Student Life

Why is everyone wearing that?

There you are, standing at Berri-UQAM station surrounded by a sea of The North Face puffer jackets: black, red, cobalt blue, bright yellow, purple. They’re everywhere, with people’s tiny heads poking out from a mass of down-filled, quilted, nylon jackets. Why? 

Typing “why does everyone wear…” into the Google search bar will yield a variety of laughable results: Blundstones, The North Face and jeans are among the first few. These fashion items may seem average right now, but in 10 years or so they will be a thing of the pastmatching American Apparel disco pants and scrunchies… anyone?

But this isn’t anything new; it’s just how trends work. Trends have been around for hundreds of years and are studied across numerous fields including sociology, art history and psychology. The people waiting in line in their puffer jackets may appear to be a flock of sheep now, but really, they are a marker of a generation and an indication of current socio-political, cultural and economical stressors. Let’s break this down.

Many factors contribute to the growth of a trend, and it is not only celebrities and red-carpet styles. In fact, there is a lot more that goes into it than you may think. Estimated at a value of USD $1.3 trillion in 2015, the global apparel market consists of a plethora of players including suppliers, manufacturers and designers. Other than these, entire enterprises like WGSN are devoted to analyzing and forecasting trends years in advance. Meaning, the predictions for this season (Spring/Summer 2020) were probably getting finalized around this time four years ago, in 2016.

Some trends last a couple of months while others last years. This is called the “life cycle” of a trend. Trend-cycles—or product life cycles—are used in many industries to represent frequency fluctuations over time. In this case, the beginning of the cycle, or “introduction,” might be a group of attendees at Pride wearing rainbow-striped platform shoes. In the “growth” stage, this will have caught the eye of a celebrity, Janelle Monáe for example, who will wear a striped Pride gown at the 2018 BET Awards, in addition to a few other avant-garde individuals. 

By now, rainbow coloured and patterned items have reached the “maturity” stage of the life-cycle and can be seen everywhere, from Susan Alexandra accessories, which has had a big Instagram moment in the past year, to The Last Line, who have become known for their colourful, timeless and affordable jewelry designs.

When the item begins its “decline” in popularity, it is no longer seen as being trendy but is not yet rendered obsolete. Think UGGs, for example. While they are no longer a “big deal,” you still see them around every now and again. A product that has passed the “decline” stage is no longer trendy and very difficult to come by, like elbow-length gloves.

But just how do these items get trendy?

The Business of Fashion and management consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s The State of Fashion 2020 report, titled Navigating Uncertainty, analyzes themes in the current fashion economy, in addition to explaining the industry’s driving factors. Among them are cross-border challenges as international competitors grow, sustainability via the exploration of alternative materials, and social responsibility in regards to inclusivity and diversity. These shifts are likely to impact consumer trends within the fiscal year.

While that Patagonia half-zip you’ve been seeing everywhere is cute, it is not a trend solely because of its looks. In a time of ecological crisis, sustainability and social responsibility have become an increasing focus for consumers. Thus, it is no surprise that environmentally and socially-conscious brands are gaining momentum. Trends are a response to our environment and a means of expressing how we feel.

As our generation acquires more purchasing power, an increasing amount of outdoor brands will outgrow traditional brands. The rising popularity of The North Face and the resurgence of L.L. Bean are not coincidental. Brands like Carhartt that were once reserved for construction-wear, have now made it onto the runway, through collaborations with brands like A.P.C. 

Athletic and outdoor recreation brands, like Outdoor Voices, have gained popularity as experiencing and spending time in nature become increasingly covetable activities. Wellness and experience are of great value to Millennials and Gen Z. Utilitarian items like fanny packs, trench coats and sneakers from brands like Patagonia will continue to gain momentum among consumers with an increased interest in functional design and in reducing their ecological footprint.

A variety of books, articles and academic journals are devoted to studying the life-cycle of trends and their history. This piece in no way conveys the magnitude of what they can show or how they come to be. But maybe, next time you put on those sneakers or feel the urge to buy that hoodie you’re seeing everywhere, you’ll take a moment to think about why it might be so popular. Take a second to reflect on why you might be seeing outdoor and camp-inspired garments everywhereyou’d be surprised at what you might come up with.


Graphic by Sasha Axenova

Student Life

Jad does things! Wearing all black

Hi! I’m Jad Abukasm, News Editor at The Concordian, and in this segment, Kayla runs my life!

[Upbeat music]

Kayla did not tell me why I was supposed to wear all black until the very last day of the challenge.

“It’s an experiment. I want to see something,” she texted me.

“So, I’m your guinea pig?” I replied.


