Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Being Bôhten: “Fashion with a Social Conscience”

by Gabriella Ienzi

Bôhten Eyewear. For a full product catalogue and to place an order, visit www.bohten.com. Photo: John Smith

Luxurious. Ultra-chic. High-quality. Eco-friendly.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not.

Thursday, November 14, marked the official launch of Bôhten Eyewear, a new design line of ultra-chic, eco-friendly luxury eyeglasses. From December 2012 when Bôhten debuted with Barklae, its first collection, the brand is taking off with fireworks: it’s already attracted attention from the Ottawa Citizen, where journalist Ellen O’Connor called the shades “uber-cool,” and appeared at Ottawa Fashion Week, Black Expo Design in Montreal, and on the back cover of Press the Fashion Magazine.

The vision of Bôhten first appeared to Nana Boateng Osei, CEO and Founder of Bôhten, from the mountainous region of Kwahu, the highest habitable place in Ghana: that vision was to create social and environmental awareness and responsibility. Named after his middle name, Boateng, meaning prosperity, Bôhten’s—and Osei’s—journey to change the face of Africa will be nothing short of historic, and with his roots still buried deep in his Ghanaian heritage, Osei continues to draw inspiration from his homeland for his designer collections.

And although he wasn’t able to slay the dragons in Dragon’s Den, Osei is still fierce in his determination to see his vision become reality and to prove that fashion doesn’t have to be at the cost of social responsibility.

Model Naira Fragoso wearing Bôhten
Exstel Tortoise Acetate & Wood.
Photo: John Smith
Using reclaimed materials to create stunning shades, Bôhten proudly boasts its materials on its website for every pair of glasses in their catalogue. Materials consist of reclaimed acetate and reclaimed wood sourced from Africa—sapele, rosewood, zebrawood, bamboo, walnut, redwood… the list (and choices!) go on.

The launch featured the new iconic Aristocratz Sunwear, inspired by Sid Cratzberg, known as the Aristocrat of Scent. Made of 100% reclaimed zebrawood, the new design is eco-luxury at it’s finest: both bold and timeless.

Maybe this is why November’s African Symbol of the Month, on Bôhten’s website, is “Sesa wo suban,” meaning “change or transform your character.” In a world of mostly mass-produced manufactured products, Bôhten offers something that’s significantly lacking in fashion today. I can think of no better words than Cratzberg’s: “Fashion with a social conscience.” 

Bôhten represents exactly that: a change for a more conscientious fashion sense… without having to sacrifice style.

Thursday, 14 November 2013


~ Sienna Vittoria
Toronto - Nov. 14, 2013
Sanctuary Spring 2014 Campaign Photo 

Los Angeles-based sportswear label Sanctuary is launching their collection in Canada this coming season. The clothing can be found this spring in boutiques in Toronto such as Over the Rainbow (in Yorkville) and Body Blue (Queen St. W), among others.

The label was founded in 1997 by designer Debra Polanco, and her business-savvy husband Ken. "We are both so passionate so it works well," Polanco explained of her partnership.

The company started out focusing on tailoring the perfect pair of pants, and Sanctuary was instantly recognized as a "Master Pant Maker." This background of precision, detail-oriented focus and practicality has lent itself well to the evolution of the brand.

Today, Polanco designs for the modern woman in her early years, primarily ranging from 25 to 45 years old. Her target woman is professional, but requires clothing that is relaxed and comfortable. Palanco offers her customer many options for versatility, as her pieces are easily layered to create looks that can seamlessly get you from business to an evening out.

The price range is typically from $100-$200, and all the fabrics are chosen with quality in mind. "For me, it always starts with the fabric," said Polanco.

Inspiration is drawn for the collections from the streets of Los Angeles. The collections are always breezy, cool, and edgy. This upcoming season the clothing is mostly black, white and army-green.

Read on for some of my highlights...

Graphic Black and White 

Striped skirt-suit with peplumed top and open-back. 

Colour-blocked cropped shirt. 

Colour-blocked mod shaped dress.

More stripes, stripes, stripes. 

Layered, choppy leather skirt. 

Crisp and Fresh Whites

Cool-cotton textured biker jacket

Peek-through loosely-knitted sweater

Another peek-a-boo crisp white top

Sharp, knitted vest

Loose slinky tie-waist pants

Breezy, cotton pants

Polanco was a pleasure to speak with, and her love for her craft was apparent. She advises aspiring designers to focus on developing their skill set first, and thus building their foundation. "It's so competitive now," said Polanco.

We look forward to seeing her Spring 2014 collection in stores late-February, early-March, but until then check out the Sanctuary website for more.

Twitter: @Sanctuary1997

Left to right: Sienna Vittoria, Debra Polanco


Sienna Vittoria
Toronto - Nov. 14, 2013


NEW DESIGNER ALERT: Sir Oliver Is Coming to Town...

~ Sienna Vittoria, Toronto
Nov. 12, 2013
Sir Oliver Spring 2014 Campaign Photo

German-based luxury brand Sir Oliver is expanding into Canada for the first time, with their Spring 2014 collection soon being sold at Toronto's Set Me Free, Sporting Life, and select specialty stores.

The brand was founded in 1969 by Bernd Freier as a family business. The label quickly spread across Europe and the United States, and to this date there are 173 retail stores across the globe.

The collection previewed to us was current, crisp and fresh, featuring sportswear that was modern and wearable. The colour palette was primarily composed of mint, white and indigo. Inspired by Saint-Tropez, the collection evoked images of the French Riviera ocean and the scent of the salty sea. 

Nautical-inspired prints with crisp white basics. 

Fresh mint and white woven textures.

The clothing ranged from just under $100 up to approximately $300. The fabrics are all high-quality and the clothing is cut with precision, making the garments quite the steal for their affordable price. The target buyer is the young modern business woman that is looking for chic clothing that will take her from business meetings to cocktails. 

The Sir Oliver brand also features a lower-budget partner line called s.Oliver. While the prices are lower, the quality surprisingly isn't. Customers will still find the signature European-inspired street style pieces the brand is known for, just with more of a focus on denim and biker jackets.

The Sir Oliver family.. 

In order to please the whole family, Sir Oliver also carries a line of clothing for men, and s.Oliver Junior for children. Men will find a host of denim jackets and pants, fitted button-up shirts, and other such classics. Moms will adore the sweet little frocks being offered for the little girls, and the sweaters for the little boys. 

s.Oliver for men

s.Oliver Junior

For your perusal, I've put together a few of my favourite items from the collection that I will be sure to grab....

A contrasting polka-dot and striped chiffon blouse. 

Crisply-creased anchor printed trousers. 

Transparent white trench coat.

Checkered, structured jacket. 

A hot pink pantsuit

Anchor-print wrap fess

A sweet, lace dress for s.Oliver Junior

A fun little frock from s.Oliver Junior
Make sure you keep an eye out for the Sir Oliver collection at select boutiques this coming spring!
In the meantime, check out their website for more.


Sienna Vittoria