Jason Matlo -
By Marilyn Wilson
At the recent FMA 2008, Jason Matlo and a fellow designer from London received a lot of press for showing up dressed to the nines. "It was glamorous, it was the FMA, it was our sense of humour. If people saw me in my personal life I don't think they'd pay that much attention because it's not all that interesting". As his brand recognition increases one of the hardest adjustments is accepting the difference between public perception and private reality.
Matlo was an introverted straight "A" student whose passion was art. After graduation he earned a Fine Arts degree then left for Victoria to live the starving artist's life - painting and sculpture, long hair and Birkenstocks. Boredom eventually set in. A friend encouraged him to study fashion design and suggested Helen Lefeaux . "I met Helen and liked her immediately. It was a ten month program but I actually ended up studying there for four years." Matlo's long and winding road from design school to where he is now took ten years. It had many starts and stops but included winning the Smirnoff International Fashion Awards for Canada, winning Making It Big, teaching fashion illustration and showing at L'Oreal Fashion Week.
A year and a half ago the business accelerated when Bernadette Matlo took over the helm of the company and Lyndi Jane Barrett came on board to handle PR. The first order of business, "You have to work not from the design backwards to retail but from the retail/wholesale costs over to the product. Rather than creating a product and trying to sell it, we find a market niche and create a product to put into that market." Matlo also has to spend a great deal of time traveling for promotion, market research and to attend New York trade shows - 37 flights this year alone. What makes it all work is the support he gets from his team. "Even while we're laughing and dancing to 70's and 80's music, everybody I work with knows that it's very serious. They care just as must as I do - are as passionate as I am. Everybody gives 110%."
Spring 2009, Glamazon, was inspired by the Palm Beach/Hollywood socialite. "We came out of a Fall/Winter that was very somber and wanted to do something jet set - very colorful, very fun, very sexy". This is the largest collection to date with 66 pieces separated into 3 sections. Jet Set Barbie is all pink and bright Asian prints, Metallic showcases silver and gold fabrics and Black holds the basics. The most unique garment included is a summer jacket that looks like it is made of marabou feathers. Matlo created the fabric by hand-shredding printed silk charmeuse. Although evening wear driven, there is a strong selection of easy-flowing day wear pieces. Fall 2009 will see a more structured silhouette, "Very clean lines and beautiful fabrics, very classic Matlo'. A Bridal/Evening Wear collection is set to launch in February/March ("It's going to be bold, sexy and audacious!"), Men's Wear is scheduled for fall and yes, custom couture is still available.
With a life that is permanently in the fast lane Matlo does occasionally miss "..the innocence of just being fresh in the game when you're really optimistic and it all seems new", but it's a sure bet he won't be slowing down any time soon. Locally his collection is sold exclusively at Jules and Eve in Kerrisdale. For more information visit his website at www.jasonmatlo.com.