Reloved Boutique strives to provide a conscious solution for fashion lovers of all sizes

Nestled in the heart of James Street North sits new consignment store Reloved Boutique. The store carries a selection of products by Canadian businesses as well as racks of one-of-a-kind clothing pieces. Curating a collection of beautiful secondhand items is the goal of this boutique headed by mother-daughter duo Raquel and Lateisha Brown.

Raquel and Lateisha have dreamt of opening Reloved Boutique for about three years. Although born and raised in Hamilton, Lateisha currently lives in Calgary where there are a plethora of consignment shops. After visiting Lateisha in Calgary, Raquel realized that Hamilton doesn’t offer the same range of selection for secondhand shopping. Together, they saw an opportunity to introduce a new consignment boutique to the Steel City.

Last December when Lateisha was in Hamilton for the holidays, the pair stumbled upon their current location and signed the lease almost immediately. In January, they began setting up the space and launched their Instagram page. Planning for a launch date of March 21, they began collecting items for their spring consignment collection.

However, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, the pair had to re-evaluate their opening. Instead of opening their brick and mortar location, they launched an online shop instead. While navigating these new challenges, they were supported by a great landlord and by the local business community.

“The [business] community has been really supportive. We are in a bunch of networking groups that are just trying to support each other and give each other advice for the best. Like how to get through this or what this new life looks like,” said Lateisha.

Two months after their initial opening date, they unlocked their physical location in May with additional COVID-19 protocols. As Lateisha is still in Calgary, she handles the behind-the-scenes logistics, finance and social media while Raquel operates the storefront.

It was important to the mother-daughter duo to create a boutique experience for secondhand shopping. While they do not look for particular brands, they ensure that the items that make it to their racks are carefully curated based on current style trends, brand popularity and condition.

“I think that we've nailed it in terms of the aesthetic and how we want our stuff to be presented . . . I remember when I was a kid, I was mortified when we would go shopping at a thrift shop. But we created  . . . a secondhand shopping experience . . . [that] doesn’t feel like you’re shopping secondhand, nor do the clothes look like they’re secondhand,” said Lateisha.

“I think that we've nailed it in terms of the aesthetic and how we want our stuff to be presented . . . I remember when I was a kid, I was mortified when we would go shopping at a thrift shop. But we created  . . . a secondhand shopping experience . . . [that] doesn’t feel like you’re shopping secondhand, nor do the clothes look like they’re secondhand,” said Lateisha.

Where Reloved Boutique stands out most is through its mission for size-inclusivity. The fashion industry has continuously underserved plus-sized women and this has unfortunately been a trend in secondhand stores. Reloved Boutique strives to fill the gap in secondhand fashion and allow everyone to explore sustainable options. They actively promote larger size donations and consignments on their social media to ensure they have stock of all sizes.

Any unsold items at the end of a season that aren’t returned to consignors are donated to a local charity. Right now, the boutique has partnered with Interval House, a shelter for women survivors of intimate partner violence and their children. They hope to donate to different charities on a rotational basis.

The response from the Hamilton community has been positive. Since they began accepting items in January, people have been consistently dropping items off. Many of the items they’ve received have been great quality, which has made the pair even more excited about the store.

“The excitement from the community is what sets a fire in me, that they’ve never seen a boutique that looks like ours or they’ve never experienced consignment the way that we do it. I'm really happy and proud that we've accomplished that,” said Lateisha.

“The excitement from the community is what sets a fire in me, that they’ve never seen a boutique that looks like ours or they’ve never experienced consignment the way that we do it. I'm really happy and proud that we've accomplished that,” said Lateisha.

With the amount of clothes they’ve already received, Lateisha sees the store growing larger in the future. As a women-owned business, they also hope that they can host networking events and workshops for women entrepreneurs after COVID-19. Whatever the future holds, having overcome the challenges of COVID-19, Raquel and Lateisha have shown their resilience as business owners and the value of their store to Hamiltonian fashion lovers.

Photo by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

By Shaan Babrah, Contributor

As you drudge through second semester, it is hard to not notice all the business-casual students on their way to class, clutching cups of coffee for warmth. One can only wonder whether there is any point in wearing a button-up and dress shoes to pour over a textbook in the library. The Indeed and LinkedIn tabs that seem to be on every computer in sight certainly don’t alleviate the pressure to be “grown-up” or “professional”. 

Though you may feel tempted to emulate your post-grad future in your clothing, you should appreciate the beauty of being untethered to a dress code while you still can. Once the mid-February breeze runs through your favourite overcoat like you’re being possessed by the ghost of cold, you can’t be blamed for reaching for your Michelin Man parka. Now you may be warm, but one can only wonder if it’s necessary to be so amorphous to avoid hypothermia. Just when all hope seems to be lost, a new trend has entered the forefront of fashion to warm the frozen souls of students everywhere. 

