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A O B B R C A N R A F P R O 2 O O N 3 A 0 L O X D

C D L Y O T G E O A F R A P 6 U F O 5 A 8 E O X U

E C I T D 2 A A 4 L U O

I T N H U 0 Z M 6 A T D


T A E L T L P O E & Y C


Table of Contents

T A W K & E T D B B

M 1 H I M D T F A A

A 0 E S A I E O N N

39 The Choice Is Yours 42 All Aboard 46 Law & Order 48 Suit Yourself 50 Sappy Stuff

5 R 4 A P U M I P 4 8 S U I T Y O U R S E L F 9 O


A A E C E O 4 A A C

E P C G A A N D A R P M Z P D Z R P T U R 2 L B T

20 Clean Up Good 24 An Epic Tale 26 Out Of Nowhere 35 Kiss & Make Up 37 A Small Army

1 P 6 5 2 L I F E S A B E A C H Y M R A A A 6 5 R


O 1 3 T W O D U D E S G N O C N K O R A 1 O E A A

L D P R O D U C T R 5 A E A T E ! U O A 8 O F R G

E U R 3 9 T H E C H 0 I C E I S Y O U R S G A D A

08 Editor’s Letter 10 Barrk! 13 Two Dudes 15 Ace In The Hole 18 Good Fella

2 4 A N E P I C T A L E A A L L A M S A 7 3 5 A P

52 Life’s A Beach 56 Food For All 59 xx Bang Bang 64 Blinded By The Light

Kyle Kofsky Editor In Chief

Isabelle Savard Deputy Editor

Alex Browne Director of Photography

Reece McCrone Production Manager

Nathan Stevens Accounts & Distribution

Alex Mathers Lead Designer

Carolee Custus Style Director

Ana Opulencia Copy Editor

Jonathan Broderick Lead Writer

Melissa Allen Lead Writer

senior staff

senior writers

Juan Mendez Director of Publicity

Adam Hendrik Senior Writer

Adam Zivo Assistant Director

Brian Sweigman Senior Writer

Glenda MacInnis Assistant Director

Iddie Fourka Senior Writer

Jill Lerner Assistant Director

Joseph Clement Senior Writer

Joe Swallow Assistant Director

Lauren Cullen Senior Writer

Kim Lum-Danson Assistant Director

Olga Kwak Senior Writer

Max Power Assistant Director Paul Steward Assistant Director

senior photographers

Rebecca Wengle Senior Stylist

Cristina Arce Senior Photographer

Aziz Vivant Assistant Stylist

Isaac Zelunka Senior Photographer

Karine Delage P.R. Director

Mark Tym Senior Photographer

Hayley Campbell Sports Director

Tara McWatters Senior Photographer

Melis Stevens Lead Hair/M.U.A. Joshua Cruz Production Assistant

hair & makeup artists

Colleen Oldfield Assistant Designer

Coral Melnyk

Andrew Dubinsky Web Manager

Daniela Conte

D’Arcy Grewal Webmaster

Jen Wright Jo Primeau


Kayla Gilkinson

Erin Sinkin Contributing Photographer

Margaret McIntosh

Kirsten White Contributing Photographer

Mehnaz Khan

Mai Ismail Contributing Photographer

Michelle Silverstein

Ronit Rubinstein Contributing Writer

Natalie Shemuel

Steven Sparks Contributing Writer Thomas Lasko Contributing Writer

Thank you MADE, Seth Falk, Hands on Exotics

ed From Left: Reece McCrone, Kyle Kofsky, and Isabelle Savard


am slightly addicted to states of amazement. I like to be in wonder, to be positively in awe of what happens around me. Somewhere in this observational state of detachment, the ability to inspire and transcend the baseline finds its home.

To be inspired is a little bit necessary to achieving the level of success that you find yourself looking for. To be a source of inspiration is something that will be directly necessary to achieving that same level. Not only can we do better, we can be better. Better for having tried, better for having found the courage to stake a claim, and better for calling out to those who do the same.

ditor ’s letter Disappointments become obstacles in our lives that cause us to question our level of expectations and the standards to which we hold others accountable for exceeding. There are no rules or regulations regarding the treatment of positive contributions to our city. Selling out, buying in, holding on, standing tall, or kicking & screaming‌You choose how you will go about making it all the way, hard. The future is here. In fact, you just missed it. This is your chance to keep abreast of the confidence and cunning facility our city demonstrates on the daily. Words: KYLE KOFSKY photos: Alex Browne



arr Gilmore is a force in the graphic design world - a creator in all senses of the term - yet self-proclaims, “I’m not an artist.” Even though his work continues to appear in various publications, galleries, art auctions, and openings across Toronto, he holds firm to the belief that being an artist is a life’s work, not a title. “AA Bronson always said to me, if you’re a part-time artist, you’re not an artist. You’re a waiter or a bartender or whatever, but you’re not an artist.” With a BFA in printmaking and sculpture from UBC, having studied architecture at TUNS in Halifax, Furniture Construction & Neon Sculpting at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, and most recently having received an MDes from OCAD University, his exposure to critical dialogue and immersion into the art and design culture is expansive. He may not claim the title of artist, but as a designer who creates graphics, interiors, lighting, furniture, installations, and exhibitions (most recently, for Tim Burton and Fellini & Grace Kelly at TIFF), he certainly has a varied body of work. Shortly after arriving in Toronto in 1987, Barr joined the revolutionary art collective, General Idea, as a studio assistant, working closely with AA Bronson, Felix Partz, and Jorge Zontal. Towards the end of his time at General Idea, Barr was responsible for the production of works and installations, traveling with the shows around the world.



hortly after the deaths of Felix and Jorge in 1994, Barr joined Bruce Mau Design - a graphic design studio populated (not surprisingly) by architects. It was here that Barr’s background influenced his voice and direction as a graphic designer. After designing Naomi Klein’s book, No Logo, his work gained greater exposure, and his national identity began to develop. As most things in Barr’s life however, this was not a destination, merely one of the many stops along the way. For the past seven years, Barr has been independently taking commissions from clients while focusing a large part of his time on developing his art practice. “I’m artistic, not an artist,” he reminds me. Having recently

done graphics and lighting design for the underground installation, Museum for the End of the World, at Toronto City Hall for Nuit Blanche, I asked Barr about his relationship to his art practice and client work. “I always try and balance my work with my own projects. People ask me to make something for an exhibition or design something for an auction and I believe in giving back to the community that supported me. I do those things and they take up a lot of my time but it’s sort of my creative outlet as well. I don’t always want to do work that’s paid. Of course I need money to pay bills and live or whatever, but I think always doing clientbased work, you start losing your own creative identity, so you have to still do work that helps develop who you are as a person.”

words: joseph clement photos: Erin Sinkin & Kirsten White



e&john have found their niche in Canada as composers and producers of some of the hottest entertainment. As 2010 Juno award-winning recording engineers (Shad, TSOL - album), as Music Directors for Pirate Toronto, and as a creative team, Ryan Kondrat and John La Magna have worked with some of the biggest names. They have produced music for artists like Shad and Brian Canning, worked with writers and film makers such as Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader, and have even dabbled in the advertising industry with Heineken and Coors Light. With a variety of experiences under their belt, their clientele continues to grow.

