Fashioning Reality: A New Generation of Entrepreneurship

I first read about Ben Barry when Teen People named him “one of twenty teens who will change the world.” I felt proud because Barry was a Canadian high school student, just a year older than me. He was on a mission to transform the fashion industry’s narrow standard of beauty by running a modeling agency that represented models of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities.

Reading Barry’s memoir Fashioning Reality, I felt like it had been written for my teenaged self. As he outlines his successes and struggles, Barry offers advice for young would-be entrepreneurs on how they too can use business to create social change. Barry started his agency when he was 14 to represent a friend who had been told by a magazine editor that she was “too big” to model. At first he was motivated by a concern that images of unhealthy models were detrimental to the health and self-worth of his friends, but he soon realized that using “real” models was also a successful business model, since companies that used his models almost always saw increased profits as a result.

Like we do at WORN, Barry believes that consumers want and deserve to see a diversity of ages, sizes, and ethnic backgrounds represented in the media. I’m a firm believer that we should never put people down to elevate others, and so I admire that he never criticizes thin women as not being “real,” instead stressing that thin, white, and tall is overdone, and argues that there’s a desperate need for greater diversity.
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Jaclyn Wornette!

After graduating from Carleton University’s journalism program, I took some time to volunteer and travel in Southeast Asia. When I returned, I worked for just over a year at an Ottawa-based non-profit. This fall, I decided to move to Toronto and enrolled in Centennial College’s Book and Magazine Publishing Program, which is where I’m now happily spending my days. My fashion experimentations peaked at the age of eight when I would mix patterns and neons so obscene that my mum and sister would beg me to change my clothes before school every morning. I haven’t achieved such levels of greatness since, but am still an appreciator of anyone who takes fashion risks. I can tell that my time spent in the world of WORN will be filled with many new inspirations!

Current Inspirations

Copenhagen Cycle Chic
Pictures of people looking amazing while cycling through Copenhagen snow storms make me feel a little guilty about my winter hibernation tendencies.

Sally Jane Vintage
Lots of pretty vintage finds from this Pennsylvanian blogger. I’m always finding out about other blogs and sites through her links.

Luxirare
I’m grateful to my friend Jasmin for introducing me to this site. Killer clothes + fine cuisine = two of my favourite things in one place. The food posts make my jaw drop.

Lungfuls
I don’t know who creates this blog, but it’s always filled with beautiful photos, fashion spreads and videos.

Book by Its Cover
Ok, this one’s not exactly fashion related – but a good book can make a great accessory! I love the handmade ones on this site.

Book Review – Pierre Cardin: Fifty Years of Fashion and Design

Covering the ’50s through the ’90s, Längle outlines the social and historical contexts of this French designer’s work, from his famous “bubble dress,” to The Beatles’ collarless suits. She also reminds us of the industry’s dept to Cardin, who, as the first couturier to create a ready-to-wear line, was criticized by the fashion elite and even once expelled from the Chambre Syndicale, the regulating commission of haute couture in Paris. The book is fact-filled, comprehensive, and covers almost every step in Cardin’s career. But it lacks analysis and personality. It’s only through quotes from Cardin himself, which are littered throughout the book in sidebars and photo captions, that the reader gleans any real insight into the designer’s motivations and character. When Pierre Cardin succeeds, it is largely because of its emphasis on photography. Perhaps the text is sparse because Längle understands the large, full-colour photos of Cardin’s bold creations can stand alone, serving as a powerful visual timeline of the designer’s impressive career.

by Elisabeth Längle (The Vendome Press)
reviewed by Jaclyn Irvine (originally published in Worn Fashion Journal Issue 12)

photography by Jessica da Silva