Tag Archives: kensington market

Love My Luscious Overalls!

overalls done1

Lusciously altered and ready to go

When it comes to 90’s rave fashion, Luscious was a brand spoken of with reverence by many, even to this day. As dance culture flourished, small homegrown industries sprung up to cater to the specialized needs of flamboyantly fabulous ravers. Local fashion labels such as Snug and Modrobes (who remembers that fantastic store the latter had on Queen Street West?!) were known for their uber cool, totally out there gear designed from lightweight, durable fabrics. Luscious in particular earned a special place in many ravers’ hearts for their ultra-comfy, functional overalls specifically designed with the raver in mind.

Imagine my delight when I recently stumbled upon this vintage treasure in Kensington Market. I was especially happy to have it at a mere fraction of what I would have paid for it back in the day! These black Luscious overalls with white stitch detail are made from a 98% cotton and 2% lycra blend. The cotton imparts breathability, especially when you’re dancing for hours in a hot, sweaty room, while the lycra provides just the right amount of stretch. A huge bonus when you’re bending and squatting all night long. I would even go so far to say that this is the next best thing to wear besides naked at a rave! Side zipper closure makes these overalls easy to get in and out of and they fit nice and snug without being tight. Cleverly slanted hidden pockets, 1 on the lower leg and another on the upper back are pretty groovy. So nice to have extra places to hide and possibly forget your gum. Or papers. Not to mention, stash your glowsticks!

Such considerate extras are features that are sadly missing from today’s overalls. In case you haven’t noticed, overalls have made a huge comeback in the fashion world. This came as no surprise to me, since I’d been rocking Silver coveralls (another Canadian brand) since 2012, intuitively sensing the return of sensible wear. Often, I find women’s slim fit overalls are less about functionality and more about objectifying the female form to the point of vulgarity. Which makes Luscious all the more loveable and dear.

Alas! The pair I picked up needed to be shortened. Folding the cuffs didn’t work either because of the wide flared leg, plus I wanted to keep the double stitched finish. So I took it to Sylvia Wilkins, a wonderful lady who supervises a sewing group in my hood. Right away, she declared that previous alterations had been done on the hem. Turns out that these overalls were made for an extremely long-legged, slim built Amazon, which meant that in their original condition, they were actually too long for the previous owner. I can’t begin to tell you how good that made me feel.

Sylvia began by pinning the hem to my desired length. With a sewing gauge, she carefully measured and cut 2 inches off. This expert seamstress confessed she likes to start seams on the inside of pants and hates sewing in black. All the more reason to appreciate her assistance!

Next, Sylvia added the first row of stitches. They were a bit loose, so she adjusted the tension on the sewing machine, which helped tremendously. So the next row came out just right, which meant I had to remove the loose job with a seam ripper. At least she was nice enough to start it for me. Fun!

As she hemmed the garment, Sylvia used a cool tool called an awl to tame the fabric as it objected to being altered. As do many humans too. She explained the flared bottom has more material which made it bouncy. Sylvia got that rebelliousness under control right quick.

Lickety split, I got the perfect fit! Thanks to my kind and generous mentor Sylvia Wilkins, who taught me sewing basics for a year.

“What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?” I asked, hoping to glean some nuggets of wisdom from this seasoned veteran.

“I have no idea…” she replied.Not the response I was looking for but it felt good to know that in future decades, I can look forward to being every bit as clueless about life as I am now.

“Attitude, love, patience,” was her final answer. I can honestly say those attributes served me well on the dance floor and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.


New! My Kensington Market Tumblelog


As if I didn’t have enough to do already, I’ve just launched a new blog about Kensington Market. Dealing mostly with lifestyle and fashion, this project came about as a result of the gentrification taking place within the area. Recent activity in The Market seems to indicate that this trend is intensifying.

If people sit back and do nothing, then The Market could very well end up looking like Yorkville (perish the thought!)

I hope to raise awareness about how Kensington Market holds a unique place in the fashion world and community at large. In that light, its real estate / business development needs to have limitations as it is a  place of cultural relevance. It doesn’t need more bars or restaurants or even condos; just more opportunities for artists, families, and small business owners to live, work and thrive.

