All posts by Meira Gebel

Copy editor at Xpress Magazine. I spend most days exploring the beautiful streets of San Francisco, or deeply submerged in a Netflix coma. There is no in-between. Follow me on Twitter @MeiraInSF

Eco-friendly Fashion: How Sustainability has become Mainstream

This story can also be found in the App Store for iPad! 

“What is the difference between organic cotton and regular cotton?” a customer asks.

“Well, organic cotton is made with 60 percent less water than conventionally grown cotton and is produced without the use of pesticides,” replies a sales associate.

Organic cotton, alongside recycled polyester, silk, bamboo, hemp, rayon, and modal, are materials that are commonly used to make eco-friendly clothing.

Sustainable fashion and eco-friendly clothing are on the rise. With large corporate powerhouses like H&M launching a “Conscious Collection,” to small boutiques that carry and produce their own sustainable clothing and accessories, eco-friendly fashion can be found wherever you turn; and if you’re in San Francisco, these little boutiques can be found on some of your favorite city streets.


prAna clothing store in Pacific Heights, San Francisco on April 21st, 2015. Photo by Zhenya Sokolova

PrAna is located on Fillmore Street in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights District. This eco-friendly boutique is on the same street as runway dominating brands like Steven Alan, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Ella Moss, and Rag and Bone; in a sea, or street, of sameness, PrAna is able to stand out by providing “sustainably made clothing for active lifestyles,” according to Assistant Manager Chanel Chang.

PrAna began as a yoga clothing company 22 years ago, and ended up developing into an active lifestyle brand while branching out into more variations of stylish silhouettes, as Chang explains. Now instead of just sweat wear, you can find pretty much any piece of clothing from recycled polyester swimwear and organic cotton maxi skirts to hemp flared lounge pants and, of course, their signature madera yoga pants.

The storefront simply exudes PrAna’s mission statement: looking active while remaining sustainable. The first thing to attract your eye when entering the Fillmore location is color and pattern. The store is filled with exotic hues from bright pinks and oranges to mellow, yet, exuberant, blues and greens. Patterns vary from tribal-esque to florals, something so simple, like patterning, makes a big difference.

The store is equipped with large-scale picture installations like, for example, a man leaping from a cliff, and another portrait of men and women, in yoga attire, practicing the child’s pose. Other displays around the store help to promote the mission of the company: One display lays out bathing suit tops and shorts, ideal for swimming, while another showcases pants and a windbreaker jacket, for hiking, if need be.

“Our customers are fun-loving, soulful people who travel well, play hard and care about the impact they have on the world around them,” says Jasmine Schmidt, PrAna’s public relations manager.

If active is what PrAna is aiming for, they definitely have found their ideal customer base in Pacific Heights; the store is bustling from opening till closing with customers who share PrAna’s values for sustainability- even if they don’t know it yet.

Not only does PrAna make sustainable clothing, they also hold community events in their store for neighbors and fellow merchants to take part in. Their monthly event calendar can be found in their Fillmore store, with events from group yoga sessions to ladies night. Stop by and be enthralled by all that this fantastic store has to offer.
As for the future, Schmidt says, “Companies will continue to increase the amount of styles that are sourced sustainable and more sustainable materials. Fair trade apparel will also become more universal with more and more companies starting to open up their supply chain to the end consumer so people can measure their impact from beginning to end. Customers are becoming more educated and more vocal about how and where their clothing is made and they will continue to look for those brands that meet their needs.”

Amour Vert is a sustainable clothing store in Hayes Valley.

Amour Vert translates to “green love,” and what other city in the world is filled with such lovers of green than those in San Francisco. Amour Vert is located in San Francisco’s cozy Hayes Valley District, right next to Patricia’s Green. Their mission, “With every stitch a purpose,” is a reflection of the simplicity that Amour Vert brings to sustainable clothing.

Imagine a chic, edgy, and independent woman, who doesn’t necessarily follow the rules, but is deeply connected with the world around her and who is continually fighting for her beliefs- that is, according to Christoph Frehsee, Amour Vert’s co-founder and owner, the type of lady that shops at Amour Vert.

Incorporating great eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, silk, and their classic, one and only wood pulp, Amour Vert connects sustainability and fabulous eco-friendly clothing with the aforementioned fashionable leading lady.

Frehsee and his wife Linda became inspired to create the company after reading an article stating that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, right behind oil. This inspiration lead the couple to the concept of Amour Vert, and from the looks of it, they haven’t looked back yet.

Amour Vert is a sustainable clothing store in Hayes Valley.

Amour Vert isn’t the stereotypical kitschy eco-friendly company, with simplistic designs and itchy fabrics- no, they are the pioneers for the sustainability in fashion movement. Amour Vert’s line can be seen in various Nordstrom’s, Lucky, and Revolve stores.

“I don’t like trends,” laughs Frehsee, “but I see sustainability as a natural trend that will eventually become the new normal.”

An added bonus when buying from Amour Vert is that for every T-shirt sold, they plant a tree through their Plant a Tree foundation with American Forests. According to Frehsee, 30,000 have been planted already and the company plans to plant 100,000 by the end of the year.

“Its a fantastic way to give back and it’s close to my heart,” says Frehsee. “We need to be mindful of our resources.”

Alternative Apparel is a sustainable clothing company and store in Hayes Valley.

Alternative Apparel, located in Hayes Valley, is an excellently modern eco-friendly store that specializes in “creating modern basics for a sustainable future,” according to Kai Shane, the store leader.

Alternative Apparel is founded on the premise of eco-friendly activewear. Alternative Apparel started as a wholesale company known for their contemporary and stylish basics, the most sought after being their cloud like cotton hoodies, and now have four storefronts in the U.S- two in Los Angeles, one in New York City, and another here, in San Francisco’s very shop-able Hayes Valley district.

