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The Hot Air Balloon signifies creativity, exhilaration and adventure. It naturally touches the sky to provide the most romantic, serene and picturesque scene ever. It defies gravity to elevate gracefully to the skies, signifying constant change and movement. What it signifies is what every working women wants. She wants to be gracefully unconventional, to stand out in a crowd, to be imaginative, creative and always looking forward, to be unique, know what she is doing and to be at ease with herself. I can give women what they want by transforming these characteristics of a hot air balloon into a daywear dress. In the upcoming Spring/Summer 2011 season, my dress will incorporate vibrant colours in well balanced and graceful patterns to refresh the imaginations. The dress will beckon the women to an elevating experience of looks and appearance. Women will be at ease in my dress, they will feel special and naturally beautifully as they walk the earth.
My target market is focused on women professionals aged 25-44. They are late members of Generation X and early Generation Y consumer groups. This group lives and works in Toronto and vicinity. In a 2006 census, "the average personal annual income for women was $32,125" (Matthews, 2006). This is not considered high income, however cost of living in Toronto is comparably low and "Toronto is ranked #1 for Best Quality of Life by Foreign Direct Investment. It is North America's 2nd best place to live" (Toronto Region Research, 2010) (see Appendix A, figure 1). This means that there is no lack of disposable income in Toronto, and this group gets to spend "their own money as well as their parent's money" (Lesser, 2009).
The group consists of single, dating women, as well as married women. It is a "large, well educated group holding a post-secondary degree or equivalent, they are technology savvy and ardent cell phone users" (Leung, 2005). These women are politically liberal and satisfied, having participated in development activities such as swimming, music, martial arts and tuition. They seek status, enjoy instant gratification and instant feedback, appreciate good customer service and are used to the finer things in life.
I will target Downtown Toronto which has the largest workforce. "Toronto has the highest population proportion in the GTA of the 25-44 age groups at 32% (see Appendix A, figure 2-3). There are 93 men for every 100 women (see Appendix A, figure 4). Areas around the downtown have higher concentrations of working age adults" (Statistics Canada, 2007) (see Appendix A, figure 5). Also, "one of Toronto's chic neighbourhoods or inner city, is south of Bloor Street. A large concentration of Toronto's rich and affluent live in the inner city" (Barber, 2007). The women in my target group rent or share rent with roommates, or live in their own homes. Many of them have received "financial assistance from their parents when purchasing property. They are risk takers and more likely to be investors" (VonCannon). "They are also the most diverse and tolerant generation ever: 35 percent are non-white" (Leung, 2005), this number is expected to increase.
Women have always been known to be obsessed about their personal appearance, they want to look and feel good regardless of age and lifestyle. My target market is obsessed with health and beauty, they desire to feel good inside as well as on outside. They search out creative beauty regimes to satisfy their intrigues for makeovers. These are innovative women.
My target market will shop in Toronto's Fashion district. "The fashion district, or the garment district, has terrific bargains on local fashions, fabric, leathers and furs. There are a lot of Bridal shops too. This place features custom-made original designs. There are many outlets in the area housed in beautiful refurbished warehouses. It extends west from Spadina on Queen and King Street to Front Street (see Appendix B, figure 6), the district also encompasses some smaller boutiques and supply stores, with Toronto's largest concentration of fabric and fashion accessory outlets" (Toronto fashion district). Queen Street West is well known for its diverse collection of unique stores and shops. It is "gallery central with some of the city's most cutting-edge galleries dotting the street-scape" (Blogto: west queen).
My dresses will be featured in boutiques of medium to high price range. The boutiques should also source unique and select garments. Charlie Boutique and Pho Pa are examples of two such boutiques located on Queen Street West (see Appendix B, figure 1). They both source a high percentage of quality Canadian labels at affordable prices.
Charlie (see Appendix B, figure 2) is a boutique for women, showcasing a high percentage of "Canadian designers from out west and in Montreal" (Charlie boutique). Charlie has received many good reviews from its customers. Upon my visit to the boutique I received excellent customer service and found the overall atmosphere of the store very warm and friendly. The cute little shop had a quantity of cute clothes (see Appendix B, figure 4). The experience I received at Charlie is what I want my target market to experience as well.
