A Conversation With Jordan McKay of HENDRIXROE

This week marks Jordan McKay and HENDRIXROE move to their iconic new home at Toronto Fashion Week. As always. Miss McKay managed to dazzle and awe her audience. Earning another standing ovation. Often times when a designer’s star rises, the newfound fame can sometimes overwhelm and change a designer, however, Jordan remains the exact same fashion heroine she was when she started her now famous brand all of those years ago.

Recently Novella sat down with the designer to find out what makes her who she is and how she shaped HENDRIXROE into the powerhouse it is today.

What makes HENDRIXROE different from other contemporary brands in Canada?

Jordan McKay – I’ve always felt like I was the underdog when it came to fashion. Heres this quiet girl from Saskatchewan, designing alongside these veterans in the Canadian fashion game. So it always felt like I had so much to prove for my sake and the brand’s sake. Other than that, I think it really comes down to the clothes themselves. The manufacturers I work with for the brand put quality first just like I do. I think that really makes Hendrix Roe what it is. I love what I do and it has to be perfect. So what we want to give everyone is a brand built on love. Cause that’s what HENDRIXROE is really about. Making something that can bring people together.

Photo: Toronto Fashion Week

So what gives HENDRIXROE it’s iconic look?

JM – People think the brand is just this kind of head-banging heavy metal brand because we play rock music during the runway show, which isn’t completely wrong, but that’s not everything it is. If you really look at the designs and the clothes there’s a ton of references in there that aren’t just rock and roll. I’m super inspired by hip-hop, the 70’s, and the 80’s and think you can really see that in a lot of the collections. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been that girl that listened to Metallica and all that, but that isn’t everything the HENDRIXROE is. It’s really about self-expression, you know? Being able to speak up and be who you are. That’s badass.

Photo: Toronto Fashion Week

What made you into the person you are today?

Jordan McKay – When I was in high school I had no voice. I was super quiet and shy. So that ended with getting bullied and just going through a lot of struggles during that time. But don’t get me wrong, I did go through all of that but at the end of the day, I’m a very privileged girl. Blonde, blue eyes, and white. For all of the things I’ve gone through, I know I have a hell of a lot of privilege compared to so many people out there. I recognize that. I think that’s what really made who I am today. Having to open myself up and find my voice. I think a lot of people think that I’ve just always been this crazy, loud, bubbly girl but it took a hell of a lot of work to get me to open up and be comfortable in my own skin. Even now with everything happening so fast and the brand getting so much recognition, it feels like barely have any time do just like sit down, take a breath, and say “you’ve got this kid.” Cause I’m not used to this sort of thing, even after being around for a few seasons. I still sometimes feel like that quiet girl I was back then. Cause I won’t lie, it can get overwhelming really quickly. I think another really big part of what shaped me as a person is that I really am inspired by the people who fight for love. I like to call them the warriors of love. It’s all of these people around the world that are trans, gay, bi, LGBT, people of colour, minorities, all of these oppressed people who have to fight every day to just earn the right to love who they want. Like that’s my real inspiration, if that makes any sense. The people who fight for love and a voice in this world.

Photo: Toronto Fashion Week

What message do you think HENDRIXROE sends to the Canadian fashion audience?

Jordan McKay – Honestly it’s about acceptance. There are so many people who just get beaten down every day. They’re marginalized and singled out for just trying to live their lives. For me, and I can only hope this is what comes across with me and the brand is that I get you. I get the pain and the silence. I get you and I hear and I love. When I was bullied in high school I didn’t have that opportunity to have someone give me that chance to find my voice and be completely transparent. So I need to make sure that the people around me who feel like they can’t speak up or say what they truly need to say have an outlet for that. It really comes down to HENDRIXROE being an outlet for those who don’t feel accepted to find that acceptance. To feel like they have a safe space and that they have a tribe and they have a family. I never want to speak for someone, but with the brand, I can truly feel like I can speak for you when times are hard, if you need that support, until you finally feel ready to let your voice be heard. I think that’s so important. To fight for those people. I hope that’s what everyone really sees when they see HENDRIXROE.

Photos: Toronto Fashion Week

What direction do you see HENDRIXROE taking in the near future?

