Drew William takes the mundane out of menswear

Vancouver designer Drew William is out to level the gender playing field.

Credit: Drew William

Vancouver fashion designer Drew William is out to level the gender playing field

I often hear my male friends and family members complain about how hard it is to find variety when it comes to men’s clothing.

In most stores if they do have a menswear section, it’s typically a tiny section in the back corner. For the most part, the selection is limited to an array of graphic printed t-shirts and jeans—not that there’s anything wrong with that, but many men do want to have more options for their wardrobe.

Local menswear designer Drew William addressed this issue when I recently asked him what he sees lacking in today’s fashion for men and how he thinks he can fill that void.

“I think menswear is generally boring,” says William. “It continually references the past and ingrained fashion conventions. I believe the modern man is interested in comfort, quality and a product that helps visually captures individual identity.

“I, as a man, am not interested in wearing the same products that the vast majority of the male population wears. I have a different perspective than my father and other generations and it should be identifiable within my clothing as well as my lifestyle.”



How it started

It was more by accident than by conscious decision that Drew ventured into fashion design.

“I was studying photography at Emily Carr and did an exchange to Central Saint Martins in London where there was a mix-up and I was enrolled in design. That is how I got started. However, I have always had an interest and passion for fashion, but just never expected to be designing it.”

What makes a successful designer?

Drew notes there are certain things that make a successful designer: “I think an awareness of what is contemporary and an understanding and appreciation for fashion history and conventions [are key]. As well, a technical understanding of garment construction is very important for being able to create garments that aren’t only interesting but wearable.”

A responsibility for ethical clothing design

William considers himself an eco-conscious designer and feels that “it’s the responsibility of clothing designers and manufacturers to be aware of the environmental effects of their products and consider more environmentally friendly options.”

Whenever possible, the designer uses all-natural fabrics; though he has not yet made the transition to organic or fabrics made from renewables, such as hemp or bamboo.

However, his products are all manufactured in Vancouver because, as he says, “There are so many skilled production houses here that keep excellent work conditions, as opposed to elsewhere in the world, that I am proud to be creating a product that is made in Canada.” 


William’s signature technique not often used in menswear

I asked Drew what he has learned since starting out that has helped him in his approach to design.

“The primary technique that I’ve learned, and has helped shape the line and my creative perspective, is a technique called draping. It is not often used in menswear because it focuses on the way the fabric falls and pools off the body, usually appearing more fluid than regular pattern flats that most menswear is based off.

“I’ve integrated this technique into my creative process and it’s really helped evolve my work and has changed the way I approach designing.”


On Vancouver men’s fashion

“Male fashion in Vancouver is not as developed as it is in other cities in the world,” says the designer.

“The typical Vancouver male consumer does not invest in avant garde clothing; they are more interested in basics and conventional clothing. Their investment in conventional clothing encourages less established fashion designers and clothing companies to manufacture a product that they know will sell, which limits creative development.”


A challenge from the designer

William says he’d like to challenge Granville readers to consider fashion and the clothes they wear as a form of personal representation.

“Clothing is meant to represent one’s individuality. Do you feel that your clothes are an accurate representation of yourself?” he asks.


So what can we expect next from Drew William?

“I am venturing into womenswear next season, so you’ll see me reinterpret the female silhouette,” he says. “What that looks like, right now I don’t know, but look for it next season.”


Drew William


Available at Marimekko in Yaletown, Vancouver.