The store, very minimalistic, with a wooden chandelier hanging from the ceiling, showcases what Alternative Apparel is truly about: basics.

“We tend to think of our customers as modern creatives. Our basics act as sort of a uniform because you can take it in whatever direction you like to express your own particular style,” says Shane.

Kai Shane, manager of Alternative Apparel, a clothing store in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, stands at the register on April 22nd, 2015.

When the ordinary person thinks of basics, they may imagine T-shirts, tank tops and knitted pull-over sweaters; however, here at Alternative Apparel, they sell basics with an edge. For example, a black dress, made with silk and exquisite paneled sides indenting on the figure, as well as leggings, patchworked with grey terrycloth and paired with an organic cotton striped bralette. Hoodies are also a big catch here, made with something they call a tri-blend, generally consisting of organic cotton, rayon, and polyester. Last December, the San Francisco store donated 100 of their incredibly soft hoodies to the non-profit Project Homeless Connect for their “Hoodies for Homeless” drive.

Their exclusive basics are made with non-toxic, low-impact natural dyes, and 60 percent less water than traditional use through their G2 process, which is essentially a washing process that uses “ozone technology.”

“I see the future of eco-friendly clothing being mainstreamed,” says Shane. “As customers become more sophisticated and demanding, with new technologies and information spreading, more people will become more compliant with these kind of things. I think it’s going to become just the way we do business, hopefully, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

A shopper walks out of Foxglove an eco-friendly store on 24th Street and Treat Ave. in the Mission District of San Francisco. Photo by Emma Chiang

Foxglove, located in San Francisco’s Mission district as well as in Berkeley, is home to a wide array of locally made products, fair trade clothing and accessories, as well as organic and sustainable commodities.

According to owner, Rachel Kinney, Foxglove offers a carefully chosen selection of fashion, gifts and accessories that reflect the modern ideals of today’s conscious consumers. Kinney’s main focus is to provide customers with a thoughtful experience, allowing them to leave knowing that they have made an impact on the world in some way- whether if they bought an item that is fair trade to promote healthy work environments for women in India, or handcrafted by a local artist in the community.

“I can only hope that it continues to grow,” says Kinney, referring to the eco-friendly clothing movement. “The San Francisco Bay has a reputation for pioneering a number of environmental movements, and those ultimately serve as a model for other communities and cities. As information and trends spread, there can eventually be a large impact made when larger markets adopt more sustainable policies.”

Foxglove an eco-friendly store on 24th Street and Treat Ave. in the Mission District of San Francisco. Photo by Emma Chiang

Foxglove carries an ample amount of beautifully made clothing and accessories, from patterned dresses, handmade, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and even children’s clothing! Next time you are dying to buy an unique gift, or just curious about shopping locally, Foxglove is the place to let yourself explore the world of sustainability.

“I just think that it’s important to be thoughtful about the way we consume,” says Kinney.

Skunk Funk, an eco-friendly store located on 14th and Valencia Street in the Mission District of San Francisco. Photo by Emma Chiang

Skunk Funk is another eco-friendly brand located in San Francisco’s Mission District, as well as their second location in the Haight district. Their goal is to provide sustainable fashion for all, by using their own fabrics and textiles. According to their sustainability page on their website, Skunk Funk’s aim is to, “have 100% of our environmentally-friendly fibers certified by 2015 either with the GOTS standard or more globally with the CCS (Content Claim Standard) for all material inputs.”

So what’s sets them apart? Well, first of all, they definitely live up to their name; their clothing is indeed funky, but in a good way. Patters, colors, and styles that are each in their own contemporary with a twist. What sets Skunk Funk truly apart is their seasonal lookbooks, all arranged by color, to fit the consumers desires for fun, fresh eco-friendly fashion. Check out their Spring/Summer lookbook here.

You will not see any of one-of-a-kind these designs in a department store, but you may see them on someone walking on Valencia Street.

Skunk Funk, an eco-friendly store located on 14th and Valencia Street in the Mission District of San Francisco. Photo by Emma Chiang

Resort Fashion 2016: Is it Innovation? Or just location?

From the shores of Seoul, to the backyard of the late Bob Hope’s Palm Springs home, designers are sure trying to garner attention for their Resort 2016 looks based on the place that they are presented. I guess it is how it sounds, though, because when deciding on where to vacation, its all about location, location, location.

These Resort 2016 collections seem to have been the jack of all trades, and the trades being inspirations for future fashion weeks to come. It’s my belief that the creative directors from Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel weren’t dreaming of the beach and warm weather when designing these looks, rather, they were dreaming of innovation.

Christain Dior Resort 2016. Photo by Gianni Pucci.

Raf Simons, when choosing the location for the show, chose Le Palais Bulles, located in the south of France on the cliffs between Monaco and Cannes. Simons said to that the location, from his eyes, was, “playful, sweet and childish almost.”

You can see the location inspiration translating into the collection. With a series of thinly striped plaids, circle and a-line skirts lined with fishnets, subtle knit accents (a hint maybe?), as well as glimmering sequined rompers, the collection did, sort of, exude childishness. Although, the Dior sophistication shined through when Simons presented silk, sleeveless dresses, (to my surprise) black structured pant suits, and their signature low-height heels. No surprise there.

Christian Dior Resort 2016. Photo by Gianni Pucci.

The combination of youthfulness and dignity sure made this resort collection ingenious in more ways than one. Just like the desert sun, this collection surely radiated confidence, yet, I could not personally see one wearing these pieces at say, Coachella, or BottleRock. But fashionistas, will, and have, dared to cross the line, and why not cross it with Dior fishnets and shimmery sequins?

Louis Vuitton Resort 2016. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo.

Nicolas Ghesquiere’s was handed the reigns of Louis Vuitton not even a year ago, and he is already doing some serious brand development with the latest collection. Let me explain. From the start of this Resort 2016 show, Ghesquiere’s already had a vision. That vision being Bob Hope and his $25 million Palm Springs home, the backdrop for the runway show.

