Thomas Tait: London Fashion Week's golden boy
You may not know the name Thomas Tait now, but that could all change very soon. Since May 2014, the Canadian designer has been funded and mentored by the company behind Louis Vuitton, Dior and Givenchy.
Last May, Tait won the inaugural LVMH Prize for designers under 40, which included €300,000 ($340,000) and 12 months of professional mentoring and support from within the luxury conglomerate. (The selection panel included fashion heavyweights like Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Phoebe Philo.)
The London-based designer first made waves in 2010 when, at 22, he became the youngest student to earn an MA in womenswear from the prestigious Central Saint Martins art and design college. He's been a major draw at London Fashion Week ever since.
CNN caught up with Tait before his Autumn/Winter 2015 show to talk branding, growth, and how it feels to be a fashion industry golden child.
CNN: What has working with LVMH been like since you won the prize?
Thomas Tait: LVMH is a huge machine and they have so much power, and for a young designer, it could easily have been a case where they impose a lot of regulations on me, and they have certain factual expectations of me and my development.
But what was really lovely is as soon as I won the prize, they came to me and said, "This is the first time we're doing this. We are not entirely sure exactly how things should all pan out, and we are here to learn from you just as much as you are from us." So we stepped into this relationship in a really honest and transparent manner, which immediately put me so much more at ease with the outside buzz going on around the prize.
What has been one of the greatest benefits of this relationship so far?
When you are working with the group, what is special is that you are appointed a mentor, which is basically a VP of the group or a director of the group, and you get to engage with people who have been working under such a big and very successful umbrella for so many years, where it really feels as if you are coming from the opposite end of the spectrum ... They have to engage directly with the daily issues that I face, which is really nice.
As a young designer, what do you find most frustrating about the fashion industry?
The sort of catch-22 in that you work in an industry that is meant to look easy. It is meant to look perfect, and it is meant to look attractive and interesting, and that is what you put on the runway ... What people don't know is (that) what is behind the runway is often a massive bomb, and it is a huge amount of work. It is a passion, but it is far from pretty on a daily basis. There is a lot of hard work, and there are a lot of hours, and it is very strange to live between reality and this quasi-fiction of the runway.
What is essential to the DNA of your brand?
The DNA, I think, is very much involved in the feeling you get when you're wearing the clothing ... If you engage with the garments, you can usually find connecting dots between each piece and each collection in terms of how it was constructed, and how it fits, and (how) the thought behind the fit has evolved ... A wearer's interaction is very much a building block for the DNA of the brand. I think it is very much a woman's brand in that way.
"It is very strange to live between reality and this quasi-fiction of the runway,"
Who is the Thomas Tait woman?
The Thomas Tait woman is definitely not trying to project an image to the outer world with how she looks, at least not in the conventional manner. I think women buy clothing I make for personal reasons because they are buying it for themselves. I think it's a treat for yourself, a personal luxury. I would have a hard time imaging any woman buying my clothes for the sake of attracting a suitor.
Who would you most like to dress?
I think Adele is fabulous...I would love to dress her. Gorgeous voice, and amazing lyricist. I also think the girls from Broad City on Comedy Central are fabulous...I think it would be really cool to hang out with them and put some clothes on them.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would like to have a broader reach with the garments. I would like to open my wholesale channels a little bit more, and to make a product available all over the world for people to wear and to make part of their own life. I think that would be really fantastic.