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The November Roundup

The November Roundup

Welcome to Pier Five monthly round ups, a look back at some of the people, brands & things that caught our eye this month that we thought you should know about. Curves by Sean Brown We’ve always been impressed with the work of creative director, designer and photographer Sean Brown. When he launched his home goods line Curves by Sean Brown, now most notable for CD Rugs or popular hip-hop albums and hand-shaped incense holders, we knew it’d be nothing but a home run. Amongst a number of new design projects, Sean recently released the half-version of his CD floor mat perfect for home entryways and his new Spill Coasters, 4 mirror coasters shaped like water spills. You can find both of these and more home goods on his website here. Melody Ehsani F/W 21 Collection Melody Ehsani’s eponymous lifestyle brand recently launched its F/W 21 collection and the pieces were brilliant, especially for the chillier months ahead. Some of our faves are the Quilted Shirt Jacket inspired by Persian Rugs, the butterfly inspired Rugby shirt and the military set. Be sure to check out the full collection on her website and act quickly as sizes are selling out! Spencer Badu Collection 000 + Pop-Up Toronto based fashion designer Spencer Badu hosted a pop-up shop this month to showcase some of his most recent pieces from his Collection 000. From his take on a sleeveless insulated nylon vest to a wide leg chino pant, SP’s foundation of creating genderless uniforms really shine through in every piece he creates. The Cargo Vest & Reflective Balaclava are some of our top picks from the collection. Even though the pop-up is now over, you can find his collection on his e-store here. KNC Beauty x Champion Collab All natural lip mask beauty brand KNC Beauty, founded by Kristen Noel Crawley who happens to be the wife of Don C, linked up with heritage sportswear brand Champion to create a fully size inclusive line of sweats, crewnecks, cropped tees, biker shorts & more. With sizes XS-3XL, the collaboration aimed to give women a fashionable set to feel comfortable in, wherever they go. There was an initial sneak preview of the collab at ComplexCon and the full collection can be found now on Champion’s website here. Cian Moore x Blackstock & Weber: Lucky Loafers New York photographer Cian Moore has shot some of the biggest acts in music and fashion, from Jack Harlow and A$AP Rocky to Cactus Plant Flea Market and Prada. Having begun the development of his Clover brand, Cian blessed us with the launch of his Lucky Loafer - yes, we’re on that loafer train! - made in partnership with Blackstock & Weber, one of the best makers of loafers in the game right now. The Lucky Loafers feature a buttery green and white leather upper with a Cian’s signature clover embroidered at the centre of each toe box. If the Lucky Loafer is any indication of what else is to come from Cian then we will be on the edge of our seats heading into the new year. The loafers are now sold out but follow Cian’s IG to stay up to date on his latest projects and releases. Stay tuned to The Roundup series to discover the coolest new people, brands and releases each month and keep it locked to all of Pier Five for stories and interviews with our favourite designers, entrepreneurs, creators and more.

A Conversation With Ostrya Equipment

A Conversation With Ostrya Equipment

Photo: @samuelpasquier As a new brand, it can be very hard to go up against the big dogs. Finding a hole in the market and filling that space with a unique offering is key and Ostrya Equipment, a technical wear brand from Montreal, Canada is doing just that. Having observed many of the Canadian outer and activewear brands like Arc'teryx and Lululemon, which are designed in Canada but not actually made there, Ostrya founders Francois and Simon are putting Canada back on the map with hand made, top quality technical garments designed and produced here in Canada. With a team of less than ten but a passion as large as hundreds, Ostrya is showing that the best things can be achieved locally and has attracted a very large network of tech heads and fashion lovers alike. Taking things day by day but with visions of the future, Ostrya is focused on its mission and making big waves one stitch at a time. Hey guys! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Over the last year and a half, GorpCore - outdoors technical fashion - has become a mainstream style choice for many. While Ostrya is technical first, how important is the consideration around fashion for the brand? It’s great that technical wear has been adopted so heavily into mainstream fashion. We’re always thinking about this but we try not to let it influence the designs too much. Our main focus is creating products that can outperform any other. It’s cool to see that the fashion clientele are starting to look more at technical wear and made in Canada products and we’re happy they like our pieces but it’s always function first for us. We also know that price point may be a factor that can impact who is consuming our products. We sell expensive products because they’re the best and made by hand here in Canada. There’s no fashion or hype tax here. We’re breaking our backs to make the best product. If people are down to support that, then that’s great, no matter how they’re consuming it. Would there ever be an expansion into more fashion first products do you think? We’ll definitely make some product that is less technical down the line but not necessarily as a way to please the fashion clientele. Our goal is to continue to show that we can make more great products in Canada so that will always be the core meaning behind our product lines. I don’t think we’d ever just make a fashion line though. While fashion may not be the core focus, you’ve definitely caught the eye of some top tier fashion retailers. How does it feel to be a technical first brand selling in stores like SSENSE and Better Gift Shop? It’s definitely a pretty cool thing [laughs]! SSENSE was actually the first retailer to place a wholesale order with us which was awesome. They can buy from the biggest brands all over the world so to see them support us as the smaller local brand was an incredible feeling. It’s wild thinking about how they carry our chalk bags and people buy them. It’s funny because we don’t really know what people are buying them for though. Maybe people are buying the chalk bags to put a wine bottle in and that’s fine with us. It’s a really nice and well made bag so maybe that’s enough for them to buy and if it then inspires them to try climbing one day because they have the bag, that would be the best possible thing to happen. Love that attitude! The both of you come from technical design and production backgrounds so the foundation for creating the garments has always been there. What was it like coming at Ostrya from an entrepreneurial angle where you were now also responsible for things like brand development, finances and building a team? Oh man, it’s really intense. It’s a lot of work but it’s super fun. We both really complete each other. We have the same vision and that is super important to run a business. We’re learning every day. It’s like a never ending puzzle. There’s constantly new problems that you need to solve and things can take a long time and it can take a while to see the money. We have some nice days and some tough days but overall when I think about it, having Ostrya is great. When we were shipping things to retailers a while back, I just looked at it and thought “this is crazy'', seeing those boxes that used to be just rolls of fabric and now we’re packing garments. It’s crazy to step back and see it all happening now and having those moments where the team can chill and have a beer and just be happy about all the progress we’ve made makes all the hard times worth it. Do you have any tips for new entrepreneurs just starting out? It’s funny because we get asked this every now and then but we’re still super young and learning every day. I guess there must be some things we’re doing right though [laughs]. The main thing I’d say is that there’s no right time to start or launch your project. It’s easy to work and wait to launch forever but you’ll never be totally ready. You just need to start and then learn as you go. Once you’re going, don’t be afraid to seek out for help and advice and get another opinion. There are a lot of people around you that know things better than you and will be willing to give their time if you ask for it. Those are great tips. What would you say is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made? Hmm, that’s a tough one. It’s not necessarily a mistake but sometimes we laugh about how it would have been so much easier not to establish ourselves as a made in Canada brand. That’s what we are and our passion is in quality made in Canada goods so we’ll never change that but we know it would be so much easier if we just made it overseas. That’s our differentiator though so we know we have to stick with it. Lastly, while we bundle up for a brisk winter, what can we expect to see from Ostrya over the next few months? For Spring 2022, we’re making trail running and climbing gear as well as some more casual gear like hemp shirts and shorts. That will be more of a line or full collection than this past Fall/Winter line was and we’re super excited to have a bigger offering. While we’re growing so much though, we want to keep things small and close to home. We don’t want to grow too quickly to a point where we lose control. We want to ensure things are always enjoyable for everyone here on the team. Interesting. Have you thought about that growth more long term, like where you might want to be in 5 or 10 years? We’re taking everything one day at a time but we’re also trying to think about things more long term now. It’s hard for a young business to think like this because there’s a lot of uncertainty but, at the moment, we’re thinking about 5 years down the line a bit. We want the vibe of the company to be really great and focus on the culture for all of the people that work here. That’s key no matter what the growth looks like long term. If we can have a great culture and keep putting out the best possible product, that’s the win. Love that! Any final thoughts? Come to your showroom! It’s so good to be able to feel these clothes in person and try them on. Every time people come by and try on the jackets, they absolutely love them and it’s always a good time chilling here. For updates on new releases and events coming from Ostrya Equipment, follow their Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