The two met in 2002 at the International Academy of Design and Technology and quickly began writing and creating music together. “My incorrect grammar always led me to say me and John,” Ryan explains, “and then a friend pointed out that’s what we should call ourselves.” They started out producing records. They worked alongside Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene, making the Broken Social Scene Presents series. While working on that project, they were offered a job scoring a few advertisements and television shows. John says that their willingness to “sell out before it was cool” has given them a lot of openings that others now covet. Their ability to connect


people in the worlds of music, advertising, film, and television has raised their profile and value in all fields. Ryan adds that one of the big selling points when signing a new artist is the possibility of placing a song in an ad, “It might even pay for your record before it comes out.” Ryan and John currently work as Music Directors for Pirate Radio and Television in Toronto. Ryan says the two enjoy the freedom of being “the creative arm” of their projects, allowing them to leave the logistics to others. They do not limit their careers to one side of the border. They have just finished scoring, The Canyons, directed by Paul Schrader (writer of Adam Resurrected), written by Bret Easton Ellis (writer of American Psycho), and starring Lindsay Lohan. The film will be released in 2013. Pirate has offices in New York, and me&john have worked in Los Angeles, but they both really enjoy using Toronto as a home base. Ryan points out, “You can do anything from anywhere nowadays, as long as you are good and make

the right connections.” John quickly adds, “go to L.A. and come back broken people… why would I want to do that?” Toronto is both work and play for me&john. When they’re not at Pirate, the pair spends much of their time at betty’s on King St. East. “That’s where we do our meetings. That’s where we do our lunches. That’s where we do our after-work hustle,” John declares. Brian expands, “That’s where we do nothing in order to do something when we get back here, [Pirate].” Free evenings don’t come to me&john very often, but they try to catch Toronto’s indie rock, dance, and hip-hop scenes whenever they get a chance. And the two look for new artists to collaborate with, everywhere they go. The creative team of me&john is a wonderful example of what makes music in Toronto so great. Their eagerness to push their careers in new directions and to explore and collaborate with new artists has allowed them to thrive while doing what they love. words: Thomas Lasko photos: Paul Steward


t all started with her favourite dessert: Each doughnut is made from scratch using the “ole fashioned way” as a guideline, revo“A coffee, doughnut, and cigarette…” lutionizing the staple dessert. Made with real As a progressive city, Toronto encourages butter, real sugar, and no preservatives, it’s successful, eager minds and rewards the bold. “what creams are made for.” There are 11 It takes courage and originality to catch the main doughnuts, but the Hole features guest attention of Torontonians, and Ashley Jacot appearances. The latest is a double chocolate de Boinod, the woman behind the business, S’more and Fluff Nut (with peanut butter is turning heads with her exciting flavours. and marshmallow) - a daring indulgence Glory Hole Doughnuts is the name that reads that is unapologetic. loudly in red cursive on the glass window of 1596 Queen St. West, the salaciously sweet Creativity and nostalgia move people, and doughnut shop in Parkdale. The product? with witty names like Elvis with Marshmallow, Cookies & Cream, Bread & Butter, and Large, delicious, handcrafted doughnuts!


Black Forrest Cake the clever relevance behind the names evoke a feeling or positive memory, making these treats personal and comforting. Some names even pay homage to specific destinations within our city, such as Kensington Brewery Co., where the doughnuts actually use beer as an ingredient. The business is Toronto-born and proud. For small business owners, word of mouth is a powerful upper hand and Ashley is a girl on fire, with buzz ablaze around her business. With every review, blog, or news article, she tightens her reins to ride past the uptight in order to reach those with open mouths and minds, to “humour them while offering doughnuts they enjoy”. Ashley has learned to roll with life and accept business bumps and bruises and is now finding her stride. “You realize that nothing will ever be perfect, so you might as well roll with the punches and just have a good sense of humour about it”. It’s also important to have people you like around you. “I love my staff. They’re such a great support system. We laugh and that’s good for any new business owner who feels stressed out.” Ashley is the whole package. She is her brand. From baking in the kitchen to getting to know the locals that come in, she’s a “get to know me” kind of entrepreneur who’s happy to share her doughnuts and some laughs. With her husband, Rob Dean, at her side as her marketing guru, the future is whatever they make it. Ashley gratefully speaks about luck and support from friends and family, but there’s more to it. Equipped with smarts, sex appeal, and a great sense of humour, Ashley’s personality, packaged with an innovative approach has led her to shape her own path to success. Her poise in the execution of Glory Hole Doughnuts as a business and her “no excuses” confidence in her brand equate to strength. And strength, we respect. So, we applaud the woman who stands tall with her 6-inch leathers, ever ready to rock the pastry world.


words: Kim Lum-Danson photos: Isaac Zelunka

good fella J

oshua James sits across the table from me, eating a sandwich. He doesn’t make eye contact often. When he does though, it’s piercing. He’s either with you completely, fully engaged, or far off somewhere else in his own private space. He’s got the habitual self-confidence of a matured badass, but he interviews like someone unused to carefully considering what they say - intensely focused. His story is unrehearsed. No sound bites. The absence of buzzwords is apt for a guy who paints his work on doors that he takes from ruined barns up north. This is his gallery, his second one, actually. The first closed down years ago. It focuses on high-end art, mostly abstract, and its long white space terminates in glass doors that open to a studio, also his. Welcome to Goodfellas Gallery and the associated 36 Chambers Studios. Tucked away just off of Queen Street West in Parkdale, the expansive

complex that was once a supermarket now houses a hub of one of Toronto’s many west end arts communities. Goodfellas, owned in partnership with two other artists, opened last year to great fanfare. Riding the wave of westward gentrification that brought about a revived Trinity-Bellwoods, it’s a gem slightly off the beaten path. In contrast to Josh’s last space, Sleeping Giant, which focused on emerging artists, the work shown here are by established professionals. Pieces easily sell for several thousand dollars. The way he sees it, the investments are safer that way. An artist’s work doesn’t appreciate well when he decides that the whole “painting” thing was just a phase. Known for its low rent, the cavernous 36 Chambers are Goodfellas’s foil, populated by students and other artists in need of an inexpensive place to work. Its chaotic industrial aesthetic, cluttered with creative flotsam,

