Growing the Atlantic fashion industry

Originally published for: Print/Television Journalism class assignment

The word ‘fashion industry’ likely conjures up images of the glamorous cities of London and Paris, where twice a year models and designers flock to showcase their latest works on the runway.

Compared to the world’s fashion capitals, Atlantic Canada is far behind. However, it hasn’t stopped a dedicated group of people from growing the industry.

Fredericton was dressed to the nines for its first fashion industry meeting. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon
Fredericton was dressed to the nines for its first fashion industry meeting. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon

Kayley Reed is the co-founder of Wear Your Label, a fashion line that operates out of Fredericton. On Nov. 21, she held the first Fredericton Fashion Industry Night. The night brought together models, designers and photographers for a night of networking.

“It’s a really hard market to break into because there’s not really a lot of events for connection or community around the creative industries right now,” said Reed.

She says she and her partner were inspired by similar events in larger cities. It was organized in collaboration with the Fredericton Fashion Council.

Amanda Kincaid came from Halifax to attend. In 2012, Kincaid founded Line Magazine, a fashion magazine spotlighting Atlantic talent.

She said that meeting with local designers made her realize something was missing in the region. There were many talented people who wanted to stay on the East Coast, but felt pressured to move to bigger cities to grow their fashion lines.

Amanda Kincaid, co-founder of the Nova Fashion Incubator. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon
Amanda Kincaid, co-founder of the Nova Fashion Incubator. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon

This prompted her to co-found the Nova Fashion Incubator, which is set to open this month in Halifax. The Incubator is a shared space for designers to rent equipment and get the business know-how to start a successful line.

“To start a fashion collection takes all the equipment, which is about… $30,000,” said Kincaid.

She says the idea of a fashion incubator began in Toronto, and has since been copied all over the world. Kincaid hopes the Nova Fashion Incubator will become a fashion hub for the East Coast.

“We really want to be a place where everybody’s going to flourish in the fashion industry,” said Kincaid.

Reed agrees that there is not much of a fashion industry in the Atlantic provinces, but says the growth she has seen in the last few years has made her optimistic.

She says that she’s excited to see new developments that she hopes will kick-start the industry.

Kayley Reed hosted the Fredericton Fashion Industry Meeting on Nov. 21. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon
Kayley Reed hosted the Fredericton Fashion Industry Meeting on Nov. 21. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon

“Things like Atlantic Fashion Week, which has been happening for a few years now but is really starting to gain some traction, and things like what we’re doing here, which is bringing more people together and getting people to collaborate more.”

Both Reed and Kincaid agree that collaboration is important. Whether designers choose to co-host pop-up shops together or a photographer holds a workshop for models, it all contributes to the cause.

Kincaid says that where the industry is so small, people often have to rely on each other to grow.

Looking ahead, Kincaid says it’s the perfect time for Atlantic Canada to come into its own in style.

“We do have fashion, and we have a lot of it,” she says. “We have enough people to sustain a fashion industry.”

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Growing the Atlantic fashion industry

Photo essay: A Saturday at the market

Originally published for: Print Journalism class assignment

Every Saturday morning, the Fredericton’s farmers market is packed with shoppers.  Whether they’re hungry for a good deal, or just a deep-fried Mars Bar, customers keep coming back to what they simply call “The Market.”

Photo essay: A Saturday at the market

Rocky Horror Picture Show returns to Fredericton

Originally published for: Print Journalism class assignment

It’s been 39 years since The Rocky Horror Picture Show was first released to theatres, but is still finding new fans after decades on the silver screen. Thanks to the Fredericton Playhouse, it’s a Fredericton fixture once again.

On Halloween, the Fredericton Playhouse held a midnight screening of the film for the second time. Though it’s become a Halloween staple as common as haunted houses and candy apples, screenings of the film were notably absent from Fredericton for a number of years.

It’s something that the Playhouse’s creative director Tim Yerxa wanted to bring back for a new generation.

“It was such a great tradition and it’s such a great, great film,” he said.

Yerxa says he has fond memories of viewing the film in Tilley Hall when he was a student at the University of New Brunswick, and says he was disappointed when the screenings abruptly stopped.

