Vancouver, Canada-based Reigning Champ are the fleece kings in this menswear realm and with their passion for quality, functionality and design, it's no question why they've continued to hold that top title. Specializing in a philosophy where comfort is key, Reigning Champ focuses on combining high-quality fabrics into simple, casual fits through a locally hand-crafted process. We caught up with Kenta Goto of Reigning Champ to further discuss their delicate production process, the importance of fits and function, and more on their new online store.
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Name: Kenta Goto Lives in: Vancouver, BC Personal style: relaxed, not lazy Favorite hotel: Wayan's Guesthouse in Canggu, Bali Favorite restaurant: Ajisai Sushi (Vancouver), Yardbird (Hong Kong) Inspired by: friends old & new Favorite place to grab a beer: anywhere by the ocean Currently reading: The Power Of Habit Favorite art gallery or museum: The Met Hobbies: photography, surfing
You are known as the Kings of Fleece as the years have passed and trends have come and gone, how have you managed to stay so true to your history as a brand?
Reigning Champ is not a collections based brand in the fashion sense. We are a commodity/product based brand and we know what we're good at. We are good at making quality fleece and knits. We focus on offering the best we can in unique knit fabrics in classic timeless styles.
Who designs the collection?
Craig Atkinson takes the lead in directing the brand and I (Kenta Goto) design the line based on what we decide what fabrics and concepts are to be for each season.
Hand-crafted quality is one of the cornerstones of Reigning Champ's DNA. Why do you think men are growing more attuned to where and how their clothes are made? Are they willing to pay more for locally made hand-crafted product?
I think we are all interested in process and how things are made. Mass manufacturing overseas has reached its peak and i believe there has been a shift back into hand crafted goods. There is so much interest in process and how things are made. I believe people are willing to pay more for hand made product. or else we would be out of business. There is more of a human connection with hand made goods and that adds value and feels really good.
Lets talk about your production. Everything is made in Vancouver. Why is local production so important to you? Is it important to your customers? Do you think that, following your model, local production can become more prevalent in the fashion world?
Reigning Champ the brand exists under a company called CYC Design Corp. CYC has been in business in Vancouver, BC Canada as a garment manufacturer for over 15 years. The company started out and became well known for producing quality knits for private labels. The infrastructure for local production was already established. For us we can control the manufacturing in house and take part in building our community with our family of staff and workers. There are many limits to what we can produce ourselves, locally but we can take pride in our work and be a multi-dimensional brand. Owning and operating our own manufacturing is not easy by any means but we think our customers appreciate what we offer and how it's made. For all of the above reasons, i think can become more prevalent in the fashion world and it already has begun to do so.
Fit and Function are both becoming so important in todays market Reigning Champ really embody both of these qualities. Why do you think function is becoming more and more of a staple in menswear right now and what functional elements are you incorporating into the AW13 collection?
For us we put emphasis on fit, and fit is function. Good fit equates to not only looking good but better movement and wearability. Quality is another big factor in our brand and also plays a role in function. Garments made of better quality fabrics and better craftsmanship adds sustainability and longevity. I think today's consumers are more informed and in-tuned with what they purchase and expect more with their garments. For AW13 we are excited to offer a few styles in tiger fleece for the first time. Tiger fleece is a fabric our sister brand Wings + Horns became known for. As of AW13, Tiger fleece will be a category represented by Reigning Champ.
What do you make of collaborations they are almost ubiquitous these days,yet you manage to collaborate with some amazing brands. How do you decide who to collaborate with?
What we try and achieve through collaboration is for an opportunity to create something unique and different from our in-line product. Also for the potential to introduce the partnering person/brand to our customer base or market and vice versa. We try and connect with like minded individuals and brands that are doing great things. Partners we believe to be at the top of their game, reigning champs of their own right.
Your online store launched a few months back you work with some incredible bricks and mortar stores how important is it for you as a brand to have your own online presence?
After 5 years in business we finally launched out official website and store. The online shop is a great way to directly connect with our end consumer in a new way and offer some special make ups straight from our factory. The website allows us to communicate with and educate our customers and consumers. The best way to tell our story and inform the value of our product.
Whats next for Reigning Champ ?
We plan to continue to develop and offer interesting fabrics in timeless styles. We plan to grow organically to world domination.