Vancouver designer Jason Matlo takes the plunge into menswear

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After years designing a signature high-end women’s line, sexy ready-to-wear pieces for his Babe brand, and stunning bridal gowns, Jason Matlo has finally taken the plunge into menswear—and he’s done so without leaving his loyal customers out of the picture. In an unexpected move, the Vancouver designer decided to launch his debut Jason Matlo Man collection alongside his women’s fall/winter 2011 collection at the Shangri-La Hotel on February 23. And it worked seamlessly.

When we caught up with the man himself after his wildly successful, packed show, we asked the question that’s been on many people’s minds: what took so long? After all, the local fashion superstar boasts almost as many male fans as female ones.

“It just kept getting pushed back for years,” says Matlo, who has been steadily building a team solid enough to handle the demands of a fourth division. “We decided now is the time because this season people were starting to lean on me: ”˜When’s it coming? When’s it coming? When’s it coming?’”¦And I just sort of needed some new clothes in my closet too.”

With a looming deadline for a preview of the collection, Matlo and co. worked their respective butts off day and night in the week leading up to his big unveiling. (Watch www.jasonmatlo.com for details on availability later this year.)

“We basically put the men’s line together in the last six days,” Matlo says. “We started the patterns, but we didn’t have any actual product because we had to get our women’s ready-to-wear done because it’s our bigger market. We haven’t been sleeping, and I won’t be sleeping till next week now because I have to do a bunch of follow-up things with stores and stuff. I’m running on adrenaline. It doesn’t matter, though; this is a good problem for me.”

You would never know by looking at his perfectly tailored, blacker-than-black runway designs that this was a rush job. The dressy, dropped-crotch Jake trouser ($395), for instance, does what no other Hammer pants have done before: shape the backside nicely (i.e., no diaper ass).

But that wasn’t the only fashion feat he performed. Matlo has also managed to make chic sweatpants for men. Called the Mark pants ($315), they have huge bucket pockets on the sides and a thick drawstring waistband. When paired with a Tommy waistcoat ($310), one of Matlo’s organic cotton Leila scarves ($150), and a tight T, these French fleece bad boys are high fashion all the way.

And what was his inspiration for these bottoms?

“I won’t lie to you, this collection is very autobiographical,” admits Matlo. “I’m a gym guy, so I’m always either coming to or from the gym in something comfortable, and the girls that I work with are always like, ”˜Get out of your damn sweatpants.’?”

Since he had a fit guy like himself in mind, you probably won’t find any allowances for beer bellies in the Jason Matlo Man collection.

“We were cutting the T-shirts quite slim, and the girls are like, ”˜What are we gonna do if the guy has a bit of a gut?’ And I’m like, ”˜My customer has a gym body.’ ”

As for the ladies strutting down the runway, it was all about the Tina ($140 at select stores come fall). This faux lambskin hosiery might look like a pair of leggings, but make no mistake, it is not.

“I need to go on record—we’re not selling a legging look this year,” says Matlo, who’s quite adamant that women who sport his hosiery need to cover up accordingly. “We will not see a bum or a crotch that’s not covered in these.”

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Claudia Labatt (Lang)
I am very impressed with your clothing design - Jason and would certainly like to me you at your store in Vancouver whenever we come to visit. Your mom - put on a fashion show at her place in Phoenix this october where my sister and I were invited for lunch. We drank wine and ate good food and your mom modelled the clothing. We had a great time and your mom is a fashion queen!!! Congratulations on your men's line. All the best - Claudia
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