Handsome Clothing Co. is a clothing company founded in 2007, based out of Toronto, Canada. The brand is run by two young guys, Christian and AJ. As childhood friends they aspired to take a creative route in life, forgoing conventional professions. With this dream in mind, they started Handsome. Initially they were producing gear from the humble beginnings of their University dorm room. This grass roots, DIY ethic is what still drives the heart of the brand.
Following the success of The Outer Space Series and The Pangea Collection, this season Handsome has released The Teachers Collection. Handsome’s latest collection consists of seven designs, each inspired by a musical influence on the brand. Handsome’s original designs showcase their abstract interpretation of each artist and their work. “Every day we have the privilege of working on creating clothing and jewellery combined with original music. We couldn’t be happier with the decision” say the founders. Tee Hunter recently spoke to AJ about all things Handsome, past, present and future. Read the results below. The images are from a recent collaboration shoot with Lucia Pang, an exceptional young photographer from Sydney. “I think the pics will make for an interesting change from the male-centric Handsome image,” says AJ. We agree, they’re phenominal.
TH: What is the story behind the foundation of Handsome?
AJ: Christian and I started Handsome in our first year residence room at Queen’s University. What began as a series of DIY t-shirts for us slowly became a small business around campus thanks to interest from our fellow students.
TH: Who’s in the team and what do they bring to the table?
AJ: Christian Rice and AJ Jamani. The two of us run the brand from the ground up. Somehow we’ve managed to take care of every aspect of the business from the design side to the distribution. Whatever we didn’t know initially, we’ve learned along the way.
TH: Do you outsource or keep it all in house and why?
AJ: We started the brand with every step in house including the screen printing. With time we began to source these things to let others do what they’re great at. It has worked out nicely and given the two of us more time to focus on the future and direction of the brand.
TH: What inspired your latest line?
AJ: The Teachers Collection was inspired by musical influences that have played a part in Handsome’s progression. The long list was cut down to a handful of our favorites including Kid Cudi, Justice, The Beach Boys, Daft Punk, Aphex Twin, David Bowie and Steppenwolf.
TH: Handsome has a clean cut, frequently B&W aesthetic, what factors inform your brand’s design aesthetic?
AJ: We’ve always been true to creating what we appreciate and are excited by leading up to a given season. We’ve kept things consistent with the black and white aesthetic for longevity and ease to wear.
TH: Your lines are cohesive, with garments easily playing happily with other garments, is this something you’re keen to achieve?
AJ: For sure it’s been part of our thought process. We’re always happy to hear feedback on the versatility of the pieces. Sometimes they’re worn with shorts and other times dressed with a blazer.
TH: What is your best seller so far?
AJ: The Youth
TH: Can you guess what’ll be a best seller or can it surprise you still?
AJ: We have gotten better over the seasons at predicting successful designs, but there’s always room for a couple of surprises in the collections.
TH: What has been your highest point?
AJ: One of our highest points was signing up TNT as a retailer in Toronto. It’s a shop we’ve appreciated for years. We were elated to be selling alongside some of our role models including Comme Des Garcons, Wings + Horns and Rag & Bone.
TH: …and your lowest (and what got your through it)?
AJ: Lows sometimes come in dealing with rude people in the industry. We deal with it by keeping persistent and doing everything we do with positive energy to attract some back.
TH: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about the fashion business so far?
AJ: You need to be super hard working and persistent. There’s no easy answer and there’s no big break that occurs without merit.
TH: What are your plans for the future of Handsome?
AJ: We are continuing to do t-shirts and what we have loved while expanding into new territory. For next year we have some more musical collaborations, artistic collaborations, hats and scarves in the works.
TH: When can we expect your next line and do you have any hints as to what will be on offer?
AJ: We have been working on a capsule collection with an amazing Toronto band, Young Empires. We will have the collection available for this Fall. It’s been great working with them and we’re super excited for the collection. They’re rising rapidly and this year will have shared the stage with some exceptional artists like Chromeo, Girl Talk and Vampire Weekend. We’re a big fan of collaborating. Working with new people keeps things evolving and engaging.
A big thank you to AJ for taking time out of his schedule to chat to us about the excellent Handsome brand. Check out Handsome via their website for more info, images and to purchase their fine wares.