Designer Profile: Christopher Bates

Canadian-born luxury menswear designer Christopher Bates never compromises on quality or style. His aesthetic is contemporary yet timeless. Bates embraces traditional European, specifically Italian, tailoring while incorporating bespoke modern details. Using only the finest materials, his clothing, footwear, and eyewear are a stylish and sophisticated choice whether you’re meeting clients or spending an evening on the town. “My line appeals to style-savvy urban professionals who have a cultivated appreciation of the finer things in life. They desire a clean, modern aesthetic rather than fast fashion fads or avant-garde fashion whimsy,” says Bates of his brand’s timelessness. Furthermore, says the creative director, “I pride myself on creating products that are designed to become wardrobe staples that last for years.”

Headquartered in Milan, Christopher Bates is sold at leading trend-setting retailers, including Harry Rosen, Gotstyle, and Espy. In 2018, as part of the brand’s 10th anniversary celebration, Bates announced a partnership to sell his collection at luxury department store Nordstrom. “Getting our line into their stores has been my career highlight,” he says. Bates is also no stranger to Hollywood top celebrities like Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water), Don Cheadle (The Avengers) and John Boyega (Star Wars Episode VIII). He also has a list of professional athletes in his client list which includes Jose Bautista of the New York Mets, NBA star DeMarre Carrol of the Brooklyn Nets as well as musicians Shawn Mendes and Howie-D of the Backstreet Boys.

Growing up in Vancouver, Bates had an early interest in the fashion world. He studied at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, an esteemed private institution synonymous with fashion, design, and art. “I started sketching ideas for clothes and logos and had a book full of designs by the time I was 13. However, growing up in Vancouver in those days I wasn’t aware of fashion as an industry in which to pursue a career,” says Bates. “It wasn’t until my mid-20’s when I was exploring Europe, specifically I was in Stockholm at the time, when I became really inspired and realized there were people out there who may like my ideas. That’s when I decided to pursue my passion,” he adds.

Since graduating from Istituto Marangoni in 2007, Bates has experienced a meteoric rise. No stranger to recognition and accolades, in 2009, Bates was named one of the top menswear designers in Canada by Sharp Magazine. In 2012, he was featured as the only menswear designer in the Mercedes-Benz StartUp Program and awarded a sponsored show at Toronto Fashion Week. In 2014, the same year he moved his headquarters to Milan, he was included in Canada’s Top 100 Most Influential People (Alberta Youth Congress). In 2018 Bates won a Visionary Award from Fashion Group International, Toronto. He has also earned acclaim for designing award-winning uniforms for Air Canada, which were unveiled in spring 2018.

The Christopher Bates’ brand offers a tasteful blend of contemporary tailoring, Scandinavian modernism, and athletic sportswear that appeals to men of all ages who have an eye for superb quality. “First and foremost we produce all of our line in Italy with artisanal level craftsmanship and cutting-edge luxurious Italian fabrics,” says Bates.

Part of Bates’ success is an instinctive curiosity that is a driving force behind all he does. “Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time, even when I’m dreaming,” he says.

Bates says the “blue-sky potential” of the fast-paced, hyper-competitive fashion industry helps him propel his brand forward. He also believes that good ideas and good taste can go a long way. “This sounds simple, but it is the foundation for building a powerful brand,” he says.

While Bates’ ultimate style icon is Sean Connery’s James Bond, it’s Giorgio Armani he credits in regards to building a successful international lifestyle brand.

Of Armani, Bates explains, “I admire how he founded his brand on Italian tailoring with high-quality fabrics and modern yet tastefully understated style. He obviously has excellent taste and was able to extend his brand beyond fashion and into additional related lifestyle enterprises including hotels, homewares, restaurants, etc.”

When asked what’s next for him, Bates says he’s focused on expanding and streamlining Christopher Bates’ menswear and footwear business; however, he’s excited to start a womenswear line and complementary lifestyle enterprises.

“Design is ultimately a methodology,” he says, “I would like the opportunity to apply it to other projects that are complementary to fashion.”

With these and other exciting ventures on his horizon, Bates is positioned to take his brand in unexpected and memorable directions. The fashion world cannot wait to see what this design ingénue delivers in the future.

Design is ultimately a methodology. I would like the opportunity to apply it to other projects that are complementary to fashion
– Christoper Bates

Photo Credits: Rai Allen
Runway Photography: George Pimentel