March 11th, 2015
I love learning about new designers, and hearing the back-story behind their collections. A designer is an entrepreneur. A risk-taker. Someone who believes enough in his own vision to bet his livelihood, and his reputation, on it.
Dan Torjman is the owner and designer behind Toronto-based menswear brand 18 Waits. Other than the fact that he couldn’t look more like a French Canadian menswear designer, I love that Dan and his team are making everything locally, in and around Toronto. I also love that for every one of his collections he creates an editorial video to showcase his new pieces in action – his latest video features “Suits” actor, and fellow Toronto native, Patrick J. Adams.
Like most designers, Dan’s collection is an extension of his personal style, which is defined by rugged tailoring, a slightly rumpled outdoorsman vibe, and his layers of handmade jewelry. He’s got a kind of French Canadian Johnny Depp thing happening, and it works, because it’s authentically him and he completely owns it.
We caught up with Dan in his Toronto design studio to learn a little more about his brand and the personal style that influenced it all.
On The Creative Process
Of all the accessories that Dan wears on a daily basis, many of them never come off. It would take too long to take them all off and put them back on, and keeping them on ensures they will get that real broken-in feel. The neck scarf is worn every day, to mask the scars from a throat surgery he underwent that left his speech affected. The life-saving procedure left him with a soft voice, but did not affect his warm fun-loving spirit.
Most of the fabrics that Dan uses in his collections have an unpolished, slightly rugged, thick canvass-y feel to them. Think heavy linens and herringbone twills. Even brand new his pieces look slightly lived-in, or at least ready to take a beating from those epic Canadian seasons.
“Before creating 18 Waits I worked with Rogan in NYC, a denim company that specializes in street-wise basics. It was such a great experience. I loved the brand, the people and the ethos, but my goal was always to run my own brand. To me, 18 Waits isn’t just about clothing. It’s a way of life – a lifestyle and a mentality. I have a passion for many things including music, nature, arts, design…18 Waits was meant as my vehicle for me to bring these passions together and immerse myself in the creative process.
I get to work with photography, video, music, jewelry, clothing, graphic design – so many wonderful outlets – and most importantly, with so many wonderful people. That’s what it comes down to. I love doing what I’m doing – every single day.”
On Personal Style Evolution
From my experience, the biggest influence on how we dress is the lifestyle we live, followed directly by the lifestyle we want to be living. That’s why clothing can tell us so much about a person, the combination of a little about where he’s from, and a little about where he’s going. Ultimately it’s a person’s experiences that shape their aesthetic and point of view.
“I’ve always had an interest in clothing and style – even as a kid. I started skateboarding with the neighborhood kids when I was around ten years old, and by 15/16 I was heavily into snowboarding & skateboarding. So I was dressing the part: baggy pants, oversized hoodies, etc. All of that changed when I watched The Doors by Oliver Stone when I was 17. I still snowboarded & skateboarded but I grew my hair out long and started dressing more like Jim Morrison. Tighter, washed out jeans, plaid shirts, brown boots, necklaces… This new lifestyle lead to further exploration down the rabbit hole of Rock & Roll and eventually got me to the Grateful Dead… So there was a good amount of Tie Dye added to the mix by the age of 18-19.
In my 20’s I learned more about fashion, became more “brand conscious”, and considered quality of manufacturing as much as style. My jeans went from Levi’s to Diesel, to eventually Rogan… Lately, in my early 30s, I enjoy wearing a well-tailored suit more than I did in years passed. And I wear a lot more hats now that I’m older. My hat collection has become a mainstay of my every day style.”
On Rugged Tailoring
As a proud French Canadian, I love this look. With the subtle railroad stripe, Dan strikes a nice balance between utilitarian workwear and smart tailoring. It’s still tailored, just not in a way that’s overly pristine or stuffy.
The overcoat is also reversible; “the Longshoreman Jacket is one of our favorites (and best sellers). It’s so good that we sell many to women who then get them tailored to fit their measurements. It’s a great sharp utilitarian jacket. Last season we offered it in a waterproof waxed cotton or a heavy wool flannel. People were going crazy trying to decide which one to chose, so for this Fall/Winter 2014 collection we made them reversible. One side is the waxed cotton, the other is the wool flannel. Problem solved.”
Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to Dan for participating!
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford