Christopher Bates may already be a household name on home soil, but the 37-year-old Vancouver-born designer is also making waves overseas. Although Bates moved to Milan in 2014, he is still proudly Canuck and enthusiastic about his designs in the Canadian market. Recently, Bates was in Toronto for the Cabinet Éphémère pop-up shop at Rally Ossington.
Real Style caught up with the talented designer about bridging the gap between menswear and womenswear, his passion for lavish materials and more. Here’s what Bates had to share about falling in love with fashion while exploring Europe, appreciating quality outerwear and finding your own style.
Real Style: What was the inspiration behind your Fall 2016 collection?
Christopher: For Fall/Winter 2016, it was actually a bit of a Western theme, but reimagined in a sartorial manner. There are influences, like some of the camel and brown colour tones, the use of suede and leather. Those are the main ones.
Real Style: You create menswear, but androgynous fashion is also popular these days. How can women wear Christopher Bates?
Christopher: I actually have a lot of women who wear my men’s line. Certainly, a woman in a man’s dress shirt is something that we’ve seen over the years and works really well. My kiss print shirt in particular has been very popular amongst women. Some of the sweaters also work well on women, like the oversized look.
Real Style: Do you have any favourite fabrics or materials to work with?
Christopher: I really love high end wool and cashmere. I love leather and suede; I’ve worked with camel and shearling. I like luxurious fabrics with texture and a soft hand.
Real Style: How was your experience been working as a Canadian fashion designer?
Christopher: I think Canada is a bit of a conservative market. You have to find something that you may not just like or fancy, but that also fits into the marketplace. For me, that meant not being too avant garde, but doing something a little more tasteful. That’s not a bad thing.
Real Style: What inspired you to become a designer?
Christopher: I was always into fashion, starting from a very young age. I started sketching ideas for clothing and logos. In my late teens, I started travelling in Europe, and that’s when I realized that there was an industry out there that I wanted to be a part of. I decided to follow my dreams.
Real Style: What are your Fall 2016 staple pieces?
Christopher: My coats. I have some coats in camel, shearling and cashmere, trench coats, top coats, parkas. That’s the strength of this collection
Real Style: In your opinion, what is the meaning of style?
Christopher: I think it’s confidence. It’s something that you wear, and it could be eclectic or traditional. If you feel good in that, you exude confidence, then you have great style.
Photo 1: Ramin Deravian
Photo 2: Christopher Bates