Jordan McKay – International. Definitely international. You know, sometimes I find myself getting messages from all of these amazing people saying they love the brand and they love what I’m doing and I just sit there thinking “holy crap, how the hell do they even know who I am?” But for sure international. And I know everything is going online now, but I think another really big step I’d love to take is having a store. Like an actual HENDRIXROE store. I love people. So I still feel like we as people need that human touch. I think that’s what makes the brand so different too. It’s not unapproachable, I’m not unapproachable. I want to have that personable experience, you know what I mean. And I think you can really get that in a store. A nice stand-alone store. Not in a mall… No, never a mall. They weird me out. I’ve never been a mall girl.

A big congratulations to Jordan for another stunning show. We know Canada and the world are dying to see what you’ll do next. With all our love from Novella magazine!

Photo: Toronto Fashion Week

Surprise! Toronto Fashion Week is (sort of) back?

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Photo: CAFA

When it was announced that Toronto Fashion Week (TFW) had been cancelled, the reaction was a mix of sadness and acceptance–most people had seen it coming and were not surprised. But on October 16 and 17, 2016, Toronto’s fashion industry were treated to something almost exactly like TFW: FashionCAN. Hosted by Yorkdale Mall, in partnership with The Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA)if you hadn’t known fashion week had been cancelled, you may not have been able to tell at all!

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Photo: CAFA

Toronto Fashion Week favourites such as Greta Constantine, Stephan Caras, Jennifer TorosianUNTTLD, and Mackage (who opened a store in the mall) showed marvellously on a catwalk constructed in the newest Yorkdale expansion. Spring/Summer 2017 collections from Canadian designers, including all-stars Maison Marie Saint Pierre and Pink Tartan, worked brilliantly in the beautifully-windowed space with Nordstrom and Uniqlo as the tempting backdrops. All the usual bloggers and Toronto editors and photographers (even George Pimentel!) were present and even Jeanne Becker was at centre stage, interviewing designers after each show.

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Photo: CAFA

Without the tents and the chaos, this mini TFW disguised as something entirely new was actually a very pleasant way to see the pieces. The setting was intimate, no more than two rows, and between shows you could sip tiny bottles of champagne, explore the FashionCAN pop-up shop, or even slip into the mall.

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Photo: CAFA

A shopping mall may seem like an odd place to host a “fashion week” (well, two jam-packed days), but it was oddly fitting. The event showed the guests that the talent coming from Canada cannot be stopped and that a new way to show that is possible. We look forward to what will come next.

All photos sourced here

Chris Smart X TOM* – Street Style Recap

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The Torontonian fashion scene has lately been experiencing quite a few changes. After learning that Toronto Fashion Week was not going to happen this coming season, all eyes were on TOM*. Fortunately, the biggest change that Toronto Men’s Fashion Week has made, so far, is the location. A few steps away from College Park, the former home for the biggest men’s fashion week across Canada, the Mattamy Athletic Centre was this time the location where over 25 menswear designers showcased their Spring/Summer 2017 collections.

Chris Smart didn’t miss a detail of how Carlton Street turned into an outdoor catwalk for all the editors, writers, bloggers, and VIP people arriving to the shows. And once again, this gifted, relentless street style photographer was able to capture the latest trends worn by the most fashionable people in the city.

The minimalism of the total black-and-white looks contrasted with funny bomber jackets that brought back the sassy spirit from the 90’s. As the past is always an inspiration for fashion, one can never go wrong with a vintage outfit that includes a beret or a straw basket bag. Jumpsuits both printed and plain kept proving why they deserve the ‘must-have’ trait for any occasion, and glasses…What can we say about glasses? When it comes to fashion, it’s all about the glasses!

FOREVER BLACK & WHITE

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‘BOM-BOM’ BOMBER

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GO VINTAGE OR GO HOME

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 DEAR JUMPSUIT

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GLASSES X FASHION

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Don’t miss the best street style from Toronto to the streets of NYC at:
www.csmartfx.com
IG: @csmartfx
TW: @chrissmart

Blogger Profile: Mel Hwang of Mel Inspired

Image via Mel Hwang Instagram
Image via Mel Hwang Instagram

Mel Hwang is a style and lifestyle blogger balancing her creative outlets with a full-time job in digital advertising. Based in Toronto, you can find her immersed in chic, monochrome outfits, striving to express her voice through media outlets on the online sphere through the language of style. A visit to her Instagram profile will leave you with inspiring thoughts, as she sculpts her visual diary with a childhood memory or a current inspiration in mind to share with her followers.

She led me through a timeline of her career beginning from her first step into the fashion industry when she started modelling and blogging at 14. Get to know Mel, the creative mind behind Mel Inspired.

