting was the men’s selection – it was pretty sizable, and better than what’s on offer at most swaps I’ve attended.

All-in-all, I was a pretty happy swapper. I entered with slight trepidation, but left with a smile (and an awesome new bag!). Definitely a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Check out their site (or our Events page) for info on upcoming N/A swaps.