From streetwear to accessories, Canada takes no exception to getting caught in the next big trend. Every trend in fashion picks up when the public starts to buy into it, that’s where Ben comes in. Ben Schubert, owner and director of Ben & Boule Trading is the man responsible for bringing brands such as Publish, Miansai, and Daniel Wellington into Canada and subsequently helping shape the aesthetic and direction of fashion in this country. This past weekend I had a chance to catch up with him between sets at Digital Dreams to chat about his company, must have items, what brands to watch out for, and what’s next for fashion in this country.
A lot of people think fashion’s just about being a buyer or designer but you have a wholesale distribution agency, can you tell me a bit about the beginning and how you got started?
So like you said we are a distributor meaning we own the rights for certain brands in Canada. It all started nine years ago when my friend Boule got back from seeing family in Vietnam. I picked him up and when he was unpacking saw some dope stuff you couldn’t get in Canada, we pooled some money and that spiraled off to selling clothing to our friends and eventually led us to start our own company gaining the exclusive distribution rights to brands in Canada.
You work with a large range of brands from Miansai to Publish to Daniel Wellington, what do you look for when looking for a new brand?
I really look for wholes in the market, I look for products and categories that are underserviced in Canada. I’m very price conscious but the most important thing is making sure things are relevant for our market. So something that doesn’t already exist that consumers are starting to want. We cover all men’s and women’s categories as well as accessories, so we really service fashion in all of Canada.
Men’s accessories is really taking off as guys not only pay more attention to their clothes but grooming and the details as well, what’s the one must have for F/W16?
I think every man needs a classic watch, it’s a statement. We all look at our phones 24/7 for the time but the fact that watches are still relevant just shows the significance of the category now.
What’s your favorite watch right now?
Right now it’s a women’s brand Olivia Burton. A brand from London that we just got the rights for so look out for it in Canada soon.
You represent Publish, which had a huge impact on streetwear going mainstream in fashion as well as Athleisure with the joggers, can you talk abit about how that started?
We were one of their first distributors, we found each other 6 years ago when we were both pretty small but we knew the team behind the brand and their past projects. We had really good chemistry and believed in the product as well. What’s really exciting about them now is the Publish Hers line, which is the hottest label I’ve worked with in 9 years in this business.
Best part about the Publish Hers line?
That there was little to no competition for women’s streetwear with this aesthetic. The fact is they knew women were borrowing our clothes and found a way to make it work for a complete line.
Streetwear went mainstream a few years ago while Athleisure is having a moment now, what’s next aesthetically?
We’re seeing a lot of clean contemporary clothing that’s doing well. It really works to be classic, a lot of clean lines and solid colors. It’ll be a lot more about the play on fabric and silhouette then anything else.
So what can we expect from you this year?
A new wave in wearable technology out of LA. High end Luxury with wearable technology built in… and this shit is going to blow your mind. It’s been a two year process and we’re not reinventing the wheel. We’re trying to educate the consumer on the marriage between tech and fashion. The reason no one’s really figured it out yet is because its ugly. We’re putting fashion first.
I think Canada in a weird place in that their are lot of individuals and brands doing well but we just don’t have the infrastructure as a New York or Paris, so what do you think is the next step for Canada to grow as a fashion capital?
It’s going to be really interesting with retailers such as Nordstrom & Saks coming to Canada and at first people were saying there wasn’t a big enough market but it’s working so far. I think that will bring a lot of new brands and consumerism and excitement as well.