contrasts nicely with the gallery’s minimalism. Whereas the gallery turns a profit on its exclusivity, 36 Chambers takes in just about everyone. Sometimes the latter feeds into the former. The best artists renting at the studio often show at the gallery too. It builds a sense of community that makes the complex more than the sum of its parts. Owning most of this setup isn’t a bad place to be at 27 years old. For Josh, it’s especially improbable. Kicked out of his home at the age of 14, he dropped out of school and worked odd jobs for years, picking up eclectic skills, and skateboarding on the side. He got a few sponsorships, but never went pro. He sums up those years of his life as “making enough money to live a sustainable life so I could skate.” By all rights he could’ve easily been just another burnout on the street. He didn’t become one though. Because, as he says, “You see your friends with cars and you want a car. You get a girlfriend who wants you to have a nicer place so you gotta hustle and get a nicer place.” He’s an ardent believer of hard work and the satisfaction of building something yourself, something he learned while

working as a carpenter in his wilder years. That’s why he eventually turned his skateboarding passion into a string of successful summer camps before saving up enough capital for the gallery business. While he hopes to ultimately stay in the gallery business, he’s currently finishing up another project that pulls from his appreciation of good craftsmanship. His newest endeavour, Noble St. Antiques, is his attempt to cash in on the cultural bankruptcies resulting from Toronto’s expiring condo boom: personalizing impersonal spaces. Whether or not that succeeds, Josh is confident he’ll do well in his future. Referring to his teenage years, he says, “It’s the safest place in the world when you hit rock bottom. You know it has to get better. That was my mentality when I was starting my business. What do I have to lose? You put your heart and soul into it and if it works, great, if it doesn’t, you’re back to square one.”




photos: Adam Zivo

C l e an up Good I

t seems as though we are amidst the beginnings of a fantastic new movement - an ardor to create a host of dapper gentlemen, each with their own distinct style. As a participant, I’ve come to the realization that behind this movement is this simple notion: dress for success and the sky truly is the limit. As men, we have traded in our carpenter denim and T-shirts for suits and bowties. We are groomed and we are tailored because we know that when we look our best, we feel our best. Thinking locally, we’ve come to know and love an array of menswear retailers within our city that share this mentality and passion for fashion. The PRODUCT team came across a charismatic group of young professionals who have made it their goal not only to participate in the Dapper Movement, but also to give the men in our city a visual voice with a completely customized look. They have a growing, Toronto-based company called MADE Clothing Co. And their success is directly attributed to yours.

Tomas Romita and the MADE team came to our studio to give us the details on how MADE is working to revolutionize menswear in Toronto. “Men are also interested in looking good but so many men don’t like to shop…If you have a volition to look good, we’ll make it happen.” It all began just over a year ago when Tomas quit his job in accounting to start a new business. As a graduate of Queen’s University, Tomas has a background in commerce, which he states gave him the “financial literacy” to start the company. “It’s hard work but exciting…your job has to be exciting,” he says with a smile as he adjusts his tie (1/2 Windsor, perfectly executed). MADE is dressing the men in our city with quality, 100% Italian fabrics - and is providing a rare retail experience. Tomas explains, “There’s a return to more personal business. We’re about making that one-onone connection and fostering a relationship.” MADE offers convenience by being a mobile company - meeting their clients just about anywhere to accommodate their busy


schedules. “We bring the product to him and provide an easy, conversational selection process to help him look his best.” The process is easy and I dare say, quite fun. It all begins with a conversation over the phone where a MADE representative gets a feel for their client, outlining their needs, wants, and lifestyle - all in preparation for an in-person meeting. PRODUCT was amazed by the bold collection and the range of classic to modern aesthetics and floored by the selection of patterns, linings, buttons, lapels, vents, shirts, collars etc., all while getting an education in the ingredients of a custom-made suit. Tomas asks about any injuries or “tickle-ish” spots and how those details might affect how one moves in a suit. MADE values creating a custom look that encompasses the consideration of the physical and psychological needs of their clients. With this in mind, the team structures the in-person meeting into three main parts: Fabric/Detail Selection, Fitting and Measurements, and Accessory Selection. Tomas adds that the process, although engaging, can be tiring, and that measurement is strategically placed in the middle to give their client a mental break. It is this dedication to constantly keeping their client comfortable and at ease that makes the MADE process most admirable. The look is polished with a wide selection of ties, Happy Socks, pocket squares, and the cunning option to add a monogram. That’s right, a monogram. Because nothing says custom-made like your initials stitched into your suit! The process is complete with an overview of client selections, a MADE “Fit Guarantee”, and of course, the option to refer your friends for their own personalized look facilitated by MADE. This is our referral to you, Toronto. We’ve had the MADE experience and we are more than enthusiastic about their longevity in the fashion market. As co-founders of Toronto’s Dapper Movement, we are pleased to celebrate your new look, as you dare to “up-swag” neighbouring fashion capitals. Go ahead, you have our approval. Customize your look and have it MADE.

Tomas Romita with our Editor at the final fitting of the MADE experience.


words: Jonathan Broderick photos: Max Power



ammy Younan doesn’t have a lot of free time. Between his two online music ventures, his writing career, and his apparel line, his days are pretty packed. But if you ask him, he wouldn’t have it any other way. “What I struggle with is that I’m interested in all these different things. The music stuff, the website stuff, the t-shirts, the writing - they’re all playgrounds. And sometimes you want to go on the slide of one of them, and the swings of the other. To me, it would be limiting to just stick to one.” In his early teen years, Younan began writing poetry, inspired equally by Romantic poets and hip-hop artists. “When you discover you’re a writer, it’s both amazing and devastating. Because now you know you can write poetry and connect with women; that’s good. But it’s devastating because you know you won’t be making any money to take these

women out.” The good must have outweighed the bad, because in 2010, Younan published his first poetry collection, Red Letter Nights. The poems - some funny, some more serious meditations - examine the colour red, and its many roles in our society: in political and religious imagery, marketing campaigns, makeup, superhero costumes, and so on. The book’s design reflects its author’s ranging interests, with a back cover styled to look like a movie poster, and “Track Listings” in place of a table of contents. Younan is already hard at work at a follow-up collection about 80s icons, as well as a book of fiction about celebrity, a topic he should know something about; Younan also moonlights as an entertainment reporter, interviewing acts like City and Colour and Russell Peters, for the National Post. In 2007, Younan and his high school friend, DC, founded the t-shirt line S’up Cuz. Their clever designs for men and women range from

the silly to the more political, with a focus, above all else, on “chilling and comfort lounging.” Younan, a proud native of Scarborough, has collaborated with friends from his school days on several of his other projects as well. “I’ve been blessed with a really rich community that’s doing really cool stuff. Scarborough tends to be a little more maligned. It doesn’t get the lovin’ that it really should get. And yet there’s a lot of creative passion that comes out of Scarborough. That fuels and prompts my work as well.” Shortly after founding S’up Cuz, Younan began touring with bands, in a variety of capacities - road managing, writing tour blogs, and producing music videos. Younan soon recognized a new challenge facing today’s musicians and music fans. While online music stores have made it increasingly easy for bands to get their work out there, they have also created a glut of available music, with over 28 million songs currently available on iTunes alone. With so much to choose from, users looking to discover a new act may not know where to begin, and a new band may have a hard time finding its audience. Borrowing a concept from fashion retail, in February 2012 Younan launched NewMusic Ten, the first-ever online music pop-up shop. Physical pop-up shops generally have a small, carefully chosen selection of wares, appear without warning, and disappear soon after. NewMusic Ten works in much the same way. Younan and his team of curators pick ten artists, ranging in genre, to profile on the website each month. There are sample tracks for users to stream, and the artists set the prices for their own music; more than a few have chosen to make their EPs or albums available for free. At the end of the month, a brand new set of musicians is featured, and the previous month’s disappear. And much like a physical pop-up shop, the entire site could go at any time, so music fans