I think that from now on, Kayla won’t hesitate to try weird stuff on me and I’m kind of questioning why I got involved in this…

I own a total of two black shirts and one pair of black jeans. Do the math and you quickly realize that 1) I will be wearing the same jeans all week, and 2) that I quickly need to find three shirts or else I will end up smelling like my running shoes. My dad was kind enough to lend me two of his shirts—that, by the way, look bomb on me—resulting in re-wearing the same shirt only once. At least I have a bunch of black socks and a new pair of black Vans.

During the week, I tried finding out why the hell Kayla would ask me to do this. I went online and discovered some not-so-reliable scientific websites that mentioned people wearing black either experienced high levels of anxiety and sadness or that they have mysterious and “sexy” personalities (whatever that means). Am I surprised? Yes. Am I more so confused? Yes.

During the week, I noticed that I got a lot of compliments on my outfits and people told me I looked on top of my sh*t. I was only wearing a black shirt tucked into black pants—but I didn’t complain **insert sassy emoji.**

Friday comes and Kayla texts me “I wanted to know if wearing all black would affect your mood, especially with the socks because I know you use those as a form of self-expression,” and this was when everything started to make sense. I realized that throughout the week, I was feeling so much more confident and less self-conscious, to Kayla’s surprise. I think that I used to try matching my personality to my outfits which would only result in me stressing about what others thought about my appearance. Wearing all black in contrast to my vibrant personality really made for an interesting duality.

Now, the big question: will I keep doing this? Obviously, wearing all black every day was fun and empowering, but I also own three times as many other clothes that I love. However, what I really learned here is that clothes don’t define who you are and you shouldn’t use them as self-expression if it is a source of stress. From now on, I will think less about matching my clothes to my character and just be myself. And yes, I did go to Marshalls and Winners on Friday to buy more black shirts.

Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Let’s get smarter about shopping

As we’ve been told time and time again, the best way to shop sustainably and ethically is to shop at your local thrift or consignment stores. While it would be ideal for everyone to consume in this way, it isn’t always realistic, especially if your style is more in line with current designs and styles in fashion.

But, there is a way to be more eco-conscious, even if thrift store styles aren’t for you.

Shop the conscious lines retail companies have to offer

The environmental crisis caused by fast fashion is hardly avoidable at this point. This is why many popular retailers have created permanent lines in their seasonal collections that use sustainable materials and practices when producing clothes. Despite Zara being one of the many fast fashion brands with damaging practices that cause massive impacts on the environment, it has taken a small step in the right direction with the launch of their Join Life initiative in late 2016, that aims to create “contemporary designs made from sustainable materials.”

As explained in a Who What Wear article, at the forefront of Zara’s priorities is ensuring that they make as little an impact on the environment as possible. This is achieved through the use of “sustainable cotton, forest-friendly alternatives, and recycled fibres and recycled polyester” as well as working on a plan to have all of their distribution centres, offices, and stores running on clean energy by 2025.

Look at materials

As we all know, the environment that garments are created in, as well as the process used to create them, are important variables when it comes to determining whether or not they are environmentally conscious items. However, one very crucial element that most don’t think to consider is the fabrics they are made with. There are certain fabrics that are extremely damaging to the environment and require many resources to produce.

Which fabrics are these, exactly? According to another Who What Wear article, conventional cotton uses up extremely large amounts of water and pesticides to grow, which end up trickling into waterways, causing pollution. You should also avoid polyester and nylon, which are made using fossil fuels, as well as conventional viscose which requires many chemicals to break down.

Instead, opt for organic cotton, which has an all-around lower environmental impact from the time it is grown, processed and dyed. Linen is a great option, as it does not require pesticides to continue its growth, and can be easily integrated to create fabric blends. When it comes to warmer fabrics, wool would be your best bet, as it is often sourced from the animal in a highly ethical way. Another eco-conscious fabric is bamboo which, according to a document by, “is one of nature’s most sustainable resources.”

When buying from fast fashion brands, shop consciously

If you absolutely cannot abstain from buying from fast fashion brands, at the very least, make sure to shop smartly when you do. In order to avoid over-buying from these brands, make sure you’re knowledgeable about your style and your closet.

Firstly, know the general gist of your style and, through this, determine if you envision yourself reverting to a specific piece over and over again for years to come. By knowing your personal style, you’ll avoid those trendy or impulse purchases that will end up in your donation pile before the year is through. If you haven’t yet nailed your personal style, instead of buying different pieces that will potentially end up going to waste, look to inspiration websites like Pinterest so you can visually discern what you like.

Another way to avoid frequent purchasing from fast fashion websites or stores is to create a capsule wardrobe—a streamlined selection of clothes that can be combined to create multiple outfit combinations. This way, you always have the basics you need and, if you feel like you’re missing something, you know exactly what that piece is.

So, the next time you let yourself off the hook for not being more environmentally conscious when purchasing from fast fashion brands, think twice and consider these tips.