Pho Pa (see Appendix B, figure 3) features unique fashion items with an exclusively Canadian focus. The overall atmosphere of the store is very chic (see Appendix B, figure 5). Alexia Lewis is the boutique owner and according to her, "Pho Pa sells couture cuts at affordable prices. We pick up designer's right out of school who have not made a name for themselves yet, which keeps the prices lower. It's like buying a McQueen before he was McQueen" (James, 2008). The people who shop at Pho Pa are "students, people starting new jobs, established professionals who are not into fads and people with artsy personalities" (James, 2008).
The general category I was assigned is transportation. From the many modes of transportation I decided that my daywear dress theme will be based on hot air balloons (see Appendix C, figure 1). The hot air balloon is a product of the imagination, it is "the oldest way to fly and is used by people who are not in a hurry. It is a leisurely means of transportation" (Johnson, 1991). The hot air balloon was a bold and sensational concept which defied gravity and the perceived possibility of the time. It is a concept which came true from an imaginary world. The concept materialized when the French Montgolfier brothers "after many unsuccessful designs and schemes, launched one of the first hot-air balloons in 1783" (Perry, 1996) (see Appendix C, figure 2). When the first hot air balloon elevated from the ground defying gravity, it touched the skies to reveal the promise to fulfill an experience of exhilaration and adventure to a satisfying degree. "Happiness comes more from experiences and relationships, not from possessions" (Hanes, 2010). As it displays its light and graceful movements, it beckons the viewers to an experience of the skies and refreshing imaginations.
My hot air balloon dress will be patterned after the characteristics of the hot air balloon and the experiences it promises. Shaped like the balloon, I shall use round, puffy and lifting shapes (see Appendix C, figure 3). Just as the hot air balloon elevates from the ground defying gravity, similarly this lift in my pattern should give an aesthetic lift to the mood of the person who wears the dress.
I can shape the pockets like balloons, fashion bubble skirts (see Appendix C, figure 4) or puff sleeves (see Appendix C, figure 5). I can also use weaved patterns in my designs similar to "the strong, light and flexible wicker basket" (Johnson, 1991) used to carry people by the balloon (see Appendix C, figure 6). I can create fabric shapes with many little balloon pieces fastened together (see Appendix C, figure 7). Just as the "balloons hang like enormous ornaments in the air" (Perry, 1996), ladies wearing my dress should feel beautiful and adorned.
The hot air balloon signifies imaginations. "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world" (Institute of Physics, 2007).
Imaginations will power the design patterns of my dresses. With the inspiration I get from the invention of the hot air balloon, I am not afraid of the phases of unsuccessful designs and schemes my ideas may go through before it becomes a success.
Trends, Styles, Details, Colours & Fabrics
Spring/Summer 2011's trend moves towards "masculine inspired boyish tailoring" (Trendzine: fashion information, 2010) (see Appendix D, figure 1), voluminous silhouettes with clever 3D drapings, sleeveless and layered clothing, swirly dresses and new shapes created from "asymmetric mismatched cuts" (Hart, 2010). "A movement towards dress reform brings androgynous chic looks to the fashion industry" (Yoneda, & Fehrenbacher). To compliment the boyish tailoring, swirls and ruffles have been used; this can produce the androgynous effect. "The midriff is spring's new hot spot" (Adams, 2010). There is a trend towards exposing the upper midriff, exposing just enough skin above the belly button to look chic (see Appendix D, figure 2a-b). In acknowledgement of the affluent Asian consumer or the considerable influence that China and other Asian countries have on fashion; the fashion trend also features "oriental style couture's with oriental silks and laced fans (see Appendix D, figure 3), contributing to the overall dramatic style in the fashion industry. Virtually every oriental look seemed dipped in electric-bright colors - fuchsia, red, jade, purple, orange - and then rolled in glitter" (Horyn, 2010) (see Appendix D, figure 4). Overall, emphasis is laid on simplification of form and colour to produce easy relaxing styles.
