Grailed x The Featured Article Event Interview/Recap: NYC Meets Toronto
Monday August 15th, 2016
8:45PM - Downtown Toronto.
Some dude dressed in a black t-shirt, white jeans, and white-painted boots is leaning against a pillar outside a condominium, learning how to use the new Instagram feature because he never had Snapchat. With his Boris Bidjan Saberi drawstring bag slung over his shoulder, he looks exactly how you would expect a fashion blogger to look. Good, because that's kind of what I do on the internet now. Unfortunately, no one is actually around to witness it. God, I arrived here way too early.
As the hands of the clock begin to show that the time is now 9:15PM, two women appear, one in a nice floral dress and heels, and the other in a Boris Bidjan Saberi tank top and Rick Owens laceless Ramones. Recognized by most as The Featured Article on Instagram (@thefeaturedarticle), Alexandria Skeffington a.k.a. The Rick Owens Goddess and her friend, Deirdra, arrive and at once I'm taken aback by the fire fits in my presence. Hosted by Cult and SetinStyle, Alex along with the Grailed team were going to hold their event at 10PM at the Thompson Rooftop. As we're taking the elevator in the condo upwards to meet with the Grailed team, I can't help but slightly panic because as it turns out, I'm supposed to do a small interview with Alex and Jacob Metzger (@jacobmetzger) from Grailed before heading out, and guess who's terrible at their job? This should be fun.
Meeting with the Grailed team was the best. I was the awkward kid who introduced himself to everyone while trying to not come across as weird. It was going great until I met Lawrence Schlossman (@sartoriallyinc), the man responsible for the now-defunct Four Pins (R.I.P. to a real one) and the reason I was confident enough to start writing on the Internet in a snarky manner myself. How did I introduce myself, you may ask?
"Hi, I'm Rony. Dude I love your book."
Way to be subtle, man.
Alex, Deirdra, and I share some Madjack Root Beer (with actual beer, mind you), and then we proceed with the struggle interview on the patio:
Alex, for the readers who aren't familiar with you (a.k.a. The ones who never read "Alexandria Skeffington Lives in the World of Rick Owens"), who are you?
Alex: I'm Alexandria, I go by Alex Skeffington and I live in Toronto (obviously). I am 26 years old [she seriously doesn't look a day over 20 though]. I've always loved fashion. I like putting things together, something with a big "pop" to it. I like to post my photos, I just started doing that back in November. I mainly wear Rick Owens, Boris, Gareth Pugh, Ann Demeulemeester, some Margiela, Haider Ackermann, I have some Guidi now. I'm really into accessories, I have enough basics now that I'm able to collect more accessories.
Before you got into Rick Owens by means of your DRKSHDW jacket, what were you wearing?
Alex: Probably a lot of mistakes to be honest.
How did you get into contact with the Grailed team in the first place?
Alex: "Actually, Jake reached out to me. A couple months before May, and I don't want to say too much because I don't want to make any promises or get anybody's hopes up, but there were some ideas that he presented to me, said he wanted me to fly out to him and come up with some stuff. And then it ended up that we hit it off and-
*cue Jake's entrance*
Alex: He's asking how we got into contact.
Jake: Oh yeah, well, continue.
Alex: I bought a piece, and I think he reached out like, "oh hey, we actually know your page-"
Jake: We followed her on Instagram. We on Grailed, always look around on social media for accounts for people with good style, especially people not in New York, to see what kind of community is out there. People who use Grailed, and people who might want to use Grailed at some point, so how do we connect with those people. We saw that Alex was on Instagram, she had this community of people around her who all had good style. So we there thinking about getting out to these random cities, around the U.S. and around North America. Usually we meet with industry people, so we reached out to Alex and see what's up.
Alex: And for that other idea we're going to do soon.
Oh, you guys are just teasing now.
Alex: But that's where it started, when I met him in New York in May, and this was this event came about. Why not? And here we are today.
Jake: We figured an event would be the easiest way to meet as many people as possible. Just to show people a good time with the Grailed guys and the crew because at the end of the day, we're an internet corporation, so it's hard for people to identify with us on a level beyond just a website. For a lot of people, we're this faceless thing that you get angry at for customer service or something like that. But if you can actually put a face to the name and actually meet people to realize that we're most of like our users in the sense that we all came from the same kind of background. We all just love clothing. We like the ability to find clothing easily, that was the whole point of Grailed essentially. That was the whole point, to have people know that Grailed is more than just this thing online.
