Garrison Bespoke is Changing Menswear in Vancouver

One of our biggest challenges is Vancouver isn’t really a suit city.
— Will Yoshikawa Chen, Co-owner of Garrison Bespoke

Garrison Bespoke commits to making the best handmade suits for men around the world. The west coast branch of the company has only been around for two years and has a lot to live up to.

Garrison Bespoke Toronto has often been referred to as Canada’s best bespoke tailor—recommended by Sharp Magazine, GQ, and has outfitted the big four professional sports teams (Toronto FC, Raptors, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jays). Arguably, more notable is the list of men who wear a Garrison suit. From Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adam—who play the duo of Harvey Specter and Mike Ross in USA Network’s lawyer drama Suits—to Drake, who wore several pieces lined with material from Raptor’s jerseys in his role as their Global Ambassador. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, actor Laurence Fishburne, and many other notable Canadians brought recognition to the brand as its clout in Toronto and beyond grew exponentially.

When Chen and his co-owner Richard Wong opened in Vancouver, the problem wasn’t a lack of high-profile buyers to wear their products. It was finding the rest of their customer base. One of the challenges faced by the bespoke suiting shop is their location—currently housed in the back of a salon downtown.

One of our biggest challenges is Vancouver isn’t really a suit city,” Chen states, addressing a crowd at the Vancouver Club last Wednesday. Garrison was celebrating a successful second year and showcasing several new product offerings for the upcoming FW 2019 season. To a passerby, there may not have been anything pioneering talking about suits in a wood-paneled room full of onlookers sipping scotch, but Chen’s address told a different story. 

“We have been doing a push in lifestyle tailoring, thinking less about the colour or the cut, or how wide your lapels are, but what your lifestyle really is,” says Chen. He elaborated on their clients, who were increasingly working in industries not traditionally associated with suiting—like technology, cannabis, and cryptocurrency. These were customers who wanted something versatile, for a wedding or client meeting where formality wasn’t taken too seriously.

The products he highlighted included the Rugby Stretch Suit and Storm Coat, both well suited to their style and ethos of tailoring. The Stretch Suit will feature four-way elasticity, which on the surface seems to be a product suited for men with a more muscular figure, but goes much further than that. Stretch fabric in a suit isn’t necessarily about making business clothing that wearers could cycle or do yoga in (retailers like Kit and Ace and Lululemon have covered those areas). Garrison is making menswear more accessible by making it easier to wear day-to-day. 

One of the most common complaints about wearing a suit and tie can be downright uncomfortable, fabrics can be prone to overheating and make activities like getting out of a car or dancing on your wedding night a chore. Making menswear accessible seems to be about making it make sense for the basics, not necessarily trying to create new standards of what is appropriate to wear for meetings. 

The Storm Coat is an extension of this, with fabric originally designed for RAF pilots, designed to keep the wearer cool during a dogfight and protect them from the elements in the case of a bailout. Nothing could be more in order for rainy Vancouver winters, which push the limits of outerwear on the best of days.

Well-chosen products like these are helping Garrison to establish a larger presence in Vancouver. Similar to their Toronto location, they are actively looking for their own retail space and aim to find a mixed retail and private lounge concept. They are in talks to develop a specially-milled cloth with Dormeuil in the hopes of partnering with the Canucks, much like Garrison Toronto’s partnership with Toronto FC. Also, being Vancouver’s go-to bespoke establishment doesn’t just mean keeping it within the metro area, and they are looking to hold trunk shows in Victoria, Seattle, and Kelowna. But with this planned growth comes a commitment to the integrity of their brand, seeking out interesting people to build relationships with, not just sell to.

This extends to other purveyors and designers in the area. “We really want to connect with a lot of local brands out there when it comes to accessories, we know where to send people,” says stylist Ryan Page, a recent addition to the team. Like any movement in culture, competition only goes so far, and Garrison sticks to what they know they can do best while promoting other designers in the community. If the health of Vancouver menswear can be measured in growth, rather than suited men on the street, then maybe it is doing a lot better than its reputation insists.

Photos by Pulse Digital.


Dapper and Gallant: Men's Fashion at the 2019 Deighton Cup

The 11th annual Deighton Cup returned to Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver this on Saturday, July the 20th, and for one day of the year, it wasn’t faux pas to be overdressed on the West Coast.

Building off last year’s event of 7,000 attendees, this edition seemed even more popular, with the track concourse nearly full to capacity, and a variety of vendors offering cigars, oysters and cocktails to enjoy in the hot summer sun. 

Two of the day’s best-dressed won cash prizes in front of a panel of judges in the “Style Stakes” Awards for being crowned Gallant Sartorialist and Belle de Jour respectively amongst fierce competition. Between the glasses of champagne and panama hats, there was even horse racing.

The Deighton Cup is an especially notable day for menswear in Vancouver, a city where walking down the street wearing a full suit often makes you look out of place, save for a stretch of several blocks between Granville Central Station and Coal Harbour. Case in point, as several members of the Micro Macro team waited for a cab after the event, a woman approached to ask why everyone was so dressed up, wondering if there was a themed wedding happening in the neighbourhood. 

This seems to be the prevailing assumption in town, that you should only be dressed up for a notable life event or company Christmas party. There is a sharp drop off after this, where people often revert to athleisure, meaning anything you can wear to cycle lazily around Stanley Park on a Sunday on a tandem bike and even lead a lunch meeting if you work in tech. Of course, this is a functional style choice that makes sense for the city we live in. However, it is always interesting to see how people dress up when given the chance.