looking for their next favourite album should check it out at while they still can. Younan’s next music venture is The Sample Bank (, which is currently still in beta-testing. Younan’s experience with musicians made him aware that while it’s fairly easy these days for an indie rock or pop act to record an album on the cheap, the same can’t be said for independent rap producers, in part because hip-hop often relies on the use of samples from other songs. The rights to these samples can be prohibitively expensive and difficult for emerging artists to acquire. But on The Sample Bank, users can upload samples - anything from a complex guitar riff to the sound of a dog barking - that are sold for $99, creating another potential revenue stream for musicians. The samples’ creators retain ownership of their work, meaning that if a sample ends up in a hit song, its creator will be credited as a co-writer and receive royalties. And for artists looking for a new sound or hook, The Sample Bank offers a more affordable and efficient alternative to the traditional approach. You’d think that with all of these projects, Younan has more than enough on his plate. But when I ask about his plans for the future he tells me that he has dabbled in acting and would love to return to it. “It does seem like I am all over the place… I’m propelled by storytelling and by curiosity. The story dictates the medium. What you can do on a t-shirt is different from what you can do in a film, what you can do in a song. At the end of the day, I’m a storyteller.” I ask what stories his t-shirts tell, and without missing a beat he says, “Oh, hammocks and ribs and things like that.”


words: Ronit Rubinstein photos: Reece McCrone

Ou t o N o wh e r

of re


he truth is that in Toronto, there is always something to do. Whether it’s attending one of our many festivals, a concert at your favorite dive bar, or an infamous production by the Mirvish, we are never short of entertainment to make a memorable evening. The city is abuzz with attractions that take on many shapes and forms but none are more desirable, delicious, and lascivious than Vamps like Us – a burlesque production company founded by Laura Desirée and Megan Oldfield. Together, they are a powerful pair that presents a distinct perspective on classic burlesque entertainment, performing on stages all over the city, as well as at private events. After meeting these awfully charismatic girls, I can’t think of a better way to spend a night out in the city than with the “glitter, glamour, and classic entertainment” that is, The Vamps. Laura originally moved to New York to study film. “I was ambitious! I wanted to be the first woman to win the Oscar for best director.” After finishing her program, she continued to live in New York and couldn’t help but be seduced by New York’s music and entertainment circles. With a traditional background in dance, the burlesque scene felt within reach. When asked about her experience, she laughs and says it was absolutely terrifying. “A sense of community was lacking in New York. It was about booking the best of the best but it was still a lot of fun!” Upon moving back to Canada, Laura continued to perform in Toronto where she would later meet her future business partner, and most importantly, a good friend. “We met just a few months ago through a mutual friend, Alex,” Megan tells me, as Laura gets painted Flamingo pink for their upcoming PRODUCT photo shoot. When the two first met, Laura was performing at the Cameron House in Toronto, after returning from New York. Megan has been dancing since she was four years old and started teaching dance at the age of 12, specializing in tap and ballet. After graduating from Guelph University, she landed a job as an accountant. Megan explains, “At one moment, my job started to feel tedious. I didn’t like the routine. I started to miss dance and being creative… later that week I contacted her [Laura] and we met for coffee at Shanghai Cowgirl.” Laura adds, “We met at the perfect time. We are both ‘go-getters’. So, to see

that quality in each other was very attractive…it brings an honesty to the relationship.” The two immediately hit it off and got to work creating an image for themselves that would later redefine the burlesque scene within our city. “I do more of the business side, while Laura is more creative. But we’re definitely a team,” says Megan. The two are inspired by traditional burlesque dancing and the anticipation created through movement and clothing. “Back then, clothing had much more buttons. To unbutton twenty buttons one by one can be sexier than quickly unzipping [a garment] …it’s about the journey” The Vamps have taken notes and queues from both the past and present, mentioning iconic names like Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt, and Cameron Diaz’s interpretation of Tina Carlyle in The Mask. They also take inspiration from the stage with hit stage and film productions such as Gypsy and Chicago. “Gypsy is such an old musical that continues to be revived. It’s interesting that a story about a burlesque dancer continues


to be relevant through the decades.” With an abundance of precedents, Laura and Megan develop modern narratives for their productions that are sexy and daring, yet beautiful and empowering. They use these characteristics as a scheme for hiring new performers. “For each show, we are seeking a certain look. Virgin performers are always necessary. We love seeing people perform for the first time.” They have employed a wide range of performers from various creative backgrounds - from fitness models to arm wrestlers and almost everything in between. Megan states that it’s a mentoring process and that many performers often return to do another show. When asked where they see the company going within the next few years, a smile lights up the room as I watch them dream lucidly. Laura is the first to say, “Travel. We would love to tour, maybe have celebrity performers, and of course perform on bigger stages.” We also discuss their longevity in Toronto and grapple with the dream of having a residency at the Elgin or the Gladstone. “We really enjoy The Ballroom at the Gladstone. It’s such a creative environment.” The two also list charities in which they would love to get involved, in support of healthy body image. “We are comfortable in our skin. The best part about finishing a show is having an unlikely audience member come up to us at the end and say how liberating and empowering their experience was.” I think that it is these moments that are most admirable: two young women doing what they love for a living, and perhaps, changing a few lives for the better.


ith much admiration, PRODUCT can’t wait for The Vamps’s next show, Femme Noir, which Laura describes as having elements of “Sin, Lust, and Desire,” all set in Grayscale. With such creative concepts, it is obvious that the Vamps are merely skimming the surface of their creative pool. As they continue to grow we look forward to seeing how they rustle up the burlesque scene in Toronto and continue to elevate the art form. With their success, sincerity, and dedication to being Toronto’s sweetest fantasy, The Vamps add amazing entertainment to our city. I think it’s safe to say, “Everything’s coming up roses,” for Vamps Like Us. words: jonathan Broderick photos: Alex Browne

Kiss & M ak e Up A

fter gulping down a double-shot of espresso, I rushed to meet Taca Ozawa at Ford headquarters. He’s a quirky and creative Ford and Redken artist, who has been a go-to hairdresser and make-up artist for over a decade. I wasn’t surprised to discover that he’s worked with DSquared2, Shu Uemura, Ports 1961 and has contributed to World Mastercard Fashion Week for 11 seasons. With a keen interest in fashion, I was ecstatic to get an exclusive glimpse into Taca’s secrets.


