Christina McFaddin might not realize it, but she was probably destined to have her own lingerie label.
The Canadian designer was born in 1991, the year of the goat in the Chinese zodiac, which is considered to be the most feminine sign in the astrological calendar. People born in goat years tend to be creative, gentle and private and they gravitate toward careers in arts, teaching and design.
Those characteristics “fit me to a T,” said the Regina resident, whose artistic nature and love of couture fashion led her to the fashion design and merchandising program at the Art Institute of Vancouver.
And when Christina decided to launch her own lingerie brand two years ago, she knew what to call it: Year Of The Ram.
“I wanted to have a name that stood out, because I think my pieces do that,” she told Lingerie Talk. “My pieces are meant to be comfortable, feminine and wearable. They are by no means overly edgy or structured. I’m trying to make a product that any woman can wear at any time.”
YOTR‘s new collection for spring 2015 includes soft bralettes, longline bras, chemises, bodysuits and briefs, all hand-made and hand-dyed in stretch lace and cotton.
Year of the Ram has not only the most unusual name in the business, it’s also a rarity in Canada’s busy fashion scene: a stylish intimates label born on the Prairies, where the sources of inspiration are few and the retail opportunities even more so.
“Growing up in a Prairie province there wasn’t much in the way of fashion,” said Christina, who was born in neighbouring Manitoba. “It was not something I was around a lot.”
As a teen, she fed her imagination by thumbing through Vogue and other fashion magazines, drawing inspiration from Dior and later Givenchy.
After graduating from college in 2011, Christina landed a job as assistant to Chris Kopeck, the Vancouver-based freelance designer behind the ultra-romantic lingerie styles of California brand Naked Princess. Spending a year with an established designer was “definitely a great experience,” she said, introducing her to the possibilities of fashionable, high-end lingerie.
Year of the Ram debuted in January, 2013 with an Etsy shop while Christina fine-tuned her aesthetic, and her business model, by hosting lingerie parties in Winnipeg and Regina. Attendees could qualify to win a free lingerie ensemble by simply trying on her pieces and filling out a survey that gave the fledgling label some invaluable feedback.
That experience helped Christina realize that her tastes might not always reflect market preferences. For example, her Alice longline bra and brief set (above) was an immediate bestseller, but customers wanted more color options.
“I already knew what my comfort range is,” she said, referring to YOTR’s palette of neutrals and muted colorways. “But there’s a huge market for neons and bright girly colors. I learned that you might not like these colors, but the customers do.”
As a result, YOTR will be “bringing in a pop of color per season,” beginning with a deep blue in its SS2015 collection, a forest green in its 2015 fall offering and brighter summery colors in its next spring-summer range.
As YOTR prepares to enter its third year, it has also launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance its growth and spread its message about fashionable, hand-made intimates. It’s aiming to raise $5,000 that will be used for a new website and e-commerce shop, photo lookbooks and other key items that will help the brand get noticed.
The brand has also found like-minded friends among the local fashion community, and Christina is considering a role in the next Saskatchewan Fashion Week as well as a pop-up shop in partnership with a local retailer during the lead-up to Valentine’s Day.
Christina sees Year of the Ram as an antidote to the fast-fashion sameness that women encounter in mall brands — a familiar complaint on the prairies and everywhere else in the North American marketplace.
“Year of the Ram strives to step away from fast fashion by offering women beautiful hand-made designs,” she says in her Kickstarter pitch. “These are not your typical throwaway pieces. These are treasures that you will cherish for many years to come.”
Victoria’s Secret has changed the message, but not the models, in a controversial fall ad campaign promoting “The Perfect Body”.
The U.S. lingerie retailer yesterday changed the text on its main webshop campaign image — showing 10 slim supermodels wearing the latest products in its ‘Body by Victoria’ bra collection — to read “A Body For Every Body”.
The company made no public comment about the change, which follows an online petition that criticized the company for spreading a “damaging message … about women’s bodies and how they should be judged.”