“I think they stopped because we were trashing the place,” he said.

Since its release in 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been elevated to cult status, with midnight movie screenings popping up in cities worldwide each Halloween. The film revolves around a straight-laced couple as they stumble across the home of Dr. Frank N. Furter, the self-proclaimed “sweet transvestite” from Transylvania. The film is also notable for its early performances from actors Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon.

Attendees typically arrive dressed up in outlandish costumes. Audience participation is encouraged, especially during the famous “Time Warp” dance sequence.

Playhouse staff members were on hand to give Time Warp lessons on stage before the screening while in costume as characters from the movie. The best – or just the most enthusiastic – dancers were invited to perform a solo.

Despite its age – the film will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year – many attendees on Friday were experiencing the show for the first time.

Student Philippe Ferland said this was his first Rocky Horror experience. He arrived sporting a dress and red lipstick.

“My friends said it would be a fun time, and they told me that all the guys would be dressed like this,” he said, “so I kind of believed it.”

Students like Ferland made up much of the audience that night. Ferland said he was excited to get in on the tradition and see what it was all about.

Yerxa says he’s happy that he could bring back the event for a second year. He said that last year’s event was an “experiment,” to see if there was still an interest in the film. The success from last year prompted its return, and Yerxa has high hopes that this will become an annual event at the Playhouse.

Yerxa said that this year’s crowd was even bigger than last year’s event. He estimated that there were 280 attendees on Friday.

As it nears its fourth decade of dancing and drag queens, The Rocky Horror Picture Show isn’t losing steam. Frederictonians showed that people are still eager to learn how to do the Time Warp again.

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Rocky Horror Picture Show returns to Fredericton

Preventing violence – with ponies

Originally published for: Print Journalism class assignment

More men are going for My Little Pony toys in the plushie aisle. Photo: Joseph Tunney
More men are going for My Little Pony toys in the plushie aisle. Photo: Joseph Tunney

Of all the things one would associate My Little Pony with, social activism probably wouldn’t be one of them. Yet, one local advocacy group says that ponies might be a key in the prevention of violence against women.

In fact, the popular franchise has garnered a surprising fan base in the last decade. Bronies, as they like to be called, are the adult male fans of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Jenn Richard of White Ribbon Fredericton, a group that engages men in preventing violence against women, saw an opportunity to use the fan base as part of their mission. She helped to bring a screening of the 2012 documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony to St. Thomas University on Oct. 15.

“We were kind of looking at getting some young guys,” says Richard, “and Bronies is about that demographic of 20-year old guys.”

She says that White Ribbon was looking for new opportunities to talk with younger men about gender roles after previous efforts had fallen short. She and other members agreed that My Little Pony was the perfect starting point.

If you were a girl growing up any time after 1983, chances are you had at least one My Little Pony figurine in your house. My Little

The latest incarnation of My Little Pony debuted in 2010. Photo: Joseph Tunney
The latest incarnation of My Little Pony debuted in 2010. Photo: Joseph Tunney

Pony was launched in the early ’80s as a toy line and television series aimed specifically at the little girl market.  The franchise had gone through various incarnations since, but it’s the most recent version that has caught on beyond the ages 10-and-under set.

My Little Pony was rebooted in 2010 with the debut of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. From there, the Brony phenomenon emerged. Bronies – a portmanteau of “bro” and “ponies” – are grown men who tune in every week, discuss the latest episodes on Internet forums, buy pony merchandise, and even attend pony conventions. The Brony community largely exists online, though local communities like the New Brunswick Brony Alliance are becoming more common.

Contrary to media portrayals, being a Brony is not a sexual fetish. A typical Brony enjoys the show because of its simple and honest themes about friendship. In a sex and violence-soaked culture, Bronies say it’s refreshing to see a return to kindness and values in media.

Shawn Dorey is a student at the University of New Brunswick, who is writing his thesis on gender roles in the media. He agrees that Bronies are misunderstood by the general public.

“Once there [was] this big grouping, there was natural movement against it because these were these individuals who were not conforming to their gender roles.”