Photo by Britanny Clarke, Graphic by Kayla-Marie Turriciano

Student Life

The evolution of style happens when we grow

Fashion does evolve, but within our own individuality. Some of us may even take some inspiration from our younger selves, and style what used to be trendy with our current style. Of course, some things are better left behind like the sneaker wedge, or even tiny sunglasses. We can easily make an item trendy or newly fashionable again.

This happened to the choker. Although what’s ‘in’ at the moment is the chain choker—like the ones Billie Eilish wears—the choker, a slim strip worn around the neck, was very popular during the grunge era of the 90s. It was able to stay for a while during the early 2000s and, somehow, it managed to return in 2015. But chokers existed long before the 21st century.

In a March 2016 article in the National Jeweler, Yvonne Markovitz, the Curator Emerita of Jewelry Museum of Fine Arts, explained that chokers were worn by women in ancient civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt and the Sumer Civilization in Mesopotamia. Chokers brought these women a sense of power and gave them a sense of security.

The Nike Air Force 1s that you see everywhere you go? This shoe staple was inspired by the original 1982 Nike Air Force 1, which was initially a basketball shoe. I myself have a pair and what’s great about these shoes is that they never go out of style and can be worn with everything. They still serve a classic look.

These items have found a way to blend in today’s society. We tend to look at past trends to get inspired. These old trends evolve with the style that we have been able to create and with the person we have become.

It may take some time to find our personal style, but I think that I’m at a stage in life where I believe I have found mine. As a child, I remember wearing sneakers with everything, even when it didn’t fit with my dresses. I would wear my soccer team’s jerseys at school with earrings and bracelets. When I was a teenager, I would wear my father’s dress shirts with short shorts, which made it look like I was wearing a dress. I felt like menswear was more appealing to me, and I managed to look feminine by adding accessories, such as golden bracelets. Today, I like to wear long high-waisted trousers or loose track pants with a T-shirt and a vest or blazer that matches in colour with my pants. My golden rings add elegance to my outfits. I never take my rings off now.

When you grow up, you meet new people, you listen to new music, you look up to different people, and that can influence your style. I used to look up to Twiggy—the top model from the 60s—so much that I chopped my hair like hers when I was 13. I decided to never do it again; I have wavy hair and I had to use gel so that my hair would stay straight. Today, my fashion icon is 90s Lauren Hutton. Just to give you an idea: long windbreaker coat with matching pants, a white T-shirt and a pair of sneakers.

I have evolved: I am inspired by runway looks from the late 90s to early 2000s. I always love to mix and not wear only one style. The only item that hasn’t changed is my shoewear—I wear sneakers with everything.

We have the power to make old fashion trends into new ones and combine them with our individuality. Therefore, no trend is ever really lost, as someone will always manage to make it work.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Fast fashion is slowing down

We’ve all been there: your favourite celebrity wears a designer item worth more than your rent. You fawn over it and think “why aren’t I rich?” Then, as if meant to be, you see it at Zara. It’s there, it’s beautiful, it’s… $19.99? But what’s the true cost?

Fast fashion giant Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 30. At its peak, the company had USD$5.8 billion in revenue, according to Business Insider. What does this mean for the future of the retail industry? Does the end of Forever 21’s reign signify a new beginning?

But first, what is fast fashion, why is it problematic and why is it increasingly becoming the topic of conversation?

Fast fashion is cheap and trendy clothing produced in as quickly as two weeks – think H&M, Zara and Urban Outfitters. While they make it easy to be fashionable, fast fashion suppliers come with their own set of problems. After oil, fashion is the second most polluting industry. According to online resale marketplace thredUP’s 2019 Resale Report, 108 million tons of non-renewable resources are used every year to produce clothing.

Consumers no longer buy with the intent to keep; an increasing desire to be constantly seen in new styles is shortening the garment life cycle. Because of this, the equivalent of one garbage truck is landfilled every second.

With the ridiculously low prices comes an ethical dilemma. As per Fashion Revolution, Human rights abuse is a prominent issue: unsafe working conditions, child labour, and exploitation contribute to why garments can be purchased at such low costs. According to thredUP, 59 per cent of consumers expect retailers to create products ethically and sustainably.  

Fashion Revolution is a global movement aiming to unite people and organizations to change how clothes are consumed and produced. Their goal is to achieve an environmentally conscious and ethical industry. Through their #whomademyclothes movement, they strive to encourage brands to disclose where their garments are produced and who exactly is making them. The point is to show that most fast fashion brands cannot name where their products are being made because they don’t know. Fashion Revolution hopes to push brands to be more transparent, accountable and honest about their practices.

Fashion Revolution releases a yearly Fashion Transparency Index listing data from the top 200 global fashion brands regarding how much they disclose about their business. A higher score means a more transparent brand in regards to where their garments are made, their ecological footprint, social responsibility, gender equality and payment of living wages.

