OSS featured on ElleCanada.com
The great people over at ellecanada.com featured Street fashion blogs in Canada and Ottawa Street Style happened to be one of them! Check out the article here
Canadians will do anything online but shop
Kimberly Shearon , Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, March 01, 2008
Canada’s free-fall into Internet dependence – using it for everything from paying hydro bills, booking Jamaican vacations and staying in touch with friends around the globe – seems to have met at least one area of resistance: buying clothes online.
During the last half-decade, retailers have capitalized on consumers via cyberspace, setting up online clothing stores that offer special promotions and move vast quantities of merchandise – particularly in the United States.
But even though Canadians are exercising their purchasing power more than ever – thanks in part to the strength of the loonie – Canada’s online shopping options are somewhat scant, especially when it comes to clothing.
While electronic specialty stores such as Future Shop and Best Buy have reached out to Canadian customers in cyberspace, clothing retailers have not been as quick to pick up on the trend.
The countries’ cultural differences might be the reason for the disparity in the number of online clothing outlets, said Peter Woolford, vice-president of policy development and research at the Retail Council of Canada.
“When you consider how actively Canadians use the Internet for managing their financial affairs or for booking travel there’s no question they trust the Internet as a medium through which to do commerce and to share their most important financial information,” he said.
“They just like to shop in person apparently.”
Woolford pointed out that even during the heyday of catalogue shopping, Americans were far more active in “distance shopping.”
But while online sales amount to only about two per cent of all sales in Canada, Woolford said demand seems to be growing.
“Clearly Canadians are becoming accustomed to it,” he said.
“We would fully expect to see the number of Canadians shopping online for merchandise and the portion of merchandise bought online to grow, and probably grow very rapidly.”
But that growth is hampered by clothing retailers, especially those based in the U.S., who are reluctant or unable to establish Canadian headquarters.
While American Apparel and Forever 21 are among the US-based retailers that have Canadian stores online – meaning costumers don’t have to shell out for additional import taxes or duties – other companies process orders out of the country or do not ship to Canada at all.
“I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want that extra business,” said Henna Singh, who runs the popular blog Canadian Beauty. “There are lots of consumers in Canada, but if companies won’t ship here, that’s a problem.”
Eluxury.com, a site that sells high-end cosmetics, is one example of a company that does not ship to Canada. Retail giant GAP Inc., which owns and operates all Banana Republic, GAP and Old Navy stores, is another.
D, who founded Ottawa Street Style, a blog dedicated to what people are wearing in the nation’s capital, said she and most of her friends are online shopping enthusiasts.
Even though finding the right fit online can be a challenge, she cited the better promotions and variety most online stores offer as enticing reasons to shop from home.
But import fees quickly drive up prices when ordering from international retailers such as Shopbop.com, so it can be especially frustrating when companies based in Canada or that have domestic stores don’t offer online shopping.
“If people are shopping at store here and it’s successful, why wouldn’t you have online shopping in Canada? It’s a great concept,” said D.
GAP Inc. is looking into changes that will allow its system to accept international addresses, according to Tara Wickwire, a company spokesperson.
“We agree that bringing our online stores to everyone in the world is a critically important strategic objective for us,” she said.
Customer service is the company’s primary concern and it wants to ensure it can live up the brand’s identity before expanding into the international online market, she added.
Meanwhile, both D and Singh said they usually link to stores where readers can purchase items discussed in blog posts. Singh said blogs and the Internet are new points of information for the consumer world.
“When I started my blog I looked at magazines and the products in them, but I was not getting the information I wanted – whether it worked, where to get it, where to find things not everyone has,” said Singh.
And although the majority of Canadians do not shop online regularly, they are using the Internet’s resources to scout future purchases.
“Canadians are very careful, very value-oriented shoppers,” said Woolford. “Having information from a number of difference perspectives just means the customer is that much better informed and is more likely to buy the right product the first time.”
Online store, ships from Canada
Online store, ships from outside Canada (import fees or duties apply)
Stores in Canada, does not ship to Canada/no online store
RW & Co.
