The #10YearChallenge: Canadian fashion in 2009 versus 2019

By Meghna Sarawat

The #10YearChallenge has been blowing up our social media feeds since the beginning of the new year. You’ve seen it: two contrasting photos of your friend, on the left a photo of them in 2009 and on the right a photo of them today. Some also refer to the challenge as the ‘How hard did aging hit you’ challenge. 2009 was literally and figuratively a different time and we’re throwing it back to the good old days.

2009 was the year Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released and everyone was listening to “I Got a Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas and obsessing over Eminem’s Relapse album. Harem pants were today’s Champion sweatpants and boots with shorts were today’s equivalent of a skinny dress with suede over-the-knee boots.

2019 has already brought all new music, movies and pop culture trends. As for the world of fashion, it has come a long way since 2009. Last year was somewhat revolutionary, because that was when politics and fashion collided on a global scale. Today it’s trendy to use fashion for political messaging, like with the Me Too movement and the larger feminist movement, which inspired graphic t-shirts with feminist expressions.

Chair of the Ryerson School of Fashion Robert Ott remembers his 2009 style consisting of predominantly navy and black suits. He described the past 10 years of fashion as going from, “Loose fitting pants to slim fitting pants, from t-shirts to sweaters, from long shirts to short shirts.”

Chair of the Ryerson School of Fashion Robert Ott decorated his office with silk wall art by French fashion designer Pierre Cardin. (CanCulture/Meghna Sarawat)

Chair of the Ryerson School of Fashion Robert Ott decorated his office with silk wall art by French fashion designer Pierre Cardin. (CanCulture/Meghna Sarawat)

Ott said that 2019 has given us the freedom to develop our own individual styles. In an interview with CanCulture, Ott spoke about fast fashion and its important role in 2019. By fast fashion he means mass produced clothing, which aims to keep up with the latest trends, rather than primarily focusing on quality. He also said that in 2019 we, as a society, tend to stay away from purchasing expensive designer brand items.

“We are happy in buying something that was knowingly knocked off from another brand for a fraction of the price,” said Ott.

Shae Lynds, a Ryerson fashion design student, remembers 2009 as the phase of Hollister and Aeropostale, when everyone looked more or less the same. She explained that her style has tremendously changed over the past 10 years. In 2017 she  moved to Toronto from Niagara-on-the-Lake. She said that in her hometown everyone dressed in similar clothing, and since moving to Toronto, the diversity of clothing has influenced her style.

Ryerson fashion design student Shae Lynds credits the diversity of Toronto fashion for influencing her personal wardrobe. (CanCulture/Meghna Sarawat).

Ryerson fashion design student Shae Lynds credits the diversity of Toronto fashion for influencing her personal wardrobe. (CanCulture/Meghna Sarawat).

As for designer culture, Canadian designers have earned much press in the last few years and have shown the world Canada’s talent. Meghan Markle, who resided in Toronto for seven years, has been very well known for her fashion. She supports numerous Canadian brands, like Aritzia and Soia & Kyo.

Canada has gained a reputable standing on the world’s fashion platform since 2009. Designers Jason Wu, Greta Constantine, and Mackage have got the #10YearChallenge in their pocket; see how they changed over the years…

Greta Constantine

Another highly acclaimed Canadian fashion designer is Greta Constantine. Ten years ago Constantine was into bodysuits and revealing outfits. Today, the brand is creating more classy, simple yet elegant pieces.

Jason Wu

Jason Wu has designed beautiful dresses for Michelle Obama, Gemma Chan, Karlie Kloss and other icons. The Canadian designer is known for his elegant and feminine dresses. In 2009 Wu designed Michelle Obama’s dress for her husband’s inauguration. Her one-strap dress was light in colour, texturized, romantic and feminine. In contrast to Obama’s dress, Wu’s design for Gemma Chan’s Critics’ Choice Awards 2019 look was more bold. Chan’s a-line dress was bright pink and flowery, completely strapless and contained a very 2018/19 detail - pockets.

