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the Archives : Profile on Philippe Dubuc

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This interview originally appeared in print in TOM* Magazine Issue 03, August 2015
Images courtesy of Philippe Dubuc

“The identity of a city is revealed by it’s designers and their free development”

As the first Canadian Menswear designer invited to show at Paris Fashion week – it seems cities have always played an important role in Philippe Dubuc’s illustrious career. From his early days in Old Montreal, traveling across Canada to find stockists, International fashion week presentations and now with the recent announcement of a landmark TOM* runway show, the idea of the different cities and the architecture that populate them have long served as inspiration points in his work. 

     In the past he’s likened the process of clothing construction to building a skyscraper, Dubuc has also cited urban civilization and cosmopolitan culture as a reflection of his aesthetic. Known for his re-imagining of classic menswear staples it is not hard draw similarities between the clean lines of Dubuc’s modern take on Prince of Wales checks and the stacked window façade of a skyscraper. 

Cities - just like the state of fashion - are in constant flux, evolving and adapting to their inhabitants. Urban textures encompass more than the soft hand of a printed linen suit or crisp tunic. When asked to describe his process Philippe states, “I am constantly evolving with modernism and urban contrasts”. Dubuc has succeeded in creating worlds of his own, a full printed suit may be utterly maximal in one city, where the same trouser paired with one of Dubuc’s crisp tunics could be seen as minimal in another. With the rise of individual style, an emphasis on heritage and the idea of “Trends” on their way out - the time is right for designers to create worlds that are entirely their own. With Simon’s department stores set for expansion into Toronto, collaborations on the rise and an upcoming TOM* runway show Philippe Dubuc(who’s been touted as one of Canada’s premier menswear designers) is poised to lead the pack.... 




Tyler Kenny for TOM* : You began your career in 1993, How early on did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?

Philipped Dubuc : I knew very early in my life that clothing is a way of self expression, at 17, I was accepted at the fashion school knowing that one day my designs would be creative and wearable and would hopefully would please other people.


TK-Is the brand’s original acronym (D.U.B.U.C Design Us Beautiful Urban Clothes) still the ethos behind your design aesthetic?

PD: Yes it is,  i have always been very inspired by the city landscaping  and the urban textures,  


TK: How has the fashion climate changed since you started your eponymous line? What role do you feel social media has played in this?


PD: Fashion went 

It looks that everybody is seeking for the same styles,   but more and more the consumers are aware that individuality and personal style is more important than  ever.

I feel that there is an important niche out there  with local talents, more than ever…

The cities have always played a very important role  on the way we dress,

Paris is not Toronto,  Montreal is not Antwerp… 


About social medias  , there is a lot of waste of time on them but what can I tell you, it is part of our modern life, and it is great,  we could not live or work anymore without it.

But real life and real shopping is still better than virtual experiences , i alway say to younger people  that it is better to travel for real and meet real people instead of being a witness of what is going on via the web .it is a question of balance. I prefer to be out there creating something new  instead of being only  watching  

 TK: Over the past few years, menswear has seen a resurgence with more experimentation, and dollars invested - to what do you attribute this to?


PD: fashion in north America has changed a lot due to magazines, music bands, super heroes  and the new arrivals of foreigners in our country, multiculturalism brings a lot of new ideas and it brings a new way of looking at things and fashion, I am pleased to be part of this evolution, it is about time …

TK: You were the first Canadian menswear designer to be invited to show at Paris fashion week - how important was that milestone to your career? 


PD: very much,  at that time the social medias did not exist, the most important magazines were talking about us, the buzz was there  but  unfortunately some banks did not leave us enough time to make a breakthrough, i would say that to present in Paris pushes the boundaries , the  creativity and the level of quality and since then i am still designing every season as i was showing there.

TK:  How has your partnership with Simon’s and their clientele affected your design aesthetic? What was the hardest part about marrying your sense of style with mass-market fashion? How did these challenges affect your other work?

PD: to design a capsule collection for department stores is a challenge in the way that  the clothes must reflect our style and  there  clientèle and they must fit to a more variety of customers, but it is very rewarding to have Simons that wants to do it with us,


Knowing that our designs will be worn by a larger scale of customers is a great feeling,  it was  a win win situation between Simons and Dubuc,

We are  doing it now for the outerwear co. KANUK for both women and men starting fall 2016


TK: Describe Your relationship with TOM*, and why you felt this was the right platform to showcase your latest offering?

PD: TOM is the perfect place to promote menswear, it is the celebration of mens styles, it is all good and more we talk about mens fashion more we will see men  wearing clothes in a different way,  in an individual way.


TK: Why did now feel like the right time to reintroduce your line to the Canadian market?


PD: My collection was always on the market,we have 2 stores in Quebec, we have been selling for a few seasons  in Belgium  and in all Simons stores and  now we  feel that we are ready to show our new products to serious Canadian buyers

 TK: I noticed a lot of innovative textiles in your work -  how does technology play a role in your process?

PD: fabrics are for me the most important source of inspiration , they are all from Europe,  mostly from Italy and i always want to find innovative fabrics, in the treatments, the weaving, the coating, the finishing, we also  do a lot of different treatments in house to obtain a special look.    A fashion designer must work with new and luxurious fabrics. otherwise it is not a designer  

TK: what are some of your favourite materials to work with?

PD: naturals with a special treatments that will give a very modern look to the clothes  

TK: past work has comprised of mixed materials and reworking them to achieve a “lived in nonchalance”  -  whathas inspired your upcoming collection?

PD: graphic effects  ,sporty details,  modern touches, ergonomic and new silhouettes and a lot of sensuality and coolness


 TK: You’re known for sticking to a mainly neutral palette, do you feel that this allows more creativity when it comes to cut and silhouette?

PD: Yes I do, working with neutral colors will help me to create some new way of assembling pieces and mixing different sewing techniques ,

I like it when it looks easy but it is not, innovative but timeless, it is like a white canvas , to work with neutrals is great to experiment new ideas without going over the top,  i am influenced by our weather,  i live in a Northern city and it does influence my color variations.

TK: how do you stay creative each day?


PD: being creative is a way of life, in everything that we do, going to an exhibition, concert, movie, playing outside it is part of my everyday life, I am very urban and I like traveling all over the world to discover local talents in other cities.


TK: what’s one style rule you always break? One style you always follow?


PD:  I will always want to mix attitudes that look  different but can go together, classy but negligé, formal but unstructured, sober but  different, chic but rugged. Masculine and feminine


 I  follow my instincts,  is in it the way to move forward?