As part of the Focalized interview series, Focal Journey celebrates and highlights the hard work of colleagues (photographers, bloggers, stylists, designers, etc.) whose creativity and passion enhance the travel, lifestyle, and design industries.
Given that Toronto will soon join the ranks of London, Florence, Milan, Singapore, Vancouver, and Los Angeles by hosting the 8th men’s fashion week in the world, we were delighted to speak with Christopher Bates, one of the leading menswear designers in Canada.
FJ: Hello Christopher. You will participate in the very first edition of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*), an event that will showcase the best in Canadian menswear design. How are you preparing for the event compared to World MasterCard Fashion Week (WMCFW), where the focus is predominantly on womenswear?
CB: My preparations are identical. While there are certainly more womenswear designers at World MasterCard Fashion Week, I’ve always felt that menswear designers have earned and shared a fair portion of the spotlight. With Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, I am looking forward to the increased focus on menswear in general.
FJ: I am really excited to see this increased focus on menswear as well and wonder how it will be received by the male audience. Do you think TOM* will influence how Canadian men dress and how they relate to fashion more generally? How so?
CB: TOM* is definitely going to help influence Canadian men to up their style quotient. With all the different lines presenting, I expect there will be something for everyone to relate to and get excited about.
FJ: The excitement is in the air indeed since this is the very first edition of TOM*. Speaking of excitement in the air, you are an avid traveller who has visited many corners of the globe, and you’ve also studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni in Milano. How has travel influenced your work as a designer?
CB: Travel is a rich source of inspiration for me. I find my creativity greatly stimulated when I’m travelling; particularly in Europe.
Studying fashion design at Istituto Marangoni in Milan was an incredible experience. For me Italy is the heart and soul of fashion. They understand and appreciate style in a manner that seems innate, which I respect and admire.
FJ: Having been to Milan myself, I can definitely attest that that sexy Italian flair in fashion is very hard to resist. Now tell us about your label which continues to expand internationally (Europe, Asia). As you create, do you consciously aim to achieve a specific « Canadian style » that is exportable, or do you consider a global style that can more easily be marketed to multiple markets?
CB: My goal from the start has been to develop a line that appeals to cosmopolitan, style-savvy men around the world.
FJ: Men not only in Canada but also around the world can sometimes get a bit too comfortable in terms of how they dress when travelling. What’s your advice to them about how to look good while on the road?
CB: Do not wear sweat pants outside the gym. Also, do not take off your shoes. Aside from that, I recommend wearing pieces made from cotton or linen as they are breathable and comfortable. I find the air conditioning on planes to be quite intense so I always bring a sweater or blazer.
Also, if you wear contacts do your eyes a favour and swap for glasses. The air on planes is quite dry, which makes wearing contacts a nightmare, especially on long flights.
FJ: Great advice all men should take into consideration for their next trip! Finally, Christopher Bates as a label became well-established in the Canadian fashion industry after your participation in the Mercedes-Benz Start-Up Program in 2012. What can we expect to see from you now at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week in August?
CB: The Mercedes-Benz Start-Up Program is a fantastic initiative that really helped me develop my business. Spring/Summer 2015 is a milestone as it’s my 10th collection. My goal every season is to improve and this is my strongest collection to date. I’m excited to showcase the improvement and evolution of my design signature.
FJ: Thank you Christopher for your time and for talking with us today. We are all very excited to see your new collection at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, and I am sure you will continue to take Canadian menswear design to the next level.
Find out more about Christopher Bates here:
Special thanks to: Kareen Mallon.
Focal Journey (by Gustavo Espinola)