I quite like the new term I came up with – contrafashion – it’s got a little more nuance than antifashion.

What is contrafashion?

To my thinking, contrafashion:

  • Follows the pattern of long-term trends rather than seasons.
  • Focuses on perfecting a few styles gradually rather than developing a whole new collection seasonally.
  • Emphasizes quality and functionality over fashionability.
  • The design effort aspires towards elegant utility.
  • Doesn’t compete on price.

Of course there’s no war between contrafashion and conventional fashion. The market for the microtrend will continue unabated – but unlike fast fashion, contrafashion is a perfect fit for domestic manufacturing. Canadian contrafashion could be the keystone for creating our international identity as a source of apparel design and manufacturing.

Does this make more sense? Any questions, comments are welcome.

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13 thoughts on “contrafashion”

  1. I agree with you. Infact, it SORT OF reminds me of my visit to Ghost ( in London when I went on the Sue Barnwell trip to Europe. They do work in seasons, like most fashion labels, but they focus on wearability, comfort, laundering, and timelessness. I believe most of the clothes are made out of rayon, and are garment dyed.

    I really loved the concept, because it was high fashion that doesn’t need to be dry cleaned and many of her pieces are staples pieces. The head designer and founder Tanya Sarne gave us a little background of the company, and said that she founded Ghost in 1984 and that she had no Fashion background. She actually said she never pays any attention to trend forecasting, and sort of just designs what she thinks women would want to wear. I think you might really like her story. You might have to google her, she didn’t really like being in the spotlight much, so it’s hard to find a good bio on her.

  2. Australian fashion and Canadian fashion have many similarities, ie difficult geographical factors and skewed international perceptions which they have to contend with.

    Trouble is, Aussies are too obsessed with ‘being somebody’ to embrace our cutural differences. New Zealand on the other hand are exploiting their uniqueness and building a specific niche for themselves, they have a quirkier more introverted perspective which is proving to be very attractive internationally. Perhaps New Zealand and Canada have more in common? Nom D, Zambesi, karen Walker and Kate Sylvester are all doing their own thing and getting international respect and Kudos for it. I think Aussies do relaxed casual and streetwear pretty darn well, I see our future growth happening in these markets, just wish we’d get over trying to emulate Europe and would embrace our unique lifestyle more.

  3. Hey Lol B! Isn’t it the most amazing line?? I love it! Very feminine and timeless! I remember Tanya Sarne saying that a lot of women come to her and tell her that they can still wear the dress that they bought from here 20 years ago!

    Love it!

  4. I think a company like Tilley Endurables thinks along these lines. Some might say it is equipment you wear while travelling, some may say it is just downright sensible, well made,comfortable apparel. My Mom and her friends think Alex Tilley is a genius. He certainly is a character, no doubt.
    This guy knows what his clients want and delivers. Is he an embodiment of contrafashion ? You should probably ask him. He will tell you.

    btw, your blog is so interesting to read. Very substantial.

  5. Hear that sigh? It’s the sound of profound relief brought on by the contrafashion concept.

    Can I get an amen? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.hehe)

  6. Would be really interested to see sketches or pictures of designers or items that you’d consider consistent with this.

  7. It has been very helpful for me to read this post. As someone who has worked in costumes since she was 12, I have always wanted to take my ideas into the open world of real life, but trendy fashion is so fast moving, head spinning, and FLIMSY, that I am turned off by it. I find that most trendy crap makes me feel fab for half a day till it gets snagged or I spill something on it or it falls apart, or if not then I wash it and it shrinks. (Of course I’m not shopping in upscale stores…)

    My mind is at war with my fascination and constant ideas for CLOTHES, and the pointlessness wanting to design them in a world with a constant output and hype-up of banal crap that seems to explode everywhere at the same time in a bazillion very similar permutations. Wear this NOW cuz it’s time for it again…even if it sucked the first time, and second time, etc.

    I really like this concept of contra fashion. It resonates with something I have been mulling over for a while, albeit in a much more vague way….

  8. I was thinking over internet discoveries I have made that had meaning for me and I had to re-visit this post. I just looked at my old comment and I hope you know I meant that I am vague and you are not! Once again, thanks for helping out my poor little brain with this concept!

  9. Elizabeth – that this post is included amongst your meaningful internet discoveries is an honour. I’m still seeking the true definition of what contrafashion might be too.

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