This look has been appropriately dubbed “hikercore”. Those on board with the movement are trading in their peacoats and chinos for fleeces and cargo pants. The recent popularization of clothes to stumble around the forest in has resurrected some great pieces that have previously been considered faux pas. Montreal’s Ssense, a titan of the retail industry, has taken note of this boom and virtually every major brand right now is releasing pieces that fit within this aesthetic. Many clothing items once considered untouchable are now lining the shelves of stores, looking better than most thought possible. 

The trend started when hiking boots trickled into winter office attire and streetwear around the mid-2010s. Since then, hikercore has expanded, as fleeces eclipse knits and hoodies as the statement sweater of the season. This can be seen online, as brands like Snow Peak and Kapital are showing up in forum discussions and all over the Instagram explore page. Don’t feel pressured to prove your stripes as a free solo climber or munch the most muesli in order to take part in hikercore. In fact, most people should start with baby steps. The trailblazer look is not the most ubiquitous trend and you likely haven’t seen many of your peers in full Japanese trekking gear, but there is still plenty of inspiration for the average student to grab onto. By adding a few outdoorsy staples into your rotation, the urban hiker look can inject enough personality into your school wardrobe to prevent complete corporate assimilation.

The first step in the long road to environmental enlightenment begins with your footwear. After the hiking boot trend put brands like ROA in the big leagues, other companies have followed suit to put out more stylish variations on the look. For those fully invested in the style, Salomon Snowcross shoes or Danner boots are a great way to dip your toe into the aesthetic, and start  dressing as though you actually have hobbies. I would also check out Salomon or Hoka One One at Sport Chek or Runner’s Den on King Street West as a great functional option for anyone who may want to give hikercore a test run before committing to a whole new aesthetic.

Fleeces, of course, are a staple that have been mainstream since your dad bought his first Columbia half-zip. Unlike the lighter weight dad-core options that are more commonly represented, a good hefty fleece will only inspire you to buy more, furthering your descent into student debt while keeping you toasty and cozy through your midterms. I would strongly advise against wearing any button-ups with a fleece and instead just stick to tees. If you’re shelling out your hard-earned money on a nice sweater, you should be able to appreciate the warm polyester hug.

There are many avenues and side trails to explore for inspiration, but not all are created equal. The Instagram page is the best place to start. Brands like South 2 West 8 and Patagonia are also great to check out, as they remain the godfathers of every fashionable outdoorsman or woman. Vintage North Face, Patagonia, Arc’teryx and Nike ACG ads are a gateway to some of the coolest looks that anyone can pull off while imagining the more fulfilling and spiritualistic life that awaits them at the end of the semester. All the biggest high fashion brands steal influence from vintage styles in their huge archive of regular old clothes, and there is no reason you shouldn’t do the same. Save some of your favourite looks and images on your phone and hit the thrift.

The best way to complete the look, though, is to check out any of Hamilton’s iconic hiking spots and find for yourself what subsection of the culture you identify with. Bruce Trail runs through many of Hamilton’s larger parks and is a great route for runners that prefer greener scenery. Parallel to Bruce Trails is Chedoke Radial Trails, which is perfect for cyclists and dog-walkers alike to get away from their usual concrete path. Of course, the many waterfalls across the city are a tried and true classic for dates and dressing well for the occasion can make you seem stylish and outdoorsy. For those that prefer to think global and act local, Adventure Attic (28 King St. W.) is certainly worth your time and provides the best look into what actual hikers wear and use. 

From trail running to mountain climbing and all the way to Whole Foods hippie, there is a place for everybody in the great outdoors. For many, university is the last step before many of us graduate or move onto a tragically adult future full of J. Crew scarves and oxford cloth, so you may as well appreciate your freedom while it lasts. 

From trail running to mountain climbing and all the way to Whole Foods hippie, there is a place for everybody in the great outdoors. For many, university is the last step before many of us graduate or move onto a tragically adult future full of J. Crew scarves and oxford cloth, so you may as well appreciate your freedom while it lasts. 

Experimentation is an important part of stepping out of the monotony of routines. Despite the constant pressure to grow up and follow suit, it’s difficult to make great personal strides when your shoes are giving you blisters. You may not be a trail veteran, but the spirit of hikercore is carving out your own path. It could be a fully functional outfit with dozens of pockets or just a beloved Arc’teryx jacket for the temperamental weather; the choice is yours. This season, throw on all your favourite fleeces at the same time with your most semi-fashionable outdoorsy shoes and take a hike while you still can.


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Photos C/O Katie Cui

By Anonymous, Contributor

The idea of femininity is one that, for a long time, upset me. I remember distinctly hating to wear the dresses my family bought me. I didn’t want to be exposed. I didn’t want to perpetuate the notion of what a woman should be within society. I didn’t want to feel objectified by men, I didn’t want to be regarded as “weak”, “fragile” or “sensitive”. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t want to be noticed by men. I was “straight”, so I assumed that, as a woman, I wanted attention from men. 