“I love the idea of being sweet and hard at the same time,” Ghesquiere’s commented to, referring to the estate, which is currently for sale for the aforementioned amount.

What a way to sum up LV into such a little amount of words. Let’s take in for consideration the signature stiletto, fun and friendly on top, red and devious on the bottom. Ghesquiere’s sure has a hold on the mission of the brand, I will give him that. However, the collection, innovative for sure, shared similar creative styles as other top tier designers, such as Alexander Wang.

Louis Vuitton Resort 2016. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo.

The collection was filled with prints, stripes, combinations of exquisite fabrics, contrasts of colors and styles, alongside a lot of layering. For example, pleather shorts paired with an equally pleather top, long, flowing skirts and pants with crop tops, off-the-shoulder cutouts, boxy suede jackets and silk blouses. Sound familiar? Unless black, boxy and flowy is totally in, and I’m just missing the cue, there may have been some creative overlap on the playing field.

All criticisms aside, the individual pieces truly did tell a story. That story being, Ghesquiere’s knows how to reel in a crowd and hold their attention.

Chanel Resort 2016. Photo by Yannis Vlamos.

I had a dream the other night where I thought, well believed, that I met Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director. In this dream I was finally able to see him without his, almost permanent, sunglasses on. I was so ecstatic, I was going to tell everyone, then I woke up.

I’m thinking that this was a sign, a sign eluding me to Chanel’s Resort 2016 collection, which was shown off the coast of Seoul. I’m still figuring out the meaning behind the dream, but I know that this collection, is one for the books.

Lagerfeld continually puts out excellent products in the form of fashion, and of course, this particular collection was a great example. Themes from Paris Fashion Week can be seen here, but what’s not to love. The Korean inspiration for this collection offered Lagerfeld with a wider range of creative perspective, not needed, but sought after.

Chanel attracts celebrity attention as Korean culture attracts worldwide trends, so truly, the two go hand in hand. The pieces in this particular collection were extremely engaging. The colors were bubbly, the prints were pastel, the patent was well-placed, and the jumpers and drop-waisted skirts were a great addition to the already present trend.

Chanel Resort 2016. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

The collection made me feel as if I was almost traveling through time, yet still remaining modern. I could see Peggy Olson, from AMC’s Mad Men, wearing the pastel purple signature Chanel coat with the patch-worked pencil skirt, well, only if she was willing, and able (to pay for it). I’m sure Jackie Kennedy, and Audrey Hepburn, would be in love with the drop-waisted collared and pleated dress, if it came with a Chanel bag, of course. Finally, I could see contemporary artist FKA Twigs in the high waisted cut-out black and white skirt, as well as the oxford-styled white layered blouse.

Lagerfeld truly knows how to woo an audience, but I guess there’s perks when Anna Wintour is on your speed dial.


Resort 2016 sure feels like a teaser for the September fashion weeks, but let’s take one from the books, take a chill pill (accompanied with a mimosa) and enjoy the fashion-frenzy free-time we have until then.

The Man With the Neon Crown

Jim Rizzo of Neon Sign Works shows his collection of signs he has hung up in his shop in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 16. Photo by Daniel E. Porter.

His name may never be in lights, but he will always be the man who makes the light. No, Jim Rizzo, the craftsman behind Neon Works, isn’t any sort of divinity, however he would hold the “Neon King” crown, if there were one.

Over two decades ago, Rizzo had a thought. He always loved neon, hell, he even went around the city asking applicable establishments for scraps of it to hang up in his apartment, so why not turn his passionate hobby into a full-blown business? Twenty-thousand clients later, Rizzo is still following his passion, and succeeding. Neon Works has done notable neon work in the Bay Area, with standouts that include the Castro Theatre and five years running as the Macy’s Union Square holiday display. If you’ve seen neon in the Bay Area, chances are, Rizzo was behind it.

“We are well-known for our neon and I don’t know why, but we are,” says Rizzo.

Neon Works’ warehouse is located on the industrial outskirts of Oakland. Housed between like-storefronts, one wouldn’t be able to pinpoint Neon Works from the exterior. However, upon arrival, Neon Works’ interior truly stands out. With squinted eyes, the warehouse, or better yet museum, shines with amplified colors and extravagant bright neon lights. On the walls of the open-office styled workplace hangs once-retired neon signs brought back to life by the hands of Rizzo and his team. If restoration is any indication of the endless possibilities that Rizzo can create from scratch, there’s no question how he was able to make his way to the top of the neon industry.

“We love what we do, and it shows,” says Rizzo.

The rise of neon signs is widespread in the Bay Area, let alone nationwide. Why? Because retro-chic is in, and nothing is more retro, and chic, than neon.

“Since last summer we’ve seen an influx of sentences in office buildings,” explains Rizzo. “They want neon on the wall because it’s fun.” According to Rizzo, companies like Pinterest and Eventbrite are requesting neon signs from Neon Works to go alongside their stylish modern-esque office spaces.

But with the recent booming desire for neon, like any other fad, will it fade away?

“There’s no question that neon is incredibly attractive, just the colors, you get attracted to the colors, there’s energy in it,” says Rizzo. “LED is super popular but it doesn’t have any soul to it, you know, it’s crap made in China.”

Neon tubes wait to be used in a project as owner of Neon Sign Works Jim Rizzo takes a call for an upcoming job in his shop in Oakland, Calif., Monday, March 16. Photo by Daniel E. Porter.

With complete devotion to his art, Rizzo is able to pump out handcrafted neon signs to whoever is interested, and currently, those who are interested already have invoices floating around on Rizzo’s desk. However, Rizzo, and Neon Works, won’t be around forever.

“When I’m done it will all go away,” says Rizzo.

