Sunday, 17 March 2013
It used to be that you knew you were in a proper city if it had a Starbucks. Now, however, the coffee chain is so ubiquitous it's more like you know you have completely left civalisation (as we know it) if there isn't one on every corner.
Today a better litmus test of urbanity - at least if you are a trend-following fashionista - is whether or not there is an American Apparel in your town. Even if you don't shop there, you somehow know you are connected to cities like New York and London just by seeing its utilitarian logo gracing your shopping street. (Note: did you know that American Apparel's founder is actually Canadian? Yup. Dov Charney is from Montreal - ironic, no?)
So. Paris, Antwerp, Stockholm... Kelowna. Our city-by-the-lake is hanging with some good company thanks to its American Apparel branch at 441 Bernard Street. According to their blurb on Yelp, 'American Apparel is the place for cool basics, made Sweatshop Free' and go on to cite 'great-fitting clothes you can depend on in a constant stream of new patterns, fabrics and styles' and ' high-quality "Made in USA" garments at a good price and fashionable clothing that is part of an ethical business model from top to bottom'. All great stuff, but what makes AA so cool? Well, it's advertising campaigns certainly don't hurt.
Taking a leaf from the Calvin Klein and Gap schools of marketing, by blending 'real people' models with the controversial - think nudity, sexual situations and the occasional porn star, a mix that has led them to both be criticised for their sexually charged content and 'lauded for their honesty and lack of airbrushing' (according to Wikipedia, the font of all modern knowledge).
American Apparel is 'flashdance' for the 21st century, with its dance-inspired bodysuits, leg warmers, leggings and oversized tee shits, all of which come is a rainbow of colour. And, the kids can't get enough of it. I remember in my old life, taking a group of 45 trainee fashion students over to Paris for an overnight trip - I think at least five of them were in the same American Apparel super shiny, ultra-tight lycra 'Disco' pants, each pair expressing a unique colour choice. And at least another five pairs were unpacked by others to wear the next day. The group was a walking billboard on the streets of the Marais.
Now I'm not going to be running out and buying neon lycra trousers or ultra-mini dresses anytime soon, but I do love their choice of black leggings, and I also have a soft spot for their (very sexy) black stretch mesh bras and knickers (that's 'panties' in Canadian). Even my husband has me running in to stock up on their black short sleeve men's t-shirts for him. And to inject some colour, I do love their neon bright or shiny metallic nail varnishes - when testing them for colour, just close your eyes, take a deep sniff and you could almost swear you were on Bleecker Street, and that's cheaper than a plane ticket to Manhattan..
P.S. Fashion Forward Alert: Forget skinnies. Check out American Apparel's high-waisted pleated pants for one of the newest fashion silhouettes. Yes, we are heading back to the early 80's with a full hip, pegged-ankle silhouette that after three decades suddenly looks fresh and edgy again. Just when you thought you'd never...
American Apparel: 441 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, BC V1Y 6N8
Tel: 250 868 6090