Words & Interview by: Tony Triumph
The SS 2014 collection of T Michael, a Bergen based designer and trained bespoke tailor, stands enticingly creative, climatic, and classically attractive. Bridging the undiscovered perimeters between the fad creators in the far east and our fashion favorites in the west, his nifty threads became adored by thousands of buyers, journalist, and passerby’s during a number of 2013 trade-shows including Paris’ Tranoi Homme, and NYC & Las Vegas based Liberty Fairs.
As the founder of T Michael designs and Co-founder of Norwegian Rain, he totes quite an impressive menswear site to see. Through chic artisan techniques and contemporary sleekness, T Michael’s design aesthetic is said to be set in homage of “past sartorial masters”. We were privileged enough to get in a few words with the naturally rich and traveling soul of designer T Michael, who spoke candidly about his life as a designer, as well as his take on the recent trade-show circuit.
Mr. T. Michael, your personal style has become a visual movement. From your design aesthetic to the blogs that I see you featured on. Where did this blueprint come from?
Anything I design is what I need in my wardrobe. It started from there and everything is just a branch off of that idea. Outside of that Alexander[Helle] and I begin doing Norwegian Rain, and its based on the same approach but it’s slightly different because we live in a place where it rains two out of three days, so we needed to have a raincoat that would make your life a little bit easier. A raincoat that would look stylish everyday so we put together tailoring, high-tech protection from the rain, Japanese fabrics, Japanese sensibility and so forth.
Do you go to Japan to get your materials?
No, we source them from Europe so we meet them at the trade shows. We do our own processing, our own developments, and so on and so forth. There’s another aspect of raincoats as well that we normally don’t talk about which is the fact that we use recycled polyester, organic cotton, we save about 80% in the production of carbon emissions by using these fabrics. To most people it doesn’t make any difference and they don’t care, but for us, it makes a lot of difference. We don’t want to leave any negative footprints, but that is not what sells our brand.
Well, what does sell your brand(s)?
What sells it is the fact that we keep it bright, all you have to do is worry about how you’re going to style it.
We initially met earlier this year during Tranoi Homme trade-show in Paris, where you were showing Norwegian Rain. How would you compare the American trade-shows to the french ones?
Well, I would say that this[Liberty Fairs] trade-show is not particularly American in a way because it’s created from another point of view. It has been put together to bring out the people who think like me, the store brands, the independent brands, with a mission to create pieces that let you know what’s in and what’s out. I think the European trade shows are huge, massive. The European ones are more consigned, but I do love the Americans ones. I love this one.
Liberty Fairs seems more trendy? It’s lively, right?
Yes, it’s very relevant. It speaks to everyone that visits here. They’ve got the recycled plastics, the vintage furniture, and are giving out drinking water in a cardboard box.
From your Instagram posts, to the way that you dress in person, your image is always consistent. It’s inspiring! Was it always this way?
I’ve always been very defined in what I want, I always say that style needs to evolve. I haven’t always looked like this, but I’ve always had a sense of what I wanted to look like and it changes ever so slowly. I’m also affected by trends in certain ways, I wear my trousers a little bit shorter now, but it’s all very aligned with the way that I feel on the inside.
Are you affiliated with any other companies besides T. Michael and Norwegian Rain?
Yes, I do collaborations with Art Comes First,I also designed the sandals for Spencer Hart for their Spring 2014 collections.
What is your typical design day look like?
[Laughs] That’s a difficult one, because everyday is a different day. Some days you just spend all day chasing that package that you’re expecting to have delivered, certain days you’re making patterns, certain days you’re stamping buttons, it’s all different. The most exciting thing about every collection is of course when you can actually go back to the drawing board and make up a new pattern for the coat, or the shirt, or the suit. It’s the basics, building in the blueprint.
Are you kind of like a one man team?
I have an assistant in my studio and I have a shop in Oslo which is managed by someone else. Apart from that, I like to do everything myself. The studio in Portugal that I use, they make my prototypes, the next level prototypes. I do the first work and then they do the second one.
Who is the T Michael Man?
I personally think it is someone who is not driven by a person or a brand at all. They are sure of themselves, they know what they want, but would like to dabble into experimental things. My things are not experimental, they are straight to the point but anyone that would be experimental would be able to use mine to pull off another weird piece and make them work together. The same thing goes with Norwegian Rain, the same piece can be styled different ways for a different type of person, but the most important thing is to people who are not driven by brands.
For more information on T Michael designs, his travels and trade-show visits, tune into his Instagram and www.t-michael.com.