I was interviewed back in November about my initiatives which included Ottawa Street Style, here’s the article written by Carleton journalism student Natalie Zakrzewski titled “Street Style”:
The words Ottawa and fashion together do not immediately resonate in most Canadians’ minds. But the nation’s capital is experiencing a naissance of style-savvy students attempting to modernize this power suit-clad city. Watch out Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the Ottawa Street Style team is on a mission to capture a stylized image of Ottawa citizens.
After much frustration over the lack of fashion outlets in her community, D, creator of Ottawa Street Style, decided to take some initiative. D created an online fashion photography website that proves Ottawa fashion is more than the quintessential ties and blazers.
For the site’s photo album, D and her team of photographers scour the streets of Ottawa for chic, unique or out of the ordinary dressers. They take pictures of these unsuspecting fashionistas and post their images on the blog-like site. Under each photo is a short blurb describing why, where, and when the picture was taken.
Some images include a student wearing the latest Nike running shoes, another is of a male sporting retro gold jeans and white dress shoes.
Anyone interested in finding out whether their fashion sense makes the cut can browse the photos on the Ottawa Street Style website at http://www.ottawastreetstyle.blogspot.com.
D says while she works on the website she realizes how passionate Ottawa residents, students in particular, are about what they wear.
“I see that there is a demand for fashion here,” says D. “When you take pictures on the streets you notice that people really do care about fashion. When we put up our site people started saying we never saw anything like this, we want things like this. There’s an increasing demand for street fashion and we need to cater to it.”
Working in many areas of fashion, D is also the director of media and marketing for the Canadian International Modelling Agency. The agency promotes a healthier body image for local aspiring models. Last month, CIMA held one of its first fashion shows in Ottawa encompassing models of all shapes, sizes, gender and ethnicity.
D says she maintains this open-minded beauty ideology when working on the Ottawa Street Style website. The subjects in the photographs are by no means the archetypal model material, and D says the site is all about promoting individuality and diversity. “I feel street style is really important and it‘s what designers create from. I think it’s basically anything that differentiates you from the homogenous society,” she says.
This Wednesday Ottawa Street Style and CIMA will be pairing up to present the Young and Indie Fashion Photography Exhibit at Club Saw nightclub and art gallery. Many of the photographers who work for the website will be exhibiting their works. The exhibition will run from 7 p.m. to 11 p. m., and food and drinks will be served at the club throughout the evening.
“We called it the young and indie because we’re young and independent and we want to show that,” says D. “Fashion is also a business and this is one run by young students. The oldest member of our group is 26 but we don’t like to reveal that age,” she adds laughing.
The subject matter of the photographic display will be primarily CIMA models in commercial fashion settings. But Sonya Mitrovic, a photographer whose art is being displayed at the exhibit, says the theme of the work is very unique. “It’s a more natural approach. We want to show that it’s not just the body or physique of the model that accentuates a dress or piece of clothing. It’s the ambience, the attitude and everything that the model can put into it,” says Mitrovic.
For all those interested in fashion in the Ottawa and surrounding area, D says she and her team are always looking for new members to help promote the city’s growing fashion industry. The Ottawa Street Style team is eager to post any public fashion-related events on its site, and encourage local involvement.
D says she thinks the future of fashion in the capital is a promising one. “Some people think Ottawa is a boring government city but there’s, if you look, a little hipster scene coming out,” she laughs.
D says to check the Ottawa Street Style blog because you may be the site’s next trendy target.
Ottawa Street Style was mentioned in the Fulcrum, the University of Ottawa’s English newspaper. Read the article by clicking on the link below!
OTTAWA START BLOG
Rad Fashion from the streets of Ottawa:
We recently stumbled upon Ottawa Street Style. The blog’s mission is to “hunt the stylish on Ottawa streets, take their picture and post it for your viewing pleasure.”
(And yes, the site even highlights at least one stylin’ civil servant.)
You can view the blog post here, its posted under blogs, fashion, urban, under the date July 4th:
Thanks Ottawa Start!