MENSWEAR DESIGNER FORGOES THE RUNWAY & GOES DIGITAL INSTEAD
Story by Reem Jazar
Toronto-based designer and former model Wes Misener says he was in Milan when he first made the decision to enter a new phase of his career.
He views it an epiphany of sorts. “[The] recession hit, basically jobs were pretty scarce and I was 26,” he says. “I was in a model’s apartment and all the other dudes were…drinking, were 20-years-old, [and had] parents sending them cheques, and I knew I needed to move on.”
His foray in to fashion began when Misener traveled to Vancouver to try out for a hockey team. Misener says he happened to be working out at the gym when he was discovered by a fashion photographer. The influence of his experiences as a model, combined with his background as a hockey player, make for the perfect combination of style and masculinity reflected within his garments.
“I focus more on the silhouette, so I’m not necessarily rocking Ed Hardy’s big flaps, but I want a guy who is going to look powerful,” explains Misener. ”I just did the biker trench for Spring/Summer which is a hybrid as well, so it’s a little twist from the classic trench.”
The designer says he does not work in colour (all of his designs are black in hue), and he isn’t partial to fashion shows as a means of presenting his collections.
Misener goes on to explain that he looks to other artistic platforms to showcase his work. “I just did a film, so I’d rather focus my energy in that way,” he shares, “rather than a fashion show where it’s a white runway, blah blah blah. It seems so structured – I don’t really find that inspiring.”
A whole new online market has opened up to Misener since his appearance on the CBC show, Dragon’s Den; it was on the hit show that the designer pitched his line of men’s underwear in 2009.
“Underwear was the starting point, it was the training point. [I had] never made clothes. I love underwear,” says Misener. “I had zero dollars – it was my foot in the door and from there I branched out in to tees.”
The former model continues to look for different ways to further his brand. His end goal is ambitious and creatively charged.
“I want to start with popup shops and then basically bring my name brand and line into my own space and merge an installation with my fashion and film,” Misener shares.
When asked to define the key to being a successful designer and entrepreneur, Misener opted to offer his advice to any aspiring designer.
“I really believe the more you interact with people, and the more you show up, you have a better chance of getting yourself out there and making sales,” he advises. “Visibility is huge; have the courage to share and just say ‘This is what I do.’”
Misener says he admires the work of designers such as Raf Simons, Dior Homme, Rick Owens and Kris Van Assche, and when he finds himself working through a creative block, he explains that he loves to go skateboarding, or spend time at the library. “I’ll go to the [Toronto] Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor and just start flipping through books on minimalism or World War II, and get myself engulfed in what I’m trying to pull together,” he divulges.
Misener strives to use sustainable fabrics for his garments, and all his pieces are made in Canada. He says his current collection is very minimal. “I’m not trying to be on trend, I’m trying to do what I like,” he explains.