I’m not opposed to change, but I’d like to see Kensington Market evolve in the spirit of free enterprise as opposed to big box mentality. So rather than take shit lying down I decided to do something about it!  Check out my new babe at  kenmarkstyle.tumblr.com




With a recent poll indicating 60% of Torontonians are opposed to Walmart setting up shop near Kensinton Market, “Save Me” couldn’t have come at a better time. The maverick crew at 185 Augusta teamed up with a slew of local artists on June 27th to raise funds for a live-work space within the vicinity. It’s a good ol’ thumb in the nose at big box bitches intent on transforming this hub of  independent commerce into Hipsterville. 185 was jampacked with supporters and filled with amazing art by the likes of Virgil Baruchel, Lemur, Moses Kofi, Javid, Jimmy Chiale, Sandra Brewster and more. The pics say it all. Conscious hip-hop by Progress along with the smooth, seductive sounds of Allie, Mia-Skye and other performers rounded things off beautifully. This was not your typical wine and cheese soiree – non. 185 Augusta is all about keeping it real, with a smashing palette of multicultural talent and patrons alike. I’ve had my share of waspy galas but this was one of the most progressive by far. A refreshing change of pace from snooty aficionados rocking botched Botox and plastic smiles. I caught up with Moses Kofi, the man behind the mission at 185 Augusta to find out more about the collective’s ambitious endeavour.

F: I’m speaking with Moses Kofi, one of the artists that’s part of the collective at 185 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market. I would like to ask you about the inspiration behind your latest effort, “Save Me.”

M: I think this manifestation is probably the most solid version of collective inspiration, so really put simply, we want to start a charity to raise funds to be able to purchase property and have rent controlled live and work space as a response to the issue of Walmart moving in and the gentrification that’s happening. So instead of just standing around talking about it and bitching about it we decided to be proactive; if it’s good enough for the corporation, it’s good enough for the individual. I mean, when it comes to sustainability and controlling your own destiny and you know, controlling spaces and creating a culture that’s going to be sustainable beyond your reign, then ownership is a great route to do it.

F: Is a lack of affordable housing an issue that many artists in Toronto have to grapple with at this time?

M: I don’t think it’s just necessarily about affordable housing, but it’s about more than a space because a house is not a home kind of idea, so if you think of that in the context of an artist, and I speak for myself and my associates predominately, you need a space that you can create and produce in. Traditional living spaces don’t work like that. You have your landlords breathing down your neck if you put paint on the walls, simple things like space and resources is what it comes down to. You need an exhaust fan for certain chemicals, there are noise issues, all these kinds of things. To develop a space to actually work and live, it just provides people the opportunity that they wouldn’t already have had or otherwise had. So instead of following the traditional format that already exists, which I feel aren’t working as well as they should, why not design not a new platform but create something that is more encompassing. If art is living, then you should live well, do you know what I mean? So why not have that ability, why not create the spaces.

F: How did the space at 185 Augusta come about?

M: I found this space about four and a half or five years ago, and I found it on Craigslist actually. And I was lucky because it came up a couple of days just before I found it. I moved in here with a roommate. Javid’s the fourth roommate I’ve had and I think it’s really attributable to the landlord and the freedom that they give us. I mean conversely, I handle the space; I don’t call them if something needs to be fixed,. but they’re going to give me the freedom to be creative and do what I want to do. Granted, the people who lived here before me were crack dealers so I don’t think I can do much worse than that but still, it’s a step up for the neighbourhood and a step up for me as well. As long as you maintain the space and are respectful, people allow you to flourish.

F:  On a final note, what sort of direction do you see art going in with regards to Toronto?

M: I don’t know, I see art as going in the same direction. If you have amazing talent and it all exports because that’s the only way to profit, I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem but I would like to see more Toronto money be invested back. There’s so much money in the city it’s insane. Toronto is a filthy rich town. I think it’s really just about creating more spaces that allow people to do that, you know what I mean? Communities develop themselves. It’s like a plant. As long as you give it water and sun and soil, it will grow, it will do what a plant needs to do, providing that space for that plant to grow. What it does? I don’t know. That’s for that to figure out. I’m just here to plant the fucking garden.

