Re-Tales: confessions of a shopaholic

Recession Obsession

imageBlame it on the current economic crisis or Suze Orman on-the-brain, but I’ve finally decided to smarten-up and tighten the purse strings. That’s right. Aside from no longer blowing my hard-earned cash on impulse clothing purchases at ShopBop.com (read: $475 sequin encrusted Pedro Garcia pumps), I’ve also put the kibosh on weekly manicures and Sally Hershberger designer haircuts (well, at least as of yesterday). Perhaps the biggest benefit to have come out of the collapsed economy: I’ve rediscovered staples from my very own wardrobe!

Much to my husband’s delight, I recently resurrected a few neglected items such as a bronze Andy The Ann blouse, which hasn’t seen the light of day since he bought it for me back in ’04. Other wearable and surprisingly stylish pieces I’ve pulled out from the crypt include a double-breasted tweed blazer (thank G-d the borrowed-from-the-boys look is back!), a pleated Club Monaco skirt that I scored whilst working at the company’s Toronto-based headquarters back in ’99, black Acne stovepipes that I haven’t been able to squeeze into since my honeymoon (an added bonus of no longer dining out), an ‘80’s-inspired acid-washed jean jacket that I completely forgot I owned and a faded chocolate brown wool Mackage coat that I miraculously spruced up by throwing on a patent leather belt. Now if only I can somehow reclaim that fitted hounds-toothed vest I graciously donated to Goodwill out of duress.

Don’t ditch those clothing cast-offs just yet! Get the most mileage out of your existing wardrobe by following these expert Fashion Junkie tips:

Raid your boyfriend’s closet! Over-sized items like a black vest, boxy blazer and the classic white button down shirt look beyond stylish when paired with skinny jeans and even short skirts.

• Add life to any lackluster coat by throwing it on with a cinched patent leather belt.

• Transform a dull jacket into dazzling by sewing on some of granny’s glitzy antique buttons. Plastic is so passé.

Befriend your tailor! Simple alterations such as shortening a skirt hem will make a world of difference.

• Modernize any dated ensemble by throwing on vintage accessories such as chunky jewelry or a print neck scarf.

• Punch up a faded frock in a flash by tie-dying it. As noted above, acid-washed denim is back… hint, hint!

• Instantly update your look by layering unexpected fabrics. For example, pair a chiffon floral dress with opaque tights and a fitted ¾ length belted cardigan. Add a pair of chunky cowboy boots and you’re good to go!

I’m curious to know how the current economy has made you rethink your wardrobe. Don’t be shy… share your tips and tricks with the Fashion Junkie community.

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Filed: News & Views, Trends

Christopher Kon: Exclusive Designer Profile!

imageAs a follow-up to this week’s Crazy for Christopher Kon… Handbags write-up, I thought it only fitting that I also blog about the brains behind the biz: Chris Kon. A dedicated follower of fashion since the tender age of 7 (I repeat, 7!), Chris clearly has always had a “handle” on his career path.

Praised for his winning purse-o-nality and business savvy, Chris has been churning out wearable works of art for women of all ages for nearly a decade. Spotted on the shoulders of fashionistas from Montreal to Manhattan, Chris’s coveted leather carryalls can be found hanging around leading retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Saks, Macy’s and Nordstrom. Fashion Junkie chats-it-up with this cool Canadian about his obsessions from surfing (who knew?) to satchels. Check out more, after the jump.

imageFJ: What prompted you to become a handbag designer?

CK: I have always been creative. I started designing around the age of seven and I started formal teachings in Painting at the age of 12. Handbags were the family business and I knew it well, so it was natural for me to evolve my art into the business.         

FJ: Describe a day in the life of a handbag designer.

CK: Magazines and coffee to start. From there, styling, designing and working with customers to better understand what they need.

FJ: If you weren’t a handbag designer, you’d be a… ?

CK: Jewelry Designer, musician of pro surfer.

FJ: Who is the typical Christopher Kon woman? For example, is she a student, a full-time Mom, a career-obsessed fashionista or a jet-setting retiree?

CK: I think a Christopher Kon customer is less about lifestyle and more about the values that our customers have. Someone who doesn’t need a label to let them know they have made it. Someone who is confident and knows what they want. Our bags don’t take away from a woman, they add to her.

FJ: There are so many back-busting (a.k.a. over-sized) bags on the market. Can you offer Fashion Junkie readers tips on choosing (and using!) a silhouette that flatters their figure?

