Vejas, the Toronto-based, eponymous label of Vejas Kruszewski hasn’t been around long, but from the get-go received plenty of press traction. For one, Kruszewski is only 19 – making him something of a boy wonder. Though simply idolizing age is immaterial when it comes to rearing longevity in fashion, it does mean Kruszewski has his finger competitively closer to the pulse of the next wave of buyers.
“The brand kind of came together as something tangible about a year and half ago when we presented F/W 2015,” says Kruszewski. The designer knowingly recounts the pitfalls, “Unfortunately I started things with scarce resources naively thinking I could grow the business organically and simultaneously support myself.” That hasn’t stopped his gender-bending silhouettes and explorative tailoring from ushering in a bevy of industry notice. “I think a lot about how certain patterns or construction elements not found in clothing can be translated into something wearable, or how very familiar fabrics or pieces of clothing can be transformed into something alien,” says Kruszewski of his process. Vejas encapsulates the modern zeitgeist in more ways than one, but for its matter-of-fact designer, his measured deliberations aren’t as lofty sounding, “You kind of just have to throw something you believe in out there and hope people will gravitate towards it.”
With his brand awareness on the rise and plenty of supporters, Vejas can move forward with confidence. But Kruszewski is percipient of the climate he must build his brand in, “It is almost too fashionable to be working in or interested in fashion right now. It’s increasingly competitive and expensive to get anything accomplished,” continuing to say, “The internet has also warped the notions of value and authority that fashion requires to sustain itself, so it’s not so much about quality or design integrity anymore, but rather how well one can leverage every asset at one’s disposal to the widest audience.” His head start and progressive, intelligent outlook make him a decidedly impressive contestant. Winning the LVMH prize would offer a chance for Vejas to manage growth, “The grant money would go towards building much needed infrastructure for the company,” says Kruszewski. “We are quickly outgrowing our studio space and need new equipment, trips for sourcing and preparing to offshore manufacturing once we can meet higher minimums, textile development and developing accessories categories, paying ourselves a livable wage, etc.,” he adds, the list and potential seemingly endless.
Presenting Models.com’s exclusive spotlight on each of the 8 finalists of the LVMH 2016 Young Fashion Designer Prize in anticipation of their final presentation at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris.
On June 16th, LVMH will announce the winner of their 2016 Young Fashion Designer Prize from a pool of 8 finalists – Aalto, Alyx, Brandon Maxwell, Facetasm, Koché, Vejas, Wales Bonner, and Y/Project. Started in November 2013, the prize was launched to champion standout talent and foster their labels. Winning means getting a seal of approval from a jury of fashion’s foremost designers and industry professionals like Nicolas Ghesquiere, Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, J.W. Anderson, Phoebe Philo, Karl Lagerfeld, and LVMH’s own Delphine Arnault. Aside from being recognized by the industry, the winner receives a 300,000 euro grant and a year’s worth of expert technical and financial support from the foundation. Of course, success in the industry for these designers isn’t dependent on winning, but it certainly sets the stage.
Stylist William Graper
Hair Joey George (The Wall Group)
Makeup Cyndle Komarovski (Honey Artists)
Manicurist Yukie Miyakawa
Producer Jazmin Alvarez
Art Direction Stephan Moskovic
Editors Irene Ojo-Felix & Steven Yatsko
Text by Steven Yatsko