For the edgy, the stylish, the rule breakers, Vitaly creates menswear that mingles sophistication with punk rock. Based in Toronto, the environmentally conscious brand should be on your radar. So we talked to Shane Vitaly Foran, the designer of Vitaly and picked his brain about the lifestyle brand.
Did you always plan on starting your own brand?
“I didn’t know I would start a brand in fashion, but even from a young age, I knew I would end up working for myself. When I was in grade 6, we had a school project about what we were going to do when we got older—I remember I said when I grow up I’m going to design things and sell them to people.”
Where do you draw your inspiration when creating designs?
“To be completely honest when I started I had no design training. I was always attracted to clean simple design like Scandinavian and Japanese design. I pulled a lot of inspiration from that and a lot of inspiration from architecture.”
Who do you imagine wearing your designs?
“Right when I first started, seven or eight years ago, I imagined a hipster trendy type of person wearing it but that’s not exactly the crowd that’s wearing it. It’s a huge range of people, we got adopted heavily by the EDM world and the hip-hop world. We kind of realized it was for the many faces of fashion. It hasn’t been put into a box, it’s way more about the design and the product.”
What’s your personal style like?
“ I grew up playing in rock and metal bands and my style has always reflected that. Black skinny jeans, maybe they’re ripped, a leather jacket, a nice t-shirt, and a bunch of accessories. The core inspiration for me is definitely rock ’n’ roll.”
Recently you did a collaboration with a Vancouver record label, Monstercat. What was that like?
“We actually collaborated with them a couple years ago and it did really great for them and for us. They reached out again about six months ago and we went a lot bigger this time—we did several pieces. I love working with them. They’re a really cool bunch of people.”
Photos by Zack Vitiello (@zackvitiello):
You’ve done a collaboration with Zedd too?
“We did. It hasn’t officially launched yet. It will be launching in the new year. We did a few pieces of clothing for him and a couple of neat accessories. Working with Zedd was amazing. He’s such a nice guy.”
Since you really like music, what would you say is your favorite song of all time?
“I think my favorite song of all time is Lonely Man by Kid Koala. I’ve always really loved it.”
How do you manage running two businesses? You have another jewelry brand?
“ My other brand is called Clock and Colours. It’s a higher-end men’s jewelry line. That brand started as a side passion project. I just didn’t feel like I could do that type of product in the Vitaly world. It started with the same team, same resources and it’s growing at a rate we would never have anticipated. That brand is very driven in the rock ’n’ roll and motorcycle world—it is relatively easy for us to manage. We do everything under the same roof.”
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve heard and do you follow it?
“ The best piece of advice comes from Simon Sinek and he even has a book about it. It’s knowing your why. People get so caught up in the business they forget what they’re actually passionate about. We went through a phase where it was too much about the business and not about the product anymore. It wasn’t about what we were passionate about anymore. Since then, we have aggressively switched back to being passionate about the product and it’s been amazing. The business is doing better than ever. We’re coming out with so many new products that I’m truly proud of. It has such an incredible impact on the culture of the company. When you forget your why you forget about what motivates you.”
How has your brand evolved since conception?
“ When we started, it was just two and three finger rings carved from wood. We’ve evolved into being a full accessory line and a full clothing range. I think the product has become more refined. It speaks to a much broader audience. We’re mastering our craft.”
Sustainability is important to Vitaly too?
“ Yeah we moved all of our clothing production from China to Portugal about a year ago and that was so we could do things significantly more sustainable. We started working with factories that use about 80-90% less water and energy. We changed all of our packagings so that it was all recycled materials that could then be recycled again. We changed all of our shipping processes. I don’t think we’re the image of sustainability but we’re doing what we can with the knowledge that we have.”
What’s your favorite part about being a designer?
“ Just getting to be creative. I had a year and a half window where I was more of a CEO and less of a designer. I started handing off a lot of the creative aspects of the business and I wasn’t fulfilling my why. Over the past six months, I’ve been designing like crazy. 2019 by far is gonna be our best year of product. If we were ever gonna be recognized as the accessory architect we see ourselves, this is gonna be the year. My favorite part is creating and seeing someone else wearing it. I spend a lot of time traveling the world and recently I saw someone wearing one of our designs in Bali. That feeling is incredible.”
What’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?
“ I have an affinity for Bali. That’s where the business started.”
Describe yourself in one sentence?
“ I can use words that people have described me as. Earnest, intense, creative, and goofy when someone gets to know me but serious otherwise.”