Our editor, Kevin Bourne, had the opportunity to catch up with Toronto fashion designer, Dean Ellis, to talk about his style icons and favourite designers, trends for fall and advice for people wanting to get into the fashion business.
Kevin Bourne: How did you get your start in fashion?
Dean Ellis: The start of Ellis Esq., was birthed out of need as I had just been laid off after eight years with Royal Bank. I simply didn’t want to waste any more time building someone else dreams. I had been giving it thought for some time and after years of working in the industry, I figured I could take a gift and make it work for me.
KB: How would you describe your style as a designer?
DE: I’m not the fashion guy. I’m not concerned too much about name brands and trends, but I’m really concerned about people looking their absolutely best, so my styling and designing is more based around proper fit proportions, knowing and understanding your colours and your body to ensure you’re always giving the best expression of yourself.
KB: Who are your style icons? Who are your favourite designers right now?
DE: My style icons will make you laugh as they’re a little all over the place, but I’m a mix between Tom Ford, the man of style and design as it relates to men’s, dressy or more formal wear, and the style of Kanye West, not his line.
KB: What are some trends for fall that we should know about?
DE: Again, I’m not really a trend follower, but trends for this fall for men will be a mix of the revival of the 70’s as it relates to silhouettes, graphics and lapels. Furs and shearling are coming in big for men this fall whether it be trims or full coats, hats etc. You will see a lot of that in the magazines as they unveil their fall looks. Androgyny, which has been creeping in little by little each season, is going to be even stronger with blouses and pants which could be seen on men and or women. The colour burgundy and wine are going to be making a very big impression this season. Tight pants were in, but the baggy pant is makings its way back with pleating and very large bubble-like flowing pants, coupled with that you will also see the return of the oversized coat.
KB: You’ve had a few celebrities wear your clothes at TIFF and other high profile events. Which influencers have you designed for and who would love to see in one of your designs?
DE: I’m bad with celebrity names, but both actors and musicians seem to be in love with a lot of our pieces, based on the opulence we have created with some of our jackets. By not focusing on full suits and creating statement jackets, they’ve been able to wear show stoppers. Because I don’t pay attention to the trends, those who wear our pieces don’t stand out because they’re in style, but more so because they’re wearing amazing style that suits their personality and you can’t beat that.
KB: You’ve been in the fashion business for a few years now. Is there anything that surprised you about the fashion business that you wished you knew before getting in?
DE: Not really, to be honest. It is as I thought it was going to be.
KB: What advice do you have for people out there who want to get into fashion design?
DE: My advice is simple. Have passion for what you do. Passion will give you the determination to continue through even when things aren’t exactly as you like. Research and know your industry. There are many wheels you don’t have to reinvent so don’t waste time. Someone has already figured a lot of this out and if you seek the information it will give you a head start. Last thing is to mentally prepare yourself for some failure. It won’t be perfect from jump, but in time the downs and ups will become indicators that you’re going in the right direction and growing after each fall. Keep going.
KB: Where are your clothes available?
DE: You can find Ellis Esq. in a few places. Online at www.ellisesq.com. Cabaret by Ellis Esq., can be found at Cabaret Vintage at 672 Queen St West in Toronto or online at www.cabaretvintage.com. Ellis Essentials, the accessory line, can be found online at www.ellisesq.com, also at the Fitting Room Barber Shop in Toronto and at Cabaret Vintage.
KB: Thanks for your time and looking forward to catching up with you next time we’re in Toronto.
DE: No problem. Cheers.
(Photo: Ellis Esq. clothing and accessories modelled by founder, Dean Ellis)