What: Fashion Exposed
When: Friday, April 23, 8 p.m.
Where: Whistler Conference Centre
These days, you don't see many people skiing or snowboarding in the nude (those antics were more common in the hippie heyday). In fact, fashion has become a big part of on- and off-mountain culture in ski towns, a favourite way to pass time in lift lines is to examine everyone's apparel and gear.
Well, fashion lovers can get their fill of runway action this week at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
Fashion design was first infused into the festival in 2007, with the debut of Fashion Exposed, an event that features a handful of established brands alongside one up-and-coming designer.
"As the cultural programming of the festival became more successful, it became apparent that there was an appetite for it; it didn't just have to be a ski and snowboard event, it didn't just have to be about the sports and the music," said Lisa Richardson, a spokesperson for Watermark Communications, the company that is coordinating TWSSF.
This year, the format for the show is also a bit different than previous years with We Are The City, a band that won Peak Radio's musical competition, providing a live soundtrack for the evening of fashion. The concept is an indie, street-inspired take on a haute couture event dubbed Fashion Rocks, which features major international designers coupled with a live performance from a famous rock/pop artist.
Westbeach, Sitka, Columbia, Gore-Tex, Sorel, Voleurz and Orage are among the established brands onboard this year, while We3, Love Made Me and Lily & Jae, all past winners of the Designer Search and Expose competition, are also showcasing their latest designs.
"We wanted to kind of highlight the presence of the independent brands, because I think that really gives us a fresh take on the fashion show experience, this year," Richardson said.
She points out that major brands don't have a problem getting media exposure, like Burton during the Olympics. But some of the emerging designers and indie brands are tucked away underground. So, they organize Designer Search and Expose to dig up this new talent.
"We're striving to showcase what's happening at a world-class level in our culture and our community, but unless you start incubating at the grassroots, you're not going to have that tomorrow."
Organizers say that all previous winners of the competition were signing agreements with retail outlets to sell their lines after being selected to showcase their designs at the ski and snowboard festival.
It's just that type of exposure that this year's winner of the Designer Search and Expose competition, longtime Whistler resident Kalina Hornsby, hopes she'll be able to capitalize on.
Hornsby only recently launched her line, Guts & Guile, featuring streetwear pieces that are feminine, almost whimsical, and a world apart from most of the urban wear gracing the cobblestone runway of Whistler Village.
"It's still wearable," Hornsby said. "I think maybe that has something to do with me being in Whistler and you're in hoodies and T-shirts and that's' all you see."
Winning the Designer Search and Expose competition was a big surprise for this aspiring designer.
"I think of myself as a little bit of a small-fry because I have this business idea, but I'm not really that far along, so I didn't have a lot of hope!"
The line is meant to inspire people to push themselves just a bit outside of their comfort zone when it comes to fashion. It's also been a great creative outlet for Hornsby.
"I've been sewing since I was like three years old; it's what I love to do," she explained.
Hornsby studied fashion design and lived in Whistler for 10 years, but found that it was a tough place to launch a career in fashion. So, she's made the move to Vancouver in hopes of breaking into the industry, then returning to Whistler when the business is off the ground.
But in an odd twist of fate, Hornsby may actually get her big break right here in her former hometown, where she'll debut eight outfits to the audience and industry players at Fashion Exposed this Friday.