A fusion of Tokyo style and Vancouver sensibility, menswear brand Wings + Horns celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a season of change. The brand’s structured basics—crewneck T-shirts, quilted vests, chino pants, blazers—are internationally sought-after, known for striking a fine balance of aesthetics and functionality and incorporating an attention to detail that elevates wearable garments into forward-thinking attire.
“Wings + Horns started from a passion for product and design,” says founder Craig Atkinson. “Our company was first and foremost a manufacturer, focused on creating high-quality fabrics. We married this with the best manufacturing techniques.” Atkinson lived in Japan for seven years and began importing vintage North American sportswear to Japan, which in turn led to a desire to begin making it himself as well as create Wings + Horns’ parent company, CYC Design Corporation.
Since day one, the focus of the Vancouver-based brand has been on fabric and construction. “It’s the foundation of the garment,” Atkinson continues. “The technical component of menswear has become more prominent and men are looking to function more now than ever. This is always part of the creative discussions with the team.” Spend time looking through a rack of Wings + Horns clothes and inspect the garments, the craftsmanship is clear: subtle monogramming gives fabric unexpected texture; knee darts and side gussets are details taken from athletic designs create movable garments; a mini waffle–knit fabric is warm, but breathable; a nylon sleeve on a melton wool jacket is both a stylish mix of fabrics and a functional twist on a bomber jacket. “Having [the nylon] under one arm is key,” says Wings + Horns’ new head designer Tung Vo, who studied clothing and textiles at the University of Alberta and was previously a designer at outdoor clothing company Arc’teryx. “There’s a lot of abrasion there, so that nylon is durable. Some old wool coats start to pill or break here, so this limits that and gives it a nice hint of colour. It’s always good to have that element of surprise.”
The autumn/winter 2014 collection (designed by the company’s previous head designer Davidson Manaloto), is inspired by Canada’s north. Quilted bombers, thermal Henley shirts, fleece pants, and flannel button downs in muted, natural colours borrow elements from outdoor apparel, but in a tailored, fitted way, created for everyday urban wear. The spring/summer 2015 collection, Vo’s debut, is based on vintage Swiss military garments. The result is a collection that pulls details like reinforced shoulders and panelling from training gear, transforming them into stylish utilitarian pieces for life’s smaller battles.
This year the company has also joined forces with innovative partners—the Ace Hotel team, artist Justin Rivard, and leather goods artisan Ken Diamond, among others—to commemorate its decade milestone. The resulting accessories, which include a silver cuff bracelet, a backpack, a wallet, and several shoe designs, round out the Wings + Horns collection nicely, a smart business move by Atkinson and a polished final touch for his customers. Forthcoming collaborations include teaming with outerwear company Canada Goose and footwear brand Viberg.
As Vo stresses, it’s quite complicated to pare down and create garments that look simple and fit well. “We just try to emphasize the fabric, fit, and finish,” he says. The hands-on designer often tests the garments himself: “I try to make a little sample, a prototype for myself, and just wear the hell out of it and see how it holds up. A lot of the time, it’s the way it’s made, how we construct it, and how we wash it, too. As our garments wear down, I’d like to say they get better with age.”