Vancouver's Men’s Fashion Week ups the style quotient
There are a lot of really great menswear designers in Canada, but you’d never know it from their half-assed representation in many (but not all) fashion weeks across the country.
Sadly, that’s something that Jun D. Ramos knows all too well. He’s co-owner of Ramos + Fortier, a chic line of accessories for men. So, in his line of duty, Ramos has to stay on top of what’s shaking down on the runways. And for a while there, he didn’t like what he was seeing—or rather not seeing—on the catwalks.
“It was just getting a little bit frustrating for me because whenever you go to these fashion shows, it’s always like 99 percent women’s [fashions],” say Ramos, who recently sat down with the Straight at a downtown burrito joint. “I’ve travelled all over Canada and there are a lot of talented Canadian menswear designers, but they’re not being given the same focus for some reason.”
So last year, he decided to launch Men’s Fashion Week—Vancouver, only the fourth of its kind in the world. (Behind Paris, New York, and Milan, but before London!). Instead of wading through all the red tape and time it would take to get support from the city or province, he basically funded the whole thing himself. And he did such a bang-up job, Ramos managed to land some pretty impressive sponsors—most notably ClarinsMen and Thierry Mugler—for his second annual event, which kicks off next Thursday (August 9) at ING Direct Bank (466 Howe Street) with a day of seminars that will focus on all things men, including skin care, health, fitness, and fashion entrepreneurship.
Then next Saturday (August 11) at the Museum of Vancouver, MFW will showcase more than a dozen international as well as local designers, including Katherine Soucie, who will open the show with the launch of her brand new Remaker Menswear Collection. This is definitely a show to catch: this eco-conscious, award-winning Vancouver designer can do amazing things with the most unlikely of fabrics. Give her an old curtain and she’ll turn it into a haute couture dress.
Another highlight will be the debut of Denise Wilson’s first line of Bronsino bags for men.
Granted, there’ll be a lot to take in in one sitting, but there’s a reason why Ramos didn’t spread the showcase out over two days.
“We did it like that so we wouldn’t waste any time for buyers or media,” says Ramos. “This way, they can see all the designers in one day.…So very efficient, very effective.
“And our intention with Men’s Fashion Week,” he continues, “is not to make money for the organization. It’s really for the designers—to help them show their creations and get them media exposure.”
As for the breather day on August 10, that’s no mistake either. Based on last year’s experience, Ramos has learned that’s it better to have a day off in between. After all, he has no desire to burn out his dedicated team or exploit his volunteers.
“Judging from what I’ve seen from other fashion weeks, it’s really how you treat your people,” he says, choosing his words carefully. “If you don’t have happy people, you won’t have a happy event, that’s for sure.”