Dorey says that though he doesn’t identify as a Brony himself, he has several friends that do. Characters in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic carry typically un-manly names like Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie. However, Dorey says that Bronies are turning the idea of manliness on its head.

Jenn Richard speaks at the "Bronies" screening on Oct. 15. Photo: Emma Chapple
Jenn Richard speaks at the “Bronies” screening on Oct. 15. Photo: Emma Chapple

Richard says that it’s My Little Pony’s emphasis on compassion that she finds the most important.

“There have been a lot of guys who have been around and have been… looking to belong to that type of group. They do value those things like friendship, and love and peace, but felt alienated about it,” says Richard. “And so, I think [Bronies] were a result of that cultural shift that’s been happening.”

Richard and her colleague Barry MacKnight, who also helped organize the documentary screening, both discovered the existence Bronies on their own. Both say that once they got past the initial shock of the idea, they were excited to share it with the rest of the committee.

MacKnight, a former police officer, says that violent behaviour is connected to masculinity. He thinks that Bronies can be used to show men that they don’t need to resort to violence to prove their masculinity.

“It’s very relevant to all the discussions we have about violence in our society,” says MacKnight.

Multi-coloured magical ponies and social activism don’t seem to have much in common, but Dorey says he draws parallels between Bronies and the feminist movement. He says that now more than ever, people are more accepting of differences, but having a piece of media like Friendship is Magic drives the message home in a media-driven culture.

Dorey says that even though he doesn’t watch the show, he appreciates the return to quality in the media.

“I love that there’s people out there watching it, because there’s so much useless media that comes out, like Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

My Little Pony is no longer the girly plaything of the 1980s. In 2014, it’s moved beyond its original purpose to become a symbol of the changing role of men in society, all thanks to a group of men who call themselves Bronies.

Preventing violence – with ponies

Controversy over unsafe equipment in Fredericton skate park

Originally published for: Print Journalism class assignment

Photo: Taylor Hoyt
Photo: Taylor Hoyt

A new skate park in Fredericton is surrounded by controversy after the city installed metal ramps that critics say are unsafe for riders. The Mitch Clarke Nasis Park opened on the North Side last month, and was immediately criticized for using metal equipment instead of concrete.

“I’d much rather fall on concrete than on a 90-degree angle piece of metal,” says Robert Nicholson.

Nicholson says he’s already heard of people getting hurt using the metal equipment, and that one person suffered a deep cut near their ribs.

Nicholson has been an avid skateboarder for ten years. He currently works at East Side Board Supply in Downtown Fredericton, and says his manager was supposed to help consult with city planners on the park.

“I don’t know what happened along the lines, but he got put in the closet,” says Nicholson.

Nicholson says that the planners were uninformed about skateboarding and similar sports. He believes that the design and execution was rushed, resulting in a cramped area and dangerous ramps.

Dylan Papazian-Clare rides his bike at the park, and says he and his friends have no problems with the equipment. He says they

Robert Nicholson says that the metal ramps at the Mitch Clarke Nasis' Park are unsafe. Photo: Taylor Hoyt
Robert Nicholson says that the metal ramps at the Mitch Clarke Nasis’ Park are unsafe. Photo: Taylor Hoyt

enjoy having another place to ride in the city, and that the new park was a long time coming.

“I’m really happy that the skate park is here,” he says.

Papazian-Clare says he’s heard the criticism about the metal ramps, but does not agree with it.

“It’s a skate park, so it’s already a liability in the first place,” he says.

He acknowledges that freestyle sports like skateboarding and BMX biking are dangerous in their very nature, and even experienced riders can get hurt. He says that people ride at their own risk.

“It’s just a part of the sport,” he says.

However, Nicholson says it’s not just injuries he’s concerned about. He says metal equipment is also much louder than concrete, and that the new ramps are a nuisance, especially after hours.

“There are just going to be kids there all night banging on it,” he says. “My heart goes out to the neighbours, because it’s not fun.”

Dylan Papazian-Clare says he is just happy to see a new skate park in Fredericton. Photo: Taylor Hoyt
Dylan Papazian-Clare says he is just happy to see a new skate park in Fredericton. Photo: Taylor Hoyt

He notes that noise is a small concern compared to safety, which he will continue to fight for. He says he’s especially concerned about young or inexperienced riders who will use the park and are at a greater risk for injury.

