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

Kaya-Marisa Wornette

Our new stylist wornette talks visual mystics, haphazard patterns, and fearless female adventurers

The two words I would use to describe my life are travel and music. My life has been like an eclectic music video featuring scenes from Toronto, Jamaica, India, Thailand, and Japan.

I grew up living between Toronto and Kingston, Jamaica, and travelling whenever possible with my mother, a flight attendant and passionate globetrotter. When she took me to New Delhi, India when I was 13, I watched with fascination as she haggled with the shop keepers. The colours, textures, and grit of the city opened my eyes and flipped the ‘on’ switch to my creativity.

My personal style is highly influenced by my mother. I have a distinct memory of looking up at her in her long plaid skirt, leather boots, with her thick Sade-like hair in a long ponytail, and thinking she was wicked white hot cool and the most beautiful woman alive. I think of myself as a bohemian style chameleon. I like to try new things with the way I look, with the caveat that they be adventure-ready and comfortable. I’m frustrated with the retail experience, so lately my style has turned almost 90 per cent vintage. I love the experience of stepping into a quiet store and experiencing shopping with other people who love clothing as much as I do.

I currently moonlight as a freelance stylist, set designer, and art director. Beyond the high of simple aesthetic satisfaction, I have a passion for telling stories (my own and others’) along with an avid interest in fashion anthropology and the cultural identities. I find myself most inspired by nature’s textures (leaves, flowers, the patterns on the bark of trees), and the stories of fearless female adventurers.

Current Inspirations

Ted Polhemus
This is my latest find. A well-respected author, journalist, photographer, and curator with several books under his belt, Ted Polhemus draws on his background in anthropology with a focus on body art and adornment, chronicling fashion trends for their deeper revelations on human nature. He’s a thought-provoking instigator and his writings keep me up at night.

From hip hop greats ‘The Roots’ and the creators of OkayPlayer comes OkayAfrica. This is a great resource for the latest news, fashions, trends and music coming out of the African continent and Diaspora. Check out the ‘Africa In Your Earbuds’ section for booty bumblin’ music.

Street Etiquette
A wicked NYC style blog, creators Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs are the kind of storytellers that keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next explosion of visual dialogue. Embodying a sophisticated approach to street trends, they elevate the sartorial journey to high art. We need more male role models like this.

All things patterned related—in nature, fashion and art. I am in awe of the haphazard patterns found in nature and the city and can easily spend time staring at broken pavement on the road, the texture of the bark on a tree, or peeling paint on the side of a building.

I’ll never forget the moment. I was strolling through the halls of Jackson Square Mall in Hamilton when I came upon HMV and decided to peruse the ‘world music’ section. My ears became astutely aware of a song slowly building in momentum and the lyrics blasted, “twist your head around, it’s all around you, all is full of love.” The song was like a warm hug from your favourite auntie. This is how Bjork met me. I have enormous respect for her as a musician, singer, performance artist, nature lover, and visual mystic. I like that she has maintained a child-like playfulness and fearlessness with her style.

text // Kaya-Marisa Meadows
photography // Laura Tuttle

Lydia Wornette

Our new stylist intern talks frilly, girly details and the pizzazz of Diana Vreeland

Sometimes I like to imagine myself as the most interesting person you could ever meet, but usually I’m just your ordinary girl who’s found herself deeply seduced by the glamour and mystery of fashion. While so many people find solace and comfort in black, I regularly dress as if I’ve exploded out of a children’s cartoon. I believe that more is more: colours, prints, and heavy texturing. Load on the accessories and layer the clothes. The louder, the better. Why bother making a statement if no one can hear it, let alone feel the impact?

Personal style provides a fluidity that factual information never can. What I wear says much more about me than what I study or where I work. You can know me before I even open my mouth. The way I dress embodies my mood, my identity, and my aspirations. It’s how I express myself to the world. The meaning of dress, and the creation of beauty through what people wear, is the all-consuming focus of my thoughts.

That’s it. That’s Lydia, the new styling intern at WORN.

Current Inspirations

Diana Vreeland
I absolutely adore her personality and what she stands for. Her work at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and The Costume Institute in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is inspirational. Her pizzazz is legendary and her point of view is so unique and distinct. Her creation of fantasy and her constant drive for the unexpected is motivational.

Susie Lau
She has a quirky cartoonish style filled with frilly, girly details and an intelligent point of view to boot. What’s there not to love?

Katie Grand
The magazines that she started (Pop, AnOther and Love) are thick, juicy, and always filled with the most interesting editorial photos. Her distinct point of view is so undeniably original. I love her amalgamation of playfulness with tailoring and luxury.

TrendLand’s Editorial Page
The dirty dirty truth is that a lot of the time I look through fashion magazines just to see the editorial photos. (Except when I’m reading WORN, of course). TrendLand saves me the trouble of flipping through dozens of glossies by posting all the amazing editorial photos right online, with descriptions of models and stylists.

photography // Laura Tuttle