Designer Spotlight: Get With The X(IAN)

Social media might have you believe that the best part about of working in fashion is dressing up and attending events. For us, it’s being apart someone’s journey. We have had the pleasure of working  with Montreal-based designer Xian Wang for several seasons and we are so proud of all of his accomplishments.

We caught up with Xian to learn more about his ss18 collection, what keeps him motivated, and what we can expect from his fashion-forward menswear label.

Photographer: Che Rosales

What was the inspiration behind the ss18 collection?

As XIAN’s goal was to achieve a comfortable ready to wear collection, which is simplistic for the modern man just to pick up and go with other elements in his closet, suitable for our urban city lifestyle. Behind this SS18 Collection [RUSH], my own life is always in flux and states, “with our current environment lives busier, and with such a fast pace, we have to relate our clothes to real life.

When I made this collection, I related this collection to my personal life. I needed my clothes to be functional and keep up with me with coordinating pieces that can work together or separately with other items you own, so there is always functionality in the garments.”

Can you take us through your design process?

I normally start with sketching the silhouettes, just being myself and feeling the mood. One thing I find interesting is that my subconsciousness always plays a big role in my initial designing stage, because so many things happen during each season and I like to see how they transform into clothing. Then from there, I cross check with the current trend to add or eliminate some ideas for the target market, and make sure that they are appealing to my ideal costumers and still have the XIAN’s look.

At this stage, I would finalize a few key items for the collection and come back to make more modifications to create a strong concept and cohesion.

Who is the Xian customer?

XIAN’s customers are the guys and/or girls who have passion for fashion in a metropolitan environment, but at the same time they know well what they are looking for to express their own identity. They want to wear something subtle but luxurious, and dress effortlessly stylish. They are wild at heart, even though some are not working in the creative industries.

XIAN’s products have the characteristics to offer the costumers a day-to-night transition.’”A banker takes off his/her suits and put on XIAN to rock & roll at the underground punk party in Berlin.”

How do you like unwind after each collection and runway show?

Nothing special to be honest. Just take everything as easy as possible, catch up some sleep, watch videos on youtube, play my favourite radio station, and most importantly, enjoy tons delicious food with my loved team and friends.

Fill in the Blank: I cannot live without___________

XIAN (my line, not myself lol)

Photographer: Gabriel Di Sante

As a young Canadian designer, how does it feel to get recognized by international publications like GQ?

It felt like a dream comes true. I always buy British GQ and check that they have in every issue, and finally I see my designs are featured, printed and sold world-wild in 3 monthly issues. I never imaged it, but hey here they are. It also motivates me so much to create more and delivery better and better products in the future. Pressure is on, and I am ready to take it.

Fashion is a tough business, What keeps you motivated?

One is the passion. I remember reading this article, basically it says nothing big comes easy, and we will suffer. If that’s something we love doing truly, we can’t and won’t stop at the suffering stage. To a point we get use to it and it becomes a daily routine. Despite the complains we need to vent once awhile, we will still come back and continue doing the same thing. I love what I am doing, to a point even in my personal life, 90% of the things I do serves a purpose for the brand. I think I am possessed by what I created.

Another one is the people, as the team is growing, more people are putting more effort and time into the brand. I also feel the responsibilities to my team, family, friends, supporters, and fans. They are hoping more from the brand and always here to support. They are happy for me for what XIAN has become, but I know there’s still a big distance to what I wanted it to be. As long as I am capable of designing, I won’t stop no matter how tough it is.

What can we expect for Xian in 2018?

We are planning to get into more retail relocations with more available styles for the current seasons, and to be ready for getting into the bigger market, as well as some extremely exciting collaborations already at the finalizing stage. There are also some potential celebrities wearing XIAN on stage, and so much more. 2018 will be a another great year!

Hot List: People of Toronto Arts Event at WeWork

When asked what makes Toronto different, people point out the city’s diversity and culturally rich neighbourhoods and industries. Hosted at 240 Richmond Street West, WeWork’s first Toronto location, the People of Toronto series highlights the industries, cultures and backgrounds of the city through its people. The event series began in October, where each month’s theme features one industry through 3 curated community events such as workshops, panels, and other peer-to-peer learning opportunities related to the theme with the People of Toronto event to closing out the month.

Sixth floor signage seen during the WeWork Toronto grand opening at 240 Richmond Street West on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Toronto. (Arthur Mola/AP Images for WeWork)

The November People of Toronto event focuses on the Arts industry, featuring artists such as Jibola Fagbamiye, Quinn Rockliff and Michael Vincent Veneracion. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP here.


Hot List: Ink & Water Tattoo Shop

Toronto’s top contemporary tattoo shop Ink & Water celebrates their one year anniversary this month. Founded by the Instagram-famous Prairie Koo (aka Mr. Koo) and Michael Pecherle, this team is doing things very differently. Located at Bloor and Lansdowne, Ink & Water excels at creating quality tattoos in a clean, safe, and welcoming environment.