Why host an event like this in Toronto today? Was it intentional to have it coincide with Toronto Men's Fashion Week?
Alex: You know what, I just found that out two days ago actually. I had no idea.
Jake: What is it?
Alex: It's Toronto Men's Fashion week, and rumor has it that our guest list beat the actual opening party for TOM.
Jake *slides open the door into the condo to face the other members from Grailed*: Yo, apparently it's the first day of Toronto Men's Fashion Week? There's an opening party tonight-
Alex: And we beat their guest list by like 3.
*starts petitioning to replace Toronto Men's Fashion Week with Grailed x The Featured Article events*
So, is this some kind of city-to-city tour that Grailed hopes to go on?
Jake: That's kind of the goal. We're using Toronto as a first stop, as a chance to see how it goes, to test out the logistics, to see what we can get out of a trip like this. But the hope is to go out and see as many cities as possible, and see how people are using Grailed and how into style people are in general. I think we'll try getting out to these cities, some of the spots that are these little miniature hubs for men's fashion, like Portland, Oregon, L.A., San Fransisco, Chicago, etc.
Both of you have travelled to and from New York City and Toronto. How would you describe the fashion scenes between both cities? Any similarities or differences worth noting?
Alex: I can't wait for this question. Do you want to start this one?
Jake *laughing*: I'll start this one. It's a good question because you don't think of Toronto as being this "fashion spot," while New York has this reputation as one of the fashion capitals in the world, and rightly so. The scale is probably the biggest difference between Toronto and New York. New York, more people, more ingrained interest in fashion that's kind of always been there, and you have more access to clothing, events, and shops. The whole "fashion scene" is kind of in New York. But in a place like Toronto which you don't necessarily expect to be more fashion forward, and when you meet the right people in a place like Toronto I think you get the sense that it's the same vibe that New Yorkers and people in the New York fashion scene have. It's like a lot of people who have similar interests are on social media and are active with each other in that way. And in New York, the men's wear scene is huge, very disparate and massive, but at the same time within certain lifestyles or whatever, you've got a small crew of people who are more united in some way, and I see that in Toronto on a much smaller scale, but it's the same kind of vibe.
Alex: Definitely, and that's why the feedback for tonight, just talking about events itself is, in my opinion, already a success just because whether all the people who put their names down show up or not, just that there is an amount of interest is such a compliment and makes me very excited for the future of Toronto. Being a solo collector, you go to Toronto Fashion Week and there's literally dead seats, so by having the feedback with such a streetstyled, casual approach, still being in King West which is a very done up area, is extremely exciting because it gives us all hope that there is going to be way more of it. So I'm very honoured to be collaborating with these guys and kind of making this happen for the city.
Jake: I think honestly, the whole idea behind Grailed is to give people the opportunity to try clothing they wouldn't normally be able to, gaining access to different clothing and different styles of fashion that they wouldn't be able to procure, and I think that that kind of mindset is helping people to experiment more with what they're wearing, what kind of style they're into, what style fits them personally. That's kind of the idea behind Grailed that we want to further, so coming to Toronto knowing that there's a ton of people here that already think that way, that are going to spread around to their homies and everything is amazing, and having an event like this kind of displays that. Like, "oh my God, there's so much interest in this because of the idea that we stand for, which I think is really dope and that's why we want to try doing this in more places to try and get that mentality out there more. You can use a site like Grailed to really explore who you are as an individual, that I think is a really powerful thing that people take for granted, that clothing is just clothing. But it's actually an opportunity to show them more of who you are.
Alex: But in Toronto, clothing isn't just clothing, and that's what I find. You have dress codes everywhere, and unless you know the right people and you can push the limits, you have to follow the rules. So dress shoes, dress shirts. So throwing an event like this, I find, is really like opening up people's eyes on excitement of being themselves, just to see more people be true to themselves and comfortable in their own skin. So just having this opportunity is great for the two of us and great for Toronto as a whole and I think everyone is going to be happy by the end of it. I HOPE. [SPOILER: everyone was happy]
Honestly, the "no dress code" aspect was so dope
Jake: Yeah, wear shorts if you want, I don't give a fuck. Apologies in advance for those who couldn't get in, because it might be tough.
