Kim Munson's line of repurposed and redesigned fashion, Orphanage Clothing, is a mix of classic t-shirts married with vintage button-downs and dresses cut from trenchcoats. Orphanage has been selling out of Halifax for five years and is now available across Canada. Anne Pickard, AKA Handy Girl, is in her seventh year in the NSCAD fashion department as a technician and teacher. With a background in art, fashion and textiles, Pickard worked for 20 years in fashion, film and TV costume design. Sherry Lynn Jollymore is a NSCAD grad who ran Junk and Foibles for several years before starting Lost & Found on Agricola with partner Jay Melanson. No longer with the store, Jollymore's fashion line Fancy-Pants Design is on hiatus while she works as a seamstress at lululemon and teaches wearable art at the AGNS. The stylish trio, wearing their own designs, spoke in the NSCAD fashion studio.
Anne Pickard: If you want to find out what's happening in fashion, look at the 14-year-olds. Or even better, look at the 11-year-olds. Fourteen-year-olds are looking to the 11-year-olds these days.
Sherry Jollymore: I like that when you see them, you can see what they've pulled from other things. 'Oh, is it time for that?' Have you noticed the World Famous bags again; they were canvas? I had one and it was quite a big deal...they were popular when I was 15.
Pickard: I think we're in the age of the individual. Take that and couple it with the green movement and the environmental movement that's happening right now, and mix them up in a martini shaker. What are you going to get but redesigned fashion.
Jollymore: I like that it seems like anything goes. I'm loving it. People can wear justabout anything, any shoe height, any kind of heel.
Pickard: Inspiration comes from many different decades in history as well. There are only so many ways to make a frock, let's face it. The innovation that's happening now is that the top you have on, no one else in the world will have that because you've added this to it, or you have taken something that already exists and transformed it.
Kim Munson: It's one garment, one time, forever. It's only going to be that one garment, ever, and that's a huge selling point for my pieces. Even if the styles are the same---no two pieces are because they're cut from different denim or different colours.
Frenchy's is my mainstay for materials. Value Village is good, Salvation Army is good, too. I get a lot of donations, which is also awesome. But I like to do Frenchy's--- that's why I love to live in the Maritimes.
Describe Halifax's fashion style.
Pickard: I'm from Newfoundland, and lived for 10 years in Vancouver, and I've been here for eight years now and the thing I've noticed the most, out of any other place in Canada, is that people really will wear whatever they want.
Munson: I think that fashion traditionally has always been a metropolitan endeavor and I find that in Halifax there's a lot more of the rural connected in there, so you get the airport meets the farm meets metalhead. It's this whole smattering of goodness.
Jollymore: I do find that people are more arty in the way they dress. I guess what I mean by that is rubber boots are cool. And in some other places you can't go out with rubber boots on. But here, that completely flies. Like legwarmers, stuff like that. I moved to California a few years ago and living there, they were just dumbfounded by my style---they liked it---but they were, 'You're not from the west coast.'
At the same time I don't feel like I can be super-adventurous here because, and it's sort of in a flattering way, people want to comment on it too much. Even something like wearing a hat, by the time you've made it through the day wearing that hat, you've had 15, 20 conversations about your hat. And it's very well-intended: Everyone is trying to be quite nice but it gets on my nerves after awhile. So I think it could be a little edgier. I don't know if anyone else feels that way, but I know there's more I could be doing. But I don't because I have to get the bus and I have to walk to a certain place.
Has that changed over the last 15 years? Can you wear more that you could before?
Jollymore: I feel like it has changed---it's more diverse too. Even because there are a lot more people, and more people with a bit more money. Luxury brands have really shot up too, and that was not here.
Munson: I think that fashion has been a musical movement here. Fifteen years ago there was the grunge thing when Sloan got big. Music affects the fashion in Halifax.
If you could get rid of one thing you see on the streets, what would it be?
Pickard, Munson, Jollymore: CROCS!
What about dudes?
Pickard: Dudes are on the way up. A dude will buy face cream now.
Munson: I find that my men's line goes first. I sell tons of men's gear and my stores ask me for it because guys have a hard time finding cool stuff. I'll mix a t-shirt with a button-down; like you get an old Ramones tee and pair it with a pearl-snap vintage button-down. Because there's only one of those ever made, as long as the fit's good.
Jollymore: I've found guys always wanted it, but it just wasn't here. Even back in the day, that was 12 years ago or more, when I worked at Junk.
Munson: The funny thing is that when I Googled 'Halifax style' to see what would come up, the first thing that did was a recipe for donairs.
Jollymore: I love it! Look, it's my donair-inspired dress. It's a wrap!
---Sue Carter Flinn
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Read the full city styles interview here.