When you think Calgary, I bet you think: buzzing fashion scene. No? Me neither. In the land of oil and gas and the Stampede, the world of fashion isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds. That may be why many interested in fashion choose to leave the city. But not everyone is taking off.
A growing number of fashion bloggers are building their brand right here in YYC without having to cross borders or oceans. With over 22,000 followers between all of their social platforms combined, here’s what a few of the city’s new and established fashion bloggers have to say about making it in the city.
Chloe Cappelletto - YYC Belle
YYC Belle, in 2014, and less than a year later she was named one of Calgary’s 10 best dressed by Avenue Magazine.Chloe Cappelletto started her fashion career with a “fairly established-ish” Instagram account. She used that fame to launch her own fashion blog,
Cappelletto says it’s not surprising Calgary isn’t known for its fashion scene in such a corporate city, because people here can be limited in their fashion choices.
“I think Calgary is super conservative and it’s an oil and gas-based town and most people are working in an office ... Just think for an office job you’re not going to wear a crazy outfit or something a little risqué.”
While the scene isn’t as large as in other cities, Cappelletto has managed to build a strong Instagram following of more than 5,300 and made numerous appearances at fashion events around the city at places like Holt Renfrew, even taking on hosting gigs such as one for Global Fest in 2015.
Paul Conrad Schneider - The Youth Novels
Being invited to cut the ribbon for Chinook Centre’s Topshop/Topman grand opening with fellow local blogger Ania Boniecka in 2013 was the moment when Paul Conrad Schneider made the conscious choice that he was going to make blogging more than just a hobby. With a unique style that doesn’t quite follow the Calgary “Aritzia aesthetic” rulebook, Schneider believes his standout style in a minimalistic community has actually worked in his favour.
“I think that ‘woah, what is he doing?’ factor really works for me because then it gets people interested, because they’re like ‘I’ve never seen someone like this in the city, what is he doing, what is he about? I want to know.’”
One of Schneider’s big concerns with the local scene is the lack of diversity and experimentation, largely owing to leading retailers. “I think they dumb down their buys for our market because they think Calgary is this cowboy city so they bring in simple brands ... because it’s so different and they don’t think it would perform, but they don’t give it that chance.”
Elizabeth Scott - Kate Ohman
Unlike Schneider and Cappelletto, Elizabeth Scott has made the move from her home of Calgary to London, England. Scott, the creative force behind Kate Ohman, says the fashion scene in London is polar opposite of her hometown, noting that the UK scene seems infinite.
“I feel like [Calgary] has a token fashion scene. Like it exists enough that we can say there’s a fashion scene there but there’s not really a lot going on there.” Comparing Calgary’s market to the generic Instagram photo of “a cappuccino and a succulent on a white marble table” that crops up on your feed daily, Scott started her blog as a way to spread more diversity around the city and the blogging community. Admitting to never feeling like she could fit in, Scott says her life in London has allowed her to experiment with her true style and self.
“I’m not doing anything wrong, but people feel so uncomfortable whenever someone does something different that it can be really intimidating to do something new ... especially in a city like Calgary where a lot of the metric of success seems to be external approval.”
While each blogger agrees that the fashion scene in Calgary isn’t as diverse as other cities, each has still managed to find success with their dedication to their craft, though none of them rely entirely on blogging for their income. But is there hope for a growing industry? Thanks to local organizations such as Park, Calgarians have been further exposed to the world of fashion. As an example, Park’s annual Parkshow and Parkluxe fashion shows in 2015 enjoyed sold-out shows which resulted in organizers adding more shows in 2016 which also sold out. While Cappelletto admits it may be easier to make it in another city as a fashion blogger, the real key to success is persistence.
“Keep doing what you’re doing ... it will come.”
- By Karina Yaceyko