Smart, Casual and Luxurious
by Marilyn R. Wilson
photography by Warren Pawluk - www.warrenpawluk.com
runway photography by George Pimentel
From the high of showing at LG Fashion Week to the low of our tough economic times, the last year has been a roller coaster ride for menswear designer Christopher Bates. Through it all his brand continues to grow. The immediate goal is to develop a strong presence in North America, but his eye is firmly on the end game - Europe.
Bates' line has a European feel at odds with his Vancouver upbringing. Six weeks spent in Europe at age 17 was his first exposure to a widely different sense of style. When he returned in 2005, those early seeds of interest turned into something much more. "It was the second trip that just blew me away. We were in Latvia, Estonia and Sweden. We were right at the cutting edge of the street scenes, it was really intense. I was already into fashion and that trip hammered it home." A year of studies at Istituto Marangoni in Milan honed his technical skills and he returned to Canada to launch his first collection - Spring 2009.
Luxury fabrics are fundamental in each collection. For Bates, "It is where a lot of my money goes; it's what I invest in. I pay for rare, unique and quality material from Italy and Portugal and they're made here in Canada so quality control is high. I also do low production runs. With limited quantities you are going to end up with high price point, but you're going to have a unique product that not everybody has. If you want to purchase a pair of my jeans, you might have one of ten pairs in the world." In Canada, Toronto has been his hottest market for both ready-to-wear and custom work. At LG Fashion Week the media took notice with articles appearing in The Toronto Star and in New York's Nolcha.com. The Catwalk Chronicles also have a television segment scheduled to air in the near future.
Spring 2010 was inspired by Romeo and is "...a modern interpretation of today's man as Shakespeare's doomed lover. It was inspired by my time living in Italy." Classic colours anchor the 14-piece collection and unusual accents give it depth. Standouts include brushed twill blazers, pants and shorts in both light blue and pink (as well as white and black) to mix and match. The deep ocean blue Lamb leather jacket, black mesh tank top embroidered with a black scorpion and Italian Flag Ciao Bella shirt are must have pieces for those wanting something with more edge. Unusual silk screening details include a green rose on the white twill dress pants and a Romeo and Juliet print on the back of a white denim bomber jacket (his personal favourite). Labour intensive hand-distressing accents the jeans. Accessories include two styles of boots, an English Bridle leather belt and a modern cut Duchess Silk black tie. Looking towards Fall 2010, Bates has looked to electronic music for inspiration. Electro: Dark Energy will be, "...dark and modern with a hint of sportswear."
Despite the economy Bates continues to move forward. An investor's proposal is being developed with the help of his business manager and he has his agent in London laying the groundwork for a future expansion into the European market. Bates' drive, focus and determination will surely take him there sooner than expected
Shop for Christopher Bates in Vancouver at Forsya and in Toronto at Gotstyle Menswear and Covet & Crave. For additional information check out his website: www.ultramenswear.com.