I love my job as a arts journalist because I get to interview the most interesting people. Recently I conducted an interview with a Vancouver local fashion designer specializing in men's wear. At first I was less enthused about the interview because first of all, I know squat about men's fashion and second of all, I'm not exactly a huge fan of urban street wear, which is what this gentleman designed. However, the interview was extremely engaging and he had this snarky persona about him which I though made the interview so much more fun and exciting. This is how the whole thing went down:
Me: Please tell me a little bit about yourself as a fashion store owner
DL: My name is Dennis Ignacio Arriola. I represent Canadian Street Wear. The name of the shop is Architect By KILLA. Located in the lower East Side ( Beginning of Gastown ), 46 Alexander in the Heritage Building Complex Hotel Europe. This is where KILLA lives and where I operate business
Me: What drove you to fashion?
DL: I'm a b-boy from the first generation of the b-boy scene in Vancouver. My sponsor C1RCA supported me in my development as b-boy/artist, alongside Craig E. who gave me the hooks to learn from. My discipline was from Vancouver Film School's 3D Animation | Digital Effects. I knew I wanted to start something of my own, that would allow me to incorporate the creative aspect with the freedom to develop originality in style, comfort and design from my experiences. This is when KILLA ( wearable electronics ) was created.
Me: With such a huge market out there for female fashion, why did you choose to do men’s fashion instead?
D.L.: It's simple. Not enough cool men’s wear. I want to contribute something back to the community that represents what Street wear is in my vision.
Me: What was your biggest influence in terms of creating fashion?
D.L.: My influences come from what I grew up around and the experiences I've learned from gangs, crews, b-boying, hip hop, streets, family, brotherhoods and fraternities.
Me: Are you personally involved in any of the creative process?
D.L.: I have full control of the creative process from design to production for KILLA. I am also managing other brands in this city and hoping to branch out into the international scene in the near future.
Me: In your opinion, how important is one’s personal style?
D.L.: It's important to me in the way that your personal style reflects and helps defines who you are. People say, you can't judge a book by it's cover but in this time and age usually based on first impressions, that's what you get judged on.
Me: There has always been a tug-o-war between one’s volition to express a sense of true original style and the overwhelming market of mass produced clothing which takes away from individualism. As a successful fashion entrepreneur who emphasizes both, how do you reconcile this conflict?
D.L.: I adapt my personal style with understanding what exists in the street wear scene.
Me: Can you please comment on the evolution of urban wear for those who are not familiar with this particular line of fashion?
D.L.: The C.P. jackets are derived from the original C.P. Urban Protection series. The jackets are inspired by the concept of protection from pollution and care to avoid CO2 emissions. Ergonomically cut, it features 360 movement and underarm ventilation, articulated hoods and detachable anti-smog masks.
Me: Can you please describe how seemingly military elements such as heavy duty material and smog masks fit with the current political and social state of our world? In other words, how do you think these elements make your clothes marketable and functional to a generation that has little experience with war and political struggles?
D.L. Military elements have been incorporated into fashion since the beginning. It's nothing new. You can see the military inspiration in pea coats, infantry jackets, boots, hats, sun glasses, watches, clothing & bags etc. The military inspirations apply from big brand label houses all the way through to local designers. Basically rooting back to your question, originality, style, quality and comfort. high end street wear built to last. That's what's marketable.