Papazian-Clare says that all riders need to know what they’re getting into before they use the ramps. Skate parks like the Mitch Clarke Nasis are unsupervised, and the community cannot be held responsible for injuries. He says that injuries are learning experiences in freestyle sports.

“You’re going to have to start somewhere,” says Papazian-Clare. “I broke my collarbone the first year I was riding.”

Nicholson knows that riders will use the park regardless, but says that is no reason for the equipment to stay.

“Hopefully we can resolve this situation, but unfortunately right now it’s a terrible park and people are going to get injured.”

Controversy over unsafe equipment in Fredericton skate park

Topics turn to abortion, Nazis, at N.B. leader’s debate

Photo: Emma Chapple
Photo: Emma Chapple

The New Brunswick provincial election debate took a turn for the controversial on Thursday, with leaders of the three major political parties discussing abortion rights and the Nazi party.

The final leader’s roundtable debate was held at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. Premier and Progressive Conservative David Alward, Liberal Brian Gallant, and NDP Dominic Cardy were present, with CTV’s Steve Murphy moderating the discussion.

While much of the debate was devoted to hot-button issues like fracking and proposed spending cuts, the final round was emotionally charged.

Murphy began by asking leaders if they planned to rewrite the abortion regulations in the province. The issue of abortion was pushed to the forefront earlier this year, when the only private abortion clinic in N.B. closed due to lack of funding from the government.

Both Cardy and Gallant promised to change the current provincial regulations, which requires a woman to have an abortion performed in an approved hospital after two doctors have deemed the procedure medically necessary.

Premier Alward said he does not plan to change the law.

“We provide access to medically necessary abortions in the public system today,” said Alward. “We are following the Canadian Health Act responsibly.”

Earlier this year, Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced that all members of his party must vote pro-choice, regardless of personal beliefs.

Murphy asked Gallant if he believes ministers should be able to have the freedom to vote their conscience on such issues.

“When we have a party policy, we need all candidates to follow that policy,” said Gallant.

Alward and Cardy took a different view, believing that MLAs should be able to have freedom of choice on legislation. Alward criticized Gallant’s stance on the issue, saying that anyone who does not hold pro-choice views might as well give up and run for another party.

Murphy then pressed Alward twice to answer if any members of his caucus were pro-choice.

“Absolutely,” said Alward.

The debate then turned to Cardy and his NDP candidates. On Wednesday, a candidate tweeted a variation of the popular “Hitler Reacts To” meme, using a clip from the 2004 German film Downfall to portray Gallant as Hitler and the Nazis as Liberal MLAs. The video was shared by other NDP candidates and staff.

Cardy said he was disappointed with the candidates who shared the clip, but was even more disappointed with the Liberals’ fixation on it in the hours since.

“They are evidently having difficulty with their campaign,” said Cardy.

Gallant argued that Cardy was not taking the incident seriously enough, and that the video caused him and his family personal damage.

“Some of my family are here today, and they watched my grandfather be carried off to a concentration camp,” he said.

Murphy asked if perhaps both parties could apologize, to which Cardy offered his hand to Gallant. Gallant refused, saying that Cardy’s apology was simply a stunt.

New Brunswickers will cast their vote in the provincial election this Monday.

Topics turn to abortion, Nazis, at N.B. leader’s debate

Campus Celebrity – Jonathan Munn

Originally published for: Her Campus St. Thomas University (Canada)

In his four years at St. Thomas, Jonathan Munn has become a fixture on campus and across Fredericton. Whether you’re tuning in to the radio every morning, checking out Humans of Fredericton on Facebook, or just going to the STUSU desk, chances are you’ll come across Jonathan Munn.

“My schedule seems very tight,” says Jonathan. “And it is!”

The 21-year old journalism and communications student is constantly on the go. When sleep seems sacred to most students, Jonathan rises at 4:30 AM every morning to host The Wake UP! Show on UP 93.1. However, he says he doesn’t mind the early mornings.

Read the rest here.

Campus Celebrity – Jonathan Munn