A Conversation With Estudio Niksen

A Conversation With Estudio Niksen

Montreal-based fashion studio Estudio Niksen has been making a huge splash lately as curators and importers of some of the best international (mostly Korean & Japanese) fashion out there. Recent success has meant things are moving very quickly and as that continues, founders Andres and Gaby are mindful of moving at a pace that’s right for them and taking time to breathe. In comes Niksen, the “art of doing nothing”, a practice that the two have put at the forefront of their business to avoid burnout and ensure that they are creating a hub that fosters creativity while prioritizing wellness and inclusion. We got the chance to speak with Andres & Gaby about balancing passion and business, being a fashion label without an overt home-base, building international partnerships, how to do “baggy” the right way and of course, the art of doing nothing from their lens. You’ve spoken about the importance of finding a balance between making for yourself and making for them. How do you do this and have you found it difficult to accomplish as you grow? It’s definitely not easy. As you grow the business, it’s hard not to be swayed by the audience feedback and start thinking about what gets the most likes or engagement. A lot of people fall into the trap of creating for likes and not for yourself. We try to be very disciplined about this and try to make a habit of critically thinking about the moves we make. This is not to say that we just disregard how our audience might react to what we do but we just want to make sure that when we look at what the business has become in 5 years we aren’t too far about why we started this whole thing. How do you think about this balance from a financial perspective? Obviously we love everything we put out but we know there are products that will sustain the business and that customers will always come back for, while others that we get a little crazier with might not always sell the most but are fun for us. We obviously have to think about money but we try not to let it impact our decisions too much. Although Estudio Niksen is fairly new, you’ve both been in the design and art scene for quite a while. What made you want to go out and start your own project? Andres: I’ve always been really into Asian design and have spent a long time learning how to source pieces from countries like Korea or Japan. My friends used to start asking me to help them find pieces because they didn’t know how to find good designers out there and there was really nowhere here that you could find good and somewhat affordable stuff like that. Having been in fashion for a while I had often thought about starting my own project, mostly thinking about launching a brand, but I decided instead that my project would be curating these great pieces from around the world and bringing them to North America. I love putting people on stuff that I think is cool so this was the perfect opportunity to do this at a bigger scale. Having Gaby with me has been huge for Estudio Niksen as well. Her background is in art history and museology and she handles all the design and art direction in the homewares part of the business which is super important for the brand. What are the best and worst things about running a fashion business out of Montreal? The best thing is that it’s small so word spreads a bit more easily and everyone is super tight. I guess that can also be a bad thing though sometimes since you can get boxed into a small scene. Since we’re importing and selling domestically and internationally though, we don’t really get labeled as a “Montreal brand” but people do think it’s cool when they learn that we’re based here. We’ll sell to people in Los Angeles and they have no clue that they’re shopping on a Canadian site until they get tracking from Montreal [laughs]. It’s interesting what you say about not necessarily needing to stake your claim as a “Montreal Brand” and we can see this in how diverse all of the work you put out is. Absolutely! We have roots from all over, like I’m from Venezuela and live in Montreal and love Korean fashion. We’ve kind of found our land in this no-man's-land. Gaby is the same way. We’ll try to mix things up as much as possible with different models, different languages and different styles. Estudio Niksen is meant to be a hub for people with shared passions and diverse cultures so it doesn’t really matter where we’re based. Especially with social media and the internet, we can share things with people all over the world, no matter who they are or where they’re from. Can you talk about the process of connecting with small/independent designers around the world to bring in products for Estudio Niksen? For sure. It’s a pretty crazy experience. We’ve probably spoken to over 250 small creators around the world and bought from maybe 40 of them. We’ve learned how to communicate with them and get deals done which took some time. Really a lot of it just boils down to money overseas. If you can pay for an order, that’s what will open doors but then once we’re in, we really try to build and foster relationships with the designers. The brand's name Niksen comes from the “art of doing nothing”. Why was that important to you and the project? Andres: I’ve been an extrovert my entire life. My dad used to always tell me that I had to learn more about being with myself. I do like doing a lot but I’ve also learned to enjoy having my own time and space. A few years ago I discovered the idea of Niksen “doing nothing” and I’ve been following it ever since. I think it’s super relevant along the lines of mental health and entrepreneurship, saying that it’s ok to take time to reset and that you don’t always have to be going at full speed 24/7. Niksen flows into the products we curate as well. The clothes are comfortable and approachable and we lean on the living space designs as well to create comfort in our daily spaces. Can you give us a 5 step guide to “doing nothing”? There isn’t really a guide or one way to “do” Niksen. It’s a mindset that you practice and design for yourself over a long time. That being said, I can share some tips that might help someone looking to start. The first thing is curating an environment that you feel comfortable in alone and without distractions. That space could be your home, the park, the movies or wherever but make sure it’s someone you always feel good in and can relax in. Once you’re in your space, put your phone down, get away from the distractions and just do nothing. I know it sounds weird and it might be strange to do at first but you just need to do nothing without purpose. Niksen isn’t something you achieve. Once you find what works for you, keep at it. Practice makes perfect and overtime it will feel more comfortable and become more effective. We will definitely be trying this! Next question; can pants be too baggy? Haha, that is a great question. We definitely have some big pants on the site which we love but yes, pants can be too baggy. If you’re going to wear baggy, be intentional with it. Understand the environment that these baggy styles come from. Think about what shoes and what tops look good with baggy pants so you can get the outfit right. Overall, we’re super excited that baggy is becoming more accepted. There has always been a stigma around baggy pants, associating it with sloppiness and people always thought tighter was better. We’re glad to see more people wearing baggier clothes. It’s more comfortable and, if done right, can look really cool. So true! Lastly, what are you guys excited about next for Estudio Niksen? With covid restrictions loosening up, we’re very excited to get people together and start doing more events. We often think about how we would be able to connect with people and run the brand if Instagram or the internet didn’t exist. It’d be in person, face to face interactions. That’s what we want more of. We also have some exciting new collaborations coming up with Canadian talent before the end of the year. The first one of the batch just dropped with Wayhome which was some really cool hand sewn patchwork pieces. More stuff at that caliber is coming soon. Oh, and more wide pants [laughs]! For updates on new releases and events coming from Estudio Niksen, follow their Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