"Spring 2011 color trends are mostly named after flowers: iris, viola, daffodil, poppy, and geranium. These colours are uplifting, soft, energising and exciting" (Dykes, 2010) (see Appendix D, figure 5). Similarly the hot spring 2011 colours released by Pantone Color Institute, "reflect bold hues reminiscent of Africa, India, Peru and Turkey, a very exotic approach" (Hot spring 2011 colours!, 2011) (see Appendix D, figure 6). Despite these vibrant colours, neutral and delicate warm colours will continue to be showcased in the Spring 2011 runways, as will prints such as "checks, polka dots, florals, and ethnic patterns. Black will continue to be a basic" (Doneger's fall 2010, 2010).
"Spring 2011 fabrics will feature light fabrics and gossamer sheers in tints, plains, textures, and prints. It also features feather-light and open-work knits, chambray and denim, chino and khaki, and linen and blends. Some garments may have cut-outs, slashes or tears, and fabric may be foil- or poly coated" (Doneger's fall 2010, 2010).
Breezy Days with feminine looks is the style which defines my hot air balloon line of garments, it will make women feel confident and great. My target market is a satisfied and an established group of the workforce. "Employment is not only a source of income; it is also the basis for self-respect and autonomy" (George, & Doyle, 2010). The breezy style is a step towards providing the satisfaction the employed consumer will be willing to send disposable income on. The Spring 2011 colours released by Pantone Color Institute, is intended to "transport consumers away from the monotony of everyday life" (Hart, 2010). I will employ these recommended colours since it is in line with the purpose of the hot air balloon, which is to provide a leisurely form of transportation. My target market which enjoys immediate gratification will be appreciative of the mood these colours are predicted to influence.
The breezy looks can be accomplished by using layered clothing, swirls and ruffles. Linen and cotton are universal and popular choices for any summer season. Any falls or folds in the dress should be natural such that wearing the dress will be a breeze (see Appendix D, figure 7). To achieve the shape of a balloon skirt or tulip shapes, voluminous silhouettes with 3D drapings can be incorporated (see Appendix D, figure 8). The top, blouse, or drapings for the skirt can be made from asymmetric mismatched cuts or balloon shaped cuts (see Appendix D, figure 9). The skirt can also be swirly and ruffled. The top in contrast to the skirt may have masculine cut or boyish tailoring to produce an intriguing effect. Overall the use of oriental patterns in the fabric can accentuate the vibrant colours and provide the glitter effect. My designs should look sleek and feminine, it should be the epitome of a confident woman.
Charlie Boutique and Pho Pa are two popular boutiques on Queen Street West, both sell popular women's garments at affordable prices. Consumers looking for fashionable or custom garments will naturally visit the fashion district. Such consumers are willing to pay the price for the garment and the design which they find satisfying and pleasing.
My target market is focused on women professionals aged 25-44. This is a privileged and well educated group who have had exposure to the finer things in life. They have participated in group and individual activities like music, sports, martial arts and tuition etc. They also have disposable income to spend. They appreciate good customer service, free consultation and enjoys instant gratification.
Breezy Days is the style which defines my hot air balloon line of garments. This feeling is in line with my target market's desire to feel good inside as well as on the outside. They also search out creative beauty regimes to satisfy their intrigues for makeovers. The breezy feeling and the emotion of being satisfied can be accomplished by utilizing a colour scheme, complimented by the fabric used. The colours recommended by the Pantone Color Institute predict that the colours are intended to "transport consumers away from the monotony of everyday life" (Hard, 2010). The breezy looks can be accomplished by using layered clothing, swirls and ruffles using materials like cotton and linen.
Charlie Boutique and Pho Pa showcase a high percentage of Canadian designers at affordable prices. This relieves fashion lovers of the exaggerated prices they would have to pay for designer goods. My target market is used to the finer things in life, they will embrace clothes that make them feel and look as refreshing as the breeze.