Hello Brian! November’s East Dane Laundry List where I chat about mens fashion with a guy I know. Brian A. Richards is one of the founding members of The Collections. They’re kind of a one-stop-shop for emerging designers who want to show during Toronto fashion week. He cut his teeth as a stylist and now lends his keen eye to the team backstage producing several shows during the #WMCFW weeks.
We met up at his place in downtown Toronto, where we were met up in the Piano room.
Let’s talk menswear, and what you think about the industry right now.
It’s so funny I’ve thought about this a lot because I like to think about myself as being menswear focused, despite having the pleasure of working with women’s wear and accessories. I am obsessed with menswear. I like how mundane it can be and how trendy it can be. The one thing I always think menswear maintains is a level of function. Because men have been socialized since the dawn of day to be functional. To an extent what a man wears is a uniform and in a psychological sense he has to see it on a functional level of serving a purpose.
Working in fashion obviously it’s your job, it’s an aesthetic, and it’s a way of life. When did you see the trend start of menswear really taking off?
I moved downtown in 2005 and that was kind of the cusp of this musical movement, the electro clash era. Australia and France really pushed this “hipster” dressing, before it was defined as it is now. Before we were all wearing spandex, third eye, smiley faces and tie-dye shirts. It was kind of this appropriation of high-end vintage and like almost clashing it with new age disrespect for fashion. Things were obscenely tight, things were obscenely bright, things were offensive, the only purpose that clothing served at that time was to be disposable and comfortable enough to party in. then I think fashion started bleeding in there because it became about how you referenced things. Early 2000s were about indie rock, and band tees and flannel (which is back in spades now) then 2005 was that electro clash era where androgyny came in…
It was that VICE time.
Yes! It felt like a weird 70s. For me 05 was the beginning of guys dressing for pleasure. At that point metrosexuality had become ubiquitous with Diddy. They say gays lead the trends and I would say that was the last trend that gays actually led.
The mid-naughties were all about that irony, dressing ironically. I loved how you put that it was about the obsceneness of it.
It was fun, at the time I was really good friends with the Oligarchy kids. They came out with the silk screen shirts and they were one of the first Toronto based brands that did alright. I remember they popularized these shirts that were hard block black letters with sayings like Tres Gay, Do More Blow, or Early Bird Gets the Perm, you remember.
It was perfect, because it was all about being obscene, there was no function outside of expressing yourself.
I’m always interested to know what fashion people dressed like in high school.
I was prep.
I was obsessed with Gap, I would spend my allowance on it. I remember grade 7 through till the end of school it was all cardigans, turtlenecks, sweaters, jeans, loafer and pique polos. I was not very adventurous. Probably came from my parents, I had a meticulously religious upbringing. They believed in this level of function because I was considered a sickly child. So there was an importance on clothing being warm and keeping you protected form the elements and making sure the colours were respectable for a boy—all those very traditional elements for clothing. I was an only child and I think there was this iron-clad expectation that my parents emplaced in me. I had the school outfit, the at home outfit, the go outside and play outfit. They believed in upstairs slippers and downstairs slippers.
Because each floor is exposed to different levels of dirt so they didn’t want the transfereance.
Oh my god, I thought my Dad was anal.
Well, they all come from the same cloth. I was a little Gap baby.
How did you morph into your current look?
I would say I definitely had fun during the whole electro era. I’m typically proud of my outfits, but when I look back… I’d say I like can look back and am generally pleased with myself at around 2007. In between 05-07 it was blerg.
Oh those years were awful! I had a Popples sweater.
(Laughing) It may still be cute.
No, really not! But those are those like early twenties and we really can’t be held accountable. Ok back to business, who are your favourite designers?
Marc Jacobs and Walter Van Beirendock.
Where do you see men’s fusion going in the next few years?
Undoubtedly, men’s fashion will continue with this adventurous streak (colours, prints and shapes). Nevertheless, menswear will always maintain a level of function, subsequently limiting how adventurous it can be. That kinda makes me happy.
Thanks Brian! x
Clockwise from top left: n.d.c. made by hand bluemoon chelsea boot; Gitman Vintage Open Air Shirt; AXS Folk Technology Slabs Climber Pants; Wood Wood Paradiski Shirt; Diemme Roccia Vet Boots; Mark McNairy New Amsterdam Thornproof Higgins Pants; Marc by Marc Jacobs Tiger Claw Satin Jacket; Garrett Leight Oxford Sunglasses; P.A.M. Duplo Pants; Shipley & Halmos Mullen Fleece Jacket; Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Leather Backpack; N. Hoolywood Double Breasted Topcoat; Oliver Peoples Eyewear Gregory Sunglasses.