Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Homage to the Beloved Button Button

Adhesif Clothing was established in 2003 after a Eureka moment when a 
first batch of redesign/upcycled sweaters got dropped off at a Vancouver boutique called Dream. 

That very same morning, 3 out of the 5 reworked cardigans sold to one customer visiting 
from  the US. That’s when I knew that I could pursue a career in fashion as an upcycler.

Much of what makes a handmade, one-of-a-kind garment so special is the composition and the 
combination of details and textiles. Over the years, the seasonal collections I create for 
Adhesif Clothing have become known for quirky details, specifically the oversized vintage buttons on our reworked sweaters, capes, cardigans and coats. 

I've always been a HUGE supporter of shopping local and the vast majority of the materials I 
hand source come from local shops. Of the shops I frequent, my absolute FAVE place has got to  
be BUTTON BUTTON, hands down! 

Photo Credit Sewaholic

Being a designer and all around creative type, I call this sweet little slice of endless creative 
adornment possibilities a true heaven where one can let the imagination run wild or simply a 
place where you can find just the right finishing touch for that hand knit cardigan or to give that beautiful vintage coat you just scored a little pick me up...

Behind all these creative possibilities stands a creative fashion inspiration in her own right. 
Colleen Miller. Over the last decade it's been a delight to have some really fascinating 
conversations with Colleen. She's one of the most interesting people I've ever met and I always
learn something new whenever I visit her. 

I recently learned that after over 20 years of
running Button Button Colleen is approaching  
retirement and is now looking to sell her business. 

With this said, I decided it was only 
fitting to dedicate my next blog post to this beloved cornerstone because for many of us local designers and lovers of all things artsy and fashionable this rare and amazing shop would surely be missed if it were to disappear...

If you're reading this blog post right now thinking to yourself... 

"Hey now! I've always been interested in  pursuing the life of a creative shop owner and working alongside other creatives"

Then I highly encourage you to contact Colleen and inquire about taking over this amazing place!

You can contact Colleen at for more info

In the meantime, let's learn more about Colleen and the 

history of this gem of shop...

Q: So, who are you?

A~ I'm a Vancouver gal who left town as soon as I finished my science degree at UBC and took a train to Toronto. Then when my student loans were paid off, I moved to London England -- this was in the late 60s when London and especially Carnaby Street were alive with fashion and music and possibilities. Young people earned so little, and had little hope of earning more, so they blew everything on cool clothes. It was an exciting time and place to be young.

Q: I understand you’ve done some travelling in your life. What was your most memorable place travelled to and why?

A~ I spent 2 decades traveling, stopping to work, traveling on. My favourite time in Australia was the 2 years I spent travelling in the bush. I would buy vintage clothing from remote farms, dye them, cut them up -- it was lovely to sit by a tropical stream hand sewing something pretty to wear in the bush, with just the kangaroos as audience. Best trip was a solo motorcycle ride to Newfoundland -- seeing Canada up close, laughing as I rode, especially as I whizzed past struggling cyclists : )

Q: Tell us about your company. How did you get started? How long have you  been an entrepreneur?

A~ I opened the shop in 1995. I was turning 50 and could see that businesses didn't care to hire women of that age, so I thought I should be self-employed.
A government consultant advised me to give up the whole idea of opening a button shop, in fact he kicked me out of his office because it was such a bum idea. That shook me up, and it took a few weeks to get my resolve back. 

 Q: What was your vision and drive to start this company?

A~ I had lived in Paris for a year and still remember exquisite buttons I saw there and other places I visited. When I returned to Canada and wanted nice buttons for my sewing projects, I longed for a better choice and wished someone would open a button shop. Hey I thought-- maybe I will!

Q: Do you have a style icon?

A~ I see fabulous women and men of all ages and styles passing through my shop inspiring me with their creativity and imagination I love to see how they apply beauty to their world and their work, even something simple like adding a single coloured button to a conservative coat. Everyone is different, but all have the wish to insert some individuality into their wardrobe. Many of my customers are designers and over the years I have loved wearing their designs.
(Yumi Eto, Hajnalka Mandula, Genevieve Graham, Allison Wonderland,
Melissa Ferreira/Adhesif Clothing) 

Photo Credit Granpaparazzi

Q: Tell us about your shop! Who (or what, if that’s more fitting for you) are your fashion or non fashion inspirations?

A~ The shop is the only just-buttons shop in Canada so it gets a lot of local and international attention: Vogue Australia, New York Times, Japanese Tour Guide, local press, TV and Radio, and so on. I see many beautiful expensive buttons that I'm very cautious about purchasing because of the more casual Vancouver lifestyle, but still there is a fair variety. And of course many of my buttons show up in movies filmed in Vancouver.

Q: What have you loved about running Button Button?

A~ It really is fun to be around such a varied demographic -- young/old, hip/square, plain/glam, male/female, rich/poor, local/tourist -- the works. In my life outside the shop I don't run into this same variety of people. I'm crazy about all the knitting I see in the shop -- so many people are knitting now, and the yarns are so gorgeous. I love seeing how so many people are making something for someone else. Owning a business is worth all the work it takes, it's so much fun. And owning a button store is best of all!

Q: Now that you are planning your retirement, who would you like to see carry on the legacy of Button Button?

A~ I myself still would like access to nice buttons in Vancouver, so ideally I would like someone to keep it as a button shop and continue the wide mix (cheap+$, plain+fancy, natural+plastic, old+new). This is what draws the wide variety of people which is what makes the day so interesting.
The new owner could even be a mother/daughter team, or 2 young mothers co-owning.
There are many exciting possibilities for growing the business as well -- social media,
3D printing, on-line, wholesale, etc. Someone's life is about to get interesting!


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