So get it while it’s hot, but remember, don’t touch it when it’s hot…

In Search of the Right Label: The Feminism Story

“Calendar Girl” courtesy of AK Rockefeller via Flickr

It is 1968. Women gather at the Atlantic City Boardwalk for the Miss America Pageant, furious and fed up with the stereotypical ideals of beauty for women in society. The women scream, they chant, and, hell, they even throw their fists in the air. Considering that this is a vital moment for history in the making, the women all take off and burn their bras. Why? To object to the constricting elements women have to deal with for the pleasures of men. This was a significant event in the Women’s Liberation Movement; but surprisingly, none of it actually happened. Starting a fire on the boardwalk back then was illegal. Instead, the women held signs of first-wave suffragists that read “Our Heroines”; yet, the image of hysterical women screaming over ideas of equality still burns in the minds of many.

It is this scary image that leads women today – despite their affirming to the basic principles of feminism – to distance themselves from the label.

So let’s take a step back; what the heck is ‘feminism’ and why is it so scary?

According to Jonathon Whooley, adjunct lecturer at SF State and University of San Francisco as well as the previous Managing Editor for the International Feminist Journal of Politics, feminism is the creation and inception of multiple waves of activism and advocacy for issues of equality and emancipation between genders.

Multiple waves? Well, you see, women didn’t always possess the type of “equality” that they “have” today. Many scholars, like Whooley, have found that feminism has experienced three momentous waves. The first being in the early 1900s when suffragists fought for women’s ability to vote, thus bringing women into the public and political sphere. The second wave, which includes the Women’s Liberation Movement, was after the end of WWII when women, who helped fill the holes in the job market when most men were overseas, were told to go back to their domestic roles. This was deeply unsettling to those who realized their potential impact on society. The third wave of feminism, the current wave, reaches to expand freedoms and acceptance to all classes, races, and sexual orientations in post-modern society, and for that society to be acknowledging of all.

From the beginning, the idea of feminism sprouted with the suffragists, moving through the era of ambitious, undomesticated women in the ‘50s and ‘60s, until today where society has seen brave individuals, men and women, fighting for the feminist cause: to promote equality.

If Bell Hooks was right when she wrote “Feminism is for Everybody,” then why aren’t more people eager to take on the title of “Feminist”?

“I don’t think I would ever use that as a part of my identity, even though I agree with all of it. I wouldn’t be like, ‘Hi I’m Sam I’m a feminist,’” says Samantha Silvestri, an English major at SF State.

“I don’t really think I am a feminist, but I definitely support feminism,” says Alex Goodwin, a Fine Arts Education major at SF State.

These students have more in common with some celebrities than one may think, because celebrities like Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Demi Moore, and Kelly Clarkson all have said that they do not consider themselves feminists either.

Katy Perry, an advocate for the empowerment of women, told Billboard, “I am not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women.”

Wait a second… Doesn’t being a feminist include supporting and empowering women, as well as all sexes? So if there is nothing wrong with the definition, there must be something wrong with the label itself.

“I think that women who claim to be feminists are looked at differently. People won’t look at her weirdly, but they will look at her differently because some people associate feminism with crazy women and that’s just not true,” says Sarah Steinmetz, an International Relations major at SF State.

“When I think of the word feminism I usually think of the stigma behind it, therefore I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist,” says Bryan Gonzales, an SF State Physics Department graduate.

So there it is; the stigma. The stigma is what people are apprehensive about. The mythological, yet disgraceful, image of crazed women without bras yelling at men in the streets still manages to leave its false imprint on the word “feminism.”

SF State’s Women’s Center recently held the 4th Annual Empowered Women Empower Women Conference, where Maria Elena Vargas, a Women and Gender Studies lecturer at SF State and doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland-College Park, was a panelist.

“What leads to the stigma is not understanding the history of feminism. It is supposed to be inclusive, and for me it means to fight for everybody’s equality,” says Vargas on the topic of feminism.

Education is the key to beating the stigma behind feminism, and increasing the label’s appeal. To truly understand the complex issues of feminism, one must first understand the message. When the message is clear, then so is the context. When one can apply the context to their lives, that’s when one can adopt the label. In this case, the message is equality for all, the context is equality for all, and the label is… well, you know, “feminist.”

If the label still doesn’t suit you, no problem; Vladimir Putin, Bill O’Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh probably wouldn’t consider themselves feminists either.

“As a movement that tries to include everybody’s voices and give everybody basic human rights, I don’t see what’s controversial or negative about that,” says Vargas.

Are you a feminist?

It’s All About Bridal Fashion Week- For Now.

Photo courtesy of Carolina Herrera. 

If you are affluent in fashion, you know very well of Paris, New York, Milan and London Fashion Weeks, whether it be spring or fall; but are you well-versed with Bridal Week?

This writer, was not. I always knew that some designers, like, obviously, Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta, were known for their bridal gowns, but I never knew that there was a dedicated week for showing them off, like there is for the above mentioned fashion weeks. I guess when you are not a soon-to-be bride you are not too concerned with designer bridal gowns. However, after one look, I was hooked.

Bridal Fashion Week is much more than just bridal gowns, it’s a chance for designers to entirely change the scope of what traditional wedding gowns are “supposed” to look like, in each of their own particular ways.

Photo courtesy of Vera Wang.

Vera Wang, who has dressed Heidi Klum and Chelsea Clinton for their weddings, displayed quite an existential modern day collection. The line screamed for millennial attention, while simultaneously exuding millennial characteristics: dignified, yet daring.

Classic silhouettes, structured, and trimmed with lace, but sheer, with black accents; generally a big no-no for the big day, Wang decided to run with it, creating a new scope for the new modern bride, while still staying true to her previous bridal lines.

Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta.

Oscar de la Renta himself still can be seen in this season’s Bridal Spring 2016 line, even with his passing last October. Peter Copping, the new creative director for the brand, told Vogue that he wanted this line to be entirely focused on the bride… Ahem… who else?

