Do you incorporate your Fine Arts knowledge into your fashion design?
I used to sketch all of the collections in these really detailed croquis sketched and now, just because of the nature of the business, I never have any time to draw. Literally, in my book, I have sketches on Post-It notes. I sketch them down and when I sit down with my design team, we have conversations about direction and we just draw patterns and make them. I think I’m constantly using [it], I think my eye is trained technically in art but I rarely pick up a pencil and sketch.
What was your first fashion memory? Who is the Jason Matlo woman?
Who is the Jason Matlo woman?
Do you have a muse or a style icon?
My clients are very inspiring to me. I have a group of society women in the city that I dress and they are incredibly stylish and I get tonnes of inspiration from them.
I’ve always loved Cate Blanchett. I’m going to shoot myself in the foot with this, but I don’t really think in terms of dressing celebrities, although it’s great when you do, but I’m not really all that enamoured with the whole celebrity thing. I’m just as excited to dress my society women and deliver to my stores. I’m really excited when I go out down the street and see women on the street wearing my clothes. More than in the magazines because, for me, magazines and celebrities and the fashion industry is a little bit a world of make believe. But when you actually see real women in space and time wearing the clothes, to me, is really exciting. That they are incorporating that into their wardrobe and their lives: I find that incredibly exciting!
[To his assistant Wen-chee Liu] Who do we like? Julianne Moore. I like those kinds of women. I’m not screaming to dress Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. I’d try to work around them not being able to buy the clothes. It would be brand damaging. I like the more sophisticated fashion women on Hollywood.
I think what tends to happen in Vancouver. They are so many people from Vancouver that have done great things but nobody ever stays home and I feel like Vancouver is such a great base to be out of. I really don’t entertain the ideas of living anywhere else. I’ll travel more and I want to branch out internationally. I think it’s a double-edged sword again. It can be a nail in your coffin to be Canadian but I don’t think it’s held me back at all in terms of building my brand. When I started my company, everyone told me I was completely insane to try and do what I’m doing out of the wrong end of the country. I’ve seen big design houses from Montreal and Toronto but I’m still here. So I don’t think moving east is necessarily the answer.
Do I want to be diplomatic? There is something distinctly Canadian about Canadian fashion that I’m not all that impressed with. I don’t know what it is that makes it look Canadian. We’ve been told that our clothes don’t look Canadian and I don’t know if it’s our point of view or how we design or how we finish things. I think there is this whole “nature-y” — and there is nothing wrong with this — Canadian looking thing to Canadian clothes. I want to look more like international runways than Canadian. Having said that, I think there are a lot of great Canadian designers. It’s got a really bad reputation and it’s a hard place to build a business because I feel, strongly, that Canadian retailers don’t support Canadian brands. It’s really hard to survive as a Canadian designer because it’s hard to get your clothes to the States and you have to throw yourself in front of the bus to make anyone in this country look at what you’re doing. It’s just recently that we have been accepted by the Canadian industry.
I feel really sorry for any designer that’s launching a line in Canada right now. We are in a recession. They are new. I don’t know how they’ll survive. I used to be really optimistic but I tell them that they got to be prepared to make no sales for a while. It’s a tough industry. Is it better than it was five years ago? Definitely. I think we are heading in the right direction. I think it’s the best time it’s ever been for Canadian fashion but it’s the worst economically.
What are the top five most played songs on your iTunes?
We been listening to Semi Precious Weapons’ “Magnetic Baby,” “Get Me Bodied” by Beyonce intensively. Ah, “Hang with Me” by Robyn. Anything from the High School Musical soundtrack. We love musicals. I love Broadway musicals and, fortunately for me, so does everyone else on my staff. And local artist Peter Ries has this song “Angel” that we’ve been playing a lot.
I’m a little bit surprised by High School Musical.
I kind of have an obsession with High School Musical. People find it very funny. If people saw the mothership, they would actually be really surprised at what goes on in here! Haha, it is what it is.
Define Jason Matlo in three words.
Probably “ironic.” Definitely “funny.” I’m a total joker. I am the consummate “workaholic.” If you could sum me up in one word that would be it. Everything in my life revolves around work.