From left: Michelle Obama dances with her husband Barack Obama at his presidential inauguration in a dress designed by Jason Wu. (Photo courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Suzanne Day via Wikimedia Commons) Actress Gemma Chan poses in a custom Jason Wu floral gown at the Critics’ Choice Awards. (Photo courtesy of  Jason Wu  via Instagram) Graphic created by Meghna Sarawat.

From left: Michelle Obama dances with her husband Barack Obama at his presidential inauguration in a dress designed by Jason Wu. (Photo courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Suzanne Day via Wikimedia Commons) Actress Gemma Chan poses in a custom Jason Wu floral gown at the Critics’ Choice Awards. (Photo courtesy of Jason Wu via Instagram) Graphic created by Meghna Sarawat.

Mackage

In January 2009, Mackage, a popular Canadian outerwear brand, mostly came out with leather and sheepskin coats with fur accents around the collar and wrists. This season the brand is focusing on puffer coats and parkas with fur lining this season. Their puffer coats, which have made a comeback the past two winter seasons, fit the simplicity of today’s major fashion trends. For a closer look, you can check out their store location in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

Social media fads such as the #10YearChallenge are a great way to start off the new year. Looking back and reflecting on the past is a good way to appreciate what we personally, and as a society, have gone through; it even forces us to think about where we’d like to see ourselves in the new year.

Canadian designers have come a long way since January 2009. This year they will surely come out with tons of original and trendy styles as they adapt to this year’s popular culture. This year we will surely see more celebrities wearing Canadian brands than ever before, as Canada continues creating a global name for itself within the fashion industry. Perhaps, 10 years down the road, in 2029, we’ll look back at today’s trends and think, “Oh my gosh, how could I have worn those Fila Disruptor sneakers with that little black dress?”

Canadian Fashion Designer: Mani Jassal

Fashion designer, Mani Jassal showcased her Spring/Summer 2016 evening wear Udaipur Tea Party collection in a runway show at 99 Sudbury on Oct. 14, 2015. Jassal’s inspiration for this collection was the city of Udaipur in India, also know as the ‘City of Lakes’. The designer reflected majestic combination of mountains, water and marble architecture of the royal palaces in an innovative blend of fabrics, colours and silhouettes that give the collection very luxurious touch. She used silks, crepes, brocades and embroidered floral prints in intricate pieces – gowns, skirts, trousers, capes, and separates.

Jassal describes her self-titled label as “a little bit more rebellious and a little bit more different.” Each outfit reflects the designer’s individuality and every piece of clothing is hand-made by Jassal herself, sometimes with the help from her mother.

She uses fashion as a universal language by combining Canadian and Indian cultures together. “I am Canadian-Indian, so my brand is taking those two cultures together, putting them together and creating clothes for everyone. It is not just for Indians or just for Canadians – it is for everyone,” she said. She represents that idea by choosing her models from many different ethnic groups.

Her studio is a place where she produces clothes for both national and international clients. Local clients come to her studio to place the order and have a look at her newest collections. For her international clients, she offers virtual design consultations. “No matter where you are in the world, I am able to create you something for any occasion,” she said.

The process of designing a cloth takes a lot of time since Jassal does everything on her own, but the final product is the only one of its kind. She draws inspirations from traveling, reading fashion magazines, or just simply watching people around her. Whenever and wherever an idea comes to her mind, she starts sketching it right away. Next, she goes fabric shopping. If she sees something she likes, she automatically has this vision in her head what she wants to create with it. In her designs, she enjoys using a lot raw silks and incorporating to it some sort of shine or print fabrics. Her collections always remain in one colour rather than a bunch of different colours for each piece of clothing. She designs clothes that she would want to wear and her customers enjoy what she wears, so it goes hand in hand to balance her creativity with commerce.

“My favourite part about being a designer is that it makes me happy, I really enjoy doing it and it doesn’t feel like a job,” she said.

Since Jassal was 12-years old, she knew she wanted to be a fashion designer. It was in the high school when she had this kind of ‘breaking point’ because she did not know what she wanted to do and at this point she was actually planning to be an engineer instead of a fashion designer. However, her passion to fashion drove her to Ryerson University in Toronto for fashion design and two years after the graduation she is here with her self-titled brand.

In five years from now, she wants to have her own boutique. She is planning to open her first location in Toronto and then expand her boutiques all over the world.