What took you from hair to make-up? Well, I started as a hair colourist in Japan. Hair came first and then make-up. I then realized that it’s good to have a base in both, especially since make-up is the language of photography. It’s very specific for editorial. When I first got signed to Shu Uemura, I took my time with makeup at first. Then, I got quicker. What is your inspiration? I get inspired by researching fashion history, world events, and cinema. Today, I got these postcards for my girlfriend, of Audrey Hepburn. I also love things in nature, like precious stones and flowers. I love the fragrance of a flower, its contrast of softness and lines, its vivid wonder flowers have sex appeal for the bees. So you’re in the game, what’s it like being a team player? On the runway, it’s a lot of work. But, I like collaborating and I’m a good listener, so that helps. During Fashion Week, I’d check the faces of 900 models, and by mid-week, I’d breakdown. It’s all about staying focused and appreciating the amazing people in the industry. When I moved to Toronto, Redken led me to Ford, and now I try to give back. Any advice for someone getting into the profession? First, you need to gain some stability before you can make room for creativity. In the industry, everything is last minute and you need to be able to take risks. What does the future hold for Taca? I want to bring Tokyo to Toronto, and Toronto to Tokyo. I also want to show people that we can make it here. Toronto has a big history, like the pretty punk movement. And I want to stream more into male grooming.

words: Iddie Fourka photos: Mai Ismail

a Sma l l Army H

ead to your local bookstore and find the theatre section. What will you discover? A plethora of Shakespeare, Tennyson, probably a little Oscar Wilde, maybe even an Atwood thrown in (she wrote The Penelopiad). You’ll also find newer Toronto additions like, City Voices, a collection of monologues written by current and former Torontonians edited by Jenna Harris, Ronit Rubinstein, and Anila Pant. Consisting of 29 monologues by Toronto artists, it was put together to serve as a showcase for the work of writers of the city. Harris, the creator of the volume, saw a lack of opportunity for artists to have their work published (not just performed) and set out to change that, with Rubenstein and Pant as her fellow editors. They conducted a call for submissions in April 2012 and received over 150 responses from the writing community. They were surprised by the diversity of the submissions that they received. “We didn’t go into it with a particular theme in mind,” said Pant, “other than the fact that the writers had to have some connection to Toronto.” While they were expecting submissions from the theatre community, because they appealed to their

own circle of colleagues primarily, what they got was material from all types of writers: hobbyists, poets, spoken word artists, songwriters, television producers, and even an eleven year-old neophyte. The variety of these monologues was presented at the recent launch of City Voices at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on a snowy December evening. The audience braved the chill to see a selection performed by either the writer, or an artist chosen to recite the monologue - from the sincere reading of an 80 year-old, monologue author musing in disbelief at the salaciousness of her rediscovered sex life, to a young girl silly enough to pull a fire alarm in the hopes of running into a crush while waiting for the fire department to show up. Other monologues include a comedic tale of a caught-cheater (told in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings), a boy who asks what it’s like to get your period, and a master of rhetoric and ethics who can throw your morals out the window for $5,000. No two monologues are alike in this collection. Their honesty, wit, wisdom, and humour are perfect companions for a commuter’s pocket. You can purchase the book on or in print at TheatreBooks, Glad Day Bookshop, or Tarragon Theatre.


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words: Olga Kwak photos: Max Power

Th e Choice i s yo u r s A

t Rent frock Repeat, a.k.a. RfR, nothing is done halfheartedly. The vivacious brains behind Canada’s first online dress rental service, Lisa Delorme and Kristy Wieber, dedicate themselves to turning a dress rental into one of the best choices you’ll ever make. No longer will you spend money on a dress that will see one, maybe two events, and then hang forgotten until its second life is in someone else’s hands. Now, spending a fraction of the cost of a new dress for a rental is the “go-to” way to get glam for an evening out. In 2010, Lisa and Kristy found themselves on the hunt for a wedding outfit and lamenting the fact that the dress would just hang uselessly in a closet after the event. They came across a designer dress rental service based in

New York City and decided to order a dress there, until they hit a roadblock - no delivery to Canada. Thus, Lisa and Kristy’s brainchild, RfR, was born. They saw an opportunity to provide a similar service with a unique Canadian spin an online shop for women to rent designer dresses at 10% off retail price. This means you can rent a designer dress for as little as $50. Dresses are sent to customers who order online. The outfits are then returned via postal service. And you don’t need to dry clean them - definitely easier than trying to hide the tags the whole night. Kristy explains, “The idea came around in April 2010. And we opened our doors on May 21, 2011 - just thirteen months after.” And it has turned into a massive success.


Dresses from Rent Frock Repeat.


his past October, RfR won the Canada Post E-Commerce Innovation Award for Best Multi-channel Retailer of the Year - only one of five companies to be awarded in the country - beating out other competitors such as Beyond the Rack. Thereafter, Lisa and Kristy became poised to pique investor interest. Perhaps what makes RfR so unique is their focus is on customer service. If they believe a style or fit a customer has ordered via their website won’t be a match, they contact the client and work one-on-one with them until they find the right dress. This has resulted in a growing community throughout Canada - from Halifax to Vancouver - of satisfied customers. Appointments at the RfR are available for clients who want a consultation in person. Lisa and Kristy were initially surprised that there was a demand for this type of service, but they were quick to accommodate clients. Tucked into a corner of Roncesvalles Village, the office is little more than the world’s best closet. Racks of dresses in a variety of sizes line the showroom. A jewelry case houses accessories available for loan. There is also an adjoining work office that the staff (which includes interns from the Ryerson School of Fashion) uses to manage the business. From this tiny space, fantasies can be fulfilled - as long as they involve a killer designer dress. Lisa and Kristy love working with Canadian designers and hope to one day become a launch platform for the “up-and-coming”. From Greta Constantine to Lucian Matis, they’re already picking the best and cutting-edge of Canadian fashion. They guarantee that they can find you a dress that will fit you perfectly. Now all you have do is find an occasion to get frocked.