Alex: And Toronto fashion, I find that there's a difference between men and women. Women, it's definitely your fast fashion, "be on trend." You're following your, you know, the Kylie Jenners, the Kim Kardashians, and it's all about accessories, so high-end shoes, high-end handbags, and high-end sunglasses, and you can rock it no problem with your Forever 21, H&M. Men's as well is also like that, but also way more fast to get into the full fit of high end clothing as opposed to women, and I think it's going to be like that for quite some time. Until there's more opportunities for buyers and sellers to have that outlet to really buy and sell, I don't think that that opportunity is available to us at this time. You could buy a Louis Vuitton bag and it's obviously going to sell for more, but those are the "hype" items for women. For guys, it's Supreme but you're not going to sell your women's Supreme as much as you could for a Louis bag, if that makes sense. [NOTE: to further clarify, Alex is referring to the fashion-related differences in regards to accessibility between men and women's fashion... at least I hope I got that right]. Fast fashion, they do it well, I think the style in Toronto is amazing for men and women alike. Whether you're wearing fast fashion or not, the style is there which is really nice to see. I just find the education of knowing more about style is definitely in Toronto when it comes down to your higher end labels, because it's more available as well. In Toronto, there's only one store that I can honestly say that sells Rick Owens. Well it's Holt Renfrew and 119Corbo, and rumor has it that they're not selling Rick womens at Holt Renfrew anymore. 119Corbo is amazing, it's where I learned a lot of my stuff from, I still collect there. You go to New York and literally, you've got 10 stores that are pretty close to each other and you're able to try things, you're able to sit on it. In Toronto, you cannot sit on anything, and you have to buy everything pretty much right away, so women buy everything full-price unless you are buying a men's wear item, especially from Grailed. I know many girls who buy from Grailed, I've bought myself from Grailed-
Jake: Yes! That's what I like to hear.
Alex: Exactly! But you've gotta search, and I find with men, it's a lot easier. Before I really knew of the science behind sourcing, I can say that it took me about a year to figure it out. I can't even say how many hours a day, like, Polyvore and Lyst were my favourite things, even though they didn't have the outer boutiques that did have some designers, but when you're spending three hours a day on your friggin' apps and your data goes up to $600 a month, it's pretty intense. You could have bought one Rick shoe with it [just to clarify, she meant the left shoe]. And I find that the streetwear for women is very pocketed. You'll find way more women in heels than you will in sneakers unless you're over in the west end, because it's accepted there. I barely wear heels, and before The Featured Article, it was even hard for me to get into places. I was just lucky i knew enough people to get me into places so I didn't have to fight with the bouncer every weekend.
Yeah, I know.
Well, here's hoping we see some of that style tonight.
Yeah, so I'm expecting to have, I'm hoping that everybody is going to have a good time. We put a lot of work into this weekend. We've been shooting, I've been organizing with Jake like crazy, we've done photoshoots, I've introduced them to people who are my friends who have the most inspiring styles and are Grailed users and just know the education behind any designer. Everyone you'll see is friendly, and extremely knowledgable. You've got mixed styles, you've got your SLP, CCP, Balmain, Rick, Ann, Supreme, you've got it all. I'm excited for that spread.
Last question, what is your goal for tonight's aftermath?
Honestly, I just want to get to know people more, just seeing the feedback. I had no clue that there was this many people interested in this type of world. I've been living under a rock forever, I was literally doing this on my own and I'm hoping to make some friends out of this. Just to meet people with like minds, all of us have pretty much been doing this ourselves, so by having 400+ people get back to us [keep in mind capacity is at 250], it's great. Hoping to meet some more people, hoping that everyone has a good time, hoping that the Grailed guys have fun, I've really tried my hardest to host them very well, to put all this stuff together. Jake's been great, Cult TO and SetinStyle, they are the ones who have that space, they're great friends of mines. I'm really excited for the recap video, George Roubos is one of the best videographers I know. I'm excited for the Snapchat filter.