Going in with this bias, it was a surprise to see such a strong menswear showing at the event. As it grows in popularity, more men are eager to plan ahead for an outfit suited for the races. This growth is assisted by the growth of made-to-measure tailoring, both online and in-store, that have made it affordable and easy for anyone to have a custom suit made, and to make outside-the-box choices when it comes to style.

A pleasant surprise at the event was the use of summer suiting fabrics, with many breezy and dapper linen and cotton pieces taking center stage. Investing in a summer suit for Vancouver can be somewhat counterintuitive, as the temperature this summer has rarely hovered near thirty degrees Celsius. However, pieces that would’nt have looked in a place at a Tuscan vineyard wedding were seen frequently.

A finalist in the Gallant Sartorialist award, Martin Barclay showed off one of the more unique suits at the event, a wide striped blue and maroon ensemble with a cane and gold lapel chain in the shape of a lion’s head. The gold chain and other pieces are expected to be part of Barclay’s own men’s accessories line Tyrock Barclay, which is currently in development.

Another honourable mention goes to Kelvin Lopes, who showed off a three piece suit from Surmesur Custom Menswear in a chocolate brown, with extra wide peak lapels and a shawl-collar vest, accented by white tassled loafers. This look is versatile across seasons, and showed excellent use of often-overlooked customizations that can make any suit stand out.

When asked about whether the event was helping to make Vancouver into a stronger menswear city, Lopes was optimistic. 

Pictured: Kelvin Lopes (third from left) with friends.

Pictured: Kelvin Lopes (third from left) with friends.

“I definitely think the Deighton Cup can help Vancouver improve its fashion sense,” he said. “It’s a great event where people get to actually put some effort into dressing well in a city where Lululemon is king.“

As this edition of what is arguably Vancouver’s top menswear event comes to a close, its influence on suiting culture can’t be understated. An event like this is about getting people out of their comfort zone and trying to out-dress their friends and the strangers around them. Even though Vancouver may never be a city known for suits, at least one day a year, we can feel like it has that potential.

Check out our women’s coverage here-

Bold and Sophisticated: Women’s Fashion at the Deighton Cup

Photos contributed.


VFW Street Style

Every season, the most creative and stylish fashion fanatics descend on Vancouver Fashion Week to spot the latest trends and witness incredible design from across the globe. Now it’s time to shine the spotlight on them! Let’s celebrate their amazing skill in putting an outfit together and take inspiration on what to wear for the next season, FW19, set for 18th-24th March 2019 at the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza.

Photos by @liyageldman.

Guo Pei: Couture Beyond

Vancouver art gallery tries on Couture for first fashion focused exhibition

Fashion is stamping its mark on the esteemed history of Vancouver Art Gallery as Guo Pei makes her art debut with Guo Pei: Couture Beyond. If the designer’s name doesn’t send any bells chiming in your head perhaps the image of Rihanna gracing the steps of the Met, clad in a cascading canary yellow fox fur cape while a team of people scurry around her to help carry all fifty five pounds of the embroidered silk, may jog your memory. For the first time in Canada, the intricate, artfully detailed creations of the Chinese fashion icon are on display and you certainly don’t want to miss it!

Boasting over 40 designs, the avant-garde silhouettes in each collection embody Guo Pei’s overall aim to capture the magnificence of China’s last imperial dynasty along with a reestablishment of ancient crafting techniques lost in a changing empire. Fashion enthusiasts and art lovers alike are treated to a showcase of career triumphs by the only Chinese national to be invited to join Paris’ Syndicale de la Haute Couture, as they wander through the halls holding collections from 2006 to Spring 2017.

On entering the exhibition, the curators (Diana Freundl and Stephanie Rebick) welcome guests with the awe-inspiring works from Guo Pei’s debut couture collection, Samsara (2006) and whisk them away with the next installation of dresses from An Amazing Journey in a Childhood Dream (2008). Rounding the corner the 1002 Nights (2010) collection holds the focal point of the exhibition that stands alone on a spotlight lit platform in all its golden glory. Yes, we are talking about that silk 24-karat-gold-spun-thread cloak that really is as majestic up close as it was under the glare of flashing cameras.

A personal favourite, the collection didn’t let Rihanna fame overshadow the rest of the pieces, in particular, a silk embroidered gown adorned with Swarovski crystals, hand-painted motifs and topped with a porcelain ornamented tasselled headpiece inspired by the traditional Chinese pale blue and white porcelain bowls.

Splattered with symbolism, Guo Pei continues her blending of ancient tradition with modern sensibilities as the exhibition seamlessly snakes on to Legend of the Dragon (2012) which breaths life into the mythical dragon of the Chinese Zodiac. In the rotunda of the gallery, Guo presents a dynamic display of her collaboration with MAC cosmetics in 2015 from Garden of the Soul.

A youthful vibrancy radiates from this installation, with models sporting colourful wigs to complement the electric blues and oranges of the beaded, crystal embellished shorter dresses.

Concluding the groundbreaking exhibit of expert intricate detailing by one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 most influential people, visitors are bid farewell by an LED lit masterpiece of glittering gems as a dress almost resembling a lampshade, topped off with a bejewelled religious metal cross rounds off the final collections, Encounter (2016) and Legend (2017).

A revolutionary individual herself, there never has been a more deserving creator to revolutionize the future of VAG exhibitions than Guo Pei and her couture works of art.

Organized in collaboration with SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film the exquisite exhibition is at the Vancouver Art Gallery until January 20, 2019.

By Lucy Norris


Photo: Courtesy of SCAD