There have been countless times when I’ve been told by my family: “Dress nicely so that boys will notice you.” Sometimes I would cave, and I would receive the standard compliments that one would receive from a heterosexual male: “You look hot/ nice/ pretty/ beautiful.” Other times, I’d find my strength in going against the world’s expectations, and put on a suit instead. I did not receive any typical compliments, but seeing men gaze at me in half jealousy and half admiration was good enough. Afterall, I looked hot and powerful.  

Boys, I wanted you to notice me—but I also wanted to be noticed for who I am, not for conforming to societal expectations of what a woman should wear. 

A jacket on a red background.

In grade 10, I started to wear snapbacks. In grade 11, I started to wear muscle shirts. In grade 12, I started wearing suits and called myself heteroflexible. In my first year of university, I began to wear men’s t-shirts and men’s joggers. In second year, I made it a habit to check out the women’s section and the men’s section in clothing stores. I went from calling myself heteroflexible throughout my high school years, to declaring myself as bisexual in university. 

Fashion, sexuality and gender expression have always been a messy knot in my brain. I frequently dress like someone who, if you took one look at me, you’d know I am not straight. Maybe you could even infer that I’m bi. 

You’re told not to judge a book by its cover. But what if I want you to?  

Symbolic interactionism describes how our world is made of symbols which convey meaning to the people we interact with. Fashion is the pinnacle of my interaction with the world. 

Pants on a red background

Every day, what I choose to wear is a reflection of who I am. Sometimes, I want to go undetected—that’s a day for dark jeans, t-shirts and a sweater. Other times, I want to be noticed—that means wearing a suit or a dress. Other times, I feel incredibly gay and just throw on a Henley, typically a shirt for men, and men’s joggers. 

Our world has always had an invisible hand in how I present myself. I am well attuned to how I dress and how that will draw different kinds of stares and gazes; however, as someone who is interested in both men and women, this has become a habit of practiced expression.

Our world has always had an invisible hand in how I present myself. I am well attuned to how I dress and how that will draw different kinds of stares and gazes; however, as someone who is interested in both men and women, this has become a habit of practiced expression.

I used to feel almost guilty about how I dressed, I never felt feminine enough for those around me. As I grew more comfortable with my sexuality, I realized that I didn’t need to dress to attract men to me. How I dress on a daily basis, with a style between androgynous and masculine, is both more comfortable for me, and the ladies like it. 

I remember dressing to go to a party one night and turning to my friends saying, “I’m going to wear a crop top, because that way people know I’m a little bit of a slut. But I’m going to wear flannel shirt over that because I still want people to know I’m hella gay.” 

Dressing myself is a calculated strategy. I choose my clothing carefully to convey hidden messages. Yet, sometimes I question how whether or not my acceptance of these messages contributes to perpetuating stereotypes around gender and sexuality. Stereotypes can be harmful. Actively assuming details about a person can feel intrusive, belittling and insulting. Yet, I purposely use stereotypes associated with sexuality to communicate with the world. I’ve cut my hair shorter, I wear flannel, I cuff my jeans and I keep my nails short. These are all stereotypically associated with being “bisexual” or “gay”. 

Suspenders on a red background

Stereotypes become harmful when you actively use them to make harmful assumptions. Not every flamboyant man is gay, and you have no right to tell him he is. Not every girl with short hair is a lesbian, you don’t need to tell your friends she is. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover, at least, not actively. 

Yet, when I wear a French tucked t-shirt with a leather jacket with my cuffed ripped black jeans, I am trying to tell the world I am not straight. It’s me telling the world that typical compliments about my general appearance won’t woo me. Maybe compliment my graphic t-shirt with the teenage mutant ninja turtles on it, then I’ll entertain a discussion with you.   

This article is part of our Sex and the Steel City, our annual sex-positive issue. Click here to read more content from the special issue.


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Photo C/O Unsplash

By: Katie van Kampen, Contributor

Finding the perfect gift while holiday shopping is hard and will likely be time consuming, nerve wracking and frankly, stressful. Clothing, in particular, is nearly impossible to get right. What size is the person you’re shopping for? What styles do they like? Do they prefer fitted or oversized? With so many variables to consider, you’re overwhelmed. To help you find gifts that everyone would appreciate, here are fashion items that you could buy for anyone this holiday season. 

Let’s Sock n’ Roll

Price: $

There has been a recent resurgence in sock subscription services and an increasing demand for trendy sock designs. A well-picked pair of socks can complement your outfit while adding a splash of personality. A great place to find a variety of socks within the city is floorplaysocks (194 Locke St. S). They have walls filled with socks, neatly organized and displayed for easy browsing. One reliable brand that the store carries is Stance—. my favorite brand for fun and durable socks.. They have many different designs to choose from that’ll be sure to appeal to anyone on your holiday list. 

