CHECKING IN WITH: Canada's Breakthrough Designers 2015 2nd Prize Winner Holden Vetro


Credits: Holden Vetro & Télio

Coming in 2nd in Canada’s Breakthrough Designer Competition isn’t too shabby, the immensely talented Holden Vetro is doing very well for himself.

We caught up with him last week. We appreciate how candid he was in our interview and we’re very excited for our readers to get a peek inside the mind of Mr.Vetro!

Without further ado, here’s our exclusive interview!

What’s one thing you learned about yourself through your participation in the Télio Canada’s Breakthrough Designers competition?

I believe the greatest lesson that I have learned from this competition experience was to allow myself to value my own vision and work (a little more). As an incredibly self-critical perfectionist with a mind that endlessly poses questions, I could only easily see my conceptual and construction flaws as I packed my final work into its garment bag to be shipped to Montreal. However, the show commenced weeks later and as it was terribly evident by the ridiculousness of my face in each photo taken, I was incredibly shocked and excited to learn that the esteemed judging panel had seen worth in my work.

Tell us the story behind your favourite garment you’ve made. 

Truthfully, I had never properly sewn or created a garment in my life only a year before beginning the competition process. This experience gave me the chance to challenge my abilities and design freely on my own. Thus it was the first representation of a creation unhindered by institutional constraints and the piece that I would claim the closest to my most honest vision.

However, since the conclusion of the competition I have been hard at work developing a small collection on my own time that I am excited to share later this year. It is aimed at those (more specifically within western cultures) who feel comfort in a masculinity which is in some part established within themselves by the clothing they wear. Upon a deconstruction of modern, western infantry wear, which, similarly to work wear, places function above cultural codes (being that it is crafted without adhering to established visual symbols of masculinity or femininity), I hope to encourage the wearer to expose areas of the body not typically associated with masculine attire. Understanding that this agenda, coupled with its focus on uniforms, might come across as an authoritarian design practice by its demands of the customer, I looked towards the modern architecture works of Eileen Gray, combating any potentially dehumanizing qualities by conceiving of extremely multifunctional uniforms which foster individuality through the versatility of the garments.

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Credit: Holden Vetro

If you could only work with one fabric for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

At this time I would choose denim for its structure, stability, familiarity to its wearers as well as its general economic and physical accessibility. Student budget keeps me stingy, man.

What are your plans for the coming year? Anything we should look out for?

Having just graduated from the technically-focused fashion design program at George Brown College, I have applied to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, in hopes of gaining acceptance into the prestigious BA fashion design program. I have to write examinations and present my portfolio in an interview in person over the 1st and 2nd of July. If all goes well you might learn that I have moved to Belgium! I am very thankful to have my Italian citizenship as the tuition fees are incredibly affordable for those apart of the EU.

What piece of advice would you give any future participant in the Télio Canada’s Breakthrough Designers competition?

I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that form should follow function, and I personally design with a mantra to question everything. Every aesthetic feature should at the very least serve the concept if not also a practical function. Every individual seam and finishing should be considered, whether it be constructed in a luxurious manner or a purposefully opposing method.

I would also advise a future contestant to conceive of an idea that they have not seen before and which they believe in. I initially felt nervous by the weight of marketability in the judging scheme, but in the end I did not allow it to compromise innovation. The judges are different every year and the outcomes vary with each panel, so you cannot try to tailor your design on a prediction of what they may value. However, I believe that originality is universally sought and rewarded, which seems evident by this year’s competition results.

If you could collaborate with one major commercial brand/fashion house, which would you choose and why?

I think that I might decide on Craig Green at this instance for his aim to give value to less expensive fabrics by hand crafted treatments such as direct painting or by re-purposing materials like tarpaulin. The versatility of forms that can be achieved within each of his garments – a feature that is particularly visible in his S/S 15 collection – is just another one of the many characteristics that I greatly appreciate in the designer’s work.

Beyond his wonderful mind, I also admire Craig Green’s appearance – like, I definitely have a massive crush on the dude. Dreamboat status for sure. Other runner-up designers off the top of my head include Bernhard Willhelm, Aitor Throup and Daniel Palillo.

Which celebrity would you consider your fashion/style muse/inspiration and why? What kind of garments would you like to see her/him in?

I admire characters who express freedom in their dress, in a manner that is considered but also intuitive. These figures own their styles with an infectious confidence, sometimes initially garnering reactions of disgust but ultimately inspiring onlookers to inevitably follow suit. That being said, Boychild is definitely an icon of mine, and as I have deep roots in skateboarding, Dylan Reider and Jason Dill certainly sparked my initial interest in fashion. Skateboard culture will always find a way into my works. Queen Steeze meets a skate rat? Pearl patches? That would be hype to get those on some people! I’m too stoked now!

Posted in Interviews

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