CK: with the exception of a few bag lines that are known to be “heavy” to start with, the biggest problem with big bags is the stuff women put in them!!! More room = more stuff!!!!! Women live with their bags… all the things they carry are important to them, so our solution is to make the lightest leather bags we can. The thing is, that the bigger the bag, the more dramatic it is. The leather falls better. I love the way flat hobo’s look on women, they fall really well, and they suit most body types. Most of all, they are easy!

FJ: Now that the “It” bag status has finally subsided (thank G-d!), a plethora of contemporary handbag lines have suddenly flooded the market. What are you doing to differentiate yourself from the competition?

CK: By keeping a focus on what we have always done: keep things simple, yet edgy with our silhouettes and timeless design.

FJ: Your Fall/Winter ‘08 collection is absolutely stunning! I’m especially obsessed with your “Amy” shoulder bag in plum (style #0155). Who or what inspired this particular collection?   

CK: manipulation, moulding, patching.

FJ: Myself (and hundreds of hardcore Fashion Junkie handbag fanatics) are dying to know how much labor goes into each Christopher Kon bag design? Can you please explain the production process from start to finish?

CK: I always start at the bottom…with a pencil and paper. All designs are done old-school here at Chris Kon. No computer aided design programs…it’s the only way to really FEEL it! From there, I work on the pattern to make sure proportions and details look right…then were off looking at leathers!! Once we find the leather (by the way, the inspiration can start with the leather also) we start the sampling process. The average time for a bag to be produced is 3 hours.

FJ: How has the state of the current economy affected your handbag collection?

CK: we are focusing on service, quality and price. We try to stay creative in all facets of the business, not only in design.

FJ: What prompted you to launch your new entry price-point brand, Co-Lab? How will this line differ from your original handbag collection?

CK: due to popular demand. We can reach a lot more people at those price points and felt that it was the right thing to do. The reaction has been great and our history in manufacturing has helped us greatly as we know what to look for when it comes to possible problems in production and materials.

FJ: I love the name of your new Parachute JUMPER collection. When will this line be launching and what exactly is it?

CK: It won’t be launched – we will throw them off a plane across all of north America! It’s called jumper, because we are using high quality parachute material for this line and trimming it with Veg leather. It’s an answer to the big problem women are having with heavy bags… I also felt it was time to bring Nylon back baby… it’s been too long!

FJ: What are the hottest handbag trends and fabric innovations in the market? How will these be incorporated into the Christopher Kon Spring ‘09 lineup?

CK: again, it will be about the Nylon… I’m not big on canvas, although we do offer it in Co-Lab. Nylon and Leather is where my focus is for spring/ summer… super light, super bright!

FJ: Who’s sense of style do you most admire and why?

CK: I love Karl Lagerfeld. It’s crazy rock. I don’t know, on him it works! Anyone who just doesn’t care too much about it… it’s all too serious sometimes..

FJ: Where are your favorite places to shop in Montreal and New York?

CK: hmm…tough question. I don’t really shop in Montreal, but if I had to pick: Simon’s for basics and American Apparel. When I’m in New York, my favorites are Laundry, Atrium and so many others.

FJ: What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to break into the fashion (design) business?

CK: DON’T DO IT NOW! It’s a tough time to start now as most retailers are not bringing in new vendors. My advice is: keep you head down and work hard. Always stay inspired and don’t worry about anyone else’s business – worry about your own. Hard work will get you to point B!

FJ: What’s next for Christopher Kon?

CK: VACATION! I’m leaving in December with my girl and I’m so excited to get a little time off. After that, it’s about super luxe snakeskin for Christopher Kon in Fall ‘09! I can’t wait!

Craving even more Christopher Kon? Visit christopherkon.com and make sure to join his Facebook fan club!

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Filed: Interviews, Trends

Crazy for Christopher Kon… Handbags!

imageDuring one of my recent Brooklyn shopping sojourns, I noticed that upscale designer clothing boutiques like Zoë have started adding lower-priced, yet stylish merch to their existing Fall/Winter ’08 lineup. So, because of the current economic crisis, I felt it was my civic duty to single-handedly boost consumer confidence and make one last fall purchase: the head-turning Christopher Kon carryall shown here (a.k.a. the “Amy”).

A cutting-edge handbag company that’s been churning out fashionable and affordable arm candy since 2000, Christopher Kon is coveted by style influencers for signature details such as zippered pockets, eye-catching studs, ruching and durable handles that won’t slide off your shoulder. Far superior than any of those pricey designer “It” bags I’ve spotted on the market, the Amy, which happens to be crafted from ultra-lightweight and luxe Italian leather, will only set you back $385, which (believe it or not), when compared to other high end designer handbags of similar caliber is quite the bargain.