Green (T-Shirt) Sleeves

Price: $$

T-shirts are one of the best gifts you can give someone. Just like socks, they come in a variety of shapes, colours and designs. As trends in 90s fashion re-emerge, it’s becoming cooler to wear oversized t-shirts or to tuck them in. So, go out there and get your Secret Santa their favourite band t-shirt or a comic graphic t-shirt, and don’t worry if it’s a size too large. There’s lots of ways you can style a t-shirt — perhaps through a french tuck, layering the shirt with shorter items or by rolling the sleeves. Omnes (191 King St. E)  has a selection of second hand vintage shirts from brands like Adidas to Guess. Or, you can take a walk down James Street and browse through boutiques like The Pale Blue Dot (240 James St. N) to find the perfect t-shirt for whoever’s on your list.

The Holiday Sweater

Price: $$

‘Tis the season! What’s better than an aggressively adorned holiday sweater for those office parties, unbearable family events, or themed parties. Holiday sweaters vary in their design from “My Grandpa made this in the 1970s” to “Minimalistic snowflake” and can be found at a variety of stores. Depending on what you think they’ll like or how much you actually want them to wear this sweater, there’s a variety to choose from. The McMaster Campus Store carries their own McMaster Christmas sweater so you can get some Mac swag while also purchasing a festive gift. If your friend won’t buy one  for themselves, and always complains about not owning a holiday sweater, you can easily fix this situation. They’ll soon be sporting their new sweater to every holiday event. 

Backpack, Backpack, Yeah!

Price: $$$

A backpack is a necessity for students, so why not take the opportunity to turn it into a fashion item? Even if they already have a backpack, having different styles and different sizes to choose from can be useful if they ever want to downsize their daily carry-all. Pair it with the right colours and it can be easily integrated into any outfit. Check out the Campus Store for a variety of backpacks featuring designs by Hershel and Fjallraven.


Price: $$

While it is a bit chilly for denim jackets, they can prove useful and fashionable during the warmer months. As I said, oversized clothing is in style. Buying someone an oversized jacket can help elevate their style as they can experiment with layering other fashion pieces. Jean jackets come in a variety of linings and colours. Some non-conventional colors to check out are grey, white, black and olive. Denim jackets are a great item to find at a thrift store, especially since they’re quite durable and timeless. One close option to Mac is Deja Vu Used and New (262 King St. W). Here you’re sure to find different styles, colours and sizes of jackets. If you want a vintage, retro aesthetic you can take the trek to Ottawa Street and visit Out of the Past (308 Ottawa St. N). Whoever you’re buying for will surely appreciate this item as it can be styled in  many different ways, creating a great addition to their wardrobe.

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Where to find cheap, close and creative clothing

By Katie van Kampen, Contributor

Learning to become a more sustainable shopper is not always easy. Although there are lots of thrift shops in Hamilton, many pieces might not be the right match for you. To help you along your journey, we’ve compiled a list of thrifting spots— each unique in their own right. Using the categories below, you may just find your perfect match. Happy shopping!

Best aesthetics

Out of the Past (308 Ottawa St. North)

Price: $$

[media-credit name="C/O Out of the Past" align="center" width="750"][/media-credit]

As you walk into Out of the Past, there is a smiling cat in the window to welcome you. That same cat is stamped on the sale tags. Yet, underneath the grinning feline is the word “Woof”. You see, Out of the Past is a paradox. The store has very specific alternative, punk and grunge vibe supported by a curated playlist of new wave, late 70s music. Somehow, there is something for everyone here.

The walls are covered with different clothing articles, ranging from a Halloween section to a rack of black band shirts and a cabinet dedicated to steam-punk inspired goggles. The owner handpicks the store’s clothing from used clothing factories. All of the pieces contribute to a unique aesthetic within the store through both its décor and the items offered.

Cheapest prices and best cause

New Horizons Thrift Shop (520 James St. North)

Price: $

While unassuming from the outside, New Horizons has a variety of clothing for men and women at very reasonable prices. I saw multiple Danier Leather jackets priced below $30, which can retail for well over that price.

New Horizons is a thrift shop that reinvests its revenue back into the program and services of Welcome Inn Community Centre, such as in their after school and senior programs. All donated clothing is and unsuitable clothing is donated back to the Diabetes Canada Association. If you want to shop on a budget and support a charity while you’re at it, this is the thrift shop for you.

Most bang for your buck

The Thrifty Designer (203 King St. East)

Price: $$$

[media-credit name="Photo by Cindy Cui, Photo Editor" align="center" width="2560"][/media-credit]

From the outside, this looks like a trendy boutique clothing store with a dark minimalistic exterior and impeccably dressed mannequins. However, inside there is something more unique waiting. Owner Leslie Smith-Aragon upcycles clothing, giving the clothes a new chance at life. She also picks out forgotten and previously loved items such as scarves, sweaters and other fabrics to create entirely new and individual pieces.

There is a large selection of formal wear such as blazers, vests and dresses at reasonable prices considering their quality. For example, a blazer was priced at $60 and looked like new. If you are in the market for more formal attire, this is a perfect option as you will be purchasing something unique and sustainable from The Thrifty Designer.

