By Katia Ostapets
Photography by Aleyah Solomon
Sometimes art comes from serendipity. A man sets out to leave his busy life behind, if only for a short while, and discovers Bali. Thinking of the people in his life for whom he wishes he could bring back a small piece of the journey, he has a local artisan create unisex rings of wood and brass that he designed himself. Such is the story of the creation of Vitaly Design, founded by Shane Vitaly Foran, a self-described “jewelry designer, brand builder, [and] extreme sports, music and tattoo enthusiast [with a] thirst to do and see it all.”
An eclectic character with a background in everything from sales and marketing to modelling and music journalism, Foran is the true representation of his brand. “My style is kind of random. I call myself a ‘jeans and T-shirt guy’ because typically that’s how I’m dressed. But every so often you’ll see me dressed [urban] and then very preppy, I’m just moody in that respect. I don’t really care to fall into any one category, so I’m trying to keep my brand the same way.”
In other words, the brand has an androgynous air. “Essentially, everything I wear can also be worn by females and I think that influenced my design style.”
He explains that originally many of the pieces were larger and designed for men, but women kept requesting them in smaller sizes. Now, Vitaly Design does not classify the accessories at all, neither as men’s nor as women’s.
The one thing that Foran was sure of from the beginning was the name. Vitaly was his last name at birth, and he has always liked that the root of it meant “life”. “It just made sense. I knew when I started building this brand that I wanted it to be a lifestyle brand.”
Since the unanticipated day when Foran sold the last of his treasures to a local Queen West store upon his return from Bali, his designs have found great success with musicians, athletes and many other celebrities. “My world has always been extreme sports, the music industry and the tattoo [realm]. Those are the worlds I know and care about. We just hit all those different spectrums and that’s exactly what I want to do.”
For anyone looking for words of wisdom, the designer simply says, “Expect major roller-coaster rides! The amount of times I thought we were done for, is unbelievable. I like to joke that it’s taken years off my life because of those huge dips. But when you have the ups, it’s like OK, I just brought those years back!”
Currently, he is clearly on the ride to the top, with actor Dominic Monaghan recently showing off his Vitaly ring on Jimmy Kimmel Live and with the release of the new Elements Collection. Unlike the first two lines — one made of wood and brass or stainless steel, one of highly durable ceramic, the new line is forged from titanium. It is also designed and priced for stacking. “I didn’t know it was a coming trend. I don’t see myself as a big trendspotter,” explains Foran. “I was just doing it so I could wear more jewelry at one time during tradeshows,” he laughs.
From design to the choice of materials, all pieces are created to last. “I’m not making costume jewelry, something that people wear one day and will throw away. They will have these pieces for the rest of their life,” says Foran.
He says that in the future only three collections will remain. Any new pieces he creates — a process that he prefers to do while in bed and listening to a mix of modern flamenco and trance — will round off the current lines with additions like bracelets. He also hints that there are more surprises in store for Vitaly fans in the near future.
Be it fate or happenstance, Foran says he has found his calling. “I love what I’m doing. I knew I would do something with marketing and branding, but I did not know I would be building my own brand and certainly not in fashion. But now I cannot imagine doing anything else and I don’t think I ever will!”
FAJO Magazine would like to thank Kultura Restaurant for providing the venue for this photoshoot.
Built in the 1800s, Kultura boasts three different floors that serve as private and semi-private dining experiences. Located on the main floor, The Lounge presents a calm and cool atmosphere with seating for up to 30 guests or 50 cocktail style. The Fireplace Room and The Grand Room are both located on the second floor. Together they total about 3000 sq. ft. that can be divided into two separate rooms or converted into one large dining room. The space provides seating for 120 guests or 300 cocktail style. Situated on the third floor is the one-of-a-kind exclusive Private Dining Room that is the building’s original attic. Features of the room include exposed brick and beams, private restrooms and private bar. Tables can be set in an array of styles and the capacity is 45 seated and 60 cocktail. Acclaimed Chef Bernadette brings her passion for food and adventurous spirit to the Kultura kitchen. Bernadette’s unconventional style has pushed all boundaries, creating culinary trends that are turning Torontonians into gourmet food lovers. She has worked under well-known Chefs Massimo Capra, David Grant and Roger Mooking.