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If anyone knows what streetwear needs, it’s Garret “GMAN” Louie. As well as throwing and marketing some of Vancouver’s best parties with his music venue Fortune Sound Club, he co-founded apparel and sneaker boutique Livestock. Today, GMAN works on TAIKAN, a brand that, until now, has focused solely on bags.
“This project is really a culmination of all the stuff I’ve been involved in over the years,” GMAN says. “From my experience of first bringing streetwear to Canada, distributing brands like Stüssy, Freshjive, Pervert, OBEY and all the skate brands all the way to building up the live music venue Fortune Sound Club, it all feeds into what TAIKAN has become.”
At the end of September TAIKAN will drop its first line of apparel, the 009 collection. GMAN tells us what we can expect to see, what inspired it, and what he’s got lined up for the future.
For those unfamiliar, describe what TAIKAN’s all about.
TAIKAN is about taking our creative friends on our journey with us, whether that’s our favourite artists, photographers, musicians, skateboarders, and showcasing their talents around the world. From a product perspective we want to be known for high quality, genderless, seasonless staples with a twist featuring clean aesthetics at attainable prices.
Why did you decide to move to apparel now?
This is a world we’ve worked in for over 20 years and we felt there were brands such as Aimé, John Elliot, Reigning Champ, Fear Of God Essentials and others coming out with great products, but not attainable at everybody’s price point. Most of my friends are not paying that much for their clothing. We felt there was no brand in the middle tier that could sit beside brands like Stüssy, Carhartt WIP, and Pleasures, executing a great basics program with this much culture behind it. There’s no ego, just solid styles with decent pricing. We’re confident in the values and culture the brand’s built on, and saw an opening to bring this to a demographic seeking meaningful yet minimal apparel. People want depth from the connections they create when purchasing a brand, and we found ourselves landing at this intersection of valued meaning and desired products.
What sort of pieces will feature in the 009 collection, and what’s the story behind it?
We really wanted to own certain categories by perfecting the ideal fleece, pants, T-shirts, and bags. We cut no corners in crafting a complete set of bottoms. We also generated a tight graphics collection driven by our TAIKAN By series, where we work with our favourite artists and give them the freedom to create work inspired by their personal take on the brand without constraints. This season we worked with artists RHEK (Cold World Frozen Goods), Brock Mackay (aka Gene Pool), Booyah Patrol, Kyle Stewart, and Made By We. Five different artists with five totally different views.
Then, of course, our origins. The bags. We started using a new premium nylon that looks and feels super spendy, but comes in at a very attainable price.
You’re a Vancouver native. How much has it as a place and the streetwear scene there inspired this?
There used to be a time when not too many brands came out of Vancouver. Now we have brands like Arc’teryx, Herschel, Lululemon, Purple Denim, Reigning Champ, and Aritzia on the larger scale of things. There are also some really cool niche brands coming up like Tams, Theme, Alterior, Neon Denim, Fyoocher and Frankie Collective to name a few. The Stüssy creative team is based out of here as well. We’re such a melting pot of people, influenced by the USA, Europe, with a massive Asian community from Japan, China, and Korea. It’s the best of all worlds.
There’s always been a strong connection to music and art with your work. Is the case the same here?
One-hundred percent. You’ll be able to see the influences throughout everything we do. We’ve had bag collaborations with Soulection and one upcoming with BADBADNOTGOOD to coincide with their new album. We have mixed cassettes we’ve done with our favourite DJs and producers, and we’ve also grown our Spotify with the help of our creative friends and family. In the art world you’ll see the influences through our upcoming graphics capsule as well as throughout the exclusive editorials released on our Instagram and website. The back end of our brand is all about music, art, photography, design, and skateboarding to the core and it runs through all our team members.
And lastly, is there anything we have to look forward to in future? Any drops or collabs on the horizon?
Absolutely. We are always a couple seasons ahead so we can look into the crystal ball. For now our first apparel collection will drop at the end of September in North America. The next drop Collection 010, launching in February, is even better. We have quite a few collaborations in the works. One I can mention is the one dropping with BADBADNOTGOOD, one of our favourite bands. It’s taking artwork that Virgil’s team did for their upcoming album and incorporating it with a couple bags.