F: Wonderful. Thank you Moses.

“Save Me” is currently on display at 185 Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market. If you’re in the neighbourhood, swing by and check it out.

Copyright © 2013 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.


Save Kensington Market Art Gala Tonight!



It’s Thursday and things are heating up at 185 Augusta in Kensington Market. A brilliant collective of talented artists come together under one roof to raise funds for SAVE ME, a noteworthy cause to protect the unique character of the Market and the creative genius that breathes life into its heritage ambience. With the threat of gentrification from the likes of Walmart and Loblaws looming large, the timing for this event is bang on. According to the mission statement from 185 Augusta’s website:


This exhibition will be a landmark event for Kensington Market. Our goal is to begin a fund that will eventually be used to acquire property in the Market dedicated to live-work spaces for artists. Our response to the threat of an increased “big box” presence along the periphery of Kensington is a long-term vision for affordable housing for creative individuals and groups within the Market. In this sense, we aim to not only preserve the culture of creative production and living that is a foundation of the Market’s character, but to protect the affordable housing options for artists and designers.


 I got a sneak peek during preparations and saw some seriously dope work, including a stunning portrait of Jimi Hendrix by Jimmy Chiale. This event is the biggest effort by 185 Augusta yet, with a lineup of over 20 artists including Moses Kofi, Javid, Lemur, Danilo, Malcolm Yarde, Model Citizen Toronto, Tru Ferguson and more. Music and life performances courtesy of Abstract Random, Allie, Mia-Skye and more. Admission is free with an onsite cash bar. Definitely not to be missed if you’re in the vicinity, as 185 is notorious for their jampacked, bashment style galas. Eat your heart out hipsters!


Copyright © 2013 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.


The Art of Kensington Market

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The Art of Kensington Market, a set on Flickr.

Home to artists, artisans and alternative thinkers, Kensington Market is a vortex of creative energy and grassroots enterprise. In the last five years, shopfronts have been transformed into brilliant works of art with the support of local merchants, much like Brick Lane in East London.

Hot Box Café vs Big Money Squeeze


If you’re looking for a safe space to spark an L in Kensington, light one up at Hot Box Café. A mainstay of the Market, Hot Box’s green approach to urban living has made it a popular destination for artists and potheads for over 11 years. It has provided a platform for artists, DJs, musicians and comedians to showcase their talents. On a perfect summer day, one might find the backyard patio packed with an assortment of sunworshippers and tokers. But now Hot Box is being forced to move from their current location at 191  Baldwin to Roach-O-Rama at 204 Augusta. Naturally I wondered what the hell’s up with that? I heard through the Grapevine Press that the building was up for grabs and some suit with hipster aspirations is going to throw up a Jimmy’s Coffee in its place. Ewww….gross. You’d think these people would know better after what happened when Starfucks tried to set foot in the Market but I guess somebody grew one bigass set of donkeynuts. Just means there’s more scrotum to kick, but anyways where was I? Oh yeah, for those of us who’ve watched Hot Box Café grow from a tiny headshop into a downhome restaurant / café over the years, this is sad news. It marks the end of an era for one of the few remaining greenspots in the heart of Toronto, and the beginning of a disturbing trend that has been stealthily creeping up on this vibrant community. I caught up with Abi Roach, owner of Hot Box Café to get her side of the story.

F: Recently I received news that Hot Box is going to be moving, and I’d just like you to explain why this is happening.

A: Well, the building’s been for sale for seven years, since we moved in here essentially, and it’s finally sold after all this time and the guy who bought it is a real estate guy. He’s not willing to make compromises ,or be nice or be polite or anything of the sort so we gotta go, you know? We have one month to move out.

F: How do members of the community feel about this move?

