We know that dressing for a theme party isn’t always a walk on the beach, so the styling department here at WORN thought we would help out all you sunbathing Betties and fun-loving Freddies planning on attending our issue 14 launch party. Myself and new style intern, Rachel, took a break from hanging out at the surf shack (read: the overheated WORN office) and visited some local Toronto shops to serve up a few inspiration outfits for Saturday’s Beach Ball.
On this round of WORN crushes we are focusing on locals girls Justine Diener and Kristin Poon, who design and produce a clothing line under the name Diepo. The clothes are beautifully made, with attention to small details, fit, and an overall view to flattering the female shape. I am particularly enamoured with the black and cream feather printed textiles used in their current collection (which you can pick up at both Robber and Rac Boutique). Justine took some time out of her hectic schedule to chat with WORN about fashion in Toronto, the process of collaboration and the origins of that feather fabric I like so much.
How did Diepo come to exist?
We started while still studying fashion design at Ryerson. Our original concept was to create a line inspired by vintage lingerie, with both daywear and shapewear pieces that could be worn on their own or styled together.
Besides designing your own line of clothing, what else do you do?
Kristin has recently relocated to New York, and enjoys baking and making ice cream in her new spacious kitchen. Justine has traditional Amish interests such as middle-parted long hair, canning fruit and vegetables, and has recently taken up weaving.
How does the collaboration between you and your design partner work? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
We usually start by creating a mood board. We use films, shapes, textures, colors, songs, places, memories. That forms am anchor or reference point to keep the collection cohesive. Then we both sketch for a few weeks, go over them and keep the things we both like, then build on them. The advantages are having constant feedback and support. There really aren’t that many disadvantages… Being in a partnership forces compromise, which can be frustrating at times but usually pays off.
How important is the role of social media for Diepo? Are you an avid blog/Tumblr/Twitter follower?
More and more, all the time. It’s a great way to reach people and let them know what’s going on, and to get feedback. But it has been a bit of a challenge for us. We’re both pretty private people and we find it hard sometimes to tweet as much as we should. We recently started a Tumblr page which is a great way to share our daily inspirations with people.
If you could design an outfit for anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Parker Posey! She is such an effortless babe, not to mention hilarious.
How did you dress in high school?
Justine was a ’90s hippie, army pants, tie dye and Doc Martens. Kristin went to an all-girls Catholic school and wore a kilt and knee socks with penny loafers.
Are there certain people in your life that have influenced your style? Who and how?
Justine’s boyfriend, printmaker Ben Szoller helped to develop our FW11 feather print, so that season was strongly influenced by his aesthetic.
Diepo is having a three days trunk sale at Robber which they are kicking off with a party on December 1st from 6pm until 10pm. You can find great deals on holiday gifts and clothing from Diepo as well as other brands, and all while sipping on a drink and eating holiday sweets.
photography by Katie Bateman
interview by Natasha Bigioni
Robber opened its white-washed doors in April of 2009, and since then has been clothing Queen Street West in the frocks of Australian label Lover and the shoes of London’s F-Troupe (which just so happen to make a lovely cameo in Issue 12’s Bibliophilles photoshoot). Busy bringing emerging designers — from Seattle to Las Vegas — here to Toronto, co-owner Erin takes the time to talk to WORN about wedding attire, Philip Sparks, and Hamilton.
What was your first favourite outfit as a kid?
A dress I wore to my dad’s wedding when I was eight years old. I think it was the first time I got to choose my own special occasion outfit, and I really went for it — it was a white tank dress with a blue, green, and pink plaid tiered skirt, and bows in the same plaid all over the front. I found a photo from that day recently and I still think I looked great!
Tell me the story of how Robber came to be.
I was unhappy at my old job in Vancouver. I started talking to my roommate Robin about it and we came up with the idea of opening a store together. I was also thinking of moving back to Toronto and the kind of shop we would want didn’t really exist yet here, so it seemed perfect. We had both worked in fashion in the past and Robin has an MBA, which made the business side much easier — I definitely couldn’t have done any of that part on my own!
Do you think shopping independent is important?
Yes. I’m from a small town and that’s the kind of shopping I’m used to anyway, so I’m glad we can help create that same sense of community in our area of the city. I love that I can get everything I need within a few blocks of my house, and that most of it will be unique and different from what you’d get somewhere else. And when you shop at an independent business you’re also supporting all the designers, artists, writers, etc. that they carry, and helping ensure they are paid fairly for their work and can continue with their craft. I’m not a total hippie, and of course I still shop at big-box stores, but I certainly aspire not to.
My crush on Anabela started somewhere between reading her blog, fieldguided, following her twitter, and browsing her flickr. We share many friends and live blocks away from each other in the same city, but, until early in this new year, we’d never met. Fieldguided became a regular read (even inspiring the title for the zebra photoshoot from issue 11) and filled with lovely photography, soft, clean design, and a distinct taste that is clearly all her own.
What did you wear when you where in high school?
I went to a Catholic high school and so most of the time I wore my school uniform, which was navy blue with white and pale blue, with a pair of buckled Doc Martens that I actually hated at the time but wish I still had. I’ve blocked a lot of it out, but I remember trying to dress like the girls from the band Lush in later high school. I wore a lot of shiny, satin clothing in 1996. Oh dear.
What are your local fashion store crushes?
My favourite is Robber, on Queen West. I love the aesthetic; I love loose dresses, I love clothing that is feminine and unpretentious. I appreciate that most of the clothing is made locally to the brand. When I want to invest in something I know I will love for years, I go there (I have worn an APC Madras dress I bought there in 2009 approximately three thousand times — or so it feels). I love the shoe selection at Chasse Gardée. For vintage, I like Silver Falls and Penny Arcade and the 69 Vintage Collective.
What literary characters have interesting style?
I have been reading a lot about the Mitfords on blogs lately, and I think me and others are attracted to the idea of their disheveled aristocrat style. I’ll go with “the Hons” in The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. Also, since I’m going through a weird VC Andrews obsession, I have to admit that her descriptions of makeup, perfume, hair, and clothing have stayed with me since I first read those books at the age of 12. I can’t pin-point an exact style (except, I guess, “filthy rich New England lady”) but I loved luxuriating in her descriptions of fabrics and textures and clothing details, as well as dressing rituals. It’s possible that I’m remembering it all wrong, though.
Did you make any fashion-related new year’s resolutions? If so, what are they?
I didn’t make any resolutions per se but I have resolved over the past few months to stop buying fast fashion. I have too many items of clothing in my closet that I have worn once or not at all. I find that as long as I stay out of those stores, I won’t be tempted, but I am always tempted once the season changes, particularly around spring or fall. I have also decided to try to hammer down what my specific aesthetic is over the next little while, and to stay faithful to it. It’s really just about making better choices, and being less wasteful. I also want to save up for a pair of clog boots. I have wanted them since 2008! It’s time. I love wooden heels.
As a huge cat fan, do you have any favourite cat fashions?
Leah Goren makes really amazing hand-printed clothing and bags with cat faces — the tee-shirt is on my wish list for sure! I also have a Paul & Joe Sister cat-face sweater that I got on clearance for about $10 a few years ago that is pretty special. The little knitted face is adorable.
Nothing beats the United Bamboo 2010 calendar for fashion for cats. If only I could get my calico, Pony, into that peach blouse and black skirt!