First things first, what sparked your interest in fashion?
For as long as I remember I’ve always had an interest in style, from as young as 4 years old I would wear bow ties in a bid to emulate my uncle, who rocked flared suits from his 70’s archive to family parties. The confidence and ownership of his personal visual identity was like a super power, he appeared strong and distinguished, like a super hero, and I wanted to be just like him.
I’ve always been obsessed with the transformational elements of style and how clothing and application of colour has the ability to change your feelings, physiology and moods. When I was 10 I had a pair of orange Pepe jeans, I felt invincible wearing them as others jeered or would make reference to the Tango Man.
When did you decide to turn this love for fashion into a career?
My first actual designs on paper were created in 2010 as a result of not finding the right garments in the shops that were of the aesthetic I wanted to adorn myself with. Rather than make do, I took it upon myself to draw designs of what I wanted to wear and knew in the future that I would create them somehow. At that particular stage I wasn’t planning to take over the world, I just wanted to express my true self.
By 2012 and having worked in fashion PR for 6 years, I had always been surrounded by designer clients and friends that had their own brands, all the while I still felt this void of a brand that fully represented me. So I created Caton Manifesto for myself.
Have you ever studied fashion?
I have a degree in Public Relations and didn’t study fashion at college or Unit, my first official training came from a tailor and Pattern Cutting technician in Leeds called Clyde Sheriffe. With 1-1 tuition from Clyde I learnt how to sew, draft and cut patterns. What made the training unique was that Clyde has over 30 years of experience under his belt and the classes were 1-1. You wouldn’t get that type of attention by a lecturer at unit in a class of 30, you’d be lucky to get 20 minutes if that per session.
I’d typically spend 20 hours a week during evenings and weekends in the studio, on top of my PR role and I loved every minute of it. Nothing compares to the feeling you get from transforming a 1 dimensional drawing from my moleskine, into something that you can step into and wear.
How do you feel this choice helped your career?
Studying PR and working in fashion PR has gone hand in hand and put me in a strong position, as I know how to engage with the media and to present the values of the brand effectively.
Is there a significant moment that you would say made you realise that this is what you wanted to do?
The penny dropped when I’d be stopped in the street wearing items made for myself to be asked, “where they were from?” by random admirers. Subsequently orders began came in more frequently. This breakthrough meant that I was able to do the two things I love simultaneously, fashion PR and fashion design.
Tell us more about Manifestations of Grandeur and how it translates across the brand/collection?
“The term ‘Manifestations of Grandeur’ pertains to the freedom and empowerment that I aim to instil within my protagonist. You would have heard the phrase ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ right?
Well, I flipped that term on it’s head to allow for a new perspective to emerge, where individuals are thinking of intentions to manifest their ideas and desires on unprecedented scales, free from fear, obstacles and procrastination.
What’s the Dubai fashion industry like?
It’s an interesting landscape, you name it all of the brands that you can imagine are here, and then some. On top of that there are a plethora of malls in close proximity, shopping here is a serious sport
Dubai has high ambitions to become an international fashion capital, and I believe that in years to come it will be up there with the likes of Paris and New York. Like anywhere you go, big brands such as Tom Ford and Gucci are most prominent so it’s not easy for new brands to emerge. At the same time it forces new brands to become savvier in order to reach their audience.
How did you decide to choose certain patterns for the collection?
Every colour, line and dot in the collection represents something; blues used are inspired by the changing moods and unlimited potential of the open sea. Ideas are just like waves and have as much potential as a tsunami or atomic bomb, for these reasons I pay homage to both mysterious and formidable forces, with applications of blue.
Polka dots (or full stops) used are linked to points within our life where we have ceased doing something which no longer benefits us. Pin stripes and clean lines represent being on the correct path to achieving manifestation.
What would you say you love and hate the most about designing?
That moment my clients try on a bespoke item, you see their physiology change and you can see that they feel empowered. It’s rewarding to see your creation make someone feel confident inside. I create with the intention to evoke a feeling or emotion.
The thing I don’t like is to not be acknowledged when your designs have clearly influenced another designer’s work, but that’s the thing, once your designs are out in the open you risk being plagiarised or you have the opportunity to be discovered.
How would you describe the Caton Manifesto brand?
The Caton Manifesto is a lifestyle entity for creators that reimagines and reinterprets the man’s essential wardrobe, promoting creativity, modernity and versatility, while allowing the protagonist to jump from context to context, day, evening, or night.
With a design code and philosophy that focuses on the wearer, like a leading character, the Caton Manifesto man is a free-thinker and innovator confidently navigating his journey of life, manoeuvring all obstacles on their journey to achieving manifestation.
I also hear you have a music project connect to the brand due for released soon, tell us more about this?…
I’m glad that you mentioned that. Without contradicting myself, first of all the Caton Manifesto is a platform for my creative ideas, and I’m an appreciator of good music.
I don’t own a television, so 99% of the time I spend at the apartment or studio, music will be occupying that space. When I’m creating I’m driven by tracks with a particular frequency and energy, this drives me into the creative zone.
So, I joined forces with some if my favourite producers to curate a compilation of tracks to get you in the creative zone. The project is aptly entitled “Music To Create To” and features tracks from Zahed Sultan, Aye Pee, Savvy and Urje to name a few. I’m working on a few other projects outside of fashion design. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
You’ve been receiving coverage from some quite high profile publications lately most noticeably Esquire & Shortlist magazine, must feel good to know people are responding to what you’re doing right?
Absolutely, it’s an honour to see my brand in these particular outlets, especially as I read them regularly.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
Being stocked in multiple luxury retail outlets around the globe and for products to extend much further than garments and accessories. At this stage, I don’t want to reveal too much of the vision, I guess that’s for another interview.
And lastly, what advice would you give to young designers, trying to get their brand out there?
Do your research, look at your favourite brands for inspiration, and develop your own voice.
Finally where can people go to find out more about The Caton Manifesto?