A: Well, they think that for a business that has been here for eleven years to have it be kicked out this building by someone who’s been nothing but rude to the community, is kind of a slap in the face to the community, and not a great way to come into a neighbourhood  that’s so close-knit. And then the people that have been in this building are really upset because they’re going to lose $400 or $500 a week each, and that’s a big hit for the market. Come wintertime there are not a lot of people here and they’re not spending a lot of money. Having businesses losing support for almost  a decade is a hard hit for them to take as well. So in this neighbourhood, if there’s one business that has a hard time, everybody has a hard time. So it’s not just a problem of one individual business, it’s a problem for the whole community.

F: As a result of this, do you think Kensington Market is in danger of being gentrified?

A: I think Kensington Market has become gentrified.  And it’s not because we’re moving, it’s because of what’s happening. Rents are too high, the taxes are too high, people can’t afford to stay. As soon as their lease runs out, the landlord gets a commercial lease and just jacks up the rent. People who own the businesses around here and own their buildings can’t afford the land taxes; they’re too high, we’re not getting the services we used to get in the neighbourhood, so the taxes we pay are even more difficult. European Meats was here for many, many years and it had a lot of people coming down to the neighbourhood. When European Meats moved up to North York, the community lost probably 10,000 people a month that would come down to the neighbourhood to go to European Meats and buy groceries. So you’ve lost a huge portion of people that come down to the neighbourhood  for the purpose that it’s meant for, which is a market, and then you walk around here on a Pedestrian Sunday, quote on quote, and it’s a whole bunch of people from the suburbs with lots of cameras and kids but nobody’s got a shopping bag in their hands and this is the problem that this neighbourhood is running into, is that now it’s a tourist attraction. People don’t want to spend money here because they’re just here to gawk and take pictures and say, “Oh, we’re in Kensington Market, it’s so coo!” So in the end, they don’t spend any money and that puts us all as the risk at being gone, so it’s not just me, it’s everybody you know? What’s happened here is that it’s not a marijuana problem, cuz it’s no issue with the marijuana, it’s a city problem, you know?

F: As a result of this move, how do you plan to adapt to this change?

A: Well we’re not going to be a restaurant anymore, since we can’t have a patio and a restaurant license. We’re just going to sell bottles of pop, chips and things in bags that are healthy, support people in the neighbourhood and buy locally like we always do instead of going to the wholesalers  uptown like Costco or whateve. We’ll go around in the neighbourhood here and buy cases of Malta and Ting and Caribbean Corner  and still support the neighbourhood, rather than going to Costco’s. That’ s what’s very important for me at The Hotbox ; it’s supporting the community.

F: Are you still going to continue holding your artistic events?

A: Yes of course! Yes, well everything’s going to be the same. It’s just going to be in a different location with new artwork and a different deck, and it’s orange and green the same way. It’s got the same vibe and it has dimmers , the lights, which I’m very excited about so that’s going to be very nice and we can dim the lights whenever we want and I think it’ll be great and more private – it’s nice. It’ll be good; I think it’s a good change. I’m not so upset about the fact that we had to move, we’re more upset about the fact we that had no time and no notice to move, you know, and for someone who’s been in the same place for eleven years to get no notice from her landlord or from the new building owner and had to find out through blogto.com that we had to move out, that’s a sad fact for me.

F: Do you plan on having a housewarming shindig at the new location?

A: At the old location on the 14th of September we’re doing an All You Can Eat blowout, so it’s going to be like $10 – $15 and all you can eat cuz we have to get rid of all our food and on the 15th of September we’re going to do a “See ya later” kind of party here, and then when we’re ready over there next month we’ll do a grand opening party.

F: How do you see Hot Box Café evolving in the future?

A:  I think now it’s evolved a lot and it’s going backwards which is okay;  we’re downsizing to a smaller size. Rents were out of control last year so much that we were spending almost $15,000 a month just to pay the landlord. So I think for now we’re going to keep going with what we have and just make it the best way we can and see what happens from there.

F: When you first started out, what was your biggest obstacle that you had to overcome?

A: I was 20 years old and I didn’t know anything about anything! And I thought I knew everything. Now I’m 34 and I know a lot more and I’ve experienced a lot more and that obstacle’s gone with age. With age comes intelligence and experience.

F: Wonderful! Thank you for your time Abi.

A: No problem!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.