Brian Mendoza is a Canadian born designer best known for his work with the contemporary lifestyle label Wings + Horns. W+H has been synonymous with men’s everyday dressing, mixing lifestyle pieces with modern fabrics, and can be found at premium boutiques around the world. Back in his native city of Toronto, Brian takes on a new challenge, designing for the oldest clothing company in Canada, The Hudson Bay Company.
What are your earliest memories of fashion? Take me back to that time.
I don’t know what you define as fashion but most of my early memories come from sportswear. I remember
growing up, watching sports, and being excited when a team would bring back one of there old uniforms,
or special ones like all-star team ones. Actually before I even knew about individual players I would pick my
teams based on the way their uniforms looked. Luckily for me the Leafs uniforms looked so good but the old
leaf logo, not the latest one.
When you were a teen you used to travel on a bus from Toronto to NYC just to shop, tell me what that first time was like.
(Laughs) Funny what conversations you remember. Well it started cause I remember going to visit family in NYC
and seeing how much of a selection that was available there. It was fun to me and really exciting, going to all
these different places and coming across new places. In the end it became a lot about the time, experiences,
and the adventure of it.
You moved from Toronto to Vancouver to head up Wings + Horns, do you think your city roots have influenced your design aesthetic?
I am not sure if it did or not. It probably has in some ways but I think I wanted the W+H line to reflect other
parts of Canada and not just the city. The W+H project has given me the experience of living in the northwest
of Canada, which helped me understand a lot about this part of the country.
Do you think your work encompasses the Canadian lifestyle?
It does encompass a Canadian view solely because I have been living here all of my life. Also, when I put
together the W+H line I consider all four seasons equally. I think it is important when doing a line from Canada.
Is that meaningful to you?
No not really. I just feel fortunate to work in Canada cause a lot of friends and people I know have left to
work in other countries, as there are not many places to do this type of work here.
What role do your emotions have on your work? Is design a personal experience for you?
I don’t think I am an emotional person when it comes to work. I think I do things more mathematically. I just
observe what I think the market wants and needs then try to supply it. I don’t mean just garments as a whole
but even details. If I think I can make it better I will re-release a product and try to make it better. I like to
build things up and add to things but only if I feel it makes things better.
Do you fell like a disciplined artist or is your work completely fluid and organic?
I am far from an artist and think the aims of an artist are completely different but my work is definitely
disciplined because of the fact that it is a business. There are people I need to answer to for decisions I
make and a team I am partly responsible for.
Has the current state of the world economy had an effect on your design approach?
For myself I feel it hasn’t changed what I am trying to do. My objectives are still the same but I do feel it
has changed in what the consumers needs are.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for staying relevant?
I think the biggest challenge in staying relevant in any business is keeping interested in the business.
Who are you most excited about these days? (Music, art, design)
Lately I have been listening to a lot of compilations. One called “Don’t even sample this” and a another one I
find I have been listening to is “Dusted Oldies” This music question can go forever so I will leave it at that.
Lately I haven’t been going to view art but I am really wanting to. Will have to get back to you on that one.
As far as design I am really impressed with ideas and designs by people I work with everyday. Everyone at
the HBC fashion office, my fiancee Jolene, you, and many other friends. This is another question that can go
Who would you most love to meet in this lifetime?
How about a financial backer that will give me 100% creative control. (smile)
All photos: Previous designs by Brian Mendoza