Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

SO WHAT ARE THOSE WOOL SOCKS TELLING YOU?

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The new story in fashion and design is that everything has to tell a story. That "heritage wear" jacket has to reference your grandpa's lumberjack shirt. (He probably never was a lumberjack, he wore it to drink beer at the cottage.)

That was the idea that menswear designer Joseph Abboud was reflecting when he described his new clothing collection, Black & Brown, as "working class luxury." Because we are all working class now, get it? The line features scrumptious wools, corduroys and cashmere scarves and it was being modelled by young guys in fingerless gloves and newsboy caps. Very Dickensian chic.

Abboud's collection was launched Tuesday at a chic dinner at Colborne Lane. The designer professed to be excited to have his collection at the Hudson's Bay Company, the new/old name for the Bay/HBC. Everyone's got a Bay story (my grandma worked there) and the Bay itself has a story: It's the oldest department store in the world! (Assuming the one-room trading post in Moose Factory counted as a department store, of course.)

Hudson Bay Co.'s new American owners are all about the "authenticity" of the brand, something the former owners failed to capitalize on. I would suggest they read Margaret Elphinstone's excellent novel VOYAGEURS, about the fur trade during the War of 1812, to get a sense of the blood that was shed in the name of selling socks in this country.

As for the Bay, is it really about point blankets, or my grandma's 30-year career selling pots and pans in Housewares? Grandma was real working class, and there wasn't much luxury in her life. But she had an eye for art and a keen interest in history. My guess is Grandma would be all for the new-old fauxthentic Hudson's Bay Trading Company. Because Grandma always appreciated a good story.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Sheree-Lee Olson

Sheree-Lee Olson is a Canadian novelist, poet and journalist. Her first novel, Sailor Girl, was published in 2008 by The Porcupine's Quill.

Go to Sheree-Lee Olson ’s Author Page