There's a Snapchat filter?!
I'm looking forward to that, I haven't seen it yet, but I hope it goes through. Oh we've gotta go.
Thank you for your time and for tolerating someone like me. Now, the actual event.
Before heading out, we meet up with Lux DT’s (The Luxury District of Toronto) founder, Ramiro Caceres a.k.a. the Lux God (@thelastromantic), who also had a hand in helping plan the event. This dude is mad chill, and rightly so as his all SLP fit is god-like. We call up an Uber, and suddenly my anxiety starts to dwindle down like the elevator we’re in inside the condo. I’m trying to stay calm and not lose my cool amongst the crowd of people among me straight up flexing in fire gear.
10:00PM - Thompson Hotel Rooftop
The next 4 hours would see the Toronto’s most fashionable of people living it up with music, drinks, and appetizers, all the while meeting new people and learning about everyone’s different sense of style. Obviously, this meant non-stop alcohol for pretty much everyone. That said, even before the clock struck 10:00PM, there was already a line-up to get into the rooftop, a testament to the hype surrounding this event. In fact, rumor has it that this event surpassed the Toronto Men's Fashion Week opening party in regards to attendance by a couple people. This basically shows us that we need to replace Toronto Men's Fashion Week with a week of Grailed x The Featured Article events. Needless to say, the event brought about a huge turnout, so much so that the event eventually had to occupy both the rooftop and the lobby. Given how much people were present and how socially awkward I really am, the alcohol may have perhaps helped me with meeting so many new faces.
The fashion scene was quite diverse, as you would have seen outfits ranging from head-to-toe Rick Owens worn by the ever-so-faithful Rick disciples, to Off-White and Palace worn by the streetwear aficionados, and everything in between. Let me guess, you're probably thinking of the worst case scenario, the one where everyone is dressed the same and how unoriginal Toronto's fashion scene is, right? WRONG. As proof of Toronto's diversity in fashion, the following images courtesy of Cult are here to help (full album available for viewing here), with the black and white filter added for #aesthetic:
You're probably wondering how the guests felt about the event. Well, let me tell you that THEY FUCKING LOVED IT BECAUSE IT WAS AWESOME. But don't just take my word for it, view the following Instagram posts by actual attendees:
There's probably way more photos, but searching for #grailed and #toronto on Instagram gave me so much results that I think I've seen the CN Tower more times in 10 minutes than I have my whole 20 years of living here. So it goes without saying that people loved this event, and rightfully so because the atmosphere was friendly, free from any type of elitism that many often think is synonymous with fashion in general. Alex and the Grailed team were incredible hosts and introduced themselves to everyone in attendance, bringing about an even more friendlier atmosphere to the event. Just having conversations with either Alex or the Grailed team would show you how incredibly dope they are. As an example, Lawrence, Jake, and I had a nice conversation in the bathroom about fashion and the event taking place. They were even welcoming and encouraging of my struggle writing skills. Granted, we were pretty lit. Regardless, overall I can say from first hand experience that no one was a twat. In fact, some guy actually proposed to his girlfriend! Don't believe me?
It's official. Alex and Grailed are more effective at bringing people together than Tinder. They're basically real-life cupids to be honest. Congratulations to the new couple! Have a beautiful life together and raise your children in the life of jawnz.
2:00AM - The Thompson Hotel Entrance
By this time, much of the party had dispersed, most likely in search of the nearest diner to satisfy both their munchies and absorb the alcohol in their liver. A couple more pictures for the 'gram were snapped before we all Ubered our way home and passed out. Except for me, I had a job to do. I had to stay up and write an event recap to work on... okay I'm lying, I totally passed out. But the memories are still quite vivid, despite the following images taken by Tom Wood (@doowmot) showcasing a different colour palette:
Once again, shoutout to Alex and the Grailed team for the incredible event. Be sure to keep up with thefeaturedarticle.com and do all your shopping on grailed.com... oh yeah, because that doesn't sound like blatant product placement at all. I'm awful at subtlety.
UPDATE: Grailed and The Featured Article just released their recap video, so in case reading about the even you missed out on wasn't enough, we have visual proof that this night was indeed, lit.
'Till next time y'all!