Crushing on Dave Raimey

More than just a football uniform

In the early ’70s, if you knew anything about Toronto football, you knew about Dave Raimey. Considered one of the best running backs of his time, he was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2000. Though he played in both the US and Canada, he is best known for playing with the 1971 Toronto Argonauts, named the “greatest team that never won,” after they lost a Grey Cup game following a slip on some wet grass.

Raimey was known in his own right, frequently featured in magazine spreads and news articles, photo shoots and retail ads. This exposure had as much to do with his football playing than it did his groovy threads. Raimey’s eclectic clothing (most of which was hand sewn) made him something of a style icon in the ’70s, creating a cult of fans who followed him both on and off the field. Naturally, WORN is smitten.

How did you first get interested in sewing?
I started sewing years ago. We got hand-me-down clothes: my grandmother would go clean a house somewhere out in the wealthy part of town and bring back clothes that people would give her. I learned how to alter them to fit me.

Who taught you how to sew?
My mother died when we were eight, nine, 10, and 11. I was 10. So I became very attached to my aunts; there were four of them, but one sewed. She had a business going; she’d make hats for women. I used to watch her. Now my son, he sews. And he learned by watching me. I was a single parent, raising him by myself, and he watched me sewing. I bought him a Mustang, when we were living in Columbia, South Carolina. I reupholstered his Mustang for him, brand new seats. It was the first time I had done that, but it turned out fine, and I think that may have sold him on sewing.

So how old were you when you picked up your first needle?
Probably 13 or 14.

How did it evolve from there, from altering your own things to making clothes from scratch?
I used to make clothes, but right now I just alter things. I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for 30 years; I was shopping at thrift stores when I was playing for the Toronto Argonauts. I just always did that. I guess because of my upbringing, I love to shop at thrift stores. I have so many clothes, it’s unreal. Like nice stuff! Fabulous clothes, well-made, high-end clothing. You know, I will pay full price for stuff too.

I’m also really fond of reupholstering. I was a member of the Interior Decorating Society in Dayton, Ohio. Paid my dues! And I decorated a few houses for some folks that I knew. I just always liked that. I still re-upholster. In fact, I’m going home this weekend to get my machine. It’s real big and heavy; it’s a walking foot. I have other machines: here in town, I have three—sorry, four.

So do you ever go to a tailor?
Oh yeah, I go to tailors. I’ve got a jacket now that I’m doing. The shoulders, you’ve got to take all the padding out, and it’s such a complicated job. My real good stuff I take to the tailors! But, I’ve made vests and pants. I’ve even made hats! I made my daughter a graduation dress when she graduated from high school. It was a bold pattern, sort of form-fitting. But she wanted it, so I made it up for her, and she wore it. I was kinda proud (laughs).

What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever made?
I made a men’s jacket with pockets here and pockets there (pointing to his chest and sides), and epaulettes here. Black. I still have it, I made it a long time ago. Kept it all these years ’cause I was so proud of it. I’ll tell you a story: In elementary school in Dayton, Ohio, Grade 6, they had this class where half the year you could cook (home ec), and the other half was sewing. I couldn’t cook, but I got an A in the class. I made a corduroy shirt: orange corduroy. It had what they call a Billy Eckstein collar, a big collar. It went up and folded down. But the worst thing I did, is I made French cuffs on a corduroy shirt. It was ugly. I went home, put the shirt on, and the French cuffs were in here (points to the insides of his wrist). The teacher didn’t even notice. I ended up just making it short-sleeved.

Do you think that class influenced you at all?
Yeah, it did. It showed me how to sew the right way. Since then, I’ve been altering clothes, fixin’ things. I’ll buy a suit, take it home and put the cuffs on myself, and shorten the sleeves if I have to.

A lot of people would find it surprising that a football player was so openly into sewing in the 1970’s…
Yeah, I got kidded quite a bit about it.

Was there anything that ever bothered you?
No, never. You know they kidded me, and you can imagine what they’d say (laughs). They just did a special on our team (The Greatest Team That Never Won), and [the director] called me a fashionista. She said, “Dave, were you offended by that?” It doesn’t bother me, never did. I enjoy it because it’s creative, and it’s very relaxing. And I enjoy looking good and appreciating things that I’ve made.

I heard a rumour that you used to take your sewing machine with you when you traveled, is that true?
(Laughs) No.

Do you have fabrics that you lean toward, or things you like to make?
In the last ten years, I’ve liked vests, real loud vests. Loud and bright, you know, I think that it’s sharp for men to wear a white shirt, or short-sleeve shirt, and a colourful vest. I’m looking at making one now. I think it’s great to wear with a suit. Now they’re making sports jackets with that kind of design already sewn into them, I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but they’re really big right now. But I can’t find a pattern, so I’m going to have to make my own. That’s my next project.