Most Variety

Hamilton Antique Mall (233 Ottawa St. North)

Prices: $$

[media-credit name="Photo by Cindy Cui, Photo Editor" align="center" width="2560"][/media-credit]

Walking past this building, you wouldn’t know that there are three floors of antique clothing, furniture, toys and other items waiting to find a new home. The Hamilton Antique Mall is a collection of booths — all rented to various collectives. You’ll have to search around to find the clothing booths, but that in itself is an adventure that could fill an otherwise uneventful day.

Much of the clothing you will find here has a vintage style but are all previously worn pieces. Each booth is unique with a specific theme in mind. I found one booth with darker pieces reminiscent of the 90s grunge era, but also a more cheerful booth with pastels and clothing reminiscent of the 50s. Hamilton Antique Mall is a perfect way to spend an afternoon trip on Ottawa Street, hitting up the many restaurants along the way and having a browse through the many booths you can encounter — you’ll be sure to find something!

Closest to Campus

Deju Vu New and Used (262 King St. West)

Prices: $

[media-credit name="Photo by Cindy Cui, Photo Editor" align="center" width="2560"][/media-credit]

Deja Vu New and Used has been operating in the heart of downtown for the past 36 years. Walking in, you can immediately appreciate the diversity of the store — with an entire rack of sunglasses, leather jackets and jeans. The store is well-organized with every item having its own home. The walls are aligned with notable pieces from an astronaut Halloween costume to handbags and sweaters.

Clothing is sourced from multiple places, mostly Toronto suppliers, but all are picked with diversity in mind. For a wide selection of used clothing via a fifteen-minute bus ride from campus, this is the best place to go if you want to get out of that Westdale bubble but have to make it back in time for your next midterm!

Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

Tucked away in the basement of the Hamilton Antique Mall (233 Ottawa St. North) is Dollywood Plus Vintage, a vibrant pink, Dolly Parton-bedecked, oasis of vintage fashion and body acceptance. It is owned and operated by Jessie Goyette, who is a vocal advocate for the plus size community. Last year, Goyette organized the Hamilton Plus Size Flea Market and received  overwhelmingly positive feedback.

This past summer, Goyette applied for a booth in the Hamilton Antique Mall. She was accepted almost immediately, and she says the response has been incredible. 

“I had people coming in and buying up everything. I had people messaging me, telling me how this is something that they’ve never seen before or been a part of and how there’s no spaces explicitly for plus size people that are run by independent folks in Hamilton, or even in the area in general. Especially focusing on vintage. That pushed me to keep doing it,” said Goyette.  

While the body positive movement is slowly gaining traction, there are still many spaces that do not offer options for plus sized people. Having to choose from a tiny selection of ill-fitting clothing is all too common, particularly for anyone looking to express themselves through fun and innovative fashion. Additionally, having only plus-sized options reinforces the narrative that plus sized bodies should be hidden away. Dollywood Plus Vintage looks to battle that narrative through body acceptance and positivity. 

“It isn’t just about clothes, and selling clothes. It’s about paying attention to a group of people that are just as deserving to express themselves the way they want to, and embody themselves in whatever way they choose,” said Goyette.

For Goyette, body positivity means celebrating plus-size bodies.

“I think fat bodies in particular are often devalued or seen as bad. It’s important to acknowledge that people with fat bodies are desirable and worthy of anything that anybody else with a body is. Regardless of their health, regardless of how you whether or not you perceive them to be living healthy or not, that doesn’t matter. I think it’s a human right to be able to express yourself and feel comfortable with who you are, and not be made to feel uncomfortable about the space you take up with your body,” said Goyette.

Going forward, Goyette plans to expand beyond clothing. Zines, buttons, patches and stickers are all in progress. 

“I want to have different types of media, literature and art that explicitly speak to the experience of plus sized people in Hamilton,” said Goyette. She hopes that this will foster a sense of community and acceptance that isn’t always easy to find.

Dollywood Plus Vintage itself is bright and happy. Any spots not filled with unique clothes are covered with pictures of Dolly Parton, the Grammy award-winning country singer. The VHS copy of Steel Magnolias rests next to zines and patches. Goyette says that Parton’s song “Wildflowers” in particular speaks to her.

“Wildflowers are still really beautiful despite them not being the norm. They have the capacity to thrive and to overcome anything, regardless of where they are. That, to me, was something that carried over to the fat experience. Much like the wildflower, fat bodies are beautiful in their own way and are dynamic and able to bounce back from anything that society might throw at them,” said Goyette.

Dollywood Plus Vintage has only just begun, and if the initial response is anything to judge by, it will be around for a very long time. Goyette hopes that one day we will live in a world where there’s no need to have an article about a plus sized store because, hopefully by then,  it will be so normal. Until then, Goyette’s store can be found in the basement of the Hamilton Antique Mall at stall 01L, and is well worth a look. 


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Photo c/o Cyprian Estrada

An earlier version of this article was incorrectly published with photos from another Supercrawl fashion show. The Sil apologizes for any confusion this may have caused. 