The petition was started by three UK university students 2½ weeks ago and has collected nearly 27,000 signatures. A Twitter campaign using the hashtag #iamperfect has generated thousands of comments from around the world, including support from public figures like Lady Gaga and Shonda Rhimes.
“I am delighted that Victoria’s Secret has changed their campaign to a more inclusive slogan, and believe it portrays a much more positive and healthy message to young girls, which is exactly what we wanted,” Gabriella Kountourides, one of the co-founders of the #iamperfect campaign, told Lingerie Talk today.
“While I am ecstatic that our campaign has worked, clearly they heard us, I am still disappointed that Victoria’s Secret has released no statement,” she added. “They still need to take responsibility for the message they sent. We would also like a pledge not to use such harmful advertising campaigns again. Although (this is) a fabulous landmark, our campaign is not over!”
Other fashion and beauty brands joined in the online debate about body-shaming and beauty standards, and American underwear label Dear Kate created an alternative version (above) of the Victoria’s Secret ad that has probably been seen by almost as many women as the original. The Dear Kate photo mimics the composition of the ‘Perfect Body’ photo which was itself inspired by an earlier photo (top) in the Dove Real Beauty campaign.
The text accompanying the photos on the Victoria’s Secret website makes no reference to the bodies of either its models or its customers. The word “perfect” is used only in the context of its bra’s qualities, mentioning “perfect fit”, “perfect comfort” and “perfect coverage”.
Must be something in the water up there in the Baltics, where lingerie brands took their place alongside leading womenswear designers at two recent fashion weeks.
In Estonia last month, expat Kriss Soonik brought her London-based loungerie collection back home to Tallinn Fashion Week and walked off with the designer of the year award.
And last week at Riga Fashion Week, the still-new Latvian brand Amoralle cemented its reputation as one Europe’s most exciting young labels with a runway show filled with extravagant, aristocratic outfits.
It’s hard to overstate how far Amoralle has come in a very short time: it debuted at Riga FW in 2011 under the name Sockbox, presenting itself as a fashion hosiery label. Two years ago it rebranded as Amoralle, with an expanded collection of nightwear pieces that included opulent old-world boudoir robes unlike anything else on the market.
Amoralle‘s SS15 at its the latest fashion week presentation included more than two dozen styles, from lacy sheer slips and velvet bodysuits to showstopping productions like its Royal Feather Robe (above), an ivory tulle maxi trimmed with ostrich feather and a velvet sash.
Designer Inese Ozola has created an unmistakable aesthetic with such wildly dramatic looks, and you can see a number of surprising influences come together in her collections — old Hollywood glamour meets Eastern European folkloric costume, with a nod to the imperial palaces of yesteryear and even color schemes borrowed from military dress regalia.
Amoralle‘s market presence has grown as quickly as its design reputation: it now operates 27 stores worldwide and, according to its website, has doubled sales every year since its launch.
And for anyone gushing over these looks, there’s more good news. Styles from the SS15 collection went on sale immediately after their Riga FW unveiling, both on the Amoralle webshop and a special fashion week popup shop promoting Latvian designers.
Amoralle ships worldwide but everything is made-to-order, so get your Christmas gift orders in soon!
Below are more images from the Riga Fashion Week spectacular runway show.
[Gabriella Kountourides (above) is a 22-year-old zoology student at Leeds University, UK and one of three women behind an online petition that asks Victoria’s Secret to apologize for its ‘Perfect Body’ ad campaign. The petition has received more than 23,000 signatures and provoked a social media discussion around the hashtag #iamperfect. In the article below, a version of which first appeared on the fashion website Glammonitor, she explains why the issue is worth fighting for.]
Ask any woman how she feels when she looks in the mirror and you are likely to get the same answer: “Sometimes great, sometimes awful.”
It’s human nature to have doubts about oneself. This can surely only be exacerbated by the way women are portrayed in the media today. Almost without exception, one type of woman is represented as ‘the ideal’. She is usually tall, light-skinned, young, very skinny — and classically beautiful. Why are all the other women in the world invisible?