Do you take a lot of pride in the stuff you make?
Yeah, everything. The stuff I’ve made, the stuff I build, the things I’ve fixed. With the knowledge I have, I try to do it the best I can. It’s the only way to do things. Like football, I gave it my all. Every game, every play.

Has anyone not liked something that you’ve made?
No, not that I’ve made. But one day I was wearing an overcoat, down in Dayton, and I loved the coat; I had got it at a thrift store. And some woman told me, “What you doin’ with that old coat on?” It hurt my feelings! I kept wearing it that season, but then stopped wearing it the next season.

Has your style changed much since the ’60s?
Yeah. I’ve always liked shirts with lace on them and they used to kid me, but I’ve always liked that. I think it’s sharp. Paisley, that is one style I did not like. And I never did like bell-bottoms; I’m a short little guy with thick legs, I never looked good in bell-bottoms.

I marvel at some of these designers, some of them are just geniuses, the way they figure out clothing for men and coordinate it. I look at a lot of that today, and there are some talented folks out there.

Do you think in another life that could have been you?
Yeah, but I’m not sure I would have been as good as some of these people I’ve seen. I would have loved to have designed clothing for men. Women’s fashion, I know nothing about that.

Is fashion more personal for you, or do you pay attention to trends?
I do, every now and then, in the magazines, but I just kind of dress how I like. I’ve been watching through the years, and they’ll go with the baggy pants, and then go to tight-fitting, and then back to baggy. They have a wide lapel and they go to a narrow lapel. I’ve watched all that, and said to hell with that, I’m just gonna wear what I wear.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Glorious Saris of Gerrard Street

Chayonika Wornette talks about traditional saris and the colourful culture of India with the owner of Chandan Fashion

When I walked into Chandan Fashion, an Indian boutique in the heart of Little India, a warm, familiar feeling seeped into me. The sweet smell of burning incense mixed with the tangy spices of butter chicken, the hustle bustle of boutique workers, the blur of vivid colours; it all reminded me of my childhood in Delhi, with its smoke-filled air and the busy streets. The owner Sarab Singh reminded me of my grandmother, who used to dress me up in her saris when I was a toddler. Singh and her husband have been in the retail business for over 25 years, dealing with intricate, traditional Indian clothing.

Before I left, she wrapped me up in a gorgeous purple and gold sari and told me to come back any time I wanted. I felt at home.

How did you get into the business of selling saris?
My husband had the same kind of business back home so when we came to Canada, we decided to start the same business.

How has your mother influenced your dressing style?
I am from the east of India so that’s their culture, hence, I wore most of the normal styles they wore. When I was in Grade 10, I remember, I used to get really excited when my mother let me wear saris. I even wore one to my graduation. It used to be a big deal to wear saris and it was very exciting for me, you know?

How do you wear you saris?
I use a lot of pins inside to hold them together from the starting point to the end. When I make the pleats, I make sure to put a nice pin in to hold the pleats together. I put another pin on my shoulder to attach the beginning of the train to my blouse so that my hands are free.

What are some of the materials used to make saris?
A lot of different materials can be used: silk, polyester, nylon, rayon, cotton, all manufactured in India. I prefer georgette because this material pleats better, and silk is nice for special occasions and parties.

Do you like how the saris used in Bollywood movies nowadays have a lot of sex appeal, or do you prefer other styles?
I prefer regular, old, traditional saris because they are evergreen and will never go out of fashion. Simple styles are the best. But sexy or modern styles or saris will only be trendy for a few months or a few years before something new comes out again, and the style that is current will go out of fashion. Maybe my age is a big factor as well. That is probably why I like simple saris. My style has also been passed onto my 21 year old daughter. She wears saris and looks very nice in them. I would definitely pick classy saris over fancy ones.

So, do you think modern generations are into saris?
Modern generations are definitely into saris, yes. I sell a lot of saris to younger generations. I even sell them for prom. As soon as it’s prom season, I put all my sari-inspired pieces out on display. My daughter went to a private high school and wore a really pretty sari for her own prom.

