Winnipeg is most commonly known for its sub-arctic winter temperatures and cultural nothingness. Andrew Chipman, author of the fashion blog, Pull Teeth, is hoping to change that. His high-fashion-cheap-thrills M.O. has surprisingly made him a standout among Canadian bloggers, and in turn, has slightly modified the reputation of Winnipeg as being kinda crappy and very cold. I spoke with Andrew about the comfort of kilts, that thrift store smell, and shaking his ass in Jeremy Scott prints.
VICE: Winnipeg is known as a city of complainers. What do you particularly love to complain about?
Andrew: Everyone leaves! I feel like Winnipeg is this kind of cool city, with a lot of stuff going on but then everyone flocks to bigger cities like Montreal or Toronto. I try to keep a positive attitude on Winnipeg though, I like it here.
Where do you buy clothes in Winnipeg?
Well, here, I mainly thrift. We don't have staples like H&M, Zara…we just got a Forever 21. The limited options kind of help me to be more creative with how I dress. I do a lot of alterations to the things I buy just because you can't always find exactly what you're looking for here. Rhymes With Orange is one of our only vintage stores. They have a good selection and you don't have to go digging through piles of clothes. There are also some Mennonite thrift stores that I really love. They're more warehouse style and you've got to go through like racks and racks and racks of stuff, but it's all super cheap.
Do you have a game plan when you go thrift shopping?
I like to spend quite a bit of time in the store because I'll go through mostly everything. I go to the women’s section to look through coats and skirts. I feel like there are always gray areas in thrifting where you can find cool items in unexpected places. I've learned not to buy things with the intention of altering them later. You've got to give it up unless you really love it and know you're going to go home and make changes.
How do you get the nursing home smell out of thrift store clothes?
I actually worked at Value Village for three years so just imagine that smell embedded in your skin. I think I may have built up an immunity to it, because it really doesn't bother me that much anymore. I wish I had some tips for washing out the smell, but I really don't.
I love how you make videos of yourself awkwardly dancing in the outfits you post, rather than creating some artsy-fartsy, this-is-fashion photo spread.
Thanks, I try to keep things interesting. The blog gets a little stagnant when I'm only posting pictures of myself, like, very seriously staring into the camera. My videos are supposed to be fun and silly.
Do you ever get second looks from people on the street who might think you're trying too hard? I'm from a small town in New Hampshire and I get that quite often for not wearing enough North Face.
For sure, I feel like I sort of dress to the situation. I wish I wasn't like that but I mean, we have some freaking cold winters here so I won't be wearing a skirt out in the middle of winter and thinking it's okay. I have really learned to not let people bother me. In high school, I dressed differently and some of the comments would eat me up inside. But now I'm friends with like-minded people and my job at a hair salon encourages me to be creative. I do still get myself in situations where I feel a little bit uncomfortable about what I'm wearing. I'll be walking down the street and someone will shout out of their car window at me because I'm wearing a kilt and then I'm like, “Oh, right, I'm in Winnipeg and I’m walking around the suburbs.”
What is it that you like so much about kilts?
I love that they're easy to find. Every skirt or kilt I've bought I've paid less than $10 for while thrifting. They're easy, they're comfortable. For me it just makes sense.
What were you like in high school? Do you have any outfit regrets?
I was trying to do me in high school but I don't know if that was really me. I had long hair and I straightened it every day…
I did that too. You have to wake up fucking early.
I know! Looking back, I can't believe I did that. I would also tie strings around my head and shit like that. Today, I wouldn't wear anything that I wore in high school. Back then, you couldn't even buy skinny jeans in the stores around Winnipeg so I would buy regular fit jeans and sew them tighter. I'd pair them with a t-shirt and high tops. That was my look. It definitely wasn't what everyone else was wearing then but it's funny now to see young kids now rocking that look.
This year’s VICE Fashion Issue is all about the American influence on global fashion. How does American fashion, in particular, influence you?
Well, right now I'm wearing high rise Levi jeans with a Budweiser shirt tucked in. My style is kind of going into that territory, I'm really into the 90s American Dad look.
Do you see a lot of American influence on fashion in Winnipeg or is there a truly Canadian vibe going on there?
The closest thing we've got to a shopping mall is in Grand Forks, North Dakota, over the border. It's two hours away and used to be such a shopping destination for so long. But honestly, they have nothing. They've got Hot Topic, Pac Sun, Bath and Body Works and Target. There's not really any boutique shopping in Winnipeg so everything is very mall-oriented and suburban.
How do you dress for a Canadian climate? I'm just about at wits end with this winter nonsense.
I love the beginning of winter! I always try to embrace it with different coats and whatnot. But I hate that last month and a half when I've been wearing the same parka for days because it's just too cold for anything else. Minus forty temperatures can be a little uninspiring. But winter is great for accessorizing with hats and gloves and layers. It all comes down to practicality, though. I still love Hudson Bay coats and a good iconic, Canadian look is always stylish. There is something attractive about functionality, when someone looks warm but they still look chic.
Follow the author on Twitter @KelseyPudloski.
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