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Standard Interviews: Christopher Bates
Standard Interviews is a daily series that showcases the creative individuals that are making Toronto a better and more vibrant place to live.

In four sentences or less, tell us who you are and what you do. 

I am a fashion designer with a contemporary tailored menswear line. I sell to leading retailers, including Holt Renfrew, Gotstyle, The Coop Ink and Imago Boutique. I also offer custom suits, tuxedos and dress shirts, all which are made in Canada from the finest European fabrics.

How did you get started on the path to becoming a menswear designer?

When I enrolled in the fashion design program at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, I wasn’t sure if I was going to start with menswear or womenswear. Our first two collections were for women and our third collection was for men; after seeing my work, my teachers encouraged me to pursue menswear. The timing was perfect as menswear was just starting to heat up in 2006, 2007. I also felt that the womenswear market was over saturated, so starting with menswear was be a better way for me to establish my own brand.

What would you say unifies the clothing you create? 

My approach is to examine what is available in the market and then do something that is different. I’m known for strong tailoring, clean lines and clever details. I feel like what differentiates me from other Canadian designers is my European aesthetic, and the I focus I put on creating evening and red carpet-ready looks.

What’s the most challenge part of your job? Conversely, what’s the most rewarding?

The most challenging part of my job is simply the volume and diversity of work. I wish I could just focus on design and marketing, but I have to wear many hats and do a lot of jobs that aren’t as enjoyable as those two are for me. The most rewarding part of my job is getting to wear my own creations. I only wear my line, so I have an awesome wardrobe.

What does success look like to you? 

Success is achieving my goal of creating a leading international fashion brand.

Is there a local neighbourhood that you identify with? What is it about that neighbourhood that is inspiring to you?

I live next to St. Lawrence Market, and this is my favourite area in Toronto. It has a unique feel that reminds me of New York and certain parts of Europe. I love the market itself and the other cool spots in the area. It’s also close to the Gardiner and Union Station, so it’s convenient place to be for getting around.

What do you love about Toronto? Why did you start your business here?

Toronto is a world-class city. It’s like a younger, smaller version of New York, but it’s Canadian to the core. There is so much happening here and a lot of opportunity. People here are hard-working, cultured and motivated, which suits me perfectly.

I actually launched my business in Vancouver, where I’m originally from. When I was living in Vancouver, I was getting more sales and press in Toronto so I moved here. Toronto has been the perfect incubator for my brand and has prepared me for expanding my business internationally, which I’m in the process of doing now.

This interview has been edited and condensed
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Igor Bonifacic is the managing editor of Toronto Standard. Follow him on Twitter.

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