“You have to remember: Most of these dresses are seen from behind,” Copping told Vogue. “That was something I really wanted to consider: to think how it would look when the bride is in front of everyone, and to make it as gorgeous as the front.”

Now that’s all sorted out, we can focus on the collection. Copping was able to retain the regal elegance that de la Renta set forward when he began his fashion house in 1965, that being, simple and elegant, while giving off the essence of individuality and exclusivity. For example, a cocktail gown, white, with lace trim and a high neckline, right after a feathered corset ballgown, this collection was an example of the smooth transition from de la Renta’s hands to Copping’s.

Photo courtesy of Marchesa.

Marchesa, who dressed fashionista Blake Lively for her wedding to Ryan Reynolds, is relatively new to the bridal world, only beginning in 2004. Known for their delicately embellished and sophisticated gowns, it is my belief that color was on the mind of Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman, the founders and creative directors for the brand.

It seems that an eggshell-ish creme color decorated their Bridal Spring 2016 collection, with no white in sight. The hue of the gowns did not misguide their tone, however. Marchesa kept with their mission: designing one-of-a-kind detail-oriented gowns to the brides who crave worldly couture, but this time, with a loss of white.

Bridal Week may be that second-leg layover from the spring fashion weeks, but it is just as worthy, if you give it a shot.

See more trends from Bridal Week Spring 2016 here.


Coffee with the Copy Editor: Who vs. Whom & Relative Pronouns

Photo by Meira Gebel


Who vs. Whom and relative pronouns.

The first time I ever thought about relative pronouns was when “whomever” and “whoever” was mentioned in The Office.

To my surprise, the writers of the show actually got it right… well, sort of. From the video you can see that the group never really landed on an answer, but when do they ever? That’s the beauty of the show.

However, this column isn’t focused around silly shows like The Office (even though I’m sure that would capture more attention); it’s focused around grammar usage.

To understand the difference between who and whom, we must first look into what relative pronouns actually are. 

Relative pronouns: 

Relative pronouns are as follows: That, which, who, whom, and whose.

That and which refer to things, whereas who, whom, and whose refer to persons.

These types of words are used to introduce a clause that is connected to an antecedent. I talked about clauses in my last column here. An antecedent can be pretty much anything. It can be a solid noun, a full phrase, an entire sentence, or a clause.

When using who vs. whom, there is a simple trick: What is the function?

Who: Use who when you are modifying the subject.

For example:

  1. Ryan, who previously dated Kelly, is now the vice president of Dunder Mifflin.
  2. Kelly, who is obviously still in love with Ryan, is now dating Darryl.

In the example, the “who” part modifies what the subject has done or is doing. Always remember that the subject of the sentence is always doing the action!

Whom: Use whom when modifying the object of a sentence, verb or preposition.

For example:

  1. The man whom Michael Scott has a man crush on is now the vice president of Dunder Mifflin.
  2. Whom did Dwight blame the office fire on?

The examples show that the object of the sentence, the “whom” part, are those who receive the action.

Just like the ridiculous situations in The Office, common grammar usage errors, like who vs. whom, can be fixed. Now that you’ve learned something new today, go back to binge-watching Netflix… because I am.


The Sound of Skating: Building Sustainability

Photo by Katie Lewellyn


With a quick flick of a switch, Nick Pourfard has his work cut out for him. Literally. Pourfard is an industrial design student at SF State, woodworker, skateboarder, guitar player, and creator of the eco-friendly company Prisma Guitars.

Prisma Guitars is built on the foundation of sustainability, spontaneous inspirations, and a lot of hard work. Every guitar that Pourfard creates is made out of recycled and reclaimed wood from decommissioned skateboards. Each exquisitely handcrafted guitar is one-of-a-kind due to the various types of wood from multiple skateboards, which gives the body and neck of the guitar a unique and rare pattern every time. The sounds of these guitars share the same characteristics as their build. With their clean, sharp, and crisp tones, where you can hear every note strummed, one would think that a professional must have made them. But think again.

In 2011, Pourfard was injured while he was skating, an injury that put him on the bench for the next six months. He tore a tendon in his ankle. With one of his hobbies pushed to the sidelines, Pourfard needed a new one. He began to build.

Nick Pourfard, 23, owner of Prisma guitars, is aligning scraps of his recycled skate board material to make thin cuts for his pickup manufacturer to use and build in San Francisco, on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 15, 2015 (Katie Lewellyn / XPRESS).

Woodworking seemed to be the next good fit. He began watching YouTube videos on how to build small objects like dice, pens, and spoons. “I made small things,” said Pourfard, “but making a guitar seemed so technical and extreme to make, so I said to myself that there was no reason why I wouldn’t be able to do it.” Taking the skills he learned from creating smaller objects, Pourfard applied the same logic to building a guitar.

“I didn’t know a single thing about it, where to start, what to do, what tools I needed. I then watched a million videos on YouTube about every step on how to make a guitar start to finish. I would watch it like two times and be like ‘Okay let’s do it,’” said Pourfard.

Combining his early love for music and his rather rough start to skating, Pourfard managed to create a way in which he could combine both, as he likes to call them “skate guitars.”

A 13-year-old Pourfard was dared to “bomb” a hill on skateboard, for the first time, by a friend. Being a 13 year old, there was no way he would have resisted. While skating down the hill, Pourfard fell, on his face, and shattered all of his teeth.

“My retainer shattered in my mouth, that’s how hard I fell,” said Pourfard. But for “some reason” after that moment, following the repair of his teeth, Pourfard decided to keep on skating.

Guitar playing came on much easier than skating for Pourfard. His mother signed him up for lessons when he was in seventh grade. Although he ended those lessons in the beginning of high school, Pourfard never lost the inspiration and interest to play.

