Words by: Frederick Marfil
When you think of dope shopping spots aroundthe world, the usual suspects quickly come to mind: New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Now, thanks to brothers Arthur and Daniel Chmielewski, you can add Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver to your retail lineup. Established in 2006, HAVEN specializes in highly coveted Japanese brands like Acronym, Headporter, Nanamica, Neighborhood, and White Mountaineering. "We were consumers ourselves and were constantly hunting for gear that we liked but couldn't find anywhere in Canada," says Arthur Chmieleski. "We had the opportunity to travel quite a bit, and that opened up our eyes to the bigger picture. Asia was probably the biggest influence. Retail out there was just done so much better."
HAVEN embraces the ever changing streetwear lifestyle by curating the store as a sanctuary for art with sculptures by New York based artist KAWS.From Junya Watanabe to Master-piece, without a doubt, the shop stocks some of the worlds sickest gear and brands. Just be prepared to blow your rent as HAVEN isn't for your ordinary shopper. With a brand new location in Toronto underway, HAVEN continues to fill the void of the saturated market and we're absolutely stoked for that all their stock runs past the Canadian borders and available online.
NAME: Arthur Chmielewski
HOMEBASE: Vancouver but spend a lot of time also in Edmonton and Toronto where our other two shops are located
HOBBY: Gym, biking in summer and snowboarding in winter. My main hobby you could say is the shops. I enjoy doing what we do so it makes it fun.
Describe your favorite piece in stock for the season.
Arthur: We got a lot of amazing jackets in the shops but this Fishtail Parka from Ten C (The Emperor's New Clothes) is probably my favorite. It's made in Italy with a special Japanese Knitted Nylon-Polyester Micro-Fibre that allows it to age over time while still being incredibly water repellent.
We dig all the brands you carry, any upcoming projects in the works or foreseeable collaborations?
No crazy collaborations at the moment. Most of our efforts and resources are going towards an 'in-house' brand for Fall 2013. It's going to be small but we're working with some amazing fabric suppliers and factories both in Canada and Japan.
What is the aesthetic youre striving for?
Utilitarian / Military / Casual
Any plans to expand in the US?
Me and my brother/partner Daniel have thrown around the idea for awhile. It would be a challenging transition to hop the border so for the meantime we're focusing most of our efforts on Canada and our online market. But who knows maybe in the future if the opportunity presented itself.
Any new product releases?
We are excited on introducing Hender Scheme to the North American market. We're the first shop to carry the brand outside of Japan. The owner Ryo makes incredible artisan products and one of the things that he's most famous for is his "homage" collection, in which he takes iconic footwear and flips them completely in raw leather. They age beautifully and develop and natural patina over time.
What was the first designer item you bought or wore?
Probably some Polo gear when I was a kid.
What keeps you inspired?
Travelling opens my eyes to a ton of new ideas. At the same time continuing to grow and push our company in new and exciting directions keeps me inspired also.
Favorite go-to spots in the area?
Depending which city I'm in at any given time. Edmonton: Three Boars, new farm to fork type restaurant opened up by one of my best friends. His restaurant is the best new restaurant in town no doubt. Vancouver: DD MAU for the best Banh Mi Sandwiches in Vancouver. Not your average Banh Mi Vietnamese Sub, they suped them up with some amazing ingredients like Roast Duck and Crispy Crackling Pork. Toronto: Kingyo Izakaya, just around the same time we opened up the Toronto shop our friend Koji Zenimaru made the move from Vancouver to Toronto as well and opened up Kingyo Toronto. Hands down the best Japanese Izakaya in Canada!
What kind of music do you listen to at the shop?
I try to get the guys to listen to pretty mellow ambient music. We try not to have anything commercial playing. We all like old school breaks/hip hop, and stuff like Nujabes, Unkle, DJ Krush, Nightmares on Wax, RJD2 etc.
What movie best captures your style?
I'd say a mix of 'Akira', 'Full Metal Jacket' and 'Matrix'.
Item currently in your closet you most regret buying?
I have way too many shoes. It's probably a pair of shoes that I bought on impulse.
Tokyo Fashion week just wrapped up, what are your thoughts on the direction of Japanese apparel and its affect on the Canadian market? I don't really pay too much attention to Tokyo Fashion Week. We are definitely influenced by Japan but we don't get too wrapped up in the "fashion" side of things. I think Japanese fashion is still incredibly small and niche in Canada and anywhere outside of Asia for that matter. Since it has been our focus for awhile we definitely see it growing in our cities, but there's still only a very small group of people that get it and are willing to pay the premium prices.
145 Berkeley Street
Toronto, ON M5A 2X1
10528 - 108 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5H 2Z9
7 Gaoler's Mews, Blood Alley
Vancouver, BC V6B 4K7