Flexibility and Versatility in Design

Tanya’s second post:

Since my last blog entry I have completed the technical drawings and specification measurements for the existing LB PEP line. My design contribution is the addition of a unisex tailored shirt. I spent this weekend patterning, cutting and sewing the sample.

This design addresses sustainability in multiple ways, first it is meant for both sexes. The idea of unisex design is becoming more popular and it is an interesting way to increase the function and marketability of a garment.

The most obvious sustainable quality is the garment is made out of found clothing. Found in my closet! I took a Ralph Lauren men’s plaid shirt from the 80s and a pair of Levis that I had bleached and worn to death and donated them to this new design for LB.

Lastly, this design is intended to have flexibility in its style. I envisioned the design to be worn in many ways. I think this will encourage the customer to buy less and wear the clothing they have more.

Hopefully this unisex shirt will be a must-have for the LB customer!



Local Buttons Photo-Shoot: A Behind-the-Lens Perspective

 Last Saturday a group of seven keen individuals braved an un-seasonably cold day to capture the first images of Pep fashion on film – or digital memory card to be technically correct.  I have been involved with photography for many years, but have only switched to digital media within the last year or so.  I suppose you could call me a ‘late-adopter’ although I think financial strains perhaps played a larger role than my Luddite tendencies.  My nerves before the shoot resulted in hours of pouring over my camera manual to ensure I knew where every button was and what it did.  This process took at least 6 hours throughout the week as my Nikon D90 manual reads more like an encyclopedia of functions.

This did not calm my growing nervousness – what if I can’t get the white balance right and I miss a great shot? What if I forget how to adjust my ISO on the fly?  I had never been involved in a fashion shoot and I had never been the sole photographer responsible for catching the moment despite having been involved with many weddings and artistic photo-shoots.  As a result, I was very snappy with my partner/equipment jockey the morning of the shoot.  Lucky for me he is very understanding and seems to have forgiven me.  (Again, sorry I was an angry-bird!)

I had been keeping my fingers crossed for an evenly overcast sky and I got half my wish.  The lighting was beautifully diffused but was changing in subtle ways that any photographer knows can be challenging.  Our first shooting location was the trickiest.  The light was changing almost imperceptibly and our lovely models both required different lighting situations – thank you Nikon D90 for having ‘Active D-Lighting!’ After this first location – the beautifully uselessSugarBeach– it was smooth sailing for me.

We walked over to the Gardiner underpass atJarvis Streetwhich attracted the attention of several cars passing by due to our model Sarah’s exposed gams and obvious beauty. There were no car accidents, but several honks and maybe even a few neck-strains as people whipped theirs heads around to stare.  As Local Buttons were going for a transportation theme in their shoot, I had the idea of catching the cars passing by in the background which were blurred by a slow shutter speed.  After setting up my tripod and taking a few test shots, I finally began to relax – a little.  These images turned out better than I ever could have hoped.  The effect made it look as if our models were sexy-hitchhiking in their beautifully hand-crafted Pep vests. Their chemistry really came to life under that usually grey and dull highway.  Aside from the cold weather and the need to cover Sarah in a jacket between shots, things were really heating up. 

I think the theme of our shoot was “Don’t sue me, I’m going to. . .”   The models were starting to get friendly and the resulting images are intimate and a little voyeuristic.  After we moved over to theCherryStreetBridge, in addition to the intimate embraces I was capturing there was also a very sultry kiss – all in the name of fashion I’m sure. (Insert smiley emoticon here…)  This was the coldest location yet as the wind whipped up from the water the goose-flesh was almost caught by my camera.  I’m sure the kiss was just to stay warm – right?

We had to cut it short at this point, it was cold and time was running out before other obligations became priority.  It was time for a celebratory beer and review of images.  My nerves finally settled for good as I reviewed the amazing shots we had taken.  All my stress finally melted away over a pint and some food at Barvolo onYoung Street.  Thanks for the beer Local Buttons!

Until next time – thanks for reading!


One Photo Shoot Away

We present to you: Sarah Portway. Sarah, like Tanya, is interning with us for the summer. Sarah is helping us get ourselves in gear in terms of research and the logistics and creatives of our photo shoot. Sarah brings a lot to the table with her dedication to eco-fashion, intellect and creativity. She is an excellent compliment in our Local Buttons family and we couldn’t be more excited to work with Sarah. Here is her first blog in a series of three.

Hello Local Buttons blog readers! I am new to this blog so I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself and explain why I am here.