A Conversation With Photographer Wade Hudson

A Conversation With Photographer Wade Hudson

As a creative, there are many avenues that you can take to turn your passion into a career. More often than not, this will require others and understanding how to balance personal efforts and the inclusion of those around you will take you to great heights. Toronto based photographer Wade Hudson understood this early on, partnering with those whom he enjoyed and shared passions with, creating equal value and fostering growth for one another. The secrets of finding great people to work with take time to uncover and we got the chance to catch up with Wade to learn about how he identifies talent around him, capitalizes on opportunities at every moment and produces the best possible outcome within each situation. Take a read through the conversation below to hear from one of Toronto’s best shooters. In 2013 you did a shoot with a wee youngster by the name of Joey Bada$$. How does it feel shooting people at an early age and then watching them blow up into huge superstars? Nearly every person I shoot I am a big fan of so watching them come up is really quite fascinating to me. When I heard [Joey] bada$$, I was like “this guy is going to be a huge star”. It’s obviously hard for me to know at the moment where they’ll be down the line but that doesn’t matter to me when I’m working. When I’m around people like that I try to just be myself and show my interest in them. Joey and so many others are so genuine and great people and that makes it really fun to follow their careers and growth. The best thing is seeing where they are years later and know that their attitudes haven't changed and that they’re still humble. What are some tips you’d give to creatives looking to connect with talent to work with? If you’re seeking out talent to work with, make sure that your skill is at the level that it needs to be to execute your vision with the talent. After that, be ready to move quickly. Opportunities don’t always come with a lot of advanced notice. Be ready to move on things at any moment. I’d also say, from a mental standpoint, know that anyone is accessible if you persevere. This doesn’t mean they are accessible today but if you work hard enough, anyone can be accessible and so you should always shoot your shot. You won’t get anywhere if you never ask. Another way to get buy-in from talent is to remember that someone’s time can be more valuable than money. Don’t overlook experience and the impact that personal connections can make in the long term. Lastly, be patient. Things take time so don’t give up. When you have the time to plan with someone, how long does it take to ideate a shoot? It’s really as long as I have. I usually don’t have a ton of time so I work with the elements in the moment. When I do have time, I’ll just make sure I can complete all the needed - or ideal - steps in that amount of time. Finding references, finding the right people to bring in like stylists, creative directors, etc. is all important. I’ll try to get calls or meetings together beforehand to discuss how we can make the best product possible and how we can cater the shoot to the subject. How involved are the subjects in creating the story for the shoot? For the most part, when I reach out to people I have the concept of what I want them to look like already in mind. If it’s my creative shoot, it has to follow my style and I need you to do what I have envisioned. Obviously I'm open to ideas depending on who you are, like if you’re a creative director you might have good ideas, but if I simply approach you because I like your look, I will have the concept down. This is different though if I’m shooting for a client and their ideated project. In that case, I’m helping execute their vision. Would you say more of your work is client focused or your creative work? It depends on the time of year so that’s hard to say. They go hand in hand though for my career so it’s not too big of a deal to do one more than the other from time to time. My creative work is how I pull clients in and my client work pays for my creative work. I’d always like to do more creative work but client work is needed. Right. That’s a good outlook on the two. Do you think you could ever get to a point where you’re only doing creative work? I think there are photographers that have found a great balance where the work they do on their own and the work they do for clients are very similar but it’s hard to only ever do your own thing, if only due to money. I’m always working to bring my ideas into the client work to make it fun and reduce the space between that and my client work but I don’t think I’d ever stop doing client work. Interesting, and I guess client work also brings new sets of challenges that can make you a better photographer. Changing gears now, what are 5 do’s or don’ts of shooting with someone for the first time? That is true and a great question. I can only give these tips from my perspective but... DON’T have your camera in hand when you first meet someone. This helps to remove the power dynamic of the subject and photographer. DO have a conversation with the subject before you shoot. Learn about them and what they are comfortable with. This will make the shoot much better for everyone and deliver the best results. DON’T talk about why you’re qualified or who you’ve worked with in the past. In that moment, nobody cares about who you’ve shot in the past. DON’T show the subject the shots when you’re shooting. It often makes the subjects less comfortable. Instead, talk to them as you shoot. Sometimes you can’t follow this depending on the subject but this is what I find is typically best. DO discuss what the subject should be doing in the photograph before they sit in front of you. You want to make sure everyone knows what they’re going into. You recently became a father (congratulations!). Has that journey with your wife and now your newborn son influenced your work? Thank you! Right now, not too much has changed but I imagine as he grows, it may impact the work, what jobs I take, how I see things, etc. Just a crazy time learning to be a father [laughs]. Although it was published over 7 years ago, your Jamaican Proverb Series still lives as one of the best photography series that we have ever seen. Do you have a proverb that you live by? A lot of these are just kind of always relevant but one that I think back on a lot is “Ebry dawg ave im day, ebry puss im four a clock.” which translates to “Every dog has his day, every cat his 4 o’clock.” This has a few meanings. Some days you win and some days you love. Good fortune comes at different times for everyone. Do not behave as if you are better than others. Oh, love that. Super important as a creative for sure. Do you have a favourite story from your time as a photographer? Yes! About 5 years ago I went to London because I was interested in potentially moving out there and wanted to check out the scene. Some of the modelling agencies out there were having these openings where you can just go and shoot their models. They basically invite you out, introduce you to the models and you shoot for the day. I went out and shot about five or six models that day and got some shots that I really liked. After the shoot I went onto the agency websites to find all of the models I had shot but there was one person I couldn’t find anywhere. It turns out that it was Grace Bol who is a big time model, like she’s been on iPhone backgrounds including my own [laughs] and has modelled for so many major brands. She’s huge! I don’t even know why she was there that day and I had been speaking to her for about twenty minutes without a clue of who she was and it was such a wild moment realizing it after the fact. Honestly, it was probably better that I didn’t know at the time or I likely wouldn’t have had the confidence to ask her to shoot. Wow! That’s insane. I guess sometimes it’s better not knowing all [laughs]. Lastly, now that we are starting to return to some normalcy in the world, what are you most excited for work-wise? I just want to go back home to Jamaica. I have a ton of ideas and people that I want to be with and I just can’t get down right now so that will be the first thing I do when I can. I lived there until I was sixteen and then moved here. Before Covid I was there a few times a year so I really want to get back. Check out more of Wade's work on his website and follow him on Instagram to catch all of his latest work. Keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