By Emily O'Rourke, Contributor

What first launched as a makeshift runway along a James Street North sidewalk has grown into a crowd favourite at Supercrawl. 

Supercrawl’s Fashion Zone has grown significantly over the years, officially becoming a dedicated part of the festival in 2014. Among the Fashion Zone’s team of designers, organizers and passionate creatives, co-owners of the Eye of Faith, Aaron Duarte and Paul Heaton, stand out.

Established in 2011 by Duarte and Heaton, the Eye of Faith is a multifaceted brand, focusing on promoting individuality and expression through the exploration of the “past, fusing into the present to help shape the future.” Initially purveying high quality unique vintage finds, the brand has since expanded into original one-of-a-kind garments created using primarily vintage textiles and materials. 

Photo c/o Cyprian Estrada

For the past five years, Duarte and Heaton have played a significant role in organizing Supercrawl’s fashion zone. As designers first, the pair first took over the fashion zone in 2015 with their handmade collection, “Hollywood Babylon”. Since, they’ve taken four different shows to the stage. Among them was Tarot, their 2016 collection which included a dress made from two decks of the classic Raider-Waite cards, attached with a metal chain link. Duarte and Heaton are also involved in every single aspect of their show, from stage managing, sound mixing, modeling and MCing. 

“Putting on a fashion show is a huge task, and so many people go into making these shows, so the fact that it continues to grow truly shows how important fashion in all its forms is beloved in our city,” said Duarte.

Photo c/o Cyprian Estrada

When they’re not running their own shows, the duo sit on the fashion committee where they oversee applications and actively seek out new talent for the shows to ensure the programming is relevant to the fabric of the Hamilton fashion scene. All programming is local and aims to showcase diversity in all its forms, never being afraid to push the envelope.

“Supercrawl is the epitome of fashion events in the city, hands down,” said Duarte. “For us designers, it is the equivalent to any major fashion week and designers work for months to conceive and create collections specifically for the festival. We are striving to help get [designers’] full vision off the ground however we can, really.”

“It is also a great jumpstart for new designers to get their name out to the public, who in turn come out to see the shows and find their next new favourite local designer, and every year, there are more and more,” said Duarte. 

The pair were busy this year, with Heaton managing the stage while walking as a model in three local designers’ shows, including Vintage Soul Geek, Thrifty Designer and Blackbird Studios. Duarte took on the MC role once again, while coordinating music and mixing sound for all shows throughout the weekend. 

Photo c/o Mike Skarvinko

As a staple weekend in the city comes to a close, Duarte shares that he wishes Supercrawl was every weekend. On what’s next, Duarte hopes to see more youth talent, avant-garde work and luxury designs. 

“[Supercrawl] is the one weekend of the year that brings so many facets of our city together under one umbrella. It is primarily a celebration of the talent and vitality of the City of Hamilton,” said Duarte. “As artists, it is an important platform to showcase our work to a large audience which only continues to grow every year. It’s definitely a weekend that always seems to recharge the city’s unique energy”.


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Isolated from the grey overtones of King Street West lies a splash of pink just east of Hess Street North. Walking into the space, you are immediately overwhelmed with the pleasant scent of freshly baked goodies. As your eyes gaze upon the pink shop, the show-stopping piece is the custom-made swing holding a hundred pounds of sprinkles. For Real Dough (256 King Street West) adds an escape from the downtown core by combining a bakery with the feel of a pop-up museum.

For owner Diana Smiarowski, the bakery was a chance for her to get a much needed change of pace. 

“We came up with [an idea to] mix an element of fun while at the same time my boyfriend was craving cookie dough... We looked it up and saw places in the States but there was nowhere permanent here that you could go. We kind of mixed the two together and we wanted to bring a feeling of nostalgia. I know lots of people [ate cookie dough] and snuck it when they were little. Coming into a place like this with the clouds, the’s just meant to bring you back to your childhood. We just wanted it to be a happy, fun place to come,” said Smiarowski.

For Real Dough is an immersive experience in the heart of downtown Hamilton that meshes the feel of a pop-up with decadent edible cookie dough. Ranging in simple flavours like  chocolate chip to more unique flavours such as cookie monster and dunkaroo. Select vegan and no gluten-added flavours are offered on the menu to ensure everybody is able to try the sweet treats For Real Dough has to offer. The bakery also boasts stuffed cookies, cookie dough paired with soft-serve ice cream and iced coffee served with cereal-flavoured milk with everything made in-house. 

“It’s about bringing a sweet piece of childhood back. We try and bring some fun, creative flavours that you wouldn’t find anywhere around...We see Hamilton growing and we just wanted to bring something to help it grow,” said Smiarowski.

Raw cookie dough is normally not recommended for consumption due to the inclusion of raw eggs and flour. For Real Dough uses pasteurized eggs and heat-treats their flour to allow their cookie dough to be fully edible without the associated health concerns of its raw counterpart. 