“Mel Inspired embodies my philosophy that you should live life inspired, constantly chase what inspires you, always pursue your creativity, and never apologize for who you are.”

Jennifer Lee: How would you describe yourself in a nutshell?

Mel Hwang: I am a creative individual marrying creative and business together. Anything that I do, whether through my blog Mel Inspired, or my full-time job, everything is centred around merging those two aspects.

JL: How would you describe your personal style?

MH: It sounds cheesy, but my personal style reflects how I’m feeling each day. My overall style at the moment reflects where I am in life- mostly business casual, pretty minimalistic- it’s all a side effect of the life that I live. If I’m feeling down, a well put-together outfit definitely makes me feel better.

JL: What is your first fashion memory?

MH: My first time at LG Fashion Week (Toronto Fashion Week) back in the day. I wore a crazy hat and there are still some photos surfacing around online. It’s my first memory because it was the time I entered the fashion industry for the first time. Looking back now, it’s such a fashion crime that I committed.

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JL: Tell me about your blog, Mel Inspired. What is the main message you would like to put across to your followers?

MH: Mel Inspired came to life through my hopes of putting my learnings in life and style into a creative voice on a blog. The main message isn’t what to wear, or what products to use, but more surrounded by exploring the reasons on what we do and why we do. All my outfits have a life metaphor or childhood memory around it. I want to translate a message to my followers that every part of life is more meaningful than it looks like.

 

JL: You’ve also walked the runway for World Master Card Fashion Week in Toronto. Tell me about your experience on the runway and how you got started.

MH: My initial segway into fashion was when I started modelling at the age of 14, the same age I started blogging. I was scouted by an agent here in Toronto. I modelled throughout high school part-time, flying out to New York and Miami. When I hit puberty, my body stopped reflecting the image that the industry wanted. It was a struggle but a great experience. It’s always fantastic to see the vision of an artist on models down the runway. Modelling was a big part of my teenage life, and now I do it as an honour back to the art of fashion.

 

JL: What is it like to be directed by a brand as opposed to directing your own shoots for your own brand?

MH: I don’t miss modelling. I like the liberty of being able to choose my own creative vision to portray to the world. On the flip side, it’s always a positive experience being immersed in somebody else’s creative mind and understanding their brand to portray their vision. There’s so much value to be learned from it. As for directing my own shoots, it really gives me the ability to be genuine in sharing my thoughts. There is always the autonomy in me wanting to project what I really think.

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JL: What is your opinion on social media- How has it influenced your life, and are you ever overwhelmed by it?

MH: Social media is attached to my life from the moment I wake up each day. I work with it in my full-time job too, in media advertising. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be overwhelmed by it. It’s a reality of the interactions in our world today, and fighting it would be a losing battle. I think it’s important that we don’t define ourselves from the statistics of social media. It’s a platform for you to share your voice, so the number of followers, whether you have a thousand or a hundred thousand followers, should not define your self-worth. It’s a mindset I try to keep a good pulse on.

JL: What is the best thing about Instagram? What do you think will be the next biggest social platform?

MH: I think Instagram is an amazing platform because it allows you to express yourself through imagery and pushes people to pull out a creative part of themselves. It’s been an incredible journey building my brand via Instagram. I spend so much time curating my feed, it’s a little bit of an obsession. I think it’s a great community everyone should take part in. I think the next social platform will definitely be something centred around video, like where Snapchat is currently heading. Videos are such a raw and organic way to express yourself and it’s completely different from Instagram where everything is overly curated. Unedited content is the next thing.

JL: How do you balance blogging and your full-time job?

MH: That’s a hard question, because I don’t! my life is consumed by those two things. I’m lucky to have a great support system that shares the same love of blogging, and it’s become more of a social aspect of my life. Many of my friends blog, or are very supportive of the blogging environment. My boyfriend is also a huge supporter of my blog, so we do photo walks as our dates. I conduct my blog as a business at this point, so when I’m not at work, I’m blogging 30-35 hours a week. But at the end of the day, it’s what I enjoy doing, so I don’t look at it as work.  

JL: Where do you shop?

MH: It’s something I’m not incredibly proud of because I’d love to support more local brands, but admittedly, I get a lot of my shopping done via fast fashion, like Zara and H&M due to time constraints. I also love thrifting. It’s fun to put together a super affordable outfit and challenge myself to pull a luxe feeling out of it. Other than that, I do like to invest in more special pieces from a designer boutique to pick up a new purse from time to time.

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JL: What are you currently coveting?