The October Roundup

The October Roundup

Welcome to Pier Five monthly round ups, a look back at some of the people, brands & things that caught our eye this month that we thought you should know about. Ruru Baked x Adidas Canada To celebrate Adidas’ Confirmed app launch in Canada, Toronto-based small batch custard ice cream maker Ruru Baked partnered with Adidas to create an exclusive new flavour. If you know Ruru Baked, you know their flavours are unique & delicious and the Adidas Confirmed flavour sounds just as amazing. White chocolate ice cream coloured with butterfly pea powder, lemon thyme cake and lemon glaze. Our mouths are watering! Jordan Brand Joins Makeway If you haven’t heard of Makeway, then listen close! Makeway is Canada’s first standalone sneaker boutique by women, for women. They’ve created a space for women to connect, celebrate & build community through sneaker & streetwear culture, and this month, they made a huge announcement with the launch of Jordan Brand at the shop. To celebrate the launch, Makeway re-released the Jordan 1 Low Shattered Backboards and had a live raffle party with their community; the right way to sell sneakers. Congratulations to the Makeway team! Ostrya FW21 Launch Founded in 2019, Ostrya handcrafts high-performance technical outerwear designed for protection, looking good and comfort. The Montreal-based outdoor brand specializes in sustainably sourced garments that combine materials with the latest innovations in the outdoor industry. This month, Ostrya launched their Fall/Winter ‘21 collection which consisted of earth-toned down-filled parkas, water-resistant rain jackets, warm fleece pullovers & sustainably sourced duck canvas pants. Their collection is no joke and we think they’ve found the formula for combining technical features with minimalist styling that can weather all elements. Check out the full collection on their website here. Hotpot Variety’s New Site We all know bucket hats have been a huge vibe lately. Now, imagine the classic bucket style we love done in colourful hand-crocheted knits! Toronto-based creative Jessica Prapp is doing just that under her newly launched brand, Hotpot Variety. A brand new site - which hosts a very cool design matching the vibe of the hats - opened this month to make it easier for all of you to view her creations and add them to your headwear collection. Our favourite colourways are the “Snakey Snake” & the “Sour Patched”. Go check out her online store and cop a hat before they’re gone. Vincent Tsang x The Letter Bet Multi-disciplinary artist and designer Vincent Tsang releases his first reproduction of his handmade ceramics with Montreal art gallery & boutique Letter Bet. Together they produced one of Vincent’s signature characters into a sculpture form; made with a sandstone and resin mixture to create a rough texture to the eye yet a smooth texture to the touch. These will look awesome on anyone's coffee table, or even as a book weight so make sure to act fast as they’ve only made 50 pieces and news of a restock after they’re gone is uncertain. Cop yours before they sell out on the Letter Bet's online store here. Stay tuned to The Roundup series to discover the coolest new people, brands and releases each month and keep it locked to all of Pier Five for stories and interviews with our favourite designers, entrepreneurs, creators and more.

A Studio Visit With Simon Petepiece

A Studio Visit With Simon Petepiece

Earlier this summer, Pier Five visited industrial-artist Simon Petepiece's montreal studio to tour the new space, chat about what the artist is working on and looking forward to, and of course, pick his brain for some tips for aspiring artists. The Ottawa native, now situated in Montreal, currently co-runs New American House, a joint studio specializing in functional art, objects and furniture as well as his own design practice. He has established himself both through personal and client projects utilizing often unnoticed materials, primarily meant for in construction, in a unique way. Scroll down to watch the video interview with Simon, as well as some behind the scenes photos. Swipe through the slideshow for photos. To learn more about Simon and everything that he has going on, check out New American House and Simon's Instagram and keep it locked to Pier Five for more stories and interviews with our favourite designers, entrepreneurs, creators, brands and more.

Finding That Secret Sauce With Tam Vu

Finding That Secret Sauce With Tam Vu

When you’re on a team, there is room to be comfortable. Once you’re out on your own, everything falls onto your shoulders. Depending on who you are, this can be daunting or extremely exciting. Vietnamese-Canadian artist Tam Vu sits on the side of excitement having set out on his own, only a little over a year ago, after spending most of his time with different teams in the creative fashion industry. Now on a mission to bring the stories of his native country to North America through a fashion and lifestyle goods import business and visual art, Tam is keeping very busy and having fun doing it. We had the pleasure of speaking with Tam about his business, setting out on his own, how he stays motivated and authentic through his work and his keys to finding the secret sauce that can take any creator to new heights. Hey Tam! Can you talk about the purpose behind your TKV business? I was starting to burn out at the design studio I was working at and it was difficult not to notice that the racist micro aggressions were becoming more and more overt in my daily life during the pandemic. Like, I know racism exists. It didn’t go away while I was too busy head-down-pedal-to-the-metal working. I faced micro aggressions on the daily – but I had learned to deal/cope with it by not giving it any energy otherwise I would just be angry all the time, and I just didn’t have the bandwidth, or personality, for that When the pandemic hit, like many others, I had the time and privilege to reflect on what was going on personally and professionally. This sounds so egocentric... but I thought about how unique and un-unique I was. My whole environment and context of being Vietnamese, being Canadian, belonging, not belonging, working in design and culture, skateboarding, basketball, my life experiences, language, code switching, on and on, makes me a unique person, but I also share a lot of the same challenges and experiences that other diaspora (Vietnamese or not) face. With this line of thinking, I wanted to create something for others like me. I wanted to create a framework that could both support an artistic practice and also support my golf addiction… and to do it in a way that I could still sleep at night. I wanted to create something that I never had when I was younger, something Vietnamese, something ______, something in-between, something – maybe not to look up to – but just something that existed. I want a 12 year old me to look at this project and be like WOW this is so sick, but also if the 12 year old me sees this project and thinks WOW this is so suck, I can do this, but better. That for me, is just as amazing. That’s why it was important to have my Vietnamese name be front facing, so people know – it’s Vietnamese. I don’t know, the long and short of it is exactly that, exactly the name, TKV® Business & Fine Arts. It’s just biz and sometimes it’s not. Do you find that the import business and the art business work together or are they more separate? They definitely work together. The imports help support my art practice and the art practice helps support the business. They go hand in hand. I have a flowchart that I made for myself when I was launching the project that I’ll refer to from time to time that outlines exactly how. It was important for me to create a financial framework where the business side and my art practice could sustain themselves independently of each other. I didn’t want to be put in a position where I had to make weird business decisions to fund an art project, or not be able to make a project because of a lack of funds. I don’t know – even the business side is an art project in itself. At the end of the day, it all works together in one bank account and stews in one brain, so it is what it is. Photo: Ryan Lebel How do you choose which products to import for that portion of TKV? Intuition? A lot of these items are goods that I’ve been drawn to from a young age when I would go to Vietnam. I always liked the slides, dép tổ ong, and learned through my community and family about their cultural significance. There’s no How It’s Made or Wikipedia page on them, the slides have an oral history and I am happy to share this history through TKV. This same thinking is applied to the work suits that I import, the stools, the fans, the bags. These are all common place products in Vietnam – and I love being able to share their significance to a wider audience. The suits are wild. They are labourer uniforms for blue collar workers, made all over Vietnam in hundreds of different colours and materials. The crazy thing is – from factory to factory throughout Vietnam, it’s the same pattern, same cut, same everything, same every time. Having worked in apparel production domestically, I know from experience, even having production replicate a pattern, THAT THEY MADE, is sometimes a harrowing experience. The stools are amazing, it’s like Vietnam’s monobloc chair. Cheaply made, abundant, honestly beautiful. I love going to a food stand and this is what everyone is sitting on. Obama and Bourdain sat on the XL version, but still, same same. These are products that resonated with me and through this project I get to investigate why. When you land on my website – you get all the research, all the why’s and what I’ve found. I invite you to investigate the why’s with me and hope you fall in love with the items too. Or you just like the colour, that’s fine too. Photo: Ryan Lebel What have you learned from launching the project? I learned that you need to try, to try. It’s easy to get stuck trying to perfect the sauce, or what you think is the perfect sauce, but at the end of the day you need to be able to open the restaurant. And if you don’t want to turn on the restaurant OPEN light, at least open the door. You need to be able to do it and to keep it moving. I learn something from everything I do, good and bad. Sometimes I like the feeling of being scared, standing on the top of the cliff getting ready to jump in the water. I’ll stand there for a while, and think about how scared I am, and how cool it is that I am so scared, because how often in life do I feel this scared. Then I jump. The trick for me is acknowledging that I’m scared but that I still need to do it, because I don’t want to climb back down the cliff, dry, and all my friends are there, and they will all post stories on IG that I didn’t jump, and they will laugh, but in a supportive way, and I will feel sheepish, and regret that I didn’t try. I know sometimes this is easier said than done but you really just have to do it. It’ll say on my gravestone “At least he tried” [laughs]. Couldn’t agree more with that. Let’s talk about the art side more. You recently exhibited ‘Their Country’ in Montreal, a painting series which depicts your interpretations of your family’s stories of immigration and painted by painters in Vietnam. Was it challenging working with painters overseas and why was it important for you to pursue that path? So, those painters actually lived three blocks away from my family home in HCMC. I used to walk by them every day and so the communication wasn’t really any more challenging than speaking with apparel suppliers overseas. Being able to speak Vietnamese obviously helped as well. It was important for me to work with the painters in HCMC because they were an integral part of the artworks. The paintings are the “art objects” but the entire process is the art. The communications through the supply chain to make the paintings, the conversations with my family, the translation of the memories, these are the vital and critical parts of the work. For me, outsourcing the paintings to oil painters in Vietnam was not a means to find cheap labour, but to engage the Vietnamese painters into an artwork that also speaks to their experiences and perspectives. The War impacted an entire population and continues to have ripple effects through generations and isn’t bound by geographic borders. The conversations that emerged from these paintings are extremely valuable to me. What was the exhibition experience like? This was my first art show as an artist. It felt like a bootcamp putting everything together. There is some crossover from my previous work doing pop-ups and seeing what it takes to do that, but this is really another learning experience. I was able to see what worked, what didn’t work, what took too much energy, what needed more energy. It was low stakes enough that I could experiment with what felt right to me, but also high enough pressure that I didn’t want to fail. I often struggle a lot with perfectionism in my work but, with this, I really just put it out there and enjoyed myself. Shout out to the ARTCH exhibition team, Sarah, Margot, Myriam, as well as all the participating artists. Everyone was amazing. Well whatever you did, it definitely worked! You also have some other unique ventures in the works; Cheers Mate Soda & Piano Golf. What’s the story behind these? With Piano Golf I wanted to find a way to bring a new perspective to golf. It always felt out of reach with huge cultural barriers. During the pandemic I got into it, and found that it had so many similarities to things that I loved like being outside, competing against myself, hitting a ball. In a way it felt a lot like skateboarding, like knowing where your body is in space, trying the same motion over and over again. Once again, I found that there wasn’t anything out in the golf world that really connected with me. I started this fun business (emphasis on fun) with my friends Myles Perkins and Dylan Bourdeau, it’s a way to intersect golf with other aspects of our interests. Plus it was a way to find more excuses to golf. Cheers Mate (mah-teh) Yerba Soda is an opportunity that presented itself to me at a time where I was looking to work on a project that was a little more biz focused. It’s still in its infancy, a classic – we’ve opened the door to the restaurant but the OPEN sign is not on yet. It’s been a great experience working on this project so far and I’m looking forward to where it’ll lead next… cheers! In an age where everything we see on social media is so calculated, you seem to just have fun with it and post whatever is on your mind. How do you feel about the current state of social media and do you think we all need to be a bit more chill? When I was getting ready to launch TKV® Business & Fine Arts, I put so much time and thought into how my Instagram was going to be, and look and feel, and had this realization like, damn – if I stress like this every time I need to make a post or story, it’s going to be horrible. How do I find a way to make this easy? So I just really post what I think is funny, pertinent and easy, and if my business fails because of this – then there are bigger issues with my business than that. Some of the content have planning behind them, but I do that because I enjoy it – and because I feel like it’s important to tell a certain story a certain way. Honestly I’m just trying to try here. For others, it’s so subjective and so hard for me to say what others should do. People should just do what is comfortable for them. Feel that! Before we let you go, what’s next for Tam Vu? Well, I’m going home to have dinner and that’s exciting [laughs]. I am moving into a new studio which I’m super excited for. I’m going to be setting up a showroom and a space where I can execute more stuff. A severe lockdown mandate in Vietnam was just lifted, so a lot of things are about to start coming in. The supply chain is still a mess, so a 3-4 month forecast is murky, but I have the next few collections and coloured suits coming in. I received some funding to do some more paintings and have some other art projects on the horizon too. I also just received a hand me down golf simulator, so hopefully this will keep me busy over the winter. I’m also learning to play piano… The winter is usually my most productive time… I try to stave off the winter blues this way. Check out Tam's Instagram for news on his upcoming releases and hit the TKV Shop to cop some sweet Vietnamese gear. Keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