Ink & Water has softened the look of the archetypal tattoo shop. Semi-jokingly, the walls boast neon signs of “even grandma approves,” but it’s true. Very much suited to their fine line masterpieces being sported by tattoo aficionados and first timers alike, Ink & Water is championing the world of salons 2.0 – ink being the new form of expression and adornment in the in the realm of beauty.

Toronto Exhibitions to Check Out

As an individual who is avidly pursuing the most recent exhibitions Toronto has to offer, I rarely fall short of galleries to check out. Toronto’s art scene is bustling and vibrant with vivid histories and biographies for audiences to discover. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend that’s a little different than heading to your local watering hole, take a peek around the city and you’d be surprised at what you can find.

We put together a little list to get you on the right track. Scroll down to see what’s going on in your city.

Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters 

On now – January 7, 2018 — Who wouldn’t want to get into the mind of Guillermo del Toro and peer into his “cabinet of curiosities?” On now at the AGO, At Home gives the viewer an insight to the creative process behind his most menacing characters. The exhibit is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Art.

“To find beauty in the profane. To elevate the banal. To be moved by genre. These things are vital for my storytelling,” says Guillermo del Toro. “This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life.”

Cindy Crawford by Marco Glaviano

On now – November 2, 2017 — Located in the heart of Toronto’s trendy Yorkville district, Izzy Gallery is once again ready to impress with their current exhibit. The beautiful Cindy Crawford appears almost life-like through Marco Glaviano’s extraordinary shots. In the 1980’s, Glaviano played a role in developing and supporting the supermodel phenomenon, photographing many swimsuit calendars of these famous ladies.

The Faraway Nearby: Photographs of Canada from The New York Times Photo Archive

Ryerson Image Centre/

On now – December 10, 2017 — On now in the Main Gallery at the Ryerson Image Centre, The Faraway Nearby features photographs of Canadian subject matter from the New York Times Photo Archive.  This exhibition features the diverse landscapes across Canada with a spotlight on sports heroes, important Canadian figures, while providing an overview of our national experience. The exhibit was made by Chris Bratty in celebration of Canada’s 150.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels

Bata Shoe Museum/

On now – November 21, 2017 — The Bata Shoe Museum brings forward an interesting history that challenges our preconceived notions of who wears high heels. From the 1600’s, until today, Standing Tall brings forward an interesting timeline of men’s heeled footwear.

Amalia Pica: Ears to Speak Of   

The Power Plant/

On now – December 31, 2017 — Located at Toronto’s Harbourfront, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery features a Amalia Pica’s Ears to Speak Of, a new installation that “continues her engagement with the failures and impossibilities of communication and obsolete technologies.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication, co-produced by The Power Plant and the IMA Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, where Amalia Pica will present a solo exhibition from 18 November 2017—10 March 2018.

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A Conversation with Bea Pizano on CAMINOS 2017

The CAMINOS Festival kicks off next week at Aluna Theatre in conjunction with Native Earth Performing Arts. The festival showcases works-in-progress by local artists who work to push the boundaries of dance, theatre, and performance art. Each night of Caminos Festival offers something new for its spectators. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

We had the opportunity to chat with Aluna Theatre’s Artist Director, Bea Pizano about what to expect with this year’s lineup.

Kimberley Drapack: How is everything going at the moment?

Beatriz Pizano: It’s busy but you do accumulate knowledge during festivals. We’re in a better place than ever. We have a great list of artists that are showing their work so I am really excited.

We open on October 4th and we’ve been seeing a lot of artists because part of what we offer, because they are works in progress, is rehearsal space. We see them coming into our studio. Also, if they need any dramaturgical support, any consultation on direction, or design, we’re available for them. We want to make sure these pieces don’t die after a presentation.

This is just the second Caminos festival for the works in progress. We started in 2015 and back then, I invited some artists to present. This year, I put a call out and we got over 40 applications. This year is quite curated because what I saw in the first festival was a great forum for the work. Six or seven of the artists managed to get a grant based on the work that they presented. We provide them with a totally professional videotape of the work that they present. We don’t present readings, we do full performances for 20 minutes with design elements so they look really good.

One of the things that I find with people who are trying to enter the grant system, it’s really hard to have a body of work if you are just beginning. Most of them don’t have a really good record of anything they have done. Just the fact that you’re presenting in a curated festival makes it better, but if you can present 20 minutes of really great work, the possibilities open up.

K: It must be hard going through the application process.

BP: We try to keep it small, but it’s really hard to say no. Although we live in a time where more grants are given, there are a lot of artists. I really focus on people that I believe are going to take the work to the next stage. After many years helping, because we have put so much investment into artists, it’s OK. Some people try it and they decide that it’s not for them.

At this point, we’re at an important phase in our community that is really exploding. I am putting all the support into people that I know are going beyond. That’s what guided me this year. Those are the artists I’m fascinated to be around. I don’t like the word “hungry”, but they really believe in what they are doing.

