fashion blog karma – The Yuppie Activist

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When Danah moved to Toronto, she emailed me and asked what is up in the city.  I was familiar with her site, Ottawa Street Style, and I invited her to Fritz Helder and the Phantoms‘ single release party where she made friends, pretty much instantly.  Danah is precocious, honest, has a great sense of humour and her new non-city-centric blog, The Yuppie Activist is all of those things too.  I asked her a few questions about her home cities, regional fashion and blogging.

photo by Renata Kaveh
photo by Renata Kaveh

When you moved from Ottawa to Toronto, you chose to pass along the torch of your street style blog to other contributors.  How do you move on from a blog but still keep the flame burning?

I had one reliable contributor for a little while but right now I’m just updating the blog sporadically with events going on around the city. But moving on from a blog is hard. Initially, I was going to write a post telling my readers I’ve decided to stop writing here since I couldn’t find reliable contributors, however, one contributor persuaded me to keep it up, so I did with her contributions but I’ve yet to find someone who is really consistent. I think I kept the flame burning through her enthusiasm and through the emails that come into my inbox letting me know how much they love this blog and how it’s their go to for X, Y, Z. That’s really important, so the readers, in the end, keep the fire alive.

It amazed me how quickly you became part of the scene and collected a terrific group of friends.  How do you make the most of moving to a new city?

How do you make the most, hmm, well for one, I was always connected to Toronto before moving here so that’s something that I would always keep in mind prior to venturing to a new city: have an idea of the city you’re moving to. I am a huge fan of research. Find the places of interest to you and go to them, keep track of events and don’t be afraid to ask further information from the organizers. Talk to people. A lot of people keep to themselves and don’t talk to anyone, or sometimes you’ll meet them once and they don’t talk to you again. I will never do that. I will always come by and say hello and talk to people and get to know them. Personally, I am not afraid to find people with similar interests and go ask them for coffee in order to get to know them. For example, as a blogger, it’s easy for me to connect with other bloggers (such as yourself) so I use that common interest and build conversation. That’s how I met a lot of people. Being sociable helps! Get over yourself and your insecurities and go do it, it won’t just come to you!

What are your favourite blogs, websites and magazines?

I work in the social media world, so my Google Reader and Delicious are flooded with a variety of blogs and websites so I’ll attempt to keep this short! Blogs: John Haro’s Fashion Copious, he’s always on top of the latest in fashion – magazine covers, models, editorials, news, etc. I read a lot of advertising websites because it’s a passion of mine so I Believe in Advertising and Adverblog are daily reads. Personal blog: The Tragically Unhip. They don’t post as much anymore but the material on that site is hilarious. Otherwise there’s a few here and there but nothing I’ve gotten too into. I’m sort of a blog snob, I read a lot of them so the content has to be really impressive, especially when it’s a personal blog. Art and design is also important, so I’m huge on The Contemporist, Drawn, Jessica Goldfond’s Shiny Squirrel features some great illustrators and fashion designers and Kitsuné Noir always updates with fantastic content! As my identity also reveals, I’m an activist, so I like political humour, a website called KABOBfest fulfills that for me. There’s a lot of news websites lingering as well! When it comes to magazines, I read AnOther Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Kill Magazine (Montreal based), Monocle, Vs., 10, Applied Arts and I recently heard of Bidoun Magazine which I haven’t found in the city yet but I’ve been perusing the site religiously! I used to read Strut a lot (Canadian publication) but their content isn’t as strong as it once was. I collect magazines that look interesting from everywhere I go so my place is flooded with them.

You know I’m going to ask it – do you have any comments on Toronto fashion and style vs. Ottawa?

There’s obviously a difference because of the city culture but I mean it’s not like there’s a huge difference. There are areas you visit in both cities where you expect to see people dressed a certain way. In Toronto, you see that more often because the population is larger and the scene is bigger and more established here. But if we’re talking club wear entertainment district zone, you’re looking at the same dress codes, no exceptions! Toronto is also Canada’s capital of private companies so it has more men and women in nice business attire or the casual but stylish young, creative professionals. Ottawa is Canada’s capital of government employees so there’s a lot more pleated pants and khakis because the dress code isn’t enforced on all offices! There’s also such a lack of places to shop in Ottawa (although that’s changing) so people end up all looking the same whereas with Toronto its much more of a fashion established city so fashionable people are more common. I don’t however, want to take away from those teens outside Much Music! They all look like they walked out of the same shop! If we were to compare all Canadian cities, Montreal takes the prize. The French rather starve than not look good!

You have had some experience with both Toronto’s and Ottawa’s fashion week events.  One thing that seems to define Canada is regionalism – and a lot of smaller fashion weeks.  What is your perspective on regional fashion weeks?

Straight up, I’m a fan of the regional fashion weeks concept. I definitely think Canada needs to support its talent more to raise the bar for these fashion weeks. We see it in our arts industry – there isn’t nearly enough support for the arts or sports! There’s even less for the category of fashion. Canada doesn’t have many fashion schools or resources for Canadians interested in fashion. When looking at the fashion weeks in smaller Canadian cities vs the larger ones, there’s also a “fashion divide”. The larger fashion weeks make it hard for new talent to gain experience, they want bigger names, and when they showcase the new talent, they don’t promote the show well enough so attendance is low. Ryerson had a show at LGFW back in March but not many people attended. Those students are the future of our country’s fashion industry, we need to support them. If no one is going to come out and watch their show this is where the much smaller fashion weeks come in handy, it’s like a step for these designers awaiting to gain experience and some recognition, the confidence to participate in shows and eventually move onto larger fashion weeks and to stay in Canada. A lot of designers leave for opportunity in different markets why didn’t we provide them with that opportunity here? Ottawa Fashion Week didn’t start to compete with larger cities, only to promote the local designers and give them experience to build up their brand and move on. Otherwise, they’ll feel shunned out. We have great talent here – support it! Did I answer the question?

Post Script – Danah passed along this poster for a fashion fundraiser in Ottawa – Fashion Cures à la mode – so if you’re in Ottawa, you should go.

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