My name is Sarah Portway. I am currently working on my masters degree in fashion at Ryerson University. The program is new to the university, and new to Canada. I am one of only 19 students currently involved, although our numbers will balloon to at least 39 in September 2011. I came to Toronto specifically for this program, and after a few new apartment mishaps (including a narrowly dodged bed-bug infestation, cruel landlords, and exorbitant rent prices) I am settling in nicely. My background is in fine art and retail management, and my future holds many teaching opportunities in sustainable fashion design based on localized Toronto practices – hopefully.

I’m focused on a triple-bottom-line: people, planet, and profit. This is why I became interested in Local Buttons. The summer semester of my program requires each student to complete a 140 hour internship. Local Buttons came and spoke to my class during the winter semester and I fell in love instantly. I knew right away that I needed to work with these remarkable women. A few of my classmates echoed my sentiments and signed on for the summer as well. I felt inspired by Consuelo and Anne’s passion and their commitment to social and environmental activism was very compelling.

As someone who is also interested in sustainability and social responsibility for garment workers, I have read a lot in the field. What struck me about Local Buttons is their focus on positives. A lot of literature and countless ‘green’ products present their case in negatives:

‘This shampoo is free of chemicals!’

‘Paraben free!’ ‘Contains no dyes or fragrances!’

‘This product is sweat-shop free!’

While this is a great start, I believe in focusing on positive solutions and changes. Local Buttons talk in positives when they are presenting their business model. They focus on what they can do to be responsible; they want to create an ethical and environmentally sensitive clothing line. They are not subtracting from their supply chain, such as removing the possibility of low-wages. Instead, they are forging positive relationships with ethical factories in Haiti. Rather than sending technical drawings and specs to this factory without seeing the conditions or overseeing production, they have gone to INDEPCO to work with the designers there and create the Pep look. They have actively sourced local talent to design these garments. They don’t waste time and energy discussing all that is wrong with the contemporary fashion industry. They take productive steps towards change.I have a great deal of respect for this approach and I hope to be a part of it in whatever capacity I can.

Right now, I am working on some research for Local Buttons and preparing for a fashion shoot with the samples that are ready. The research will help inform Local Buttons’ approach to fashion in Toronto as I will be reporting back on what they need to possibly start another production hub here in the city. The fashion shoot is going to focus on the theme of ‘transportation’ and the three of us met yesterday to discuss possible shooting locations and inspirations. After our chat, I went out on my bicycle and scouted some possible shooting locations in the Toronto Port area, just west of the beaches. A pleasant day for a ride, I felt once again that I had been touched by Consuelo and Anne’s positive influences. They had me so excited to get involved that despite working a full 8 hour day before we met, I felt compelled to put in some over-time for them. As I result, I’m now feeding off my own positive memories of the two-hour trip and I’m feeling very inspired going into this process… although my legs are a little tired from peddling around.

Tired legs aside, I’m looking forward to working closely with Anne and Consuelo over the next ten or more weeks. If you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting them and basking in their positive glow, I highly recommend it.

Making us technical

Our interns from Ryerson’s Master’s of Design Program started early this month, and we couldn’t be more excited. The diversity and magnitude of these ladies talents are undeniable. We can already see how their ideas are inspiring Local Buttons. Today, Tanya is ‘guest’ blogging for us in the first of her three part series! Tanya has design and technical skills Sway and I barely even dream of, and honestly when we meet with her it feels like we have known Tanya all along.

May 26, 2011,

I am 2 weeks into my internship with Local Buttons.

My role at LB is technical and creative apparel design for their Pep line.

First, the technical… this starts with completing line drawings of the sample garments created by Anne and Consuelo during their first trip to Haiti. Each drawing acts as a map of the proportion and details of their design. I try to render the exact shape and stitch of every seam, neckline, armhole, hemline, topstitch, etc.

It sounds a little boring, but it is a challenging task that generates a satisfying result. This is also an important step in translating a design idea into actual clothing. It allows the factory in Haiti to understand the design in concrete terms and ensures accuracy in the production phase.

Next for me, the spec sheets!

For my creative contribution, I am brainstorming a unisex design that will relate and compliment the Local Buttons aesthetic. This idea is my solution to sustainable design. One design with many wearers and ways to wear it! I am still thinking and problem solving, hopefully there will be an update on this in my next blog entry.

I thought I should share a sketch that will be included in my LB visual diary… there will be more illustrations to come.