Back in 2011, while on bed-rest with a torn tendon, Pourfard was able to fully recover, and completely build his first guitar out of skateboard wood. Realizing that this concept was beneficial in an eco-friendly way, he continued building guitars well after his recovery. “It’s one thing that kept me going,” said Pourfard, referring to the socially responsible aspect of the company, “I started doing it because at first it was sentimental to me, and my second thought was that I’d throw these away anyway.”

Because used skateboards go through abundant wear and tear, they become obsolete after they are broken or worn down.

“These boards are totally broken and not useable, but I’m just finding a way to keep them going,” said Pourfard.

Nick Pourfard tuning up his customized Prisma guitar on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2015 (Katie Lewellyn / XPRESS).

What continues to keep Pourfard going is the future and his accomplishments thus far, all which are powered by his inspiration. He is constantly thinking about what’s next with his work and the future of his company.

“My mind goes off track really easily and I think it’s because I’m thinking of a million things at the same time,” said Pourfard, “I get inspired by tiny things that are around me, and other things that people make.”

This inspiration has propelled Pourfard, and Prisma Guitars, to selling three of the 11 guitars he’s made, some even selling before he posted them online. One of the three he has sold was to the bassist of Iron Maiden, Steve Harris. With the substantial acceptance of his work by musicians like Harris, as well as his 3,000 and counting followers on Instagram, Pourfard plans to fully launch Prisma Guitars in the next two months.

“I’ve been working non-stop since June,” said Pourfard, “I’m ready.”

If Pourfard can offer any advice to those struggling with ideas and projects themselves, it’s this: “In some situations the worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work, and who cares. You have to realize the reward in the end, and it’s worth it.”

Coffee with the Copy Editor

Photo by Meira Gebel


The idea for this column came about quite spontaneously. One day, while in production, I asked our amazing Editor in Chief, Tami, to get me a coffee. When she came back, our fantastic photo editor, Martin, said, “Here’s the coffee for the copy editor!”

Connecting the dots, I thought it would be fun to do a column where I, the copy editor, would write short pieces about how to fix common grammatical errors, and call it “Coffee With The Copy Editor.”

So, let’s get the ball moving and start with some small stuff.

You’re & Your:

If YOU’RE like me, you know YOUR way around using these two words correctly. This is one of the more common errors one would see on social media or anywhere in writing, because both words spoken out loud sound exactly the same.

Your: Your is a possessive pronoun. This means that when you use “your” you are referring to the idea of ownership.

Here are a few examples:

  1. “I need new shoes. Where did you get yours?”
  2. “What grade did you get on your final?”
  3. “This is not yours, this is mine.”
  4. “How did you break your leg?”

You’re: This is a contraction. A contraction is an abbreviated form of two separate words, and in this case, the two words are “you” and “are,” which is commonly followed by a present participle. A present participle is a verb often ending in “-ing”.

Here are a few examples:

  1. “You’re late, so now you’re fired.”
  2. “You’re going to SF State to study journalism? That’s super cool! You’re so lucky!”
  3. “You’re a beautiful tropical fish.”

So here’s a quick quiz! Which sentence is the correct use of the word “your”

A. Your the best friend I’ve ever had!

B. Your dog is the cutest dog in the world.

Did you pick B? Yay! You passed! “Your dog is the cutest dog in the world” refers to the idea of ownership. It’s YOUR dog that is the cutest, not anyone else’s!

A good practice in remembering the difference between these two words is to always sound it out before writing. This way you will be able to determine whether or not you will be using a possessive pronoun, like your, or a contraction, like you’re.

That & Which:

It is one of my biggest pet peeves when people don’t use these words correctly. Both words are pronouns, meaning that they can function as a noun when referring to the subject (the noun) of the sentence. When using that and which it is important to remember to only use them when referring to animals without a name and inanimate objects.

The difference between these two words is that one is used for an essential clause and the other is used in a non-essential clause. What is the difference between those? We’re about to find out.

That: That is an essential clause, meaning when you use this word as a pronoun it is essential to the rest of your sentence. In a sentence, that is used without a comma.

Here are some examples:

1. “The horse that has the scar on its nose is my favorite.”

2. “I asked you to remember that I am allergic to peanut butter.”

3. “The books that are autographed are mine.”

Above in the examples, you can see that we are including the clause in our sentence, making the essential clause (the information after “that”) vital to the integrity of the entire sentence. Without the essential clause, the reader would not know what the writer was referring to. Take #1 for example: “The horse that has the scar is my favorite.” Without “that has the scar”, the reader or whoever the subject is talking to would not know what horse the subject is talking about. By including “that has the scar” identifies what particular horse, making it essential to the sentence.

Which: Which is a non-essential clause. Which is generally always surrounded by commas in order to differentiate the essential clauses from the non-essential clause. Use which when referring to pronouns that are less necessary.

Here are some examples:

1. “The clothes, which are dirty, are laying on the floor.”

2. “The house, which is being renovated, once belonged to Madonna.”

Above, we can see that the information that was added by “which” does not affect the outcome of the sentence.

A tip to help you note the difference between these two words is to first decide what is the relevant information to add in the sentence. Is it essential, or can it be surrounded in commas in the effort to just add to the outcome? Nine times out of 10 it doesn’t really matter what word you choose to use, but you may end up getting a professor, or boss, who deeply cares about the different usages of these seemingly similar words, so it’s important to note the difference.

I hope that this was enlightening! Stay tuned for more glamor-filled grammar lessons in the future!

New York Fashion Week: The Standouts

Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2015. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

It’s February. No, not February on the west coast, February in New York, which can only mean that it is that time of year where fellow New Yorkers, fashion moguls, and even designers must remove themselves from their isolated winter hibernation zones in pursuit of getting the first glimpses at this year’s New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015 Ready-To-Wear Collections.

