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A CONVERSATION WITH WHITEWALLS WORLDWIDE

As a Montreal-based media covering international content, it has come to our attention that the Montreal community loves to support local fashion designers, but often forget the ones breaking through abroad. In order to make it out of here, we don’t have much of a choice but to label ourselves as “based in Montreal… for the moment being”. Others find ways to distinguish themselves, and reaching for the other side of the Atlantic is one of them. There comes WORLDWIDE, offspring of local manufacturer WHITE WALLS created by four young entrepreneurs.

In 2016, designers Etienne Correia and Joman Baku showcased their first collection, under the WORLDWIDE label, during the White Milano Show and at the luxury showroom Marcona3 in Paris to ragging reviews across Europe. The brand remains in the dark on our continent, but their design and technical approach predict significant acclaims following their international breakthrough.

Given the gold mine we have within our grasp, THE FINE PRINT is curating a collaborative project between the iconic PARACHUTE and up-and-coming WHITEWALLS WORLDWIDE. These two generations of designers are meeting for an exclusive intergenerational creative concept focusing on contemporary socio-cultural questionings of the current fashion system and industry. One brand is establishing their heritage while the other is breaking through, creating a clashing encounter of the minds. The interest in ethical production, quality of the garment and intertemporal utilitarian designs are shared values and aesthetics to PARACHUTE and WHITEWALLS WORLDWIDE. This collaboration will be consisting of interviews with both brands, a runway show at Montreal’s Festival Mode et Design, exclusive editorials and a short documentary on the manufacturing industry. Stay tuned for all these goodies.

Samir, Etienne, Mathieu and Saajan from WWWW spoke to us for this exclusive THE FINE PRINT conversation with editor-in-chief ESTELLE GERVAIS.

Photography LIONEL PERRON

Creative Direction BIANCA DI BLASIO (Dulcedo Artists)

THE FINE PRINT: What were the circumstances behind the creation of WhiteWalls WorldWide?

SAMIR AYACHI for WORLDWIDE: French writer Michel Houellebecq was definitely influential. I can’t thank him enough for sharing his perspective with us.

It’s a philosophy that we have been sharpening over time. All the people involved in the House [WORLDWIDE] are evolving; we have a very particular way of seeing the garments, arts, success & fame, for example. I think this constant quest for evolution & balance was part of the initial circumstances.
A year and half ago, we got approached to join-venture with a fabric manufacturer. That became the breaking point; we put the current structure in place since then. 

THE FINE PRINT: You’ve referred to [the manufacturer] WhiteWalls as the “context” and to [the brand] WorldWide as the “output” of your design. Could you please extrapolate on the distinction between your two entities?

MATHIEU for WORLDWIDE: White Walls is definitely a context in design. It’s a full-service manufacturer in the heart of the fashion district in Montreal. At White Walls, we offer a “360” degree approach to garment companies & individuals, pattern making, grading, sampling, duplicates, cutting, production for small quantities & large garment retailers. We realized that the manufacturers that were left in Montreal (or didn’t move their operations to Asia) are not qualified enough to produce more complex garments, new patterns, etc. It’s a new lead in the production sector. We can’t compete with China in terms of speed, we are not there for that, but we can compete in design, customer service, technology and respecting resources.

THE FINE PRINT: You’ve recently presented your first menswear collection in both Milan and Paris, snatching showrooms and raging reviews in both cities. How would you describe your first experience as an up-and-coming brand presenting abroad?

ETIENNE for WORLDWIDE: Oh man! When we booked our flights, we said to each other (talking to Samir) if they don’t like what we have to show & tell, well we are still going to launch it online! That’s how we were going mentally. But as soon as we got there, people really believed in us, our way of making clothes & the message behind them spoke to great minds & that meant fashion all over the world was evolving.

THE FINE PRINT: The designers themselves are put forward in WorldWide, whereas the brand itself remains implicit. This goes against the current stream of the industry, where big house names take the spotlight. How will this help build your brand over the long run?

SAMIR for WORLDWIDE: That’s a priority for us to put forward designers worldwide & remain implicit. When big house names take the spotlight, it is only to control; to control creativity, most often controlled with trends. It’s a classic structure for fashion houses. At Worldwide, we don’t believe in creation based on trends, it’s more sincere to create who you are. On the long run, it’s the only way to go, It’s an organic buyer-designer approach. To see it through our eyes, think about it like this: would you keep buying Music CD’s from Sony or you will keep following your favorite artist?

WORLDWIDE is the branding of tomorrow, it represents every designer that we produce. With having White Walls as the foundation, it’s also the way for us to deliver the product the way we want. It gives us more freedom to really create collections that feel completed.

THE FINE PRINT: You have the same concerns as past generations in terms of getting the production done with the right authenticity and quality. Why do you think these things haven’t changed in the past 40 years?

SAAJAN for WORLDWIDE: Because the industry grew exponentially in the past 40 years. More money became involved.

When this happened, people entered the industry who exploited resources and used unethical practices to create garments for the sake of profit. For them to make the most of this, production speed increased while quality became compromised.

 

THE FINE PRINT: You are about to launch WORLDWIDE’s first womenswear collection for the upcoming SS17 season. How was the creative process different from menswear?   

ETIENNE for WORLDWIDE: The industry is constantly looking for innovation through creation. With our first menswear collection, we went for really strong classic pieces that are timeless and reckless. One of the differences with the women’s collection is that the level of comfort has really been pushed to the limit. Creation has never been that free for the designer. The variety of designers that will present their collection is wider than menswear this year. The process of the house stays the same, a no-boundary zone. I feel, from a designer point of view, you are also completing yourself by making your aesthetic available for men and womenswear.

However, we are more open-minded today than we have ever been before. We are more conscious and aware of what is right and wrong. That is why we believe by using the right practices and allowing manufacturing to be local, we can restore that authenticity and quality while improving and restructuring the system of creating and buying garments.