Other pop-up market specializes in slow design

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      All too often, the holiday season is about rushing: hurrying to get your work done so you can get to the mall so you can get those last few gifts before you head to the Christmas party.

      But the organizers of Other, a new pop-up market running Friday to Sunday (November 28 to 30) at 163 East Pender Street, want you to do the opposite: they want you to slo-o-ow down. Or at the very least they want you to take the time to appreciate some of the “slow-design”, sustainable items they’ve collected in a unique twist on the holiday fair.

      “It’s about doing a market that spreads the message of mindful consumerism and shopping local,” explains graphic artist and designer Sofia Fiorentino, who’s teamed up with fellow Kwantlen Polytechnic University students Negin Izad and Lynn Doan to put on Other. Speaking on a break from fashion-design classes with Izad at the school, she continues: “Christmas is the perfect time for that, but it’s also to connect people to the makers of these things and say, ‘This is where it comes from.’ It’s educating people and by doing that create a bond with the product.”

      “We want to show people how many possible options there are in slow fashion,” Izad adds.

      The philosophy plays out in indie-designed apparel, jewellery, accessories, apothecary products, and art items that the team has sourced from here and across North America, with a carefully curated selection that ranges in price from an affordable $8 up to about $300. Most of the designers showing usually only sell on the Internet, so it’s a rare chance to see their wares in person.

      In terms of Izad’s line Noctex Clothing, she produces it locally, using dead-stock fabric to make avant-garde, architectural-yet-organic loose-fitting knits and jackets, designed to be layered and often in her staple colour of gothic black. “It’s the idea of creating things that aren’t limited to a season, to avoid the system where you’re always trying to focus on a new season, and so people aren’t forced to get rid of things each season,” she says, adding that part of her philosophy is to stay small and not go global with her designs. “I know my customers, I know what they like.…Everything is transparent: where I get my fabrics, what they’re made from. I want people to ask where or how something was made.”

      For her part, Fiorentino has combined her graphic-art and fashion-design skills in two lines of T-shirts, one an abstract-geometric sublimation print that plays with colour theory, and the other digital, black-and-white scribblelike prints on white T-shirts. “I definitely want a line that doesn’t produce too many pieces, so it doesn’t feel like a mass-produced line,” says Fiorentino, who prints all the T-shirts by hand in a complicated process. “They’re all genderless, so I aim to eliminate that boundary too.”

      Elsewhere, check out Hunter Gatherer’s loop-, twig-, and arrow-themed rings and pendants, powder-coated in matte black to burnish with age, or the gorgeously imperfect, loose knits of Montreal’s handmade Maude Nibelungen knitwear—all one-of-a-kind.

      Amid the art, the dreamlike, detailed canvases of Montreal’s Salina Ladha stand out. And in a way, everything in the show is displayed like a painting. “It’s more like an art exhibition, with a few pieces for every designer,” Fiorentino explains.

      The young designers behind Other think they’re tapping into a movement that may be slow but is picking up quickly with a new generation. “Young people, even when they don’t make a lot of money, are willing to save up for one piece rather than go to the mall,” Izad observes. “They want something special—a piece they won’t see anybody else walking by in and a piece that has a story behind it.” That is to say, they’ve found there’s an Other way to approach the holidays—and life.

      Follow Janet Smith on Twitter at @janetsmitharts.