A Conversation With Daniel and Caleb of Circle Author

A Conversation With Daniel and Caleb of Circle Author

Coming off of a very successful launch for their Olympic Collection, we caught up with the founders of Circle Author, a new brand taking the arts and fashion scene by storm with their vintage inspired designs, thoughtful story telling and positive messaging. Driven by the desire to inspire change in as many people as possible, Circle Author has become a platform for connecting like minded creatives and positive thinkers in addition to offering artistic experiences and fresh products. Read through the conversation below to learn more about the brand, the meaning behind their powerful mantras, how they connect with their audience through transparency and much more. Hey Caleb & Daniel, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. For those who may not know, who are you & what is Circle Author? Hey guys! We’re Daniel & Caleb, the founders of Circle Author. Circle Author started in 2019 when we were talking about working on a project together. We’re both very into fashion but we didn’t immediately think about a clothing brand. We just knew that whatever we started had to be purposeful. The clothing brands that we love are all very idea and community driven and not just about design and we saw that as inspiration which is what ultimately led to the start of Circle Author. Today, Circle Author is a clothing brand but our goal is to use the clothing to inspire others, spread positivity and help others to find the beauty and art in their lives, which we do through storytelling with the clothing that we make. Can you speak more about Circle Author’s mantra of “Art is Everywhere”? How do you feel it translates into the products that you make? “Art Is Everywhere” is about the idea that you can be inspired by everything. A lot of people think art can only be found in galleries or online but the truth is, anything can be art. We think it’s important for people to have an open mind to the art that is all around them and that by doing so, it will create a much more innovative and creative world. With our designs, sometimes we’ll use overt messaging to inspire people and push them to open their eyes to the “art world”. Other times we just make what we like as an expression of our own creativity. At the end of the day, this project is just fun for us but if we can inspire others in some way then that is a win as well. You both do a great job of giving a behind the scenes look into the thought process and experimentation of the brand, especially with your subpage @catalog.ca. What is the reason for wanting to give your audience that inside look? @catalog.ca was created because there was a ton of stuff that we wanted to share that didn’t always match our main feed. The way you present yourself [on your main page] is super important and we wanted to maintain that clean image but still bring people in and keep them involved with us every day. Having a secondary page helps us continue to give our following something, even when we don’t have final projects to post on the main Circle Author page. This makes a ton of sense and is definitely a great way to stay top of mind. Do you think more brands should do this? Some should. Some shouldn’t. It definitely makes brands feel more approachable which can be very valuable for certain brands but others succeed based on that exclusivity and secrecy. The brands that we really like though are more inclusive so it feels right to us. What brands are you inspired by? Aime Leon Dore. Mad Happy. New York Sunshine. They all have great aesthetics, awesome products and just an all around great vibe. We’re also both heavily inspired by vintage and reference vintage designs a ton for our own pieces. What are your favourite pieces from your collections so far and why? The Change The World pieces mean a lot to us. The design is simple but it represents a community of people making a positive impact on the world. The Good Ol’ Apple Co collab tee as well was super fun to put together. We did that one with our homie Andrew who also does mockups for Mad Happy which was very cool. We also loved making the Aged Hoodie because we experimented with new methods of screen printing and it came out really cool. We unevenly hit the screen to give it a faded vintage look and spent a ton of time making each one by hand. It didn’t actually sell as well as some of the others but we really loved it. All great pieces. The Change The World collection specifically is definitely a standout collection for Circle Author and really well executed. What’s the secret to putting out a product like this that, although it is quite simple design-wise, has a bigger meaning behind it? The design at the end of the day is only half of the release. The launch and presentation are super important and that’s what makes the difference between an “Instagram brand” and a proper brand that can have longevity. So many of these “instagram brands” just slap logos and phrases on clothes and put them out. Don’t get us wrong, that can totally work for some but we try to ensure that we are building a bigger story behind each piece. We’re trying to build something that can stand the test of time. We believe the Change The World pieces can do this if it’s done right and if we can get people to understand what those words really mean to us and how they represent our community. We totally back this and are glad to see that you both put so much thought behind the product and the story. Lastly, what’s next for you Circle Author that we should all keep an eye out for? We just got an office which we’re super stoked about! All of this stuff is so new to us and things are becoming really real which is sick. We really want to start doing art installments. The dream is to go to Art Basel in Miami and do an installation there. We have this idea of a Change The World vending machine with a huge billboard that says change the world. It’s still an idea in the works but we would love to have a bigger stage to spread that message of positivity. For clothing, we aren’t quite at the point where we plan things really far in advance so it’s hard to say yet. We are looking to get more into cut and sew now that we have some money from past drops. We might do a varsity jacket and a cut and sew trucker hat. Still in the works but we’re rolling with the ideas. We never thought we’d even get to a point where we could think about making these sorts of things but it’s so cool that we can, so stay on the lookout for that. Check out Circle Author's latest release and make sure to follow their Instagram to get updates on their upcoming drops. Keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