Do you have a lot of non-Indian customers?
Toronto is a very diverse, cosmopolitan city, so I definitely have a wide variety of customers who buy traditional clothing from me. I think my customers find it a little dressy. They like to wear saris because they think they’re vibrant. They say, “We are tired of monotone colours all the time.” They think we have a very colourful selection of saris, which is completely true. All the different colours we have on our saris complement each other and never look tacky. It is our culture. People wear them to special occasions and weddings. I once had a lady from Jamaica come into my store and she wanted to wear something traditional for her own wedding. She wanted to buy a traditional lehenga and I custom ordered it for her from India. It was a gorgeous, hand-beaded, white lehenga, custom fitted to her size. And after the wedding, she brought in some pictures and said, “This is your lehenga. Thanks for making me look so stunning.” She definitely got a lot of compliments which made me really happy. Indian clothing is definitely becoming more popular all around the world. I realize that India is a third world country and the bad parts of the country are always highlighted. But now, I think that India is waking up and is definitely better than before. I think traditional clothing lets people escape from the bad parts and focus on how vivid and rich our country really is. If you have money in your pocket, come with me and I will show you all the good parts of India.

photography // Laura Tuttle

Paging Judy Jetson

Crushing on 3D jewelry printers Hot Pop Factory

Three-dimensional printing may seem more akin to sci-fi conventions than fashion ateliers—Makerbot did call their newest machine “The Replicator” after all. But for industrial design and architecture students, 3D printers and computer-aided design (CAD) modeling make up a big part of their curriculum. A lot like a regular paper printer, 3D printers read information from a computer, then translate it into something you can touch. These just have one more axis and some super hot melted plastic. But this time, architects Biying and Matt have applied their keen sense of geometry and form to something a little smaller: they design and print jewelry pieces from their Toronto apartment under the moniker Hot Pop Factory. They talk to WORN about their process and the dichotomy of small scale digital production in the handmade world.

With backgrounds in architecture, your skills lend themselves both to 3D modelling and thus printing. Why did you choose to make jewelry objects?
Jewelry and architecture operate at vastly different scales, and yet, fundamentally, they are both about establishing relationships with the human body. For us, this was an amazing opportunity to apply our skill at creating space and form at an extremely intimate scale. We found the kind of connection that a person has with jewelry is much more personal and immediate. Contrasting our experience in architecture, designing at this individualized scale can help shape personal identity and style in a way that has been very rewarding for us.

What inspires the forms you use?
For our initial foray into 3D printing, we drew inspiration from the fabrication process itself. We wanted to establish a deep understanding of the technology, both in terms of the opportunities it affords in the creation of novel forms and also in the terms of the wider social and cultural implications. Our first collection, Strarigraphia, which, as the name implies, is about this stratification of many layers, seeks to uncover the inherent beauty of the additive manufacturing process and at the same time evoke the accretion of knowledge and sharing of resources that are prevalent in the wider maker community.

What does your design process look like?
While working on architectural projects, one is always limited to iterating their work through forms of representation: sketches, models, drawings. For our jewelry collection, this process was radically changed through the use of the 3D printer. We were able to touch, feel, and wear every iteration of our design from the very start of the project. This resulted in a design process that was essentially a litany of ever evolving prototypes. Each generation accumulated several small changes which were ultimately reflected in the final product, this allowed us to create highly personal and evocative objects which was the ultimate goal of our work.

You sell your work at craft shows and on Etsy. Do you see a distinction between “handmade” crafts and batch 3D printed work?
Digital design and fabrication technologies are merely tools in what is ultimately an artisanal process. There is an art form that is developed in how they are finessed and manipulated to fulfill a design vision. Like in any other craft, they can be used more or less successfully depending on the talent and experience of the artisan. In this respect, there is a striking resemblance between the way we design and fabricate our work and more traditional handicrafts. Ultimately, the biggest difference might be that, due to the digital nature of our work, there is the opportunity for it to be shared and modified freely among many artisans allowing it to become a platform for other creative works instead of a singular object.

Where do you see digital fabrication technologies fitting into the world of fashion manufacturing at large?
It’s difficult to pin down where this is all going so early on. I think the most prominent and exciting feature of this technology is how it radically lowers the barriers to entry in the creation of physical objects. This means that many fresh innovations will begin to arise from unexpected places. We will no longer be boxed into the role of “consumer” but will all have the opportunity to be the author of the objects that define us. This whole process will be compounded by the fact that all of this knowledge and work can be shared freely over the internet due to its digital form.

Any plans for large scale Iris Van Herpen statement pieces in the future?
Yes. Iris Van Herpen is a huge inspiration for us in that she uses rapid prototyping of unconventional materials to dress the body. Like Van Herpen, we are very interested in the intersection between traditional fabrication techniques and rapid prototyping technologies. Currently, we are experimenting with creating textiles with our 3D printer—a spin on chain mail structures. The idea is to design printable modules with its individual links already interlaced. This process allows us to create extremely intricate designs computationally, and produce those designs with more precision and less time.

