Christopher Bates has a unique touch: his clothing is a perfect combination of Europe and North America.
Growing up in his hometown Vancouver, the successful Toronto-based menswear designer says he “always felt that clothing had power . . . It reinforces how you’re actually feeling. Putting on something you like makes you feel good, and I was well aware of that when I was a kid.”
Upon graduating high school, Bates “didn’t really know that fashion was a career.” He attended The University of British Columbia, received a BA in Geography and spent the next five years working in marketing. However, Bates says that after making a couple of trips to Europe, he “realized that there was a [fashion] market out there.”
Shortly after, Bates moved to Milan. He enrolled in a design school and started to immerse himself in the fashion industry.
“Europe is where I get my inspiration from. I think for menswear – men in Italy especially, are impeccably dressed. [It was] a no brainer to move there.”
While Bates originally planned to specialize in women’s wear, his knack for designing menswear was what really distinguished him from his classmates.
And today, while Christopher Bates Designs caters to men, Bates hasn’t ruled out designing attire for women, and has designed custom evening gowns, including the dress for Miss World Canada, Leah Ryerse, and Miss Earth Canada, Denise Garrido.
“I really want to do a full women’s collection but you have to focus on one thing at a time. In terms of designing menswear, I look at it from a business perspective.
“The women’s market is oversaturated and the men’s market is growing and under-saturated…so I can [therefore, better] differentiate myself in the menswear market”.
Bates’ experience and ability to look at his clothing line from a business perspective has led him to look at the big picture for Christopher Bates Designs.
“I’m working on a lot of behind-the-scenes things right now, including financing, and I’ve already drawn up a three-year international expansion plan. The next step is to raise the profile of the brand internationally, expand my distribution and improve my product, which is something I think you should always strive for.”
Bates is incredibly passionate about his designs.
“At this point I feel like I could design 100 collections. The process of designing is seeing your ideas become a reality. You’re not just creating; you’re creating something real. I love my clothes. I haven’t worn anything else in over three years!”
Christopher Bates Designs are “euro-centric, fashion-forward and understated.”
He says that he draws ideas for his collections from very diverse sources.
“If I see something out there – it can be architecture, automotives, furniture, other fashion, my imagination, music – really, everything. Clothing is your second skin”.
The line continues to grow rapidly, and Bates says he is proud to have three-and- half years of very successful operation under his belt. He has big plans for the future, and is determined to make his goals for the line a reality.
“I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere. Fashion is about making your dreams come true!”