A Day In Montreal With LeBicar

A Day In Montreal With LeBicar

Earlier this summer, Pier Five had the pleasure of meeting up with Montreal based artist David Bicari, aka LeBicar, for a jam packed day of art, music, food and great conversations. After a wonderful visit to David’s studio in the Mile End neighbourhood and a skate sesh out back, David was kind enough to show us his lay of the land and what started as a plan for a quick meet up turned into a full day experiencing some of the best spots and events in the city. From salmon tartare avocado toast to one of Montreal’s coolest new galleries, multiple Aperol Spritz stops and VIP at the Mural Festival BBQ and concert, there was no shortage of good times and we can’t thank David enough for his hospitality. A little bit about LeBicar… David has been at the forefront of the Montreal art scene for quite some time. With a unique style, David’s black and white continuous line drawings can be seen all over the city, from gallery displays to storefront walls, murals, home goods and on the bottom of skate decks being ridden down the streets. David is a big advocate for getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things and while his style is consistent and recognizable, he isn’t afraid to take on new challenges and this has led to a flourishing career and many incredible relationships along the way. Hey David! It’s great to be in your studio. Tell us about the space. Great to have you guys. I just recently moved into this space and am loving it. I share it with some awesome creatives and brands which helps us all create better work. There’s a ton of space in here too to work on all of my different mediums; canvas, decks, paper, etc. I like doing different mediums every day to keep things interesting and keep me out of my comfort zone. So much great art here and it’s really cool to see the behind the scenes space. You’ve talked about being inspired by contrast and duality, which can be seen through the stark black & white palette of your work. Can you talk about this inspiration a little bit more? I like to think about the spectrum of people in the world and how stark the differences in lifestyles can be. The black and white in my work is my representation of both ends of that spectrum. The contrast, while simple, is very meaningful to me. This idea of black and white also stems from my early days as an artist in which I started with simple pen on paper drawings. It’s all like a bit of a dance on the paper for me. A lot of artists with simplistic styles sometimes get criticized for a “lack of creativity” (which we do not agree with). How would you respond to this statement? There’s something beautiful about mastering simple design. Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy or bad. You wouldn’t tell Jack Johnson to play heavy metal. When he is only playing a ukulele and singing his songs are still incredible [laughs]. I am a big fan of the “less is more” ideology and I know not everyone likes that but it doesn’t mean that less equals less creative. Great answer! Do you ever miss colours? I feel like I have something to say with black and whit but my door isn’t closed to colours. I’ll often save the colours for my client work when I have to work with their brand colours. Ultimately for me though, storytelling is the most important thing. If the story needs colours, I’ll use it. My series “Imparfaitement Special” (Imperfectly Special in English) was inspired by fruit at the grocery store that was marked on sale for its imperfections using an orange sticker. I still saw the beauty in the fruit and the imperfections and brought that into my work so there was colour there. Again, it always just has to be about the story. Speaking of clients, you’ve also done a number of collaborations, from shoes and apparel to skateboards and drink brands. How do you choose which brands to work with and which to say no to? I’ve been lucky enough to reach a place recently where the phone has been ringing which is a great thing. I love collaborating as I feel it makes me a better artist and most brands that reach out to me have done their research and know me so luckily I don’t have to say no to many people. If I don’t feel that there is a natural connection I might say no, or I’ll work to educate them about my work to try and make something work out. I also have gotten hit up in the past for free jobs or ones that pay in “visibility” which I don’t like. Exposure or visibility is nice but I can’t pay my rent with visibility. I’ve worked hard to understand my value and I know I can bring exposure to other people as well. I don’t need to be making tons but mutual value creation is important. That’s a great mentality to have. What would you say to a new artist that is looking to determine their “value” or what they should maybe be charging for work? One thing to remember is that value doesn’t always equal money. That doesn’t mean work for free but there are other ways to gain value for sharing your work. It could be trading time, services, ideas, etc. I can’t really say how much time or what services you should get in return. That’s up to you but just remember money isn’t everything. That being said, I do think it’s important to charge when you can, even if only a little, to build your negotiating skills. Lastly, above all else, I always say that the first person you need to sell your work to is yourself. Be confident in your work and that will take you everywhere. All great points but that last tip is definitely key! Let’s talk about skateboarding! How long have you been skating for and how does it influence your day to day style? Skateboarding is a huge part of my life. It is responsible for opening my eyes to so many different things within music and art. I used to always go into skate shops and just admire the skate decks on the wall. I was so enamoured by the art aspect without even knowing it. Now when I’m creating work, a lot of the stories are inspired by the skate scene. The best part about skateboarding though to me is that it allows me to connect with more people. I have my crew of guys that I go skate with at night and when I’m out there, my mind is completely cleared of stress and I just focus on the skating. It’s like a form of meditation and the people that I’m with create such a positive vibe. It’s also taught me to persevere. Some of these tricks take months to learn but you keep trying until you get it. Art is that way too. What’s a trick you’ve been working on for a while? I was just out in Vancouver with some friends and had a small line of a nose slide and then into a backside 50/50. Nothing crazy but felt good. Besides skate culture, flowers or floral elements often seem to make their way into your creations. Why the flower and do you think it is important for artists to have a symbol or shape that is a recurring theme in their art? I think whether it’s a symbol, shape, colour palette or line style, having something consistent throughout your work is important for recognizability. It allows you to take the people that love your work with you as you grow and progress through your journey. That doesn’t necessarily mean never changing, but having something, even if it’s small, be consistent will do a lot for your long term growth. That makes a lot of sense. Lastly, what are 5 tips you’d give to aspiring artists looking to “make it” as an artist? Don’t keep ideas in your head. Put things on paper so to speak and don’t overthink it. Even if it’s not perfect, that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to share your work with others and collect feedback. It’s ok to feel vulnerable but if you open your work up to people, for the most part they will be excited and try to understand what you’re doing. It’s ok if others have their own interpretation of your work at first but have conversations with them and fill them in on your vision. Let them know the story of your pieces instead of just putting out a design and letting it sit. Think about what you want to accomplish with your art. Do you want to just make your own art? Do you want to design for others? Having this understanding will guide you in the right direction. Have fun. Art doesn’t always have to be that serious, even if it’s your full time job. Just enjoy it and your best work will come out. Make sure to follow LeBicar on Instagram to get updates on all of his new work and releases and don’t forget to keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