What jewelry inspires you?
We love Kate Cusack’s zipper necklaces; she is a great example of an artist who has really mastered her medium and material. We also covet the bold use of elemental materials and clean lines in Mimi Jung’s Brook and Lyn Jewelry. In the 3D printed jewelry world, we love Michiel Cornelissen‘s coin necklace, which is a great example of the kind of innovation and unique vision that can rise from jewelry created with a digital fabrication approach.

video // Daniel Reis
photography // Laura Tuttle

The Sweetest Thing

Crushing on Montreal designer Betina Lou

Looking at Montreal designer Marie-Eve Emond’s line, Betina Lou, you’d never guess she spent her formative years working with sequins and prom dresses. Simple, sophisticated and easy-to-wear, her work marries classic styles with whimsical detailing—a shift dress with plaid Peter Pan collar, a polka dot camisole with button detailing.

Originally from Chicoutimi in northern Quebec, Emond started Betina Lou (“It’s more memorable than Marie-Eve”) in 2009, having worked in the industry since her early teens; and her experience shows. Taking cues from Audrey Hepburn’s foolish and elegant style (like the iconic actress, Emond has a diminutive frame and striking eyebrows), the country’s contrary climate and missing links in her own wardrobe, Emond has grown Betina Lou into a locally made reliably stylish label.

WORN visited the designer at her warehouse studio in Montreal’s Mile End to talk fashion business know-how and showing at Montreal Fashion Week.

How did you get interested in fashion?
I started at a very young age. My grandmother made clothing for the family and she gave me fabric to play with; that’s really when my interest started. Then I studied fashion design. But, actually, before that I was sewing costumes for a dance show in my hometown. For four summers my job was assisting, sewing on feathers and sequins for Moulin Rouge-type of costumes. That really confirmed that I wanted to do this.

Wow! That’s quite the production.
It was a cabaret show, dinner theatre. There were four or five shows a week for the whole summer. At the beginning I thought maybe I could be a costume designer but I realized that I’m not into flashy things or bright colours—what I do is really wearable and simple, everything is there but not too much, it’s in the details—I don’t think I would’ve been able to create such extravagant clothing! Then I got my BA in fashion design at UQAM and worked at different places. I was an assistant designer at a place where we made prom dresses, which wasn’t really my style either! [laughs]. Then I worked at Mackage for six years; I learned a lot, everything from marketing to international trade.

Did you always know you wanted to have your own line?
Yes! [laughs] Okay, maybe not that clear, but I always wanted to be my own boss and have my own company. When you start it never stops and you don’t have time to say, “Where do I find a supplier?” “Where do I find buttons?” I wanted the experience first.

Were you nervous about starting your own business?
Not nervous—excited. It was natural, because I had planned it for a long time. At the launch, maybe then I was a little nervous. And the first time you put pictures on Facebook and you say, ‘Okay, that’s it! That’s what I was doing for six months!’”

You just showed your first collection at Montreal Fashion Week. What was that like?
It was a lot of work! We don’t have extra time—it’s always busy—so adding that on top was a lot of work. It wasn’t my first time because I’d worked on fashion week for different companies, fortunately. There are a lot of things to know, like how to run a casting, how to plan the stylist, public relations, who’s going to be sitting where, the music—lots of little details. There are many things I prefer doing than a fashion show—I like to be in the studio, making clothes—but it went well.

A few local designers show every season, would you do it again?
It’s never really been something that I wanted to do. This time I was selected by a committee to show, so that was flattering. I thought that now people would know the line; it was a good time to do it. But it’s not spectacular. It’s not really worth having people come and making such a big show of such simple, wearable clothing. I think there are other designers who do things that are more appropriate.

How was the feedback? Did you read the reviews?
There were a lot of reviews. I wasn’t nervous about them because, especially in Montreal, if they don’t like it they just don’t mention you. And if they talk about you, it’s positive.

As a designer, would you be happy if there were more criticism? If you put something out there and got a harsh critique would it make you think, ‘Okay, this is something I can work on’?
It would be hard because we work so hard and we’re not used to it because there is never any criticism or negative reviews. Sometimes there are negative reviews on fashion week as a whole, or on the selection of designers who showed but I don’t know if it’s a problem. But in music and film you have negative reviews all the time. We don’t get 5 stars or 3 stars—it’s always ‘Wow!’ People find what they like.

Have you seen the Montreal industry change over the years?
There are more designers and, I feel, a lot of collaborations between designers. It goes by ‘cohorts.’ If you launch at the same time you support each other. The younger designers I know because I’m interested and I follow them. I go to Fashion Pop every year and I try to see what’s new and what’s going on. Sometimes, a few years after [young designers] launch, you don’t see them anymore because they were too eager to start, but they’re going to go into the industry and come back later.

Is there anyone working in Montreal who you think is doing something different?
I like Atelier B., they’re really dynamic with the store and the mailing list and the events they do. They always seem to be able to do so many things at the same time and do them well. I like some brands who aren’t really considered “designers” like Naked and Famous, who are really selling well, and have a great product. We don’t talk about them too often here in Montreal but they are so well known everywhere.

photography // Allison Staton