Spotlight Interview: Kallvis Gents

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Kallvis Gents takes the stage at Fashion Arts Toronto 2012

We’re all familiar with the likes of Gucci, Prada, and Versace, but now there’s a new designer on the scene: Kallvis Gents and his brand, NordemHirst. This young upstart has burst onto Toronto’s fashion scene with a line geared to the modern man—clothing that’s tailored to the 21st century male. BALLnROLL goes one-on-one with Kallvis to find out what this new designer brings to the table.

BALLnROLL: Where does the name NordemHirst come from?

Kallvis Gents: NordemHirst is the anagram of Modern Shirt, which is the key product of the brand. The name would also provide the origin of the company once the company goes big.

Your brand philosophy is “the modern fit, for the modern man.” Where do you draw your inspiration from, and what made you decide to design slim-fit clothing for men?

Inspiration is from my everyday life. When I walk on the streets of Toronto, I found out that there are common shirt fitting issues for my target market, so I decided to attack this target market and serve them shirts that fit way better for them. A modern man describes a man who has a career, has extra cash to spend, takes care of his appearance, has a balance between life and work, has good taste, has some sense of humour, knows himself, and most importantly: has confidence.

What designers have you looked up to over the years and why?

Creatively, I always look up to Alexander McQueen/Sarah Burton and Nicolas Ghesquiere from Balenciaga. They are always creative and forward thinking. Well, I don’t have to explain how good they are, right? Business-wise, I look up to Calvin Klein and Tom Ford. Calvin Klein’s business is built on underwear, [a] super famous underwear line that just keeps on selling; I am hoping my shirts can sell that much. NordemHirst has the clean-cut look similar to Tom Ford, except NordemHirst will definitely be more affordable.

Valentino’s is playing around with dark colours and Hermes with neutral colouring as well. What direction are you going in?

Good question. Fashion cycle these days is converging into a dot. That means the cycle doesn’t exist anymore, [implying] every kind of trend is happening at the same time. As long as a designer has a clear story to tell, that’s the only thing that’s important. Having a clear voice and cohesive execution is more important than the colour, silhouette, or print. NordemHirst is about solid colour, starting with some trivial colours to start the business, then move onto some more vibrant colours. In addition, a pop of colour will be key to grab attention.

What are you trying to tell the world with your designs?

Let’s put it this way: there are many different body types for womenswear and every womenswear company targets on different women’s body types. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case for menswear. Not every man is built the same way, just like every woman is built differently. My vision is using NordemHirst as a brand to tell men to fit themselves right. I’m also trying to tell the world that most other brands don’t have shirts that even fit any men. Those brands only use styling techniques and photo editing to create the illusion that their shirts fit even though they are not.

You stopped studying computer science at the University of Waterloo—something that would have led to a guaranteed, comfortable career—to wade into the notoriously unstable world of fashion.

Computer science is an easy way out to make money and have a stable job, but it doesn’t make me happy. I was never proud of anything I’ve done in computer science; it was just projects after projects from classes to classes. Basically, it just didn’t suit my personality to be in the computer industry, and living in a small town is just depressing. Maybe I would have stayed in school [if I went] to University of Toronto instead of University of Waterloo? I don’t know. However, the only thing I don’t regret is [going into the] fashion industry.

Yes, fashion is unstable, but that’s the design aspect. I focus more on satisfying my customer needs instead of selling fashion forward designs. I am running NordemHirst as a business and a business is a business—it’s not a design company. I design products that I think the modern men want instead of what I think is fabulous.

People can follow you on Facebook and Twitter, making you more accessible to the average person than other designers. How has social media influenced what you do?

Social media is important. I mean, how many people get famous because of social media? It’s free and painless, except I need to devote a lot of time to maintain the exposure on social media so people would still remember me. To build a brand, the brand needs to appear in front of the audience eyes as often as possible. One more social media NordemHirst is on, one more outlet for people to see the brand.

 

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