MH: I’m coveting a lot. A new purse is on the horizon- the Celine Phantom, an M2Malletier, or the Mansur Gavriel Lady Bag. I like to mark my accomplishments and milestones with purses!

JL: What is your favourite and least favourite trend this season?

MH: I’m in love with the choker trend. It’s an homage to the generation in which I grew up in, and ties to my personal nostalgia. I’m actually starting a side business with chokers. I’ll keep you guys posted on that. There isn’t a trend this season that I dislike too much. Trends are like news, it’s not necessarily bad because it either speaks to you or it doesn’t. I was initially going to say bell bottoms, but I can’t say I dislike that because I styled them a few weeks ago after listening to September 99 by Earth Wind & Fire.

JL: You always have an “INSPIRATION” reference on your Instagram posts. Can you tell me the story behind it?

MH: The response to that on my Instagram has been so supportive. Everyone was telling me that I needed a short, sweet caption to go with my minimalist style. There is always so much more that I want to share with the image itself. Although the images speak a thousand words, I want to make sure that the message is conveyed to my followers. It’s definitely been a commitment coming up with 2 to 3 content ideas with a chunk of text to go with each of them, but I’ve committed to it because I love being able to sculpt a discussion around an image, rather than just saying “#OOTD.”

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JL: What else other than fashion are you passionate about?

MH: The online industry as a whole is something that I’m immensely passionate about, together with the arms that extend out of that, like coding, marketing evaluation, and young entrepreneurship built on the online sphere. I think the Internet is so beautiful in the way that it brings us all together. Another thing that I work towards in many aspects of my life is female empowerment. It’s incredible how much we’ve come as a gender and it’s something that I hope to continue supporting.  

JL: What are you most proud of?

MH: Unbinding myself from the fears of what people think has been a personal progress which allowed me to build my brand effectively. It was something that I struggled with, especially growing up modelling. The entire industry was based off of what people think, and in some regards, so is my career now. But at the end of the day, it’s better to be yourself and accept that others think what they may.


JL: What is the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

MH: My choker project! It came out of an Instagram inspiration and when I started incorporating chokers into my outfit posts. I felt more attached to the images when I looked back and it reminded me of my childhood when life was more carefree. That lifestyle is so allusive and it’s something I’m inspired by. It will also have a charitable aspect going towards empowering women. The project will be launched around August to September this year. Also, my Youtube channel which I started a month ago. I wanted to share my voice in a raw and organic matter and took a leap of faith. I’m posting a new video every Saturday.

Screen shot 2016-06-13 at 3.19.53 PM JL: What is your take on Toronto’s style and culture, and how do you stay engaged in it?

MH: Toronto has a very North American style, and it comes from the life that we live, having 6 months of winter. The style and fashion industry is very collaborative and supportive. I try to stay involved as much as possible connecting with new people. If one of my followers ask to have coffee, I’ll make sure to make time for them. It’s not so much in regard to staying in the style industry but how I continuously connect with other individuals and learn from them.

JL: Fill in the blank “I could not live without___”

MH: My cellphone.

JL: How would you like to see your brand grow?

MH: I’d love to work on my brand full time, and share my positivity and learnings with the people that I love- all 21 thousand followers. Living my life with them would be awesome.

Style Profile: Savanna Lee of Sav Not Savage

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Savanna Lee is a Toronto-born student who is exploring the contemporary culture through Media Information and Technoculture at Western University. On top of that, she has many stories to tell through any stage you could ever imagine: as a dancer, DJ, model, blogger, writer, singer, a photographer.

In the middle of Trinity Bellwoods Park, Savanna revealed her love for Toronto’s lifestyle and culture during our interview. Thanks to her cheerful and sweet personality, this turned out into a relaxed yet very rewarding conversation.

You can catch her thoughts on her blog Sav Not Savage and listen to her mixing sounds at 3 am on her Soundcloud profile.

Being featured in Majid Jordan’s latest music video, and selected as a finalist to compete in Canada’s Top Model, it seems like the world does not stop for Savanna. However, her life mantra is to make the most of the present, no matter if she is behind or in front of the camera. This is Savanna, expressing herself through style today.

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Jennifer Lee: Could you introduce yourself in a nutshell?

Savanna Lee: I live in Toronto where I manage a restaurant, go to school, write, and sing – among many other things I enjoy. It’s hard for me to describe myself. I’m changing every day, and there are so many things about me that are always changing. I’m experiencing different things and exploring my talents and finding out what I can bring forward in the world- for example, through fashion and something as simple as my energy.

