Toronto Men’s Fashion Week: Emerging Menswear Designer Award

The first ever Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*) launches on August 11th to 15th, 2014 at the Royal York Hotel. This week long event will showcase the immense creativity of Canadian and international menswear fashion designers. During TOM*, the Emerging Menswear Designer Award, presented by the Designer Menswear Fund, a great initiative with the Toronto Fashion Incubator, will promote and help nurture up and coming Canadian designers in debuting their clothing line to the public. I had the chance to sit down with the five finalists at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto whose collections will be presented at the last night of TOM*. After getting to know each of the designers, I can’t wait to see what they have developed in their exciting new collections!

Photo by J R BERNSTEIN - RaniRani Kim

When did your career in the fashion industry begin?

Growing up, I was closely influenced by my artistic family. My parents, who are both art teachers, have always encouraged me to explore my natural artistic senses. My passion for fashion design has developed at young age. I spent most of my spare time collecting various fashion magazines, and studying the design, which fascinated me. In middle school, I began to experiment with women’s daywear clothes. My early designs, while very geometrical, encapsulated elegance as they neutralized heavy details in my work.

What is it about menswear that intrigues you the most?

There is so much more fashion already available for females. I have always been interested in the recreation of different looks through history and, with menswear there is more potential to explore different shapes.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Everywhere; I draw my inspiration from the texture of the sticky notes at work to looking at other art, architecture and interior design in books in the library.

Who is the fashion designer or fashion icon that you admire most?

ACNE, Maison Martin Margiela

Describe your upcoming collection in 3 words.

Recreation, Colourful, Texture

What kind of man would do you imagine wearing your designs?

Before, I thought it would be the ever day man. But now, I am designing for someone who is more fashion conscious, maybe a student at Parsons, who wants something functional but high fashion.

If you could have one celebrity become the face of your new line, who would it be?

Omg. Johnny Depp, please!

What can we expect to see at TOM from your collection?

A lot of new designs and shapes. I am collaborating with graphic designers.

Who/what are you most excited to see in TOM?

I’m excited to see Benji WZW and explore the collections of the other new designers

What is your favourite trend of the season?

Raw edges, I love the texture

What do you think the future of the Canadian Fashion industry will be?
TOM is creating a movement in Men’s Fashion in Toronto. It would be great to see more fashion festivals emerging.

Photo by J R BERNSTEIN - Andrew
Andrew Coimbra

When did your career in the fashion industry begin?

My career in fashion design began with a very brief internship at Canadian women’s wear label, Pink Tartan, which lasted 3 months. I then went onto intern with Canadian menswear designer Philip Sparks, which turned into a 3 year part-time employment while I was in school. I also had the opportunity to work as a design intern at Proenza Schouler, in New York, which is where I think everything came full-circle, for me. Before working in Fashion Design, I started networking by taking freelance work as a stylist on photo shoots, and using my skill s to creating complete, cohesive looks as a tool to familiarize myself with the industry.

What is it about menswear that intrigues you the most?

Men often are restricted to buy the same pieces of clothing and the variables for men’s fashion are tight. But it is the challenge in creating new looks that I find appealing.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Anywhere from art and culture, to current events. There is a fine balance in creating a business with my fashion and art, but I believe they are married together.

Who is the fashion designer or fashion icon that you admire most?

3.1 PHILLIP LIM. I love Andre 3000 and Iris Apfel; there is a power in being original.

Describe your upcoming collection in 3 words.

Youthful, Contemporary, New Canadian Vogue

What kind of man would do you imagine wearing your designs?

Someone who is classic, but knows their limits but is not afraid to take chances and step out of the box when they can.

If you could have one celebrity become the face of your new line, who would it be?

This is an entirely superficial choice, but I think the recently Facebook famous Jeremy Meeks, just based on his physical appearance, I think he represents the look of the new global Canadian, where you can’t really tell their background and it is intriguing.

What can we expect to see at TOM from your collection?

Classic pieces reconstructed. I am inspired by the Group of 7 to help explore the aesthetic of Canadian identity.

Who/what are you most excited to see in TOM?

I am really excited to see the after effects of what TOM can do for the fashion industry- the ripple effect.

What is your favourite trend of the season?

I have a love hate relationship with White Birkenstocks and socks with sandals.

What do you think the future of the Canadian Fashion industry will be?

We are at a really cool turning point in what is acceptable in fashion. They New Canadian global identity is changing and there is an emphasis on the digital.

Photo by J R BERNSTEIN - Joao Paulo
Joao Paulo Guedes

When did your career in the fashion industry begin?

A long time ago, I worked as a wholesale buyer for a clothing company in Brazil. I then detoured into marketing and graphic design. I used to run my own ad agency with a friend. After a few years of navigating my way through Canadian Culture and learning the language, I decided to go to school and took the fashion techniques and design program at George Brown. It was then that created a Capsule line to show off my talents as a men’s designer while working for John Fluevog Shoes.

 I was selected to participate in the Global Edge program and go to India and intern at Shantanu & Nikhil where I was able to design, create looks, do photo shoots, runway shows, organize and direct staff in their menswear department. I even was offered a job to stay and grow with the company. But Canada was calling me back. Currently, I work full time at Canada Goose and I work on my menswear line on the side. I am always busy doing something!

What is it about menswear that intrigues you the most?

In school, we are always focused on women’s fashion, but I have always had a passion for men’s. I like being able to dress well and create clothes that make you feel good.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Art & Architecture. I love wandering though art galleries and seeing which colours and shapes inspire me.

