A snap from the so-hot-right-now Cana­dian de­signer’s col­lec­tion that caught our eye

ELLE (Canada) - - #Storyboard -

For Mon­treal de­sign­ers José Manuel St-Jac­ques and Si­mon Bélanger, UNTTLD (unttld.ca) is a labour of love. Part­ners in life and busi­ness, the duo are the dream team be­hind the la­bel, which won

the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Start Up com­pe­ti­tion ear­lier this year, beat­ing out a tal­ented ros­ter of Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing Beaufille and

Laura Siegel. It’s not the first time St-Jac­ques and Bélanger have been awarded top hon­ours: In 2010, they were con­tes­tants on the TV show La Col­lec­tion, Que­bec’s version of Project Runway. They en­tered separately in a game of friendly de­sign ri­valry. St-Jac­ques ul­ti­mately won the $100,000 prize, which al­lowed them to launch UNTTLD. Now, thanks to their lat­est win, they’re ready to take their busi­ness to the next level. “We need a CEO,” says St-Jac­ques. We caught up with the de­sign­ers, as they pre­pare to launch their e-com

merce site this spring, to talk men­tors, muses and Mon­treal.

Learn­ing Curve

St-Jac­ques “De­signer De­nis Gagnon taught us to screw the rules and do what­ever we want.” Bélanger “He brought more of an artis­tic di­men­sion to fash­ion in­stead of just making gar­ments, you know? And he was very gen­er­ous with the tech­niques he de­vel­oped. He would share them with us a lot, like how to sew things to­gether and how to make tex­tures.”

It’s a woman’s world

Bélanger “We sur­round our­selves with very in­tense, opin­ion­ated and strong peo­ple. And those are the sort of peo­ple we like. We don’t like wallflow­ers. We want to see pow­er­ful women, women that own them­selves. We try to make women beau­ti­ful in­de­pen­dent of their shape or size. I know that sounds cheesy, but to us it’s really nor­mal.” St-Jac­ques “We like to dress the psy­cho­log­i­cal woman, not the phys­i­o­log­i­cal woman.”

Look and feel

Bélanger “[Our clothes] are not art, be­cause that’s what you find at a mu­seum. We ex­press our con­cerns through our work. We don’t just make cloth­ing that dresses peo­ple, be­cause that’s bor­ing. To us, that’s not fash­ion; that’s just making clothes.” St-Jac­ques “It’s more than shape. What we like is the emo­tion. But we also like to work with history, spir­i­tu­al­ity and tra­di­tional cos­tume.”

home run

St-Jac­ques “What’s great about Mon­treal is the peo­ple. It’s cheap to live here, so you have a lot of free time to do what­ever you want to do. There’s a lot of parks, great mu­sic, a lot of great ev­ery­thing. That’s very in­spir­ing to us. It’s very easy, and it’s small; it feels like a vil­lage. We all know one an­other, and there’s an en­ergy here that makes it easy to start a project with some­one.”

Bal­anc­ing act

Bélanger “Some­times when you are geared too much to­ward the com­mer­cial, you want to say that you’re just go­ing to be an artist. And then when you’re an artist and you’re not making a penny, you just want to be a de­signer and sell.” St-Jac­ques “But that’s what I like. In fash­ion, you have to come up with new stuff and new ideas and ques­tion what you’re do­ing all the time: ‘Why did I do this? Where am I go­ing with this? Who am I talk­ing to?’ It’s not bor­ing at all. I think that’s what I really like: You’re in con­stant change and pro­gress­ing in­stead of re­do­ing the same thing all the time.”

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