We take care of their publicity and marketing to give them the chance to concentrate on the presentation. We take the heavy load.

We’re trying the same format that we tried last year. We present about three pieces per night. This year, we found that with this festival, that the Cabaret is a really important part of our festival. It starts at 9:30 on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and they are free. We discovered that it was important to have things that we can offer that are of no cost. We present stand up, short pieces and burlesque, and people who are experimenting and of course, we have to dance. We have really fantastic DJ’s and live music.

We have very affordable liquor thanks to our sponsors, so I’m trying to keep everything as afford as possible. You pay for one ticket for the entire evening, but if you only want to come to the cabaret you don’t have to pay for anything.

K: CAMINOS 2017 will also feature an international conference on Performance and Human Rights titled, ‘Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies.’ Can you tell us what to expect from the conference?

BP: The conference is about how art talks to the outside world and to the community in which we live and to the world community. These conversations about performance and human rights have always been really important to us. This year, the graduate drama department at York University came to us and told us about a gathering they do with academics, registered students from all over the Americas every year, and it takes place in a different country. This year, they’re doing it in Toronto and they said they would love to partner with us.

We’re partnering with them, and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics in New York. 150 graduate students are coming from all over the Americas and the conversations begin at 2:30 in the afternoon. They are free to the public on Thursday and Friday. They are bringing amazing panelists from all over the countries and will bring really good discussions about things.

This year we are talking a lot about the Latinx community. The Spanish language has a gender, things are either masculine or feminine, so this movement that has been gathering a lot of strength in the states and now in Canada, where they put an ‘x’ at the word ‘Latin’ so you don’t have to define your gender. I’m very excited about their proposals. We have one night that we are calling the ‘Latinx’ night, on the Thursday.

K: What else should we expect at the festival?

BP: We’re very lucky to have Lido Pimienta presenting her one-woman show, We’re in a Non-Relationship Relationship. She just won the Polaris Prize. She has played in all her festivals and this week she just received the most prestigious prize in music in this country, but she’s going to be acting. She’s hilarious. Lido is fearless. Every time I see her on stage I think she has so much guts.

We are also presenting part of our new work which is going to be produced next year at the theatre centers. Everybody has a little bit of everything which is really cool. Most of the pieces are from 20-25 minutes so that we can present many pieces during the night.

I also got a call from a dancer from Mexico, and I thought, this isn’t an international festival, but she sent me a tape and her work is really good so I am having her as a special guest.

I am also bringing a company from Montréal. As we grow, we want to keep grow this idea of Pan-Americanism and Canada is part of Pan-America. We are all part of it, we produce Indigenous, Latin, Latinx, and Canadian artists.

We are trying to expand these perspectives little by little.

K: It seems very inclusive.

BP: When I say that my Pan-Americanism includes Canada, it also applies that Canada includes the world. We’re all a Pan-American community. It’s really exciting. After I saw that we had over 40 applications, I understood that we were on the right track. Our sponsors have responded really well again and we’re starting to gain support.

Everything we do and all the support goes to the artists. That’s what it is for. The jump from being able to produce is the hardest, you may have a great idea but the production side is really hard, especially those who don’t have a body of work yet.

A festival of works-in-progress is a very beautiful place to present because audiences are very engaged. They really feel that they are part of the creation process. They’re crucial. In the exercise of presenting 20 minutes, you really have to distill what the piece is about. It really helps you to understand what you are doing with a piece.

K: It’s also a great beginning for an artist. You’re giving them the opportunity to develop an idea, one they may not have had the opportunity to fully develop into something yet.

BP: In a very professional manner. The competition out there is getting really tough. We have so many great artists in Toronto. You can apply for a grant and there are a lot of other people doing so. With younger artists who are starting out, sometimes they don’t look as good because they haven’t been able to develop their production value yet.

We try to emphasize that we try to bring as much professional support to the artists as we can. Everything isn’t just in the writing in theatre, it’s in the magic of all the elements coming together. I want everyone to feel very supported when they go on the stage because they deserve it.

K: How did Caminos first begin and what have you learned in the past few years of the festival?

BP: In 2014 we realized that our community of artists were not producing work because Aluna is about the only Latin-Canadian company that produces work. Aluna is a small company that can only produce about two shows a year, and I wondered what we could do with all these great artists that need to help to produce their work?

We thought it was important to maintain the presence of a festival, but how do we keep this momentum going? The first Caminos was so much fun. I didn’t expect to have such a great time, it was short and manageable and a lot of great new audiences came. It was a community.

We saw a mixed-audience. Contrary to belief, our audiences have been mostly Canadian. The last six years we have worked to build the Latin American audiences. This is the same with the artists.

My dream one day is to not have to speak about diversity anymore but that we all see each other’s work and we all work together. The divisions are necessary at the beginning, but for me, Canada is an exciting place.

The conversations that I see the conversations taking place in Toronto aren’t happening everywhere, but we are speaking a lot about diversity of perspectives and inclusivity. You never know how this opens doors for an artist.

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