Who is the fashion designer or fashion icon that you admire most?

Alexander McQueen- I love the prints and textile he created.

Describe your upcoming collection in 3 words.

Fun, Conceptual, Inspired

What kind of man would do you imagine wearing your designs?

I imagine my clothes being worn by a beaded, edgy man. They are made for the artistic,

If you could have one celebrity become the face of your new line, who would it be?

I would love to see any rock star wearing my clothes.

What can we expect to see at TOM from your collection?

Last summer I lived in India, the details in the architecture in the temples and the ornate ceilings have inspired my designs. Lots of gold, black and ornate details.

Who/what are you most excited to see in TOM?

I’m looking forward to seeing Paolo Succar.

What is your favourite trend of the season?

Usually I don’t follow trends. I like to create things that we need in fashion. I really like gold, black and leather though.

What do you think the future of the Canadian Fashion industry will be?

We need more support for the many great designers

Photo by J R BERNSTEIN - Som

Som Kong

When did your career in the fashion industry begin?

I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. Growing up, fashion was not my first option when it came to my career choice; but after whipping up a dress with my mother’s sewing machine, it was then, that I found my true passion. I was sewing darts before I even knew what they were. By the end of my graduating year of high school, I had formed a team to stage a community fashion show that raised over $10 000 in funds for projects in Africa. Having my mother attending the show, clapping in tears, was the proudest moment I can remember and it was when I decided that I could make a career out of something I enjoyed doing, while at same time, helping others.

5 years forward, I’ve graduated from Ryerson University with my bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design, with several opportunities and experiences that include a semester abroad in Hong Kong; interning with Stephen from Greta Constantine; and placing runner up in the Danier Competition, rewarding me with a paid internship as well as having my design manufactured and sold in stores. Also through my program, I’ve had unforgettable experiences such as travelling to NYC to assist Jeremy Laing back stage, flying to San Fransisco to compete in the International Art of Fashion competition and winning this year’s TFI Fashionista’s Den. As much as I enjoy looking back on what I’ve done, my career in the fashion industry is only just beginning.

What is it about menswear that intrigues you the most?

I love the ability to create designs as a whole in terms of aesthetics. It is a platform where I can push my creativity and challenge it by creating androgynous, gender bending looks.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My inspirations are very fluid. I lived in Hong Kong on exchange and that has impacted my designs. I also like to use different techniques like quilting to create 3-D shapes in my garments.

Who is the fashion designer or fashion icon that you admire most?

Yohji Yamamoto- I really like how he uses metaphors to talk about his designs

Describe your upcoming collection in 3 words.

Innovation is everything

What kind of man would do you imagine wearing your designs?

A man who is comfortable in his own skin. I really admire any man who can pull off a mun (man bun) as well.

If you could have one celebrity become the face of your new line, who would it be?

While I was interning for Jeremy Laing, I got the chance to run into Coco Rocha on the street. I admire her ability to use her celebrity for great things with her charitable work.

What can we expect to see at TOM from your collection?

Expect a fun show, I am recreating the megging (men’s legging) along with oversized pieces and playing with silhouettes. I am also collaboration with wearable technology.

Who/what are you most excited to see in TOM?

I am excited for the whole team to come together for this moment in their career and the chance to celebrate all that they have done.

What is your favourite trend of the season?

Innovation in technology, the ways developments in biotechnology is changing the market.

What do you think the future of the Canadian Fashion industry will be?

I have a 5 year plan to create a create jobs and design my line here in Toronto. I would like to keep the industry growing. My mom worked in a Cambodian textile manufacturing company. I would love to collaborate with her to create a socially conscious fair trade fashion production.

Photo by J R BERNSTEIN - Patrick
Patrick Solonga

When did your career in the fashion industry begin?

My career in the industry started with my internship at Greta Constantine. As a recent graduate from the Academy of Design, I stayed with Greta Constantine as an intern leaning a lot about production and the ins and outs of taking care of a fashion house. After almost a year of interning for the amazing brand, I decided to venture into the fashion world on my own for my real aesthetic falls within menswear. And sure enough my Greta family was in full support, and Kirk Pickersgil became my mentor. Before I jumped in to building my own brand, I asked Kirk for advice on what my first step should be. Coincidentally, the EMDA competition came up and I decided to enter!

What is it about menswear that intrigues you the most?

I know how the clothes fit, and with my designs I am able to push boundaries to make clothes that excite me.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Zeitgeist is a German term. I am taking other time periods and making them my own by pushing them into the future.

Who is the fashion designer or fashion icon that you admire most?

The rebel rock starts like Iggy Pop, Bowie & Joan Jett

Describe your upcoming collection in 3 words.

Primeval, Other worldly, Shocking

What kind of man would do you imagine wearing your designs?

I was inspired by the image in a story I read of a time traveller who ends up in a time lapse. I have this image of a futuristic cool guy who is never only in one time period.

If you could have one celebrity become the face of your new line, who would it be?

Kate Moss, as a drag king, but in heels.

What can we expect to see at TOM from your collection?

Shocking designs, where you second guess that it is men’s wear. Designs that make you think.

Who/what are you most excited to see in TOM?

I can’t wait to see the other EMDA designers!

What is your favourite trend of the season?

Sport luxe, these comfortable yet chic designs are very innovative. I love what they have done with the Adidas track suit and Moschino collection.

What do you think the future of the Canadian Fashion industry will be?

We need more events like Toronto Men’s Fashion Week to showcase the amazing designers.

All photos were taken by JR Bernstein

 

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