Sunday, July 31, 2011

Carrying Coals to Newcastle

I remember reading that one of our Canadian clothing designers, Linda Lundstrom, went bankrupt by trying to keep all her production in Canada. Then one afternoon a few months ago, as I worked at my volunteer job at the hospital thrift shop, an original three piece gold coloured Lundstrom pant suit arrived.... in my size. I immediately laid claim to the ensemble. For a mere $25, I picked up a stylish and stunning Canadian made formal outfit valued at close to four digits and suitable for wearing to my next red carpet gala event. I was thrilled as I stashed my find in the closet. I was also saddened, knowing that this label was now extinct.

I have heard that Germany has a strong economy because of their industry and manufacturing. Most of the items sold in Germany are in fact made in...Germany. How alien is this concept to people like us who love nothing better than to get our bargains? Most of our discounted treasures however, are made in countries that are able to manufacture items with cheap materials and inexpensive labour. Many of our Canadian companies are having their wares produced further afield in order to keep prices in line with the competition.

I recently needed to purchase a new dress for a wedding, so I decided that I would try to buy something Canadian. Since the wedding is in Manhattan on a Saturday night, I wanted something unique. I wanted something unfamiliar in New York. I wanted something affordable. I wanted something I could wear often. This time, a Value Village sale was not going to satisfy my fashion requirements.

I sought out reasonably priced Canadian designs and stumbled across some unusual, multifunctional outfits from a Vancouver based company called "Simpli". I then made up my mind that nothing but the Simpli V-necked sleeveless dress with the uneven hem, plus a small covering jacket would do for the wedding. Besides, Simpli clothes were made of some kind of miracle fabric that could be rolled into a ball and tossed in a suitcase without wrinkling. I then toured several stores in a futile attempt to locate this particular dress. First, I discovered that the fabric was some type of knit, fairly heavy, not suitable for a New York summer, but possibly more for a Canadian winter. Then I learned that any colour other than black, which seemed to be what all the stores carried, would require 4-6 weeks for delivery. My disappointment resulted in procrastination.

This week, I was under pressure. With only a few dress hunting days remaining, I went to a well known boutique-like clothing store in a small town not too far from here. Most of what I tried on either didn't meet my body covering requirements, made the saleslady guffaw in laugher, or was too ugly to wear beyond the privacy of the change room curtain. I finally found a two piece purple crepe number which met my criteria...stylish, interesting uneven hemline, no obvious bulges, small covering jacket, not black. Below is the dress. That's not me in it.
Purple dress is a much lighter, prettier colour in real life
In my desperation, it did not occur to me to ask about or look at the label. When I got home, I "Googled" the tag, "Ursula of Switzerland", to see what I would be transporting to Manhattan. 
"Ursula of Switzerland...a New York based company with a showroom on Broadway." Thanks Google.

Perhaps I just ought to wear my $25 Linda Lundstrom Canadian treasure to the wedding.

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