By Hannah Yakobi
Photography by Robert Eardley
Every story has a beginning. For Michael Eardley, it was a night in fall 2007 during a drive home.
Working as an inside sales representative in Montréal, he was listening to the radio, when he heard a commercial about the fashion school at LaSalle College.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know we had a fashion school in Montréal at the time, so I decided to go to the open house,” says Eardley. “I always liked fashion in terms of what clothing, but there was never really any design interest.
“I toured the school and sort of pictured myself there. It was kind of a weird feeling, you know, for someone who had no real interest for that side of fashion, to all-of-a-sudden think: ‘I think I need to be here.’
“So I ended up enrolling.”
And then the real ride began. Eardley had no idea what to expect. He also couldn’t draw.
After some intensive lessons, he learned how to sketch “perfect faces and perfect figures.”
Two-and-half years and a graduation later, he was ready to enter the fashion world. Eardley knew that his brand would incorporate edgy designs with a strong influence from nightlife.
His first goal out of school was to go to Europe and study further. But then thanks to a connection via Twitter, he had an article written about him on the Montréal Fashion Biz Vie blog.
“After that article, people started asking: ‘So when are you launching your line?’ At that time, I didn’t really know if I was going to do it, but in 2010 I opened my studio and started developing a plan.”
He spent the first year experimenting with fabrics he hadn’t used before, pushing himself a little bit outside of his comfort zone. Eardley specialized in womenswear in school and decided to stick with it.
“I think, as a guy, I felt that if I was designing menswear, it would be really hard to detach myself and I would sort of design for myself. And then there’s also the element of creativity in menswear – it’s very, very hard to really be creative and, at the same time, wearable and sellable.
“That’s why, to me, the best fashion designers in the world are the people who can do modern, creative menswear that can sell.”
Fast-forward to fall 2013 and several collections later, Eardley now sells his clothing at Homegrown Boutique in Toronto, at General 54 in Montréal and at his online store, which he plans to build further.
The designer describes his collections as “edgy, young, fun, sexy, really all about living.”
“My brand slogan is ‘We live now’ and it’s all about enjoying life,” he adds.
The nightlife aspect is still very central to his work. As an emerging designer, he says that social media has been the most helpful tool in promoting the brand.
“I don’t have a million-dollar marketing budget, and I think you need to take the resources you have and use them as much as you can, in the best way that you can. It’s important to maximize social media. At the end of the day, the goal is to sell but the other side too is dressing people as much as possible, not sitting on garments and waiting for someone to buy them.”
His collections normally start with fabric choices: “I have a hard time putting a white piece of paper down and just sketching. For me, it’s about using different textures and a lot of patterns.”
At the moment, Eardley is planning another party for the launch of his spring/summer 2014 collection, which he is releasing later this fall.
The designer is based in Montréal, but he visits Toronto on a regular basis. He is also bilingual.
“We’re in a multi-cultural society in this country, which is amazing, so both our online store and our main website are bilingual too. I think it is very important in Canada to do as much as possible in both languages.”
Fall/winter 2013-14, Alive collection
Photography: Mateo H Casis
Model: Emilie LC
Hair and make-up: Hélène Ménard Makeup