JL: How would you describe your personal style?

SL: Comfortable. I make sure that I’m comfortable and being myself whether I’m going to work, or going out. But sometimes, it is also important to go a little bit crazy even though and be less functional. That’s how we push ourselves to do something different in fashion.

I always try to come up with looks that speak to myself. Each piece of clothing is a part of me, and I believe that we can both experience and project so many things through fashion.

For example, today I’m wearing this dress which I wore to my first OVO concert, I bought the overcoat from Value Village after my MIT exam, and I got my shoes from the Adidas outlet on my way back from visiting my sister at Pittsburg. Every piece has a story behind it.

JL: What is your favourite item in your closet?

SL: All of it!

JL: Have you ever had a “what was I thinking” moment about something you’ve worn?

SL: That is something personal, but I’m willing to share it. When I was in high school, I bought a butt pad and wore it under every pair of bottoms that I wore. Even when I was doing competitive dance, I wore them under my short shorts. In elementary school, I wore two push-up bras at a time. I was so insecure about my body, but I’m happy to say that now I’m at a place where I love my body. I exercise and make myself be what I want to be with my body. Now I can say I present myself authentically, both physically and mentally.

Photo: Tyler Stalman via Flare
Photo: Tyler Stalman via Flare

JL: What is your first fashion memory?

SL: When I was at school, I had to wear a uniform. I remember on a civvies day. I wore black TNA pants, a baby pink cropped tee, a pink bandana, moccasins, and a leather jacket.

JL: What is your favourite fashion era?

SL: Right now. Many things are going on with fashion in this era. We are drawing on many elements that have already happened and making it so different. We could say that fashion today is repeating the 90s, but, in fact, it is a completely new reinterpretation. It’s very innovative and reflective at the same time.

JL: What is your take on Toronto’s style and culture, and how do you stay engaged in it?

SL: It’s ever-changing and united. From a business perspective, we have big retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, and Zara. We also have smaller shops in the city like Runway Luxe and Untitled & Co. and in a way, all these businesses cater to the whole market of this city.

I like to see fashion at hip hop concerts because I find that all the people attending use fashion to express themselves in a very cool yet genuine way. I love that there’s that expression of style in any place. Regarding culture, it’s always booming here! I make sure that I’m a part of it- the everyday life in Toronto- whether it is sitting on the subway, driving on the DVP, walking down Queen Street, or even sitting on this bench right now at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Everything is a part of the culture and the beautiful lifestyle of Toronto.

JL: Where do you shop?

SL: I shop everywhere. I go into a store whenever I see something that I like.

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JL: Who are your favourite artists, icons, and designers?

SL: An artist I like right now is Drake. As for designers, my friend Michael, who has a fashion line called Cut by Kira. Also, my mom is definitely an icon to me. She does fashion design, interior design, and life design. I always look up to her to get inspired and I love wearing her clothes.

JL: What is your theme song?

SL: Childs Play. It’s so fun, and I’ve been in a very fun mood lately.

JL: Whose closet would you want to raid?

SL: My own.

JL: What fashion trend would you like to see go away?

SL: None. Trends talk about the present and, eventually, become crucial to understand the history of our society.

JL: How has your style evolved over the years?

SL: It’s evolved slowly and steadily. I look back to an old outfit and realize I still wear the pieces today, put them together differently.

When I was younger, I was on Tumblr a lot, and pictures of people and places inspired me. I try to get inspired by everything around me. The more I explore what’s out there and experience it, the more I evolve.

JL: Tell me about your blog, and the main message you want to put out to your readers.

SL: To be yourself. Never limit yourself as you can be anything at any time. Never be afraid to express yourself because we have so much to offer as individuals. Everyone has something different to offer, so I want to encourage other people to do so.

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JL: Fill in the blank: “I could not without ___”

SL: Air.

JL: What is your fashion mantra?

S.L.: I am who I am.

JL: What is the best piece of advice you have received or given?

SL: Never give up, focus on your craft, and keep moving forward.

JL: What is the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?

SL: Myself.

JL: What inspires you?

SL: Everything that I see when I open my eyes.

JL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

SL: I want to be happy and know that it’s something real. If I can be where I am right now in 5 years, I will be very happy. It’s so easy to look at things in a way that we don’t have it when we have so much. I want to be humble about what I have. There’s always something to appreciate and be grateful for.

JL: Your dream or goal in a sentence.

SL: To enjoy the atmosphere.