words: Olga Kwak photos: Mai Ismail

All Aboar d G

ood afternoon, I am calling to confirm your reservation for tonight at Richmond Station,” said Julia, the restaurant manager. I politely confirmed and asked what I should order for dinner. Her wholehearted reply was, “Definitely Chef’s Menu! Just let Chef Carl make you whatever he wants.” Chef Carl is Carl Heinrich, winner of Top Chef Canada, Season 2. Chef Carl opened his new restaurant, Richmond Station, in conjunction with colleague, Ryan Donovan, at Yonge & Richmond, in Toronto’s downtown core. With its friendly design, Richmond Station has an amazing, welcoming ambiance. Upon entering, I felt like I was at my neighbour’s house for dinner. The atmosphere is open and sociable, the staff are your friends from the “get-go” - calling you by first name - and the food is as comforting as a home-cooked meal, yet still demanding perfection. It culminates into an ultimately unique dining experience. Sitting at the chef’s table - a counter top stretching in front of the open kitchen - I watched and interacted with five young chefs as they prepared that night’s food. Looking directly into the kitchen, the scene mimicked something that could be seen on a restaurant reality show on the Food Network. As I scanned the kitchen in search of Carl, he walked up to us

and introduced himself and said he hoped we would enjoy our dinner. Did we ever! The courses came out family-style (meant for sharing) and the ingredients were fresh, intricate, and full of flavour. While the staff kept us feeling comfortable and relaxed, the food awakened our senses with every bite, never letting us forget that we were enjoying some of the best food in Toronto. Carl and Ryan explain to me that the foundation of Richmond Station is based on their relationships. Their staff comprises friends and people they have known for years. They buy their meat and produce from farmers they have come to know throughout the years (Ryan worked at The Healthy Butcher and Cowbell.) Carl’s mother, having flown in for the week, was sitting just a few seats away from us. All of these aspects bring the “Cheers factor” to the dining experience, “where everybody knows your name.” In juxtaposition, the food remains driven by excellence, with elaborate twists on classic recipes. The restaurant is the long-time vision of Carl and Ryan, graduates of the Stratford Chef School. Hailing from the west coast, Carl was drawn to Toronto to open his restaurant because of the city’s reputation for gastronomy. Boasting some of the best food culture in the country, Toronto


has many independent restaurants that are able to succeed without influence from “big-box”, commercial restaurants. Carl’s business partner, Ryan, was born and raised in Toronto and worked in restaurants as a way to pay for his education, only to find out that his real passion was outside of the classroom. After graduating from chef school, Ryan was presented with the opportunity to apprentice as a butcher and later inherited the top job from his mentor. While residents of the Roncesvalles neighbourhood, Carl and Ryan found their spot at Yonge & Richmond, a location in the financial core that has always attracted great restaurants for its corporate clientele. However, the core has begun a transformation into a more residential area (with condos being built along University Avenue) and small shops opening up - inspiring the development of a community in need of a “local stomping ground.” Richmond Station was designed to fill that desire and act as a fun and hospitable place that provides scrumptious food and a pleasant atmosphere, attracting both downtown residents and members of the working community alike. Together, Ryan and Carl are able to do things differently. They built their dream from the inside out, beginning with their friends and colleagues, and extending into the way they buy their food, hire their staff, and treat their customers. Each step - from buying to serving the food - is done purposefully. Their theory is that great ingredients make great food. The ingredients at Richmond Station blend harmoniously, creating an incredible overall dining experience.

words: Brian Sweigman photos: Alex Browne

Law Or M

Mark says, “At first I thought I was going to be a litigator, i.e. a courtroom lawyer.” As time went on, Mark began to see the benefits his business background could bring to the legal world and decided to make that his main focus. FMC has been a great partner to Mahoney, allowing him to complete his Master’s degree while working. He’s even had the opportunity to spend a summer in New Delhi, India, working at the South Asian Human Rights Documentation CenMahoney started at FMC seven years ago, ter, while writing a paper on human rights after graduating from Western University. abuse by the Indian Army. Mark says he’s ark Mahoney represents some of the best of our city. As a lawyer climbing the ladder at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC), as Chair of the Young Professionals Council (YPC) - a group mandated to assist the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), and as a young socialite in the city, Mark sets an example to which we can aspire.

Jacket from Danier. Shirt and sweater from Lacoste at The Bay.

Law & der

got involved in the organization three years ago through a friend who is HIV-positive. The two agreed it would be beneficial to have a lawyer involved in the organization. At first, Mark was responsible for organizing education and outreach for the YPC. But after a year, he became the chair of the organization. “Our intention is not to scare people but to educate [and help people to] learn how to protect themselves.” Mahoney encourages anyone and everyone to get involved with CANFAR and the YPC. You can also check out the Annual YPC fundraiser on April 27, 2013 at The Burroughes on Queen St. West. Mahoney stresses that any donation of time or money is always welcomed. Mark takes full advantage of the work and play Toronto has to offer. He describes the city as a unique place - cosmopolitan yet friendly, open, and acceptable. Mark says he has traveled many places but “I always come back [to Toronto].” He frequents most of the city’s festivals (The Jazz Festival, The Yonge Street Festival, The Taste of Little Italy, and The Taste of the Danforth). Mark’s commitments keep him from taking long trips out of town but he doesn’t mind, “In the city, there’s always something to do.”

Mark Mahoney has built a reputation by striving for excellence in all of his endeavours. From his work to his charity and his general approach to life, Mahoney and people like him keep this city in motion and are attributable to making this city such a great Mahoney also acts as the Chair of the YPC place to live. - an organization that supports CANFAR through fundraising and spreading awareness as a preventative tactic against HIV/ AIDS. The board is made up of a diverse set words: Steven Sparks of 15 people, representing 100 volunteers, photos: Cristina Arce and has raised over $65,000 to date. Mark excited about growing alongside the firm, but he’s very aware that “a long-term profession is a bit of a match-making exercise.” Every time he moves forward, Mark wants to be sure all sides are happy with the deal.


Su yo u r s A

vibrant and imaginative world of colour streaks through the background. A hard-lined and well-tailored suit looms in front, demanding attention. The work is instantly recognizable. The artist can only be Samara Shuter.

“Initiative is a big word in my vocabulary,” Samara explains, for she is constantly inspired by “risk-takers” and the people around her that “take pride” in what they do. She is attracted to the suit because is represents so much of the entrepreneurial spirit and drive to succeed, but Shuter also has an appreciation for the craftsmanship involved. The hard lines and symmetrical construction are particularly appealing to her, “There are certain elements that are required to make it a suit.” Samara is most thrilled by the “details” in a suit, finding new ways to make each appear unique, with an attitude all their own. Shuter is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about artists in Toronto and internationally. The young Canadian sells privately in the city and has agents in Miami, London, and New York, where she has a piece hanging in The Rockefeller Center and is featured in a gallery in Miami. Samara is slated to appear in Toronto’s own, The Artist Project, in February 2013, at The Better Living Centre in the Canadian National Exhibition

Su i t self Place. You can also look for Shuter to do some exciting collaborations in the near future. She says she is excited to “work on a team…and see how we could make projects together.” Samara is originally from Montreal, but has fallen for the charms of Toronto. “It’s a great place to do what I’m doing, because I’ve been able to tap into so many different cultures.” Shuter has found new ideas and inspiration in the city, not to mention recognition. She proudly exclaims that “this is the city of opportunity in Canada.” Shuter encourages local artists to check out Gwartzman’s Art Supplies at College & Spadina. Shuter shares her works in progress through her website at She has released 99 limited edition prints of each of her works, which can be purchased by contacting her directly, and soon. For the distinctive and innovative pieces by this up-and-coming great are going quickly.


words: Thomas Lasko photos: Tara McWatters


n Jiro Dreams of Sushi, 85-year-old sushi maker Jiro Ono says “Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and [it is] the key to being regarded honourably.” That is what Richard Brault, co-founder, creative director, and head sugarmaker, of Ninutik, a maple sugar and syrup company quoted to me as he worked around his lab preparing his sweet confections. Ninutik is derived from the Ojibwa word for maple tree. Looking at a bouquet of Ninutik maple sugar lollies is mesmerizing. They’re all perfectly shaped. They sit in a cup on one of the counters in the Ninutik lab where Richard works. They’re stacked in trays along one wall, in varying states of preparation. Above our heads, pure maple syrup in glass jugs sit amongst the beams, ready to be turned into Canadiana.