From conception to reality, the bakery was set to open its doors after a year and a half of planning and execution. With the giant spoons above the washroom, clouds hung above the tables, and neon signs mounted to the walls, the store was ready for its soft-launch in July 2019 with an unexpected turnout. 

“It was wild! There is always a fear of starting a new business but it has been amazing, especially seeing people come in here happy. They’re just in such a good mood and it puts you in a good mood,” said Smiarowski.

Although the bakery has a lot to offer, the menu is constantly changing with each week holding a new flavour in-store for customers. Basic flavours are kept; however, seasonal treats are swapped out to keep things fresh. 

“Our number of flavours are always rotating and we are constantly trying to stay innovative. It’s a nice escape for people to just kind of forget what’s going on. They’re walking back into their childhood.” said Smiarowski.

To Smiarowski and her team, For Real Dough is more than just a cookie dough cafe. It is an experience for Hamiltonians to feel transported away from their busy lives. Put your head in the clouds and enjoy the atmosphere that has been created to ignite your childhood self.

For Real Dough is not only the perfect place for your next Instagram post but it also has sweet treats that allow you to relive your childhood years without having to leave the city. This cookie dough cafe is not going anywhere, anytime soon making it a beautifully pink addition to King Street West.

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Photo by Silhouette Archives

As Ned Stark said: brace yourselves, back-to-school shopping is coming. Every fall, students are pressured to buy the trendiest, fashion-forward outfits in order to both fit in and stand out (at the same time, effortlessly). This is particularly overwhelming for university students. We are encountering more new people and ideas than ever before, and that is often expressed through changes in personal style. Clothes allow you to experiment with different identities until you find the one that fits you.

While it can be freeing to reinvent yourself through clothes, it can also be financially taxing to buy an entirely new wardrobe every year. But fear not! Here are some tips and tricks for navigating back-to-school shopping that will save your wallet and your sanity.

Make a statement

If you know and love Queer Eye as much as I do, you’ll know that Tan France, the fashion expert, recommends finding a ‘hero piece’, a statement item to build an outfit around. This hero piece might already be in your closet. When the first week of school comes and you are stumped for outfit ideas, a hero piece can form the foundation of an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in. Just one item of clothing can transform your whole outfit. 

Swap it out

Change up your closet with clothing swaps! Threadwork (a sustainable fashion club on campus) usually has a swap in the McMaster University Student Centre each semester. It’s a quick and easy way to refresh your wardrobe while cleaning out some of the items that you no longer wear for free. There are also clothing swaps in the community; The Pale Blue Dot (240 James Street North) frequently has them, as does the Hearty Hooligan (292 Ottawa Street North).

Get thrifty

Thrift stores are your friend. Places like Out of the Past (308 Ottawa Street North), The Giving Closet (1162 Barton Street East) or Hawk and Sparrow (126 James Street North) will frequently have pieces that are more affordable and of higher quality than what you might find at the mall. If you don’t have the time to go in person, there are even online thrift stores, like thredUP. If you’re looking to free up some space in your closet, try donating your old clothes to avoid throwing them away. If you take them to Plato’s Closet (505 Rymal Road East) or Style Encore (989 Fennell Avenue East), then they will even pay you to donate them. This is a real thing! Check it out! 

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Rescue your beloved old clothes by taking them to a tailor or cobbler. My life changed when I realized I could get my worn out pants repaired for $20 rather than having to face the horrors of trying on too-small jeans in a dimly-lit dressing room. Not to mention, repairing old shoes means that you don’t have to go through the time and effort of breaking in a new pair. Your ankles will thank you. Thankles?

Not only do these four tips help you save money and live better, they also help to minimize your contributions to ‘fast fashion’ (buying clothes that won’t last and then throwing them away). The fashion industry puts out a huge amount of pollution every year. Clothes that fall apart after a few months are not only damaging to the planet, but they are also a strain on your wallet over time as you keep having to replace them with increasingly expensive options. Buying good quality pieces or repairing the pieces that you have helps to keep clothes out of landfills. 

You shouldn’t feel guilty for buying new clothes or following fashion trends if that brings you joy, just keep these sustainable options in mind. Remember, by November we’ll all be wearing sweatpants anyways, so wear whatever makes you happy and comfortable!

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Photo C/O Foreign Waves International

By Anastasia Gaykalova

The Silhouette sat down with the creative mind behind Zander, Matthew Alexander, and Foreign Waves International’s designer duo, Michael St. Jean and Kadeem Jarrett, during Supercrawl weekend to talk about the Hamilton-based streetwear brands’ take on street fashion, their creative process and friendly competition.

Photo C/O Samuel Letnik and Matthew Alexander


The Sil: How would you describe your brand in three words?

Jarrett: Wavy. Free. Real.

Alexander: Efficient. Athletic. Useful.


The Sil: Why did you start designing?

St. Jean: We wanted to create a brand that everyone around the world can rock and be represented, hence the name Foreign Waves International.