A Conversation With Kyron Warrick aka Gotsweige

A Conversation With Kyron Warrick aka Gotsweige

Montreal based creative entrepreneur and modern renaissance man, Kyron Warrick, also known by his social channels Gotsweige, has created a name for himself as one of Canada’s fastest growing talents in fashion. As an advocate of the “don’t knock it until you try it” mentality, Kyron has made a strong effort to explore all facets of the fashion industry including styling, creative consulting for brands, content creation, product design and modelling, to develop his skills, identify what he loves and put one-hundred percent of his energy into his success. Now after nearly a decade as a Fashion Youtuber, an impressive following on Instagram and a growing portfolio of impressive clients, Kyron is on a roll and showing no signs of slowing down. Before he outgrows us all, we got a chance to link up with Kyron in his hometown of Montreal to discuss his come up, life as a YouTuber, the need for supporting local brands and never being afraid of what you love and then of course, we had to shoot some street style pics and break down his fits. You’ve been on YouTube for nearly 10 years now. What has that journey been like? It’s kind of crazy that it’s been this long. The first five years were more casual for me but the last five, I have been really focused. Content creation was something I could really take into my own hands which I liked. A lot of fashion is actually slow moving and there’s a lot of waiting around. With YouTube, I didn’t have to do that. I could make content, have fun and create new opportunities for myself through that. You’ve been really ramping up the amount of content lately and the channel has been growing at a really consistent pace. What are 5 tips you’d give to aspiring content creators to increase their success on YouTube? Consistency is definitely the biggest thing. I know people say this a lot but it’s really true. Once I got out of school and could start putting more time into content, things really started progressing. I saw the results of consistency first hand. Have your own thoughts. People will consume your content if there are your own thoughts throughout. Be inspired but make it your own. Do it because you like it and not because you’re looking for validation or growth. Know yourself. Understand what you’re good at and what you’re not good at. Once you identify your strengths, you can go full force into that. On the note of making things your own, your style has always been very unique. Did you ever face criticism for doing things a little differently? Definitely. In high school, while I did have a bunch of friends, people definitely kind of looked at me as the weird kid. I was the only person that I knew who was into fashion but didn’t let that bother me. I was so focused on learning about the industry that I didn’t care about what people thought. One of your more popular content series highlights low-key/up & coming streetwear brands. Why is shining a light on these smaller/local brands so important to you? Any you’d want to shout out today? When I was coming up, I always wished there were people that would shout me out and help me get exposure so now that I have a bit of an audience, I want to be able to be that person for others. Starting from zero is really tough so I want to help lift those people up. I also think that a lot of these brands are really cool and it’s sustainable for me to consume as well because it’s often a bit more affordable and I like knowing that my money is going to someone local and not just into the pockets of big corporations. One of the brands I really love is Wun-Off, they do a lot of pop-culture installments and have a philanthropic side to the brand as well. They recently dropped the “Covid Ruined My Spring Break” hat and used proceeds to buy toys for children in need. installments. Just did the covid ruined my spring break trucker. Grimey MTL is another one I’m really into as well. It’s a pretty common progression for content creators to start their own brands. You’ve done collabs with some in the past but would you ever consider starting your own brand? It’s definitely something that I’m thinking about. Through working with so many others, I’ve learned a lot about what I would need to put into starting my own brand and what I would and wouldn’t want it to be about. A lot of creators are making merch and I definitely don’t want my stuff to be just that. I think about this as a long term play. I won’t be doing Youtube when I’m 40 so if it’s just merch then it ends when Youtube ends. I want my brand to be something that can grow with me and outlive things that I might be doing now. Let’s talk about style now. How would you describe your personal style? What are you wearing these days? My style is very situational based but is often a combination of lively vintage 70’s style and darker silhouettes from brands like Rick Owens. I like to mix bright and dark together. Your style has followed a number of trends, from hype, to sneakerhead to luxury. Looking back on it all, what do you think were some of your best and worst moments in your fashion career thus far? I think my best moment, and potentially also my worst, was the Pyrex-Hood By Air phase. I really wasn’t aware of all that it represented. I was super impressionable, like all kids on the internet were, but it was good for me to go through that and start experimenting with things. It helped me start to really learn about what I do and don’t like. It also exposed me to some black designers who are now making huge waves. (break down Kyron’s fit with pics and labels of the items/brands) Do you think Montreal was integral in developing your style and business? I used to think that I had to get out of Montreal to make it but the internet has so much power so I have always been able to tap into cultures and people around the world without leaving. Montreal is also great as well though. It has given me so many opportunities and really shaped who I am today. In addition, whenever I go visit my family in NY or Philly I can bring that different perspective too which I think plays to my advantage. Overall, Montreal really is a power city and I think that a few more icons coming out of here will be big for putting it on the map. Justin Saunders [JJJound] is doing a lot for the city. I think a big musical figure would be huge too. Totally agree! Lastly, what's next for you? Honestly, I’m taking things day by day. Whatever I enjoy, I’ll work on. The brand is definitely in the works but I don’t have a launch date. I’m going to work on getting even more opportunities in styling as well and just see where things go. And of course, more video content! Make sure to follow Kyron Warrick on Instagram and YouTube to follow his journey and get updates on all of his new work and don’t forget to keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.