Before you know it, you’re handed a stick with a delicate round lolly perched on top of it; you stick it in your mouth. It begins to dissolve into the sweetest, most luxurious piece of candy you’ll ever taste. And it doesn’t make you feel like a kid. Richard and Dianne Croteau are a husbandand-wife team who began Ninutik where many husband-and-wife team businesses do - the kitchen. Living in Calendon on the Niagara Escarpment, on the Credit River, they started off making maple syrup for themselves and their (at the time) young son. They had such a high yield that spring, that they decided to package and give their homemade maple syrup to family and friends. But Richard and Dianne aren’t your average couple. They didn’t just go out to Canadian Tire and buy a box of mason jars. Richard and Dianne met in college as design students. As they fell in love and began their lives together, they also became commercial designers. Having a keen eye for design and aesthetic,

ST U FF when it was time to bottle the syrup, they collaborated with a glass designer. “It was at that point that we realized how beautiful maple syrup could be,” said Richard. According to Dianne, the problem with how maple syrup is sold is that “the packaging hasn’t changed.” And so it’s an under-recognized piece of Canadiana. Anyone who’s been to the grocery store has seen the tins and maple leaf-shaped glass bottles next to the Aunt Jemimas and likely chose the latter, because it was cheaper and it didn’t look silly sitting in one’s refrigerator. Indeed, the average Canadian likely forgets that maple syrup is an expensive, sought-after, renewable Canadian commodity. In 2011, six million pounds of syrup vanished from the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve located in Quebec in what Businessweek called, the “Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist.” Despite the outlandish name, it meant that $18 million vanished. They never found the syrup, but it’s no sweat for

Ninutik. They source their maple syrup from Lanark County, Ontario. Ninutik’s focus is on honouring the taste of maple syrup by presenting it in a beautiful way. It makes you think twice about the last maple leaf-shaped bottle you bought. Instead, consider a solid block of pure maple sugar that can be shaved onto ice cream, or a crepe, or dissolved into the world’s best bubble bath, presented in a beautiful wooden box. Richard and Dianne’s re-imagination of a piece of Canadian heritage brings to light the beauty of what was passed down through history by the First Nations. They bring honour to the tradition with their distinctive maple products.


words: Olga Kwak photos: Isaac Zelunka




t’s hard to meet a person busier than Toronto’s own, Josh Binstock. The professional volleyball player, Olympian, and chiropractor doesn’t have a lot of free time. Fortunately, he made some time to come in and goof around in front of the camera, here at PRODUCT. He’s a giant at 6’5”. And he radiates athletic ability. Josh has always been a natural athlete. He played a multitude of sports throughout his high school career. Volleyball was not even his favourite sport. It was not until his last year of high school, that he realized that he had a particular affinity for the sport. He didn’t know that he would one day represent his country in the Olympics as one of the best volleyball players in the world. The idea of Josh as a late bloomer in anything athletic-related is hard to fathom. When I asked Josh about the Olympics, I can tell that he is still in awe of the Games. He remarks that the most surreal moment for him is a tie between running into the Raptors player, Jose Cauldron waiting for a Big Mac and sitting front row at the Wimbledon in front of Kobe Bryant. “I looked back and Kobe’s face was like, ‘why are you in front of me?’” He humbly admits that he never thought that he would compete in the Olympics. As a kid he was always an avid fan (and dreamt about them as kids do) but he never realized it could be a realistic goal. He and his partner, Martin Reader, were two of the last athletes to qualify in the 2012 Olympics. In the year leading up to the major event, Josh spent every day devoted to his sport. He traveled

across the world for qualification games and sought out “deep sand.” These days Josh spends five days a week working out. Two hours a day are spent practicing with other professional volleyball players. He spends an additional hour in the gym on his own. Personally, I think the best part of his profession has to be the traveling. Josh often trains in California because the sand is “deep” there. This has to do with the way the depth of the sand can affect the game. But I prefer to believe the sound is just more profound. Josh now has a new partner in Maverick Hatch. I had to ask, how does one find a new partner? Is there some sort of athletesmatch. com? Not to mention that his partner’s name sounds like a screen name straight from the video game, Call of Duty. It turns out that in Canada, things are pretty straightforward. The athletes practice together and that is how partnerships are formed. Despite Josh’s initial thought that he would be finished following the Olympics, he endures. He loves the sport too much, and he’s too close to making it to the top. The next stop is the Pan Am Games, which will hopefully yield the first of many wins, on his way to the Olympic podium one day.

words: Model Sports Fan photos: Alex Browne



imply said, trends repeat themselves. In fashion, bell-bottoms (made popular in the 1960s) rode back into style in the late 2000s. Today, we hear traces of dance and rock music reminiscent of the electric sounds of the 1980s. Despite the cyclical nature of trends in almost every industry, we have not yet seen repetition when it comes to food and eating. Yes, there are classic staples like dining by candlelight or a comforting chicken dinner, but gastronomy continues to be innovative and build upon itself. New crazes and food movements are constantly appearing - including the food truck revolution, bacon nation, and the desire to use local and seasonal ingredients. New restaurant concepts and creative chefs continue to reinvent our views on eating and dining. But maybe this world of innovation needs some “old-school” infusion - a “wayback playback” (an inspired twist on an old classic) - something to set our taste buds in decades past.

Enter Barton Snacks, a late-night snack shop where customers can come in for a quick and delicious bite to eat. Open until 3 AM, seven days a week, at two locations, Barton Snacks’s menu is informal and inspired by “old-school snacks”. Co-owner, Katherine Lehto, describes her restaurant as a “modern pop shop, with a healthy, fresh twist.” The menu is rooted in nostalgia and inspired by current trends. Barton Snacks offers the classics: chips, popcorn, soda pop, hot dogs, ice cream, etc. But unlike any you’ve had before. One of their best-selling hot dogs is the White Trash - a hot dog topped with cheese whiz, bacon, potato chips, and ketchup. They also offer truffle popcorn, pulled pork tacos, and British crisps. The Bacon Butterscotch Cookies are a menu staple. The result is a menu that pays homage to the eternal snack, yet offers options that are creative and blended with the latest food obsessions. Katherine came up with the idea for Barton Snacks after working for several years in the

