The Chozn few 

Local designers, artists strut their stuff as Tommy’s temporarily transformed into a catwalk


What: Chozn Clothing fashion show

When: Sunday, Aug. 16, 9 p.m.

Where: Tommy Africa's

Cost: $12

Whistler residents have eclectic style, that's for sure. A random sampling of locals can yield skater style, skinny emo jeans, vibrant neons, trendy boots, casual flip flops - you name it. It's clear that we're a crowd that's not afraid to express ourselves through fashion. And some have taken it a step above shopping, creating their own, one-of-a-kind pieces to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Sharai Rewels first came to Whistler about five years ago, and like almost everyone else in this community, she was drawn here for a season to take in B.C.'s natural surroundings, and that season quickly turned into five years.

Rewels, a creative, bubbly soul, began designing her own clothes almost as soon as she arrived in town, partially because of high prices and partially because of the lack of original fashion. But it wasn't long before friends began asking her to create one-of-a-kind pieces for them.

"I started recreating outfits just for friends and to bolster my wardrobe," she said. "(Clothes in Whistler are) not cheap, and there aren't many options."

Today, she works as a server at the GLC and a bartender and go-go dancer at Tommy Africa's. Despite a busy work schedule, she still manages to find time to devote to her clothing designs, which she has dubbed Chozn Clothing. Her philosophy when it comes to her fashion is actually fairly straightforward, and very clearly something that resonates with the Whistler crowd: "Ethical apparel for an inspired culture."

Translated, that means that she uses "pre-loved" items of clothing - at least 50 per cent recycled fabrics - in each and every item she designs for her line.

"There's a kind of a consumer awareness here of consciousness as to where things are coming from and made," Rewels said. "People buy in an ethical manner here."

Currently, Rewels only creates pieces for women, but lately, she's started seeing a lot of demand for men's fashion, and is considering expanding the line, which now includes about 30 designs.

"I'm trying to figure some designs out," she said. "Guys are really hard to design for - they prefer a simplistic take and my method is to deconstruct and reconstruct, so there always ends up being a little bit of flair."

Soon after she began making clothes Rewels was holding fashion shows to exhibit and sell her designs to the general public.

"I started using it as an excuse to throw photo shoots and involve my other friends, who are photographers, makeup artists and hairdressers," Rewels explained.

Rewels sees the fashion shows, like the upcoming one at Tommy Africa's, as an exciting chance for not only herself - an energetic young designer - to showcase her work, but also a great opportunity to get her creative, like-minded friends in on the action.

"I'm always collaborating with other artists because it gives everyone an opportunity to showcase their artistry," Rewels said.

She adds that if photographers want shots of a model for their own portfolio, or models need headshots, they could pay up to $3,000 for one another's skills at a shoot. This way, people are able to share their skill sets and get something other than money in exchange for their talent.

At next week's show, Kristin Begin, a hairdresser from Farfalla, will be doing colour and cuts on the models while two local DJs - Tanner and Robaanks - are providing the musical backdrop for the evening of fashion and fun.

Rewels is hoping to start taking part in designer showcases, like the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival's annual Search and Expose event, and that soon, her designs may even be picked up by some local retailers.

Until then, the only chance you have to snag her stuff is at one of her fashion shows. Tickets for the show at Tommy's are $12 at the door, and the show starts at 9:30 p.m. sharp, so don't be late!


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