An Exclusive Interview with Michael Nguyen
Third-generation tailor Michael Nguyen knows fashion.
Prior to becoming the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Apparel for Ædelhard, Michael founded Garrison Bespoke Tailoring in Toronto, a custom-suiting purveyor to the who’s who of sport and entertainment, including Drake, LeBron James, the TV series Suits, and more. He is also the official tailor of the Toronto Football Club, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and is the inventor of the Bulletproof Suit.
The creative mind behind the collection brings his vast experience and credibility in the world of bespoke tailoring to Ædelhard. His innovation in the development of next generation suiting with performance and ready-made garments specifically tailored for a more athletic body and all-day comfort fit are second to none. Michael knew that there had to be a way to marry the look and appearance of the modern gentleman with the comfort of garments that move and stretch with an athletic build. Let’s hear some of the tips and insights in tailored styling from the eyes of a menswear expert.
What have been your sources of inspiration for the collections and design directions?
We’ve dressed many professional athletes, actors, and entrepreneurs. The Toronto Raptors Team, TFC, Drake, David Foster, Gabriel Macht, and so on. The collections are inspired by the lives they lead where they’re always on the go. After a long day you want to be comfortable but not worry about whether you still look good. The classic suiting patterns we’ve used –paired with timeless colour palettes and performance materials – allows us to create a collection that is perfect for this lifestyle.
If you describe the upcoming spring collection in 5 words what would they be?
Classic. Timeless. Comfortable. Versatile. Interchangeable.
What was the main inspiration behind the collection?
The main inspiration was to build on the foundation of the Italian blue Ædelhard Performance suit. I made blue the colour of our first suit and the foundation of the collection, as it’s universally known as peoples’ favourite colour. If you think about it, there is rarely anything negative associated with the colour blue. People associate it with the sky, the sea, eyes, and calmness, among other positive things. At Garrison Bespoke, it is no coincidence that blue is the colour of the first suit a man buys, or that it’s usually the main colour you’ll find in a large suiting wardrobe. You can buy countless shades of blue and wake up with a sense of enjoyment when you incorporate it into your day to day life without ever exhausting the colour.
The same thing can’t be said for other colours. In this new collection we’ve added new styles with a complimentary colour palette that will allow you to mix and match with anything else in the collection. We’re making sure to keep in line with our philosophy of kit dressing.
What’s your philosophy in dressing the modern gentleman?
Dress sharp but stay comfortable. There are a lot of beautiful pieces out there, but after wearing them for an hour you’re second-guessing if you should have bought the garment at all because of how uncomfortable it is. My focus is comfort and versatility in a suit, while still being able to be unique in a room of suits. I want 2-3 suits that I can live in and interchange as separates with denim and a crew neck; the colours I keep: classic Navy, Grey, and then I will mix in a core colour for the season – such as Burgundy or Green.
The key elements to look for, which I use in all my suits, are an element of performance via stretch for comfort, and a deconstructed make for a more casual feel. I also wear fabrics with a lot of visual interest and texture like Sharkskin, Chambray, or Hopsack. The textured fabric makes the suit dynamic and rich looking on its own when worn as separates, and unique when worn as a full suit, without having to work really hard.
Your bespoke brand, Garrison, is one of the leading influencers of premium menswear in Canada. How have you applied your knowledge of tailoring to the ready-to-wear tailoring with the Ædelhard Brand?
We’ve always been really involved in building wardrobes with athletes and artists who look for something a bit unique but still versatile and comfortable; and we’ve now seen this same style and approach with all our clients’ wardrobes. We call it ‘lifestyle tailoring’. Over the years it’s become obvious that the client favourite is tailoring with lightweight construction that is soft and versatile to be worn casually, and for it to have stretch and performance for your day to day. They’re usually designed with the same patterns we use for business and formalwear, so these suits can still be worn for business or wedding events. Ædelhard’s ready-to-wear is the result of this.
When you are not wearing Ædelhard or bespoke garments, who do you wear?
Since I am involved in a lot of product development day in and day out, I am usually always wearing Garrison or Ædelhard – as there is always a new design waiting to be worn and tested. It’s only when I workout that I wear something different. In that case I’m usually in full workout gear like Nike or Lululemon.
What are some of the hottest trends we can expect in menswear?
It’s difficult to ignore that streetwear has exploded in the last few years and has bled into almost every product category. I think we’re almost at a point where it’s oversaturated and so we’re seeing a shift in a lot of these streetwear brands trying to incorporate menswear tailoring. That’s the thing about tailoring; it’s timeless. So when brands do not know where to go next for inspiration, they always go back to the past. Hence, the cycle of fashion.
This time around though we’re probably going to see a resurgence of the bold patterns: florals and plaids prominent in the streetwear world merging into the menswear world. Think bold shirts, with solid colour suiting. Possibly a resurgence of the double-breasted suit as well and the peak lapel becoming more prominent in among brands. Obviously, this won’t have much of an impact for the modern day man going to the boardroom, but you’ll probably see this style if you’re out for cocktails on the weekend.
What are your rules to live by?
Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
When you are traveling around the world, what can’t you live without?
A Blazer made of stretch fabric – to put all my travel essentials in like my passport, wallet, going through the airport and then being able to roll it up in the overhead. I’ll then wear it to dinner or when out in the evening if it’s brisk.
Fresh pair of white sneakers – to wear them with a suit, but also with my jeans and a jacket in the evening. Use them to sneak in a workout in the morning or a run in the evening.
The 5 minute Journal – A good friend of mine gave it to me as a gift; I go through it daily in the morning to set the intention and focus for the day, and in the evening to think about how it unfolded. It’s awesome.
A knit tie – I travel to New York often and wear it when in a suit, and when I’m in LA I wear it casually loosely tied around my neck with a button-up and pair of jeans with sneakers.
See the collection that came from the mogul himself HERE!