Vancouver: Where Function is Fashion

Perhaps one of the unusual days of 2011 was the day Vancouverites got fashion-burned for their affair with yoga pants. Yes, I’m talking about the MSN Travel post that ranked Vancouver as the third “worst-dressed city in the world”, all because we habitually take our yoga apparel beyond the confines of the gym and home.

The city-wide reaction to one traveler’s comment is quite surprising. The post made headlines and buzz everywhere, from personal blogs to actual news outlets, like the Vancouver Sun and CBS. Whoa! That clearly struck a chord to many yoga lovers and Vancouverites. And yet, despite the MSN Travel’s scathing remark, it doesn’t really prove anything other than pointing out that Vancouverites love their yoga gear, that whoever wrote the travel post has, uhhh, certain “physical insecurities”, and that people actually take MSN articles seriously (big surprise!).

What I find more fascinating is the general reaction after the travel post. Some people agree that “yoga pants are not pants” and Vancouverites deserve the burn, some feel offended, and some claim that Vancouverites don’t really care about fashion so long as the clothes are functional. The last comment is probably the most interesting, mainly because it reveals what Vancouverites want with style and fashion: function. Obviously, Vancouverites do care about fashion; otherwise, we wouldn’t make a big deal about being the third worst-dressed city in the world. But, as dozens have commented, Vancouverites value function with style and fashion. In fact, after the MSN Travel post was unleashed, I was walking by a Lululemon store and noticed the colorful, chalk-board message written on the windows: “Vancouver: 3rd worst dressed, but #1 in function”. This mentality also explains the popularity of other brands known for comfort, like Toms and Uggs shoes. Yoga wear is generally rooted on comfort and function, so no surprise that it’s a hit for Vancouverites.

Some people might still find it difficult to accept that function and comfort, like in yoga wear and wooly shoes, could ever go perfectly with fashion. I know that when I go all out for fashion finds, the last thing on my mind is whether or not skinny jeans and high-heels are comfortable (no, they are not). But is it possible to have function, comfort and style all together?

Yes, I would think so. If I could envision what is the ideal fashion-function look for Vancouverites, I would think it’s something like the Montreal based yoga boutique and studio, Yoga-a-Porter, created and designed by Caroline Frenette. I first came across Yoga-à-Porter while I was browsing through yoga websites and found Caroline’s “yoganista blog”. I loved her concept marrying yoga wear, function and fashion together, and once I found out her boutique carried yoga jeans, I was sold! And yes, those are literally jeans meant for the stretches and pulls of yoga! I spoke to Caroline for a few minutes about what she thought of comfort and function with fashion, and if wearing yoga pants all the time really was a fashion faux pas. She said, it’s all just a matter of style. Some people dress badly even with really good clothes, and some dress really well with whatever—it’s all about putting a different spin to it. As for function with fashion, both can absolutely go hand in hand, and sometimes we just need to go outside what our idea of style is.

And finally, I want to share with you my favorite fashion quote by Alexander McQueen, “It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”

So tell me, what’s your fashion style? Functional, trendy, or both?

Photo is by Andrew Park, viaYoga-a-Porter

Written by: Jenica Chuahiock

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