Although the New York Fashion Week for Spring/Summer that is annually held in September generally draws in larger crowds, the Fall/Winter show brings out the dedicated, strong-willed individuals that are willing to face NYC while it’s freezing cold. The collections that have showed, and are currently showing, are exceptional. Designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone, Banana Republic, Victoria Beckham, Kanye West for Adidas Originals, Nicole Miller, Polo Ralph Lauren, Zac Posen, Alexander Wang, Christian Siriano, and Diane von Furstenberg will be shown during New York Fashion Week, just to name a few.

These Ready-to-Wear collections are trying to make a statement. With the New York cold on everyone’s mind, designers aimed to distract and give the crowd what they are looking for, along with pieces that they could go home, snuggle up, and dream about.

New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015: The Standouts

Christian Siriano Fall/Winter 2015. Photo by Marcus Tondo via

If animal print has never screamed “fierce” to you, Christian Siriano’s Fall/Winter 2015 Ready-to-Wear collection will finally open your eyes to the jungle-esque intrigue that is each and every one of his finely-crafted pieces.

These pieces, like a cashmere, tiger-print, sleeveless full-length jacket, alongside an eye-popping ostrich feather evening gown, fantastically complemented the wilderness theme backdrop. Models graced the runway with dark, maroon eyes and clean,  powdered lips, not to take away from the charm brought on by Siriano’s classic handiwork.

This collection, which was heavily influenced by Siriano’s clients’ affection for color and desire for texture, showcases Siriano’s undying ability to adapt to the changing trends in modern society.

Playing with timeless silhouettes while inventing and perfecting twists on contemporary ready-to-wear pieces, Siriano’s capability to give his clients what they’ve been craving, without them saying a word, is phenomenal.

Always keeping his lovely-lady clients in mind, Siriano told backstage before the show that, “She’s not shopping for another black coat. It has to be something that she almost has never seen before.”

Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2015. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

Imagine Carrie Bradshaw, you know, played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Remember what Bradshaw wore for her first day at Vogue? A cute little pinstriped vest over a men’s collared shirt with red pumps to tie it all together. It is my thought that Diane von Furstenberg channeled Bradshaw’s office-esque chic when designing her Fall/Winter collection, and why not? Bradshaw always had impeccable style on Sex and the City.

Oh right, Fashion Week! von Furstenberg’s collection expressed ideas of empowerment for today’s leading ladies, which is all the ladies. The beautiful takeaway from von Furstenberg’s pieces of work is this: Almost every woman can imagine herself in these pieces. Whether it is the white bomber jacket, the floral collared gown, or even the Bradshaw-esque classically tailored pinstripe pantsuit. These pieces are delicately designed to go from day to evening wear.

The type of revolutionary glamour that von Furstenberg’s collection is able to capture is the essential intrigue for modern wear for the modern woman. These pieces, though not out of the ordinary, are edgy and captivating, while still preserving the essence of empowerment.

Nicole Miller Fall/Winter 2015. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

In folklore, there are massive amounts of stories involving forests and the creatures that live in them. From scary wolves, trolls, a problem-solving Cheshire cat, nymphs, and even fairies, Nicole Miller wanted to capture the spirit of the forest in one collection — and she did it.

Much like the forests in folklore, Miller’s looks for this collection have never been explored before. Prints, embellishments, glitter, and metallic are all usually found in a Betsy Johnson collection, but Miller took the plunge and created what people have been hyped up about lately.

The collection, which included forest inspired prints with galactic looking platforms, patch-work mini-skirts with glitter and paired with a camo blazer, surprisingly were not the pieces that stood out. Marvelously enough, it was the pieces with the least amount of frills that gained the most attention and intrigue. One simple tri-toned evening gown made headway for Miller’s entire collection.

The cohesive collection maintained a central theme of fairy princess turned contemporary woman, what I assume would be my 11-year-old self’s dream wardrobe.

In this compilation of admirably outlandish pieces, Miller was able to hone in on a child’s imagination while still remaining in reality.

“I wanted to do the dark forest, but go deeper than that. It was about fantasy,” said Miller to backstage before the show. A round of applause for taking, and landing, the leap.

Alexander Wang Fall/Winter 2015. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

The man, the myth, and the legendary collection he has established leads the way towards producing fashionable athletic wear. Alexander Wang debuted his Fall/Winter 2015 collection this week at New York Fashion Week. Sportswear meets designer fashion – who would have thought.

Let’s just start by saying that the model’s were styled to look like they just worked out, if they worked out with all of their hair in their face, while keeping their pristine makeup in place. Athletic wear, indeed. In the aspect of style, Wang was able to make it work.

Check out the collection he created for H&M via The New York Times here.

Wang’s Fall/Winter collection could have been straight out of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Any hard rocker would be able to tell you that you should always match your black clothing, and Wang did just that. His collection was solely wrapped in the idea that every client, right now, is wanting more and more black clothes, so he has provided.

Take a peek at what happened backstage here.

With the risk of his pieces looking and falling flat on the runway (due to the fact that an all-black-collection doesn’t show well in lighting or pictures), Wang was faced with a challenge. He decided to up the ante. Leather combat boots, silver metal ball embellishments that lined each finely crafted garment, and decadently tailored moto jackets all marched down the runway, each and every piece making a name for itself.

The cohesiveness of this collection is remarkable. Without a doubt, when we see the color black in Fall/Winter 2015, our minds will absolutely think of Alexander Wang.

Finale at Tommy Hilfiger Fall/Winter 2015. Photo via Tommy Hilfiger Instagram.

With New York Fashion Week still upon us, it is unclear what other remarkable, trend-setting collections will grace the streets across the world this fall, but it is important to remember that inspiration comes from diversity, and these few collections showed just that.