Jarrett: We printed a whole bunch of t-shirts, because we came up with a name and people loved it, and we said ‘let’s go full throttle’ and it’s been three years rocking and we’ve done a lot within the three years and we’re proud.

Alexander: I was really into art and just being artistic, touching as many mediums as possible: painting, photography [and] graphic design. I was getting into graphic design and slowly realized that it is not the career path that I necessarily wanted to take, and clothing ended up being it…I love clothing and it just fell into my life with the combination of the different things I was into.


The Sil: What is your creative process when designing?

St. Jean: That’s a hard thing to think of still…Our creative process is usually we see something and we think ‘yo, what can we do differently, what can we do to change it, how can we make it better’…And then we talk about our design with each other and decide what will work better, what colour scheme we’re going to use. Sometimes we go to places like [Supercrawl], this would be an example [of] where we gain inspiration.

Alexander: It’s a lot of internal brainstorming, just thinking out concepts in my head whenever I get influenced by certain things. Drawing out influence from everything and anything I possibly can. It could be anything from other designers or something a person says to interactions with my friends.


The Sil: Do either of you draw inspiration from other brands? If so, which and why?

Jarrett: In the beginning, yeah, but now it is more what we feel, what comes from our hearts. That’s what designs are based off of. But in the beginning, it’s just [like how] musicians look up to one musician, want to sound like them. And then they establish their own sounds.

St. Jean: Nike’s a big one, New Regime.

Jarrett: Shout-out to New Regime.

Alexander: I guess, when I first started getting into clothing and streetwear, the list of brands I would’ve listed then is completely different from now. Now I’m more into high fashion designer brands. I just feel like the designs and the materials and the backstory of the different brands and concepts are a lot more thought out. Few brands I could list now that I’m really into would probably be…Ader Error, Undercover, Palace, which is more on a streetwear, skatewear level.


The Sil: What makes a good fashion show?

Jarrett: When everything is running smoothly, [when] music [and] designs are on point.

St. Jean: I think there’s got to be a wild factor.

Jarrett: Exactly, in our day and age everyone does a fashion show. When you’re on a runway, add a little bit of something, add a little bit of art, add performances, add anything like that, you know…Be as free as you can. That’s what the brand represents. Be you and embrace what you wear every single day.

Alexander: I think outfits, for sure. I know for myself, I really like to add something more. [W]ith our latest fashion show we had more theatrics going on. It’s more than just outfits and models walking down a runway. It was like an actual show.


The Sil: What’s more important, expressing yourself or catering to an audience?

St. Jean: I think you have to have a mix of both. We want to express ourselves, but we want to make sure we are catering to the audience as well. So, we want to be like ‘I really like this, but I want to make sure my people are going to like it too’.

Alexander: I think, especially in terms of creative level, expressing yourself matters most at the end of the day. Where it gets tricky is on the business level of things, where, yeah, you do have to make money and you have to invest a lot of time, effort and money into certain projects, so you do have to cater to the audience. So I like to find a little bit of both.


The Sil: What are some challenges of the fashion industry and how to best deal with them?

St. Jean: One big thing is manufacturers. We’re a very small brand, so when it comes to manufacturing clothing, they want big orders, like you know, a hundred pieces, two hundred pieces. We’re very small, very local, so we don’t order that much. That’s why our clothes are very limited…So, it kind of leaves a little bit of exclusivity to our brand as well.

Alexander: I guess a big one right now would be finances. I know for me and my team, we have a lot of ideas and projects that we like to do, but it’s a hurdle we have to cross where we can’t financially make it happen. And that’s just a process of continuing to work and grow as a brand and building those resources in order to make those projects happen.


The Sil: What does street style mean to you?

St. Jean: Expressing yourself.

Jarrett: Yeah, exactly, expressing yourself. Streetwear is growing now. It used to be small brands like Stussy, Primitive, but now,  big time designers are making streetwear. Like, Gucci, and stuff, they’re all making hoodies with “Gucci” on it, and t-shirts and stuff. So, streetwear is literally taking over the world, and everyone loves streetwear.

Alexander: I love street style. Every single day I think of an outfit and I just love putting together clothes and showcasing how I’m feeling that day with the colour palettes and the theme of certain pieces I’m wearing… Street style is growing and it’s awesome to see other people getting more and more into it… especially in Hamilton.


The Sil: Since both brands share a similar style, do you consider each other competitors?

St. Jean: For us, personally, we don’t look at things as competition because we want to see everybody succeed, so we actually know Zander personally from showing support to each other. So, when we’ve done pop-ups, they’re there and when they’ve done pop-ups, we’re there. And we promote each other, so we don’t look at it as competition. We look at it more as a community and we should all work together.

Alexander: Yeah, I 100 per cent agree. I guess, back in the day when streetwear brands weren’t as many, maybe like 6 to 7 years ago, it would’ve been on a more competitive level, but as of right now, I think brands that are succeeding and growing together as a community. If everyone’s doing well, that only makes the community better at the end of the day.

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