Canadian line KANIA proves that chic can be comfy

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      Several years ago, Canadian clothing designer Stacey Bafi-Yeboa witnessed a fashion crime she’ll never forget. She saw (brace yourself, fashionistas) a girl wearing La Senza pyjama bottoms in Shoppers Drug Mart.

      “I thought to myself, ”˜Yeah, they’re good-looking. They’re colourful, with a nice cute little pattern, but they are not outdoor pants,’” recalls Bafi-Yeboa, calling from her home studio in Ottawa. “Then I thought the reason why she did it is because she wants to be comfortable. And you either have big sloppy sweatpants with the whole diaper-bottom thing going on or you’re in something that’s so highly uncomfortable you’re trying to not eat, not dance, not doing anything, and as soon as you get in the door, you want to whip it off.”

      Bafi-Yeboa may not have worn her PJs out in public, but as a yoga fan, certified Pilates instructor, and former Broadway dancer, she knows all too well about the need for functional, stretchy streetwear.

      So in 2004, she officially launched KANIA, a line of luxury cotton, bamboo, and Lycra pieces that you can take from day to night—a fashion feat a lot of us West Coast gals have been trying (rather unsuccessfully) to get away with for years. The difference with KANIA, however, is that you won’t look like you’re trying to pass off high-end yoga wear as evening wear.

      The Snaggaluxe ($229), for instance, is a hooded cotton-Lycra wrap dress that comes in black and “mochamud”, and can be worn as is with flats for a sporty look or kicked up a notch with a leather belt, tights, and some stacked heels. Add a clutch with a punch of colour or sparkle, and you’re good to go for the holiday season.

      Then there’s the Flirty Flare ($79), a flowing skirt with a versatile, thick waistband that can be pulled up or folded down. Like several of the pieces she’s created over the years, the Flirty Flare has an asymmetrical hemline—something full-figured women, in particular, will appreciate.

      “A lot of designers make clothes on model-thin mannequins, but that’s not the body of the average woman,” says Bafi-Yeboa, who’ll be showing her line at the One of a Kind Show and Sale, on today through Sunday (October 8 to 11) at the Vancouver Convention Centre. You can also check out some of her pieces at stores like Jools (4255 Dunbar Street), Tutta Mia (1302 Victoria Drive), and Twigg & Hottie (3671 Main Street).

      “I’m quite small myself,” she continues, “but I have thick thighs and a bottom, so I have to be able to balance that on my body. And if I just wore things that are boxy, it would make me look bigger. So I like to work with asymmetrical [lines] because I find that in a skirt, for instance, if you put that weight down by your ankles, it makes your hips and waist look smaller.”

      Another waist-cinching KANIA piece is the signature Snuggie ($149), a chic wrap top with a secret hood that looks like a shawl collar when it’s down. It comes in a couple of autumn-friendly shades as well as a few vibrant, showstopping colours including mango, a colour that Bafi-Yeboa works into her collections regardless of the season.

      “If it’s already dreary and dark [outside] and you’re dressing in black and grey, then you can only feel darker,” Bafi-Yeboa says. “So if you can pump it up with a colour that’s really bright and fun, it actually changes your mood and makes you feel a little bit more energetic.”

      And let’s face it, with the SAD season upon us, we’re going to need all the help we can get.

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      Juli Menitti

      Feb 27, 2010 at 10:18pm

      What an AMAZING line from a sweet Lady. I bought 3 of the snuggalicious wraps. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! Made so well too....sturdy construction that will last a lifetime. I was grateful to meet her at THE ONE OF A KIND SHOW in Toronto last year.

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