IDYSM: Hey Tung, thanks so much for being a part of the In Their Shoes interview series. To get us started, where are you as we do this?
TUNG: Currently at home in Vancouver.
IDYSM: You work across 2 distinctly different labels, please tell us about both Reigning Champ and Wings and Horns.
TUNG: Reigning Champ is a premium, modern approach to classic athletic wear. Wings + horns is menswear focused on quality through considered design. Both brands are motivated by the notion of simplicity and subtle nuance.
IDYSM: How did each brand come to exist?
TUNG: wings + horns was created in 2004 and Reigning Champ followed after in 2007 by Craig Atkinson through the parent company CYC design. As wings matured, and its product offering increased to become more collection based, RC was created to offer a more fleece focused product range.
IDYSM: While the 2 labels each have their own identity, they work together too. How do you process your own ideas, inspirations and concepts, and then channel them to the respective brand?
TUNG: We approach each brand with a different concept and source of inspiration each season. While we work within the same toolbox for both brands, each brand commands a different approach and aesthetic. RC is always athletic based and the inspiration would usually stem from classic sports. Wings + horns on the other hand is driven by more abstract concepts. A lot more of the research and discovery happens within the context of wings + horns as the collections are more conducive to it.
IDYSM: Where do you draw inspiration from?
TUNG: These come from a variety of sources such as architecture, art, sport, military surplus and quite often from traditional handcrafts. It boils down to the re-interpretation of these references, making them functional, modern and relevant to what we want to convey for that season
IDYSM: I’ve read that you used to love scouring surplus stores and finding items that you would tailor yourself, how much of this ethos still applies to what you do?
TUNG: This is something I try to apply each season. Once again its the process of being hands on that allows for new ideas and ways of constructing a garment to be discovered. I would occasionally test out a new fabric by making a garment from a current or previous season. This allows myself and the team to see how the new fabric behaves during wear and gives us a better idea of how it would work for the next season.
IDYSM: Fusing functionality with tailoring is a signature of your work, what do you do to keep evolving and growing while maintaining this ethos?
TUNG: Its a combination of both textile development and process that keeps the brand moving forward. Its not necessarily what we do, but how we do it that makes the difference between our product and the others. At the beginning of each season I’m excited to see how we can manipulate textiles to suit our needs, whether it be aesthetically or functionally. Design is more than just having an idea, its the ability to problem solve and see the product through to the end.
IDYSM: Another signature of your work is letting the product do all the talking…do you feel there is a lot of noise out there right now?
TUNG: There may be a lot of noise right now, however, we try to keep our focus on our work which speaks to the consumer that appreciates quiet luxury.
IDYSM: Where is menswear at right now, and what do you see as the biggest challenges in the current climate?
TUNG: The menswear market is growing and the consumer has a lot more options than before. Our aim is to reach these guys and engage them in a meaningful way that goes beyond product. I would like to think that our consumer buys into our brands first and foremost to enjoy it for himself. It is the underlying appreciation for quality and details that transcends hype.
IDYSM: Alongside brands like Arc’teryx (that you used to work for), just how booming is the menswear scene in Canada right now…and why?
TUNG: I can’t speak to the menswear scene in Canada as a whole, but it is generally recognized for its emphasis on quality and that is why we are seeing good growth in our business.
IDYSM: How do you transcend your brands’ Canadian roots to have International appeal?
TUNG: Although our products address the Canadian climate and landscape, it is approached through a modern, premium lens which gives it global appeal.
IDYSM: What does the future hold for you and each label in 2016?
TUNG: The future is looking pretty good for this year as we have several collaborations due to drop. I’m definitely keeping busy with all that’s happening within CYC. Needless to say, we’re heading in a great direction and I’m grateful to be involved.
IDYSM: Followers of these interviews will know that they always end with this signature question, so Tung I have to ask…..what’s on your feet right now?
TUNG: Ha, I’m barefeet right now as I’m at home, but currently in heavy rotation is the notchback sneaker we created in collaboration with our good friends at Haven.