Food for all restaurant industry. Often hungry and tired after a long, late shift, finding a tasty snack was near impossible. Fed up with fast food and the intimidating emptiness of her fridge at home, she and co-owner, Chris Sherwood opened Barton Snacks. With their combined experience in the industry, Katherine and Chris identified the need for a restaurant that served tasty, quick food that was not too heavy. Together, they found a way to feed the craving Toronto had for late-night snacks. As the owners of “the local snack shop”, Katherine and Chris have developed close ties in their neighbourhood at both locations (Bathurst & Barton and Dovercourt & Queen) They have contributed to the sense of community inherent in those neighbourhoods, where local business owners come together to support one another. The restaurant does all it can to support Toronto, sourcing many of its items locally and with a goal of having natural products with little to no preservatives. Their chocolate, Chocosol,

is a fair-trade, organic chocolate that is delivered by bicycle during summer months. Their lemonade, Limonana, is made by a local businesswoman who sells the natural, organic drink. They offer vegan ice cream sandwiches and organic popsicles with only natural flavouring. When possible, all foods are made in-house, from scratch. The “snack shop” - rooted in the past, but influenced by the foods trends of today has been brought back by Barton Snacks. No matter how many food fads come blazing through this city, comfort food remains central to any individual’s diet. No matter how many complex, drawn-out meals you may have, there is always room for a Barton Snack at the end.


words: Brian Sweigman photos: Mai Ismail

XX B an g B an g S

weet, sassy, molassy! Brittney Townson and Lindsay Darling are the girls who dominate the 1 and 2s as Bangs and Blush, Toronto’s most stylish DJ duo. I met up with these trendsetters at Clinton’s, their self-described home away from home and location of their oh-so-fabulous weekly dance party, Shake Rattle Roll. Nothing makes the two giddier than seeing a three-piece suit or a beehive hairdo walk in through the door. And so, I was slightly nervous upon meeting these trendy ladies, notorious for dressing to the nines. Should I wear a vintage frock? Sport

some red lipstick? Upon arriving, my fashion anxiety faded as these two girls greeted me with a huge smile, instantly breaking into a fast-paced conversation about their love of music, fashion, and all things girly. “I wasn’t always a girly girl,” confesses Townson, whose transformation into the second half of Bangs and Blush almost reads like a love story. Back in the late 2000s, her idea of going out and dressing up included rocking a pair of Chuck Tailors and blending in with Toronto’s infamous “too cool for school” crowd. Then came the fateful day when she


met her better half, Lindsay Darling, at Tattoo Rock Parlor. Darling was in the DJ booth with her then-partner hosting a soul dance party that encouraged folks to dress dapper and dance their pants off. Townson (inspired by the groovy style) was hooked. She introduced herself to Darling and glittery sparks ensued. Soon, Townson began doing promotion for the dance party, bringing her graphic design skills to the team. The two found out they were more than just friends, rather, kindred spirits in mod dresses. The girls’ love of all things retro became the foundation of the über popular, Bangs and Blush. They also operate a killer fashion blog inspired by the tunes of the era that they adore so much. Of course I had to ask these ladies where they love to shop in the city. Hands down, Cabaret. “That store is magic and the owner is magical,” says Darling with a sigh. We also discussed the pros and cons of American Apparel (good for staples, never a full outfit), Value Village, (a “hit or miss”), and vintage Etsy (ahh-some!). Inseparable since 2009, they finish each other’s sentences, swap clothing, and their DJ style reflects the organic nature of their friendship. The two tap in and out of the soundboard fluidly, watching to see what tunes make the crowd shimmy and sweat. Encouraging folks to make an event of going out for a night on the town, egos are checked at the door and replaced with strappy dance shoes and banging hairdos. The two are not afraid of looking silly, as evident in their monthly night, FUCK IT, a dance party dedicated to guilty pleasures. What makes the folks jive the most? They laugh and tell me it’s The Little Mermaid. If you don’t find yourself grooving to Under the Sea, check out their night, BEATLEMANIA, on the first Friday of every month at The Piston, where the two play “a shit load of Beatles” and 60s rock and roll.

Dresses, hats and goggles from WallacePlayford.


words: Lauren Cullen photos: Erin Sinkin & Kirsten White


ESTHETEC is bringing us into a brave new world. The interactive design studio, founded by husband-and-wife team, Mark Argo and Ann Poochareon is pushing the boundaries of art and technology, using levers and buttons to place technologically-driven installations into museums, science centers, and other public spaces. The company specializes in the new, the innovative, and the educational - constantly challenging the limits of technology as it relates to art and design.

residency at Fabrica, the Benetton Group Communications Research Center, near Venice, Italy. Fabrica allowed the two to do “a lot of experimentation,” and to explore the growing possibilities of technology. They even created a pre-smartphone, digital message board for uploading photos that was toured around the world. But, as Ann explains, “it remained an art project.” The work Mark and Ann did at Fabrica received worldwide recognition. Their successes led them to work in Thailand as part of the team that built the country’s national history museum. They were integral in the conception and creation of the software and electronics for a walk-through exhibit that allows museum goers to experience Thailand’s history - beginning with the formation of the land, through its continuing evolution, to the present day.

Ann and Mark met in graduate school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts over a decade ago, and they’ve been designing art, tech, and life together ever since. They both graduated from Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) a specialized program for people from mixed professional backgrounds who seek to bring technology “out of the box.” There, they Since then, Ann and Mark have buckled learned to “take technology off the screen.” down in Toronto. The city’s east end serves as the home base for AESTHETEC, though After finishing the program, the two worked the team continues to work across Canada prolifically in Europe, showcasing their work and internationally. Three years ago, the in France and Italy. Their talents were quick- team embarked on a herculean, two-year ly recognized and they received a year-long project to assist in building a brand new


Calgary Science Centre. The project consisted of four, brand-new halls for which AESTHETEC was commissioned to design exhibits and see them through from creation to completion. Currently, they are working on a project for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), as well as collaborating in the design of the tiff. digiPlaySpace, as part of the tiff. kids International Film Festival. The exhibit runs from March through April 2013. The team particularly enjoys the challenge of working in museums and public spaces because of the volume of audience interaction with their works. Ann says that they are the “best environment[s] for testing in quality control.” With thousands of people using the installations, everything must remain robust and the team always keeps long-term maintenance at the forefront of their minds throughout their design process, “We want stuff that is not hacked together.” AESTHETEC continues to devise and discover new ways to educate and inspire us. The innovative and interactive experiences that Mark, Ann, and their team bring us form a great motivation for realizing what one can achieve when driven by “out-of-thebox thinking” and a perpetual search for answers to the “why?” of the things that spark our minds and creative spirits.

words: Thomas Lasko photos: Mark Tym

Product Toronto - Issue 4  

PRODUCT is FREE! We are a 68-page, full colour, A5 (8.3”x5.8”) monthly magazine. Compact. Easy to share. The perfect fit for an active lifes...

Product Toronto - Issue 4  

PRODUCT is FREE! We are a 68-page, full colour, A5 (8.3”x5.8”) monthly magazine. Compact. Easy to share. The perfect fit for an active lifes...