The September Roundup

The September Roundup

Welcome to Pier Five monthly round ups, a look back at some of the people, brands & things that caught our eye this month that we thought you should know about. Eames x Reebok Club C Even if you don’t know of famed furniture design duo Charles and Ray Eames, you’ve likely seen their historic work. Now, after teasing an upcoming collaboration with Reebok months ago, we got a look at the Eames x Reebok Club C sneaker and we couldn’t be more excited. The shoe itself is rather simple but does everything right, featuring a premium white tumbled leather upper, multi-color Eames logo on the side, contrasting tan tongues and co-branded Eames Office and Reebok labels to add a little more flair. Unfortunately, these are only made for friends & family, but if this is any representation of what they will be dropping in collaboration with Reebok this Fall, our notification alerts will be on high alert! Trish Andersen Rugs Fiber artist Trish Andersen has a way of creating large scale works of art through yarn in a unique and colourful way. When we say she paints with yarn, we mean it. Her signature colour drip and paint splotch rugs emote a sense of movement, interacting with whatever space they are within. She recently launched her first rug collection featuring 3 iconic designs, “Pure”, “Splat” & “Mixy'' in various sizes which you can now buy at her e-shop. Make sure to grab one of these uniquely fuzzy, drippy works of art before they sell out. Estudio Niksen Herringbone Volume Sets We didn’t know we needed an oversized work jacket and pants set until we saw these from Montreal based design curators Estudio Niksen. They are known for working with independent designers from all over the world to bring well thought-out garments to life, with their most recent release being their Herringbone Volume jacket and pants, made in Korea by designer Peacock Kr. These come in 3 Fall ready colourways, khaki, black and beige and are designed to fit oversized to account for the layering vibes as well as overall comfort. These sets will definitely be staples in your wardrobe this fall so make sure to scoop one up from Estudio Niksen today! Izaak Brandt ‘Deadstock’ Artist Izaak Brandt is exploring archival sneaker culture with his new series ‘Deadstock’. He takes silhouettes from highly sought after sneakers like the Air Jordan 1s all the way to common footwear staples like the Converse All Star and even the Crocs clog and reduces the functionality of them down to a semi-transparent, skeletal-like structure. Brandt hopes to highlight how sneaker collectors are basically treating footwear like a sculpture and not using them for their functional purpose as footwear. Being sneaker lovers ourselves, we really like his narrative and couldn’t agree with his questioning of the culture more. Be sure to follow Izaak’s journey on his Instagram as we’re sure there’s going to be so much more great work to come. MAD mfg ‘Indigo Ultra’ After a bit of a break, we are so excited to see designer Eske Schiralli back with his brand MAD mfg’s third collection. Titled “Indigo Ultra”, the collection focuses on upcycling pre-loved jeans, deconstructing and reconstructing the denim to create 1 of 1 patchwork versions of wide-legged, straight and flared cuts. Each pair mixes different dyes and is made to order, ensuring that your pair will be 100% unique. The rest of the collection includes a boxy chore coat style shirt as well as a bandana to complete the look. Check out the lookbook and shop the full range of pieces at the brand’s website. Stay tuned to The Roundup series to discover the coolest new people, brands and releases each month and keep it locked to all of Pier Five for stories and interviews with our favourite designers, entrepreneurs, creators and more.

Behind The Brand With Gerard Cleal of norda

Behind The Brand With Gerard Cleal of norda

After helping so many others launch their projects, from Opening Ceremony, Belstaff, Little Burgundy & Call It Spring, it was only a matter of time before Gerard Cleal would dive into his own venture. As the Creative Director for norda, Gerard would finally face the opportunity to bring his decades of experience into building the brand identity for trail running’s newest, most advanced and most inclusive footwear brand. From the look and feel to the voice and mission, Gerard has helped develop a brand identity for norda that approaches the sport and all of its athletes differently than any of its competitors, which has positioned norda as a major player within months of the launch. We were fortunate enough to speak with Gerard about how he approached the creative direction for norda, how they treat runners differently than any other brand, tips for new brand builders and of course, what it’s like to be the non-runner at a company of runners. Hey Gerard! Thanks for making the time today to chat. Can you walk us through the process of developing the norda brand identity? What were some of the key things to focus on to develop a brand identity for norda that would stand out from its competitors? Hey guys! Excited to chat. So, here it is. Traditionally, running brands have been built around performance and speed only. There’s sometimes an exclusionary factor to this in which the brands group you into the elite runners bucket or the beginner bucket. If you’re elite, you get the tech. If you’re not, then they give you a lifestyle “runner” without any of the tech or best features. We wanted to get away from that. While we are built on highly technical, next generation materials - and we’re very proud of this - we celebrate every runner equally, whether you’ve just hit your first 5k or you’re an ultra runner. For norda, it’s less about how fast you can run and more about what your running journey looks like, regardless of how far. This led to the question we like to ask; “What do you run for?” We built our customer triad to help us ensure that we were meeting the needs of all runners through our brand identity. There are the elite performance runners, the intermediate runners and the beginner runners or those just hanging out in the lifestyle space (me). norda has to be for all three of these groups but also be able to support people moving up or down the triad. Authenticity was also huge in everything that we built. This was the first opportunity we had to really decide how we wanted to wear our heart on our sleeves. We wanted to be supportive and empower everyone with great products. Our focus is on buying better, not more and about making people feel like they were buying into something that would make them feel something special. It’s not just about putting a flashy logo on the shoe. It’s much more than that and we don’t want our customers to just be walking billboards for norda. Can you talk about the visual identity of the brand? How did you land on the logo, fonts, etc? Speed and performance have generally been synonymous with italics in branding as it denotes movement . We wanted to take a slightly different approach. I am a huge fan of Scandinavian and Nordic design. They have a tendency to sit back more and focus on material and connection to their landscape , culture and history. It’s never overt and obvious. I love this approach and is a cornerstone to why I think branding should always get out of the way. This is what we wanted for norda. The word “still” has really sat with me throughout my design career. We didn’t need the brand to evoke speed or movement. The materials and Louis’s design of the shoe would tell that story and we didn’t need anything to distract from that; the result: a beautiful sense of stillness living throughout. With regards to the typeface, we wanted to explore a more mid-century look, inspired from the original identities of brands we love. That said, Helvetica Now from Monotype which is a new, re-drawn take on Helvetica became our default. Helvetica has been around for ages and is used by a ton of brands like The North Face and even Off-White. In effort to promote a ‘quieter’ presence we went all lowercase and kept it all super simple. Score one for Dieter Rams! For the logo, we wanted to go old school. We’re all huge fans of heritage style sportswear brands like Rapha and Tracksmith. We landed on the shield that is inspired by our own Canadian Shield and that is shifted like a tectonic plate. There’s a strength to a shield, even a disrupted one, that just feels right - it’s really a love letter to this country. -. The norda site was a pivotal moment for the brand and its storytelling. What was it like working with an agency like LG2 to develop the digital experience for norda? LG2 is an incredible agency. They are very client oriented and having the connection between Nick (norda) and Stuart (LG2) helped kick things off really well. We had a bunch of ideas before working with them which I know can make things tricky for agencies sometimes but they weren’t afraid to push back and did so very respectfully which made for a great working relationship. They really cared about the outcome of the project and that led to effective push and pull from both ends. They were committed to creating the absolute best site that they could and we were all very happy with the result. What are 5 things that are important to keep in mind when formulating a brand identity? Firstly, it’s important to define brand and brand identity because they are very different concepts. The brand (logo, wordmark, colours) is really a small piece. The brand identity is the mammoth. That’s the customer, the tone of voice, the identity, the feeling that it gives to customers. That stuff is like the iceberg below the water that isn’t seen but is massively important. Be disciplined. Think about how you connect all of the dots. It’s ok to have different modules within the brand but be disciplined on how they all relate back to each other. Strip away as much as you can and get rid of what isn’t important. I always say to be intentional about what you’re doing and this definitely goes for branding as well. Like I said earlier, branding should always get out of the way. Having more doesn’t make it better. Be curious. Inspiration is going to be everywhere so don’t be afraid to be inspired by what you see and what you make of it. There’s nothing that you’ll ever see that is going to be original. That’s ok. You’ll put your own stamp on what you make to make it your own. That’s what is important. Love those tips! Lastly, we have to ask, what is it like being the “non-runner” on a team of running enthusiasts? I love it. I think you need an outsider on the team to advocate for that newer or non-runner if you’re going to be for everyone. We have this joke with our “What do you run for?” slogan. I run for coffee [laughs]. For more on the norda™ team, check out our Introduction to norda™ and interview with the brand's Head of Design, Louis-Martin Tremblay. Make sure to keep it locked to Pier Five for more interviews and stories with the coolest entrepreneurs, designers, artists, activists and more.