Katy Perry: A Superstar center stage at the Super Bowl

With her eyes on the prize and with all the preparation in tow, Katy Perry will take the big stage this Super Bowl Sunday, calling it the “biggest event” of her career, according to an interview with Billboard Magazine.

Following the path of other half-time performers, like Bruno Mars, Madonna and Beyonce, Perry has a lot to live up to. So, is she nervous? Most definitely!

“Everyone has been asking me if I’m going to be nervous before the half-time show. I’m like, I’m f***ing human!” Perry said, according to her interview with Billboard Magazine.

So how does one prepare for the biggest performance in America? With the potential of over 100 million eyes watching, Perry has been preparing for game day for quite some time.

In early October when rumors of Perry’s possible performance at the bowl were swirling, Perry was already in the works of making football one of her “new favorite sport[s]”, according to a tweet she sent out during that time.

Perry posts on Twitter about watching football in the eve of the announcement that she will be performing at the half time show.

In attempt to become more of a football fan, Perry agreed to be a guest picker on ESPN’s “College GameDay”. According to an interview with The New York Times,  Lee Fitting, the senior coordinating producer of “College GameDay”, was completely blown away by Perry’s performance.

“When the show ended, everyone’s mouths were wide open. We were all thinking, ‘Wow, now that’s a professional entertainer.’ You can’t teach that. She just has it,” said Fitting to The New York Times

As many celebrities do, Perry has taken to social media to showcase the groundwork her and her team have put in for America’s most-watched act. 

Here’s how she prepared via her Instagram:

Perry pampers herself before Superbowl Sunday. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry began with a face mask, essentially a day at the spa, how I feel many other A-listers would prepare for an upcoming event.

Perry and Watt’s pose for the cover of ESPN’s Music Issue. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry and J.J Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans, took the cover of ESPN’s Music Issue. Catch some behind the scenes photos via ESPN here.

Perry and her puppy attend a meeting for the “puppy bowl”. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry posted a very adorable photo of her and her puppy, Butters, on Instagram. Perry writes that they both were attending a “V [very] important puppy bowl meeting”.

Perry gets a pedicure that look like ten little footballs before she performs at the half time show at the 49th Superbowl. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Perry is no stranger to being wacky with her mani’s and pedi’s, so it’s expected that she would go all out for the Superbowl. She even wore a football inspired get-up to her Superbowl Press Conference, where she hints at details for the upcoming show. One detail including bringing guest Lenny Kravitz up on stage with her. Check it out here.

Perry poses for the cover of Billboard Magazine. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

Two magazine covers in one month? To rise the hype even more, Perry poses for Billboard Magazine spilling her thoughts about the upcoming half time show. “I’m just selling my music to the broadest, widest audience ever,” said Perry to Billboard Magazine. Read the article in it’s entirety here.

Perry posts a photo from her cover shoot with Billboard Magazine. Photo via Perry’s Instagram.

On the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday, Perry posts another photo of her cover shoot with Billboard Magazine, making the her followers, and America, anxious.

With over 64 million Twitter followers, more than any other user on Twitter, Perry tweets out a photoshopped photo of her with the comment “Having a great rehearsal, hope everyone has a great Friday!!!”

Perry tweets out a photo of herself photoshopped on Twitter.

With Super Bowl Sunday upon us, we just have to sit back, munch down, and watch how Perry’s performance plays out.

Perry’s final words in the interview with Billboard Magazine rattle anticipation for the show even more, saying that, “This is the cherry on top of everything I’ve already done.”




Paris Fashion Week: The Standouts

Versace’s playful lines create a distinct silhouette for the modern woman. Photo by Kim Weston Arnold

Paris Fashion Week is a dream come true for fashionistas and couture-cravers everywhere who have been eager for Spring/Summer collections that are out of the ordinary. From Dior’s white-pipe set, the crisp-taste on modern classics from the view point of Donatella Versace, or the ever-changing mind of Karl Lagerfeld for contemporary fashion, any girl with Vogue dreams would be in heaven.

Raf Simmons for Dior. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via
Raf Simons for Dior. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

Dior’s collection included baby-doll dresses and skirts, slick-to-the-skin neon thigh-high boots and a bend on the trends that were present in the ’60s. A stray shift away from the brand’s usual pattern, Raf Simons, Dior’s Creative Director, shot for more of a liberated look into the past by releasing the idea that this season’s looks needed to have waistlines. Oh, and don’t forget the ’70s inspired body suits ranging in patterns and colors to coordinate with the show’s rather ethereal theme.

Atelier Versace Spring 2015. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via
Atelier Versace Spring 2015. Photo by Yannis Vlamos via

Versace’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection, by Donatella Versace, was dazzled with models walking in sleek, sharp cut dresses and hem lines that were daring. Though not out of the ordinary, this collection settled on the line between cabaret-lace lingerie, to possible “Best Dressed” Oscar gowns. Always playing with the idea of lines and multiple cutouts, Donatella emphasized her pieces to look like one-of-a-kind dresses for the modern woman (or modern model) in the 21st Century.

Chanel's finale via Twitter @chanel
Chanel finale via Twitter

A collection aptly suited for spring, Karl Lagerfeld dreamed a little dream of flowery gowns, sheer white lace and a backdrop to match. Then, he made it into a full-blown reality for Chanel’s Spring 2015 renovation.  After the show, Lagerfeld told that, “One morning in bed, I saw it in a second”, referring to the idea for the set.

The runway was lit with pastel colored skirts, large billowy hats, and fringed off-the-shoulder midi-tops that complemented the classic Chanel cut jackets that were placed on top. Also, no Chanel show is complete without lace veils, clean faces and a bright red lip.

Striking as always, these collections all shared similar goals: To reinvent the brand to fit the ever-changing woman, and world.

Just like Donatella said before the Versace show according to The New York Times, “The world is such a complicated, difficult place right now, that I think women need clothes that are very precise, and focused, and that let her be herself.”