Working in the fashion industry, I think about this often, and it’s something I’ve struggled with. Keeping up with trends is part of my job and marketing those trends is my job. Balancing this alongside my desire to be as sustainable, eco-conscious and ethical as possible has proven to be a dilemma. Or rather, it was a dilemma. 

Finding sustainable alternatives is no longer a concern. There is an abundance of secondhand shops – curated and thrift – in Montreal. There’s a Salvation Army on Notre-Dame St. W., in downtown Montreal, with over seven racks of exclusively denim items. For a more curated selection, there are three Empire Exchange locations in Mile End, where I’ve found my fair share of designer items (Yves Saint Laurent denim shorts, anyone?).

When following trends, I felt blocked. My closet was full, yet I always seemed to have nothing to wear. I easily got bored and resorted to buying more and more. Not to mention, there was the constant guilt of not knowing who was making my clothes, but knowing they couldn’t afford decent living conditions. Having studied the supply chain in fashion school, I felt in part responsible; I had all this knowledge about fast fashion’s ramifications and wasn’t doing anything about it.

I have not stepped foot in a fast fashion retail store in over a year, and it feels like a step in the right direction. Shopping exclusively vintage, thrifting, buying goods made in Canada and supporting local designers feels incredibly rewarding. My closet may not be overflowing, but I’ve developed a distinct personal style. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle forces you to get creative, upcycle, and do-it-yourself. Not to mention, it significantly reduces your carbon footprint. 

So, where is fashion headed? Forever 21’s bankruptcy wasn’t a fluke. It’s the result of changing consumer tastes and a growing resale industry. According to thredUP’s 2019 Resale Report, resale has grown 21 times faster than the retail market in the past three years. The secondhand market is expected to reach USD$68 billion by 2024, and to grow 1.5 times the size of the fast fashion industry by 2028.

“The fashion of the future is not about the pretty little things, the shoes and the handbag and new party dress,” wrote Carry Somers, founder of Fashion Revolution, in the 2019 Transparency Index. “It is about weaving truth and value into our clothing. We love fashion. We love beautiful clothes. But there is no beauty without truth and there is no truth without transparency.”

You can read Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index and find out more about the #whomademyclothes campaign at


Photo by Brittany Clarke / Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Clothing is more than a commodity

Improve lives and make a difference by donating to shelters

As the production of the garment industry has evolved over the decades, it has become a commonality to constantly rotate our closets as the seasons change. For that reason, more and more of our clothes accumulate in the “reject pile.” Although those items may seem meaningless, they are valuable in the eyes of many women who live in shelters.

Sally Richmond, the executive director of Logifem, one among dozens of women’s and children’s shelters in Montreal, explained that they are constantly looking for goods to give to their residents. Originally from the United Kingdom, Richmond completed her academic education in Montreal and earned her general master’s of business administration (MBA) from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. Being consistently drawn to current social issues, she devoted her career to supporting those in need.

Logifem is a non-profit organization and housing program that accommodates women and girls facing difficulties and living under strenuous circumstances. Whether their situations are due to domestic abuse, struggles with mental health, immigration issues or any other material insecurity, Richmond said the main purpose of the shelter is “to empower women and girls to face the future with hope and dignity.”

Donated items are displayed in Logifem’s boutique, which is open exclusively to its residents. Richmond emphasized the importance of bringing in goods that are in decent condition. “When we get [clothes] in poor conditions, we have to ship them out to [second-hand] stores, but that ends up costing us money because we have to pay the shipping fees,” she explained. Donating is a gesture that is much more valuable and appreciated when it is in the best interest of others, and that can be achieved by carefully sorting the unwanted items beforehand.

Oftentimes, Logifem lacks various essential supplies. In the past, they’ve turned to Facebook to announce their need for specific products, such as unworn undergarments and unopened toiletries. Richmond recalls being pleasantly surprised with the feedback. “There was a much bigger response than we anticipated.” People from all across the country sent in packages of brand new underwear and other items listed in the Facebook post, and some packages were even sent anonymously. “The support was so organic,” she said.

Richmond mentioned that some donors who return regularly—typically annually or biannually—have begun to form a relationship with the members of the organization. “They become a part of our family,” she said.

Donating articles of clothing is not merely giving material objects to other people. Giving contributes to the well-being and stabilization of another life. “People need these things because they come with very few possessions,” Richmond explained. “But oftentimes they really just need a little boost—something for them to feel nice in.”

In our city, on many street corners and alleys, there are those who are less fortunate. The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, West Island Women’s Shelter, Chez Doris, La rue des Femmes and Maison Grise de Montréal are all within reach of Montrealers and could benefit from a range of donations, not just clothes. Anyone can lend a helping hand, and volunteers are always appreciated and welcomed.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

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