By Will Lofsky
Contemporary fashion has been growing increasingly popular over the past few years, drawing inspiration from trend-setting rappers like A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti and Kanye West, to name a few.
One of the hottest brands to come out of Toronto right now is Vitaly, created and founded by Shane Vitaly Foran.
The company is most known for their wide variety of stainless-steel accessories, but they have also expanded into clothing that is worn by the elite in music, sports and art. The famous DJ and producer, Zedd, was recently seen wearing the maker pendant on the cover of Billboard magazine this September.
“It all came down to our CEO, Shane," Clint Johnson, a full-time stylist at Vitaly, said. "He had a few jobs in the fashion industry that he wasn't necessarily vibing with, and he wanted to be more creatively driven."
During a trip to Bali, Indonesia, Foran met a few woodcarvers who had some jewellery made for him. When he got back to Toronto, his friends saw the product and wanted some for themselves.
"It was kind of the low-key beginnings of what is currently the Vitaly brand. From there, it just evolved into a web brand in 2011, and in-store finally in October of last year," Johnson said.
The first store was a pop-up shop that opened in September 2016 and the new location on Queen Street West has been fully-operating since October.
One thing the brand prides itself on is that it is still owned by the same four friends that started it: Shane Foran, Jason Readman, Zack Vitiello and Michael Andrews. The team is constantly growing and now employs more than 40 people.
Their current season, called the bootleg collection, is a throwback to where the four friends came from.
"We all grew up playing basement punk rock shows, touring around with our friends, playing music and being rowdy in general,” Johnson said.
Vitaly took their current collection back to those roots, creating pieces that mimicked the rowdiness of their youth. Key features in the collection include distressed denim and leather jackets.
“Traditionally though, we have really adapted to a comfortable, minimalistic vibe,",” Johnson said. "We are just now starting to move beyond that."
Foran is constantly travelling to Europe, Asia and other areas of Canada to visit his production facilities. By learning the manufacturing process, he is able to create new ideas directly on the factory floor.
In their most recent YouTube video, Vitaly: Then and Now, the four founding members proudly recognize their accomplishment of owning an international company whose product is sold in hundreds of retailers around the world.