Remembering my school days, I recall the moment I noticed my body shape and, for the first time, having doubts about it. What I saw in the mirror didn’t reflect what I saw in shop windows. This was even worse for friends of mine, some of whom were diagnosed with eating disorders. It remains a very dark cloud on an otherwise happy childhood.
This feeling was perpetuated as I grew older: the same type of people were in movies, and anyone with the slightest ‘flaw’ was humiliated in the tabloids. Constant criticisms of women in the public eye: ‘She has put on weight.’ ‘She is anorexic.’ ‘Try her crash diet.’ We are constantly bombarded with double messages, fat-shaming larger women and then skinny-shaming the slim ones. Women can clearly do no right.
The diversity of women and their body shapes is breathtaking; the only ‘perfect’ is that belonging to the airbrush. Perfection is subjective. However, a new advert by Victoria’s Secret would have us believe otherwise.
There is a shopping centre near where I live, it’s the biggest in the area and attracts thousands of shoppers each day. At the exit there is a Victoria’s Secret store, and on October 19 I walked past it to leave, but this time something stopped me in my tracks. A picture of three women with identical body shapes and the words “The Perfect ‘Body'” displayed across them.
The image, advertising a bra range called ‘Body’, made me so angry that I posted immediately on the Leeds University feminist society Facebook page, asking if anyone else had seen this and wanted to do something about it. And two other students, Frances Black and Laura Ferris, felt exactly the same way.
What made us so cross was the juxtaposition of those three small words across three tall, skinny models with interchangeable bodies. The advert reinforces the idea to all its consumers what the company’s vision of ‘perfect’ is. It screamed out to passers-by that if they did not look like this, there was something wrong with them. So we sat down in the coffee shop at the university and wrote our petition.
Victoria’s Secret is one of the most popular stores in America (2013, BrandIndex), and their shops are global. Their target consumers are girls from teens to late twenties — our most insecure years. Young girls are bombarded with images of ‘perfection’ every day, but this went a step too far. It labeled them. This kind of messaging is damaging to girls (and boys as well), and a shop like Victoria’s Secret has a significant influence over how our society views women. This, to me, is an example of irresponsible advertising.
I am the proud step-sister of two wonderful younger girls, I lead summer camps for 12-year-old teenagers and, while I try to promote healthiness and body confidence, campaigns like this one destroy it with a single line. According to the Confidence Coalition, 90% of all women want to change something about themselves, and I strongly believe that it’s (because of) adverts like these.
Since we started the petition, it has gone global, with coverage on major media networks like the BBC, ABC and CTV, as well as almost all the UK newspapers, leading magazines and other global news organizations. It has to date almost 24,000 signatures. The response we have had has been overwhelming. We have been inundated with emails from girls recovering from eating disorders, mothers, and fathers, all supporting the campaign and saying how adverts like this are potentially damaging.
Victoria’s Secret has choices. We really hope that the company will listen. We ask for a simple change — to remove the wording “the perfect body” and show you care about the consumers you target.
If you agree with me, please support our petition here.
[Ed. Note: Victoria’s Secret has not responded to requests for comment on this subject and has not contacted the petition organizers.]
While everyone was dressing up as Nicki Minaj for Hallowe’en, the ‘Anaconda’ rapper had her own ideas: she used a popular lingerie set as the foundation for a ‘Bad Teacher’ costume.
In fact, about the only thing she added was the apple, apparently a gift from a teacher’s pet.
Nicki used the red-and-black colorway from the Charlotte range from Parfait by Affinitas for the holiday ensemble. It’s one of the brand’s most popular pin-up looks, offering plenty of support with light padding and bold, solid color combinations.
You can find the line on HerRoom in North America or Large Cup Lingerie in the UK, with bras priced around $45 and the bikini brief at $18. There’s also a high-waisted brief that offers a full vintage look for about $20.
Apple not included.
You can see Nicki’s selfies on her Instagram account, which also offers shots of a few of the thousands of girls who showed up at Hallowe’en parties on Friday with booty boosters and matching stuffed anacondas to complete their Nicki costumes.