Crushing on Upside Dive

Sibling duo Mike and Angie Dalla-Giustina have turned their lifelong passion for thrifting into a well-loved business; the two collectively own Upside Dive, a hidden East-end gem in the Toronto vintage scene. Mike and Angie share their tales of rural Toronto, their childhood idols, and their love affair with well-crafted clothing.

How did you two dress in elementary school? How has your look changed?

Angie: When we moved from Toronto to a small rural community (in the 80s) I dressed in stacked bangles and dolman sleeve tops. Let’s just say it wasn’t well received.

Mike: I remember being briefly obsessed with Chucks, peace signs, and vests. I think both of us have forgotten a lot from those early years, probably due to living in a little town and never really feeling like we fit in.

From an early age we were thrifting, usually out of necessity, as money was tight for a single mother with four children. Most of all we never felt parental pressure to dress a certain way, so we experimented when we wanted to. We’ve become more comfortable with who we are (could be that age thing) and we’re less concerned with defining gender roles. We have more of an appreciation of the piece in its form – material, cut, shape, quality – while setting aside who the design was intended for. That said, the shop takes priority so we often wear practical, comfortable clothing, saving the exciting fashion for our customers.

Being siblings, do you often disagree when it comes to the business? How about clothes? Do you ever share clothes?

Mike: Actually, all the Dalla-Giustina siblings get along. An important part to the business succeeding is our shared mentality and keeping it all level. We occasionally butt heads over ideas, but it definitely helps to flesh out ideas with one another. We also discuss with Elisa and Natasha, who act as great exterior moderators. Sometimes Ang and I can get so focused we get a bit blind-sided.

We don’t often share clothes, maybe a scarf or two. We definitely share a love for well-crafted pieces, and a good backstory is an added delight.

How do you think the rise of vintage inspiration in the fashion world over the past decade has affected sales at vintage stores? Does it make selling real vintage easier or more difficult?

Vintage and second-hand clothing has definitely become a major commodity in the last 20-30 years, and with its rise in the mainstream once again it perpetuates more vintage sellers, more vintage buyers, more creative minds musing on it, and an established business format. I think the real issue lies with the lack of value put on vintage and second-hand clothing. Fast fashion has offered an alternative to buying vintage by creating newly made vintage-inspired pieces, but the real power lies in the hands of the consumer. It would be one thing if corporate clothing manufacturers were responsibly producing well-made pieces that would retain value, but they don’t. The bottom line for them is money, and the consumer is happy to have the 15-minute look. We have faith that there will continue to be customers who value vintage, but fear that well-kept vintage will become scarce and deplete cherished vintage shops.
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Crushing on Jessica Bialkowski

Scrolling through 21 year old Jessica Bialkowski’s blog (or looking at her flickr, for that matter) is like entering a dream world where everything is light and sunny, sparkly and sprinkled with a sort of ethereal cuteness. What stands out for me is her photography. Though her site is more personal diary than self-proclaimed “fashion blog,” there is still an emphasis on fashion and clothing. In Jessica’s photos, she captures clothing on its own, out of context, as well as in complete outfits she wears day-to-day.

What did you dress like in elementary school and how has your wardrobe changed since then?
I’m pretty sure back in primary school I just wore jeans (I think flares were cool back then, right?) and plain tops and that kind of thing. I don’t even really remember it that much because fashion wasn’t a huge focus for me, but obviously I have changed since then! For a large part of my teenage years I pretty much exclusively wore black jeans and band t-shirts, but since then my style has evolved to incorporate a lot of different things that I’m interested in (though I still wear band t-shirts occasionally) and I think it’s still changing and evolving now.

You seem to have a liking for bows, lace, and other little details in clothing now.
I think I always tend to gravitate towards clothing with a little extra detail, or if I’m wearing something plain I will add accessories to spice it up. I really feel like the details are what make or break the outfit and it’s where someone’s personal style really comes through. Floral dresses are a dime a dozen, but if it’s got a pretty lace collar or you match a cute belt and shoes with it, then you’ve created a look instead of just wearing a dress, y’know? Small details here and there make a big difference to an outfit and the overall impression that it gives people, so I always try to include a little something special whenever I get dressed.

What do you think contributes to shaping your style?
I think everything contributes to it. You can find inspiration anywhere – online, in the street, in the media, through music, books, or movies. I think generally my style is influenced by all of these things and by whatever happens to cross my path, but at the end of the day it’s my personal taste that brings individual elements together, and I am the one who shapes what I see into something that truly represents who I am.

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Crushing on Gemma Correll

Gemma Correll is a UK based illustrator and creator of What I Wore Today (Drawings) - a favourite website of many a Wornette. Here, we chat with Gemma about outfit illustrations, zine making and tie-dyed leggings.

How did you dress in high school?
Well, at school itself I didn’t have a lot of choice, since we had to wear a uniform. But outside of school, I was into the “indie” style of tight band T-shirts and flared jeans- although I did also go through a hippy phase (tie-dyed leggings!) which I’d rather forget.

What is a typical workday like for you?
Well, it kind of builds up slowly. I am not a morning person, so I start the day checking my e-mails and guzzling coffee. After that, I run errands, walk my dog, go to the post office… After lunch, I’m ready to work. I’ll usually work from 2pm until 1am, with breaks for food, coffee and pug cuddles.
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Crushing on Josiane Perron

Designer Josiane Perron recently launched her eponymous label, and has now launched three collections of elegantly constructed vintage-like women’s garments, all made entirely in Montreal.

How and when did you get into making clothes?
At the age of ten, when I would amuse myself tracing Betty & Veronica comics, I decided to make a job of it. I was fascinated by Betty’s ability to make her own clothes and by the scope of Veronica’s closet.

What was your personal style like in high school?
I passed through a classic phase, a vintage phase, and a designer brands phase. In high school my personal style was marked by a transition from grunge style to skater, but there was always a touch of Britpop. My biggest influence at the time was music, especially Elliott Smith and Blur.

What’s your favourite item in your wardrobe?
My Second yoga jeans! The slightly tiedyed wash is superb, and they’re incredibly comfortable. It’s a real addiction, it’s impossible to wear other jeans once you’ve tried yoga jeans. The only thing that beats my yoga jeans is the pleasure and lightness of wearing a dress.
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