Roomy enough for stowing everyday essentials including my iPhone, keys, wallet and handi-wipes (yes, you can say germ-a-phobe!), my beloved Amy bag comes in an assortment of au courant colors such as clay, cognac and black. My personal fave, however, is the plum – a punchy shade that perks up my predominantly black wardrobe. Now if only it would do the same for the depressed economy.

Check out Christopher Kon’s complete Fall/Winter ’08 handbag collection at endless.com. Happy shopping!

I’m curious to know how you’ve been scaling back on your wardrobe purchases. Don’t be shy… share your stories with the rest of the Fashion Junkie community!

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Filed: News & Views, Trends

Body Reformers Worth Bragging About: Rese Pilates

imageAs a fitness fanatic who also happens to hail from Canada, I’ve amassed quite an impressive collection of Lululemon activewear over the years. But I have to admit, while I love the style, the fit of some of the tops is questionable. I’ll spare you the unsightly red strap marks imprinted beneath my chest, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. I guess that’s one of the drawbacks you have to accept with trendy workout apparel?

That’s what I thought until I stumbled upon ResePilates.com (pronounced Ree See), a cutting-edge and less costly fitness line that will have you doing backflips. For the uninitiated, Rese Pilates was actually designed to help you do exercises correctly by promoting proper alignment. Each garment helps you focus on key muscle groups such as your core, ribcage and other breathing points. For example, the workout bottoms are emblazoned with a black and white Yin & Yang logo, which sits at the front of the pant, reminding you to breathe and pull your navel towards your spine (a must for core strengthening). Now how smart is that?!

imageCrafted from ultra comfy, moisture-wicking fabrics like Supplex and Lycra, Rese Pilates offers a plethora of breathable tops and bottoms that won’t dig into your waist or ride up your rear. Some current must-haves include a sleek v-neck tank with gathered fabric at the bust (pictured above), extra-long racer-back tops that define your core and magically shrink your waistline (woo hoo!), sports bras that give “les girls” ample support, stylish extra-long-sleeved hoodies, skorts (ideal for tennis fans) and low-riser straight leg pants with skinny belts.

My personal fave is “The Connie” – a fitted boot-cut pant embroidered with a horizontal stripe at the waist (shown above), which helps focus hip alignment (for a constant reminder of my herniated disk!). Plus, everything comes in a variety of au courant colors such as fuchsia, burgundy, red, navy, turquoise and of course, black.

With such a fashionable and functional assortment of Rese Pilates merch to choose from, you’d better believe I’ll be sporting my supply well beyond those early morning latte runs. But don’t take my word for it… test-drive Rese Pilates and see for yourself!

Special Fashion Junkie Deal Just For YOU! Since I’m all about spreading the love, I’ve arranged for Fashion Junkie fans to receive a special 15% discount off any ResePilates.com items of your choice. Simply enter the promo code “Fashion Junkie” upon checkout. But don’t dilly dally… this exclusive offer is only valid through October 29th, 2008. Happy shopping!

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Filed: Trends

Target Bullseye Bodegas Officially Open!

imageCalling all recessionistas! If you happen to live in or around the NYC Metro area, you’d better clear your calendar for the official launch of Target’s “Bullseye Bodegas.”

A once-in-a-lifetime buying extravaganza (trust me on this!), Target’s über chic pop-up shops, which officially open to the public today, are a must for scoring deals ‘n steals on limited-edition finds in fashion, beauty, accessories and home from their coveted roster of acclaimed designer collaborations. And by the way, a few of these to-die-for designer collaborations won’t be found at Target stores until October!

Having just attended Thursday night’s jam-packed press preview, I thought I’d share some noteworthy highlights. Expect bargain basement prices on killer kicks from Sigerson Morrison like these black suede (yes, real suede!) open-toed beauties adorned with studs – a total steal at only $39.99! Lucky for me, I also managed to score the very last limited-edition Anya Hindmarch patent leather clutch (a mind-blowing $19.99!), which I noticed Entourage star “Mrs. Ari Gould,” eyeballing.

Truth be told, I was so overwhelmed by the sheer excitement, that I ended up buying not one, but four pairs of Sigerson Morrison for Targé shoes. But the best part: my total bill was only $140.

Target’s “Bullseye Bodegas” officially open to the public today through Monday, September 15th from 10am-10pm daily. Click here for NYC locations. Some final words of wisdom: get there at least one hour before doors are scheduled to open if you want first dibs on all the best stash. Happy shopping!

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Filed: Shop Talk