Designer, bespoke, exclusive, and.. underground?? With virtually no online social footprint, the only way to work with local Alex Wagar is through the right connections (offline).
Collaboration based design brand “And, ” was birthed by Alex, envisioned even from a young age, to create beyond apparel. Furniture, fashion, perfume, even process – a way of life. Though patterns are meticulously cut in the most economical way to minimize offcuts, I know it’s no exaggeration when I’m told that every scrap of fabric at And, is salvaged to be reused. Even while the whole world seems to pause in crisis, and the demand for custom wardrobe slows along with it, Alex and her colleague donate the unused fabrics and prototype garments to local women’s shelters.
And, having only ever released two capsule collections of streetwear about 8 years ago when the company first launched, and has since trimmed down further to reduce the waste factor, now only provides made to order garments stitched by And,’s own seamstresses. In offering exclusive made to order and private commissions, producing “small, slowly, and locally” ensures their value of ethical integrity. Overflow patterns for designs (at one point cataloging 150 in quantity) are sold to other companies, not only minimizing landfill, but also keeping the creativity fresh. “The more precious you are about things, the less willing you are to let things change.”
Alex takes this to heart on a large scale, change ahead.
With the downtown Vancouver showroom recently closed, Alex takes advantage of this opportunity to step back, spend some time on a farm on Vancouver Island, and reassess the business. A handful of long-time clients are still receiving socially distanced services, using a self-measuring harness (ingeniously designed by And,, of course) to capture the data required for custom pieces. This is just a fore gleam of the e-commerce website in the making. A website where we can shop made-to-measure (both custom and already sized) garments.. finally accessible to the masses!
Even though Ms. Wagar earned her bachelor’s in industrial design from Emily Carr in Vancouver, BC, her sewing skills are completely self taught. The curse of being a student with a refined palette and eye for detail can be especially depriving. Alex’s favourite luxury department store paved the pathway of real-world exercises by reconstructing coveted designs for practice. They say the best way to learn is to do, and from whom better to learn than from the best?
Aside from academia and actual hours spent fabricating, Alex emphasizes the importance of being present in the industry, learning the business side of the profession (literally writing the Policy and Procedure Manual during her time working for a knitwear company), being willing to do the things others don’t do – “make yourself indispensable”, as well as realizing the value of partying. Yep. Network and don’t be a snob about it – be open to meeting people. Every job and opportunity has been because she had “that contact”. More than a professional advantage, Alex shares a few words of her wisdom, that especially in this context of tough times, “take your time to take care of yourself and do things that make you happy. Find your niche, and find your people and everything will follow. I think the biggest thing we’ve learned through the pandemic is just through our collaborations and working with other people.. we’ve built up our own network of creatives and have more connectivity.. to be stuck at home and still feel creative and energized to make things.”
Until the launch of Ms. Wagar’s e-commerce website, firstname.lastname@example.org will be the best way to connect with her (unless, of course, you know her personally). Exciting things await.
INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW x ITALIAN DESIGN DAYS 2020
IDS came together rather impressively as a hybrid of virtual talks, digital fair, and live micro events. Personally, I quite enjoy the micro events, being a more charming and personal experience in contrast to a loud, bright bustling space. If you particularly favour the Italian imported products, the Italian Chambers of Commerce in Canada has put together a beautiful lineup of vendors and showrooms on their IDS event page
In Poliform‘s first year of presence in Vancouver (commercial, new construction, residential), though the entire showroom is smart and modern, the custom closets on the upper floor of the showroom really take my breath away. As I’m taken through the tour, automated hidden lighting rods as slim as chopsticks light the shelving so subtly you don’t even realize there is lighting installed. Adjustable from warm light to natural white light, and something in-between – brilliant.
Poliform’s in-house designer works with “Star-chitects” to collaborate on designs, keeping the details unique and of course, customizable.
HFA Custom Art
Opening its doors to a retail level, HFA rolls out a new program, working with artists to offer their clients custom framing services. Makes sense for an artist who doesn’t want to necessarily frame before a sale.
I managed to get a tour of the print room before heading to the next event, and let me say – what a relief to know how extensive the custom print (and framing) options are, along with the care given to each custom print, only complete with the artists’ final approval.
Proudly offering brands of Italy and 1 of Spain, Ambry Interiors keeps it personal with mainly residential clientele. The charming Railtown design district showroom is simple and uncluttered. Shawn’s eyes glow as he tells me how he started the business 7 years ago as a roving company until its first fixed showroom 4 years ago.
From the conception’s design and local measurements to coordinating the final installation, the owner personally sees to each detail. The Italian/European “modular” system of standardized units is a failsafe in product delivery (no more “oh no!” materials cut short of precision). This allows the manufacturers to use high quality materials, achieved at a significant economic advantage to the client. YAY!
Tonight’s event was simple and refined. Really amazing space in the building. Very well hand-selected designers, and the lighting displays are beautifully curated in an impressive selection of designs yet not overwhelming in presentation. I would consider it designer made-to-measure lighting vs. bespoke.
Lightform showcases pieces from earthy designers based in New York sourcing reclaimed wood (Stickbulb) to immensely glamourous pieces dripping (literally) with fine chains (Terzani La Luce Pensata).
PLAIDFOX x WESTERN LIVING design challenge
Any industry youngling could not ask for a more supportive community. Vancouver is constantly canvassing new talent.
Set in a double-storey showspace (the gorgeous Montauk Sofa/Valcucine Kitchen showroom) defined by it’s Gastown brick walls and a seemingly bottomless ceiling, a challenge hosted by Plaidfox Studio in partnership with Western Living, set for the artists to design a small space up for renovation at the beautiful Buchan Hotel. The prize offering of a generous scholarship, prestigious branding and marketing services, magazine feature, and coveted internship already put stars in my eyes.
As the 5 finalists presented their designs, none were short of engaging all the right senses, some whimsical and others tugging at heartstrings.