Braving the Frontier with 18 Waits

August 08, 2013 BY OBI ANYANWU


The "Wild West", the American frontier, it is etched into the United States' history and has been a primary catalyst for one's desire to venture to this country. The frontier embodied the American Dream - the freedom of exploration, discovering a new world and oneself, pushing oneself to become a success story whether it be starting their own business or finding a cache of gold hidden in the rushing waters. Danger was also lurking. Law and order swayed towards lawlessness as bar brawls and duels became regular occurrences. The old western United States built a reputation that went beyond the ocean and the country's borders.

In the US' northern neighboring country, Canada, Daniel Torjman launched menswear brand, 18 Waits, that channels the Wild West for the SS14 collection. The Wild West, the Canadian Prairies, the “panhandle”, Bob Dylan’s albums “John Wesley Harding” and “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid," all played a role in the creation of the SS14 collection which is comprised of extremely soft cottons, linens, natural hues and indigos.


Toronto-based lifestyle brand, 18 Waits was established by Torjman in 2009. The clean, yet rugged brand provides timeless pieces that seamlessly fit into your wardrobe. Torjman does not pay any mind to trends, because he focuses on making a high quality, functional product that will last regardless of the latest fads of the season. Fabric is very important to him as well. Fabrics come from Japan and the US, the buttons are from Italy, and each product is loomed in Canada so that no two products are 100% alike.

"There are so many pieces that I love from this collection as they are all very wearable and easy," 18 Waits designer, Torjman shared. "When designing our collections we try to ensure that any piece you pull from the collection can be worn with anything else from that same season and can easily be inserted into your closet to compliment your existing wardrobe. I have a particular affinity towards natural hues, blues and indigos and this color palette played strongly throughout the collection."

Little details in the collection play to the theme of the season like the forms of dye used for the color story of the collection. Each color ties to the style of men in the old west, and each process predates to the mid to late 1800s. Torjman explains, "We used natural dyeing agents including coffee grinds, indigo, loose tea leaves and dried tobacco to achieve our desired colors - all plant based commodities you'd find in frontier towns throughout North America at the turn of the century." Quality has not been sacrificed and has not been lost in the manufacturing process, in fact each piece has been cared for individually. Torjman added, "For this collection we individually hand dyed each piece ourselves for a unique vintage, pre-worn effect to each garment. No two are the same." He continued, "I love the knits this season. Our knits are completely custom made in Canada using the softest cotton fabric we can find."

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We became enamored with hearing about the production process of the SS14 collection. Each piece is handled with such care, from the very first to the very last, without losing any of the intricate details that make the sample so beautiful.

"Our manufacturing is very high quality and we take pride in it being so. I personally visit the various factories around Toronto on a weekly basis. I know exactly who is sewing our products and I have a good relationship with them. This is very important to us. It ensures high quality and it's important to us that we're supporting our local economy and trying to help keep skilled employees working here. It's such a shame that there are so many incredibly skilled people in Canada and the US who are among the best in the world at some of the trades they have learned and have been passed on from generation to generation, yet many of these jobs are just no longer available to them. We're trying to help change that. "


Accessories are a big part of Torjman's line. If you ever meet Torjman the first thing you will notice are his numerous wrist accessories and necklaces and his hat.

"We take a lot of pride in our accessories as it really rounds out our collections and ties the themes to each season together with the clothing. Most of our accessories we do completely by hand ourselves in our Toronto studio. The jewelry is carved, molded and then caste in sterling silver. We then treat it to make it look well-worn and super old. We stamp the tags with our logo and add linen selvage to the clasp as a defining trademark to our necklaces. As we make them by hand, no two are ever exactly alike."

The most notable accessory from the SS14 collection are the Antler pieces. The pieces are just that, antler pieces, and they are reshaped into different accessories for sale. Torjman broke down the Antler pieces to us, "The antlers are found deer antler that come from a farm in the Canadian prairies. They ship us the antlers and we then determine which products they'll become. We then send the notched antlers to Uncle Chico (who is actually Dan's uncle) and he fashions our knives, key chains, bag clips and bottle openers himself, by hand, at his home studio. He then send them back to us and we have them engraved and we distress the metal trim. The leather knife sheathes are also made by Uncle Chico by hand. Similarly to the jewelry, no two pieces are even remotely alike due to this process. Our accessories are so unique and made with care, craft and love. They make terrific gifts as you surely won't find them elsewhere and they have a terrific story."

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Torjman worked very closely with this collection. It's safe to say that this collection is a mirror to his own personal style and his storytelling. He couldn't quite share what his favorite piece of the collection is, but he did share which piece took the most work from him. "It's hard for me to pull a "favorite" piece because I've been working so closely on this collection. If I absolutely had to choose something from this collection it would be our Black Jack Blazer, Black Jack Vest and matching Slim Trouser. We thoughtfully considered every detail of the garment, from fabric and color, to stitch details, placement and color, buttons, button thread, piping, lining, everything really. Every detail is scrutinized and thoughtfully considered. They are all sold separately because every piece can be worn on its own with other clothing but when worn together they make a sharp casual 3-piece summer suit. If you want to take it all the way you add the matching tie and you've got a pretty great outfit." The suit embodies Torjman's mission with 18 Waits, that every piece from every collection fits together. He is creating a puzzle with his brand, one that can't be completed after one season.


"To me there are many important things in life - many of them are small," he said. We asked Torjman what message he'd like to communicate with his brand. "When you pay particular attention to the details and the small things, it opens up a world of beauty for the bigger things. The magic is in the details. 18 Waits is a lifestyle of having fun, enjoyment and love. It's a common ground for like-minded individuals. It is a lifestyle as opposed to simply a brand or fashion label. It’s a way of life inspired by a joie de vivre and an appreciation of the finer things in life like an old pair of leather boots or a child’s painting. 18 Waits has an old European mentality which, at the same time, takes inspiration in nature and the natural flow of the earth. It is a lifestyle which adheres just as much to Parisian cafés as it does to old English pubs, 1920s New York speakeasies, wood cabins by the lake, old upright pianos, poetry, literature, and 1970s rock and roll music. It's about friends and family and the time you spend with them. It's a very casual, relaxed lifestyle. On the other hand, it's also about having everything perfect. It's about finding the right reasons to live your life."

In a way, 18 Waits is like Torjman embarking on his journey through the Wild West, exploring the wonders of a new world, pushing his creative boundaries and limits and growing through his successes and failures. The amount of care woven in the fibers of every 18 Waits piece is a showing Torjman's determination, dedication, and unwillingness to fail. The possibilities are endless with this brand, just like the old west, and Torjman has found his gold.

18 Waits will be at Capsule Vegas this month.

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