Real life and art are direct reflections of each other for 18 Waits designer, Daniel Torjman. This “truth” to his work breathes a culture that extends from the product itself to the brand. There is also a nostalgic reference to the past as evidenced by many of their image and video lookbooks – antique items adorn the backdrops, original vinyls play poignant soundtracks in the background. It’s a vision that he’s been cultivating throughout most of his adulthood. Travel, whether through natural terrain or abroad are elements that sharpen his ideas for the 18 Waits brand.
Daniel spoke to SwipeLife about the origins of these concepts and how they materialized into a product and a business.
How did the idea of 18 Waits come about?
Before creating 18w I worked with Rogan in NYC. It was such a great experience and I loved it. I loved the brand, the people and the ethos so much but my goal was to always run my own brand. To me, 18 Waits isn’t just about clothing. It’s a way of life – a lifestyle and a mentality. I have a passion for many things such as music, nature, arts, design that 18 Waits acts as my vehicle to express these passions and collaborate and immerse myself in the world of “creating” which I love. In doing 18 Waits I get to work with photography, video, music, jewelry, clothing, graphic design – so many wonderful outlets – and most importantly, with so many wonderful people. That’s what it comes down to. I love doing what I’m doing – every single day – and being able to “work” with the people I do. So creating 18 Waits was more something I had to do. Too many ideas to get out to not do it.
When did you form the company? When was your first collection?
The company was formed in 2008. The first collection consisted of sterling silver jewelry, scarves & bandanas and graphic T’s.
Who is the 18 Waits brand ideally designed for? Does that customer subscribe to a certain lifestyle?
Our general customer is someone who is after quality and style, in equal parts. Generally these are people who really educate themselves, care about where their garments (and everything else!) are made, and are stylish folks.
Your collections certainly have a vintage appeal, where/when/how did these concepts inform your design philosophy?
I love vintage and antiques. Everything was just so well done in the past. Attention to detail, functionality, quality materials and superb manufacturing. Things were built to last. I love that about vintage. We always try to incorporate these attributes when creating new products.
How did your environment (community, music, school, class structure, etc.) growing up shape your design sensibilities?
I spent a lot of time in nature when I was growing up and throughout my childhood/adolescence. I still like to whenever possible. I think having an appreciation for nature and the outdoors has played into my design sensibilities. I draw inspiration from it – which can sometimes affect color or texture selections. And making things which can be worn well and enjoyed – while being active – perhaps draws from my time spent outdoors and in the woods.
In terms of the brand, 18w has always been hugely inspired by rock & roll music and lifestyle. So much of my childhood and teenage years was based around music. My parents have a recording of me singing “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash when I was 3 years old. So music has really had the largest impact and influence on my life – which then naturally incorporates itself throughout the many threads of what I do and like and create.
Let’s talk about the early years; like teenage years. What was your style at 16 years old? And how about at 22 years old? Don’t spare any details.
Well, at 15-16 I was still heavily into snowboarding & skateboarding. So I was dressing the part (this was a long time ago so pants were baggie, T-shirts & hoodies were oversized, Circa shoes, etc). All of that changed when I watched “The Doors” by Oliver Stone. I still snowboarded & skateboarded but I grew my hair out long and started dressing more like Jim Morrison. Tighter, washed out jeans, plaid shirts, brown boots, necklaces… This new lifestyle lead to further exploration down the rabbit hole of rock & roll and eventually got me to the Grateful Dead. So there was a good amount of Tie Dye added to the mix by the age of 18-19.
By 22-years-old I was more fashion brand “conscious”. So I think between the ages of 22-25 I was wearing styles I liked but from better fashion brands (and more expensive brands). Jeans went from Levis to Diesel to eventually Rogan – where I ended up working for 3 years in NYC. From my NYC days at Rogan to where we are today there haven’t been too many major style changes. Actually, I probably enjoy wearing a well-tailored suit now more than I did back then. And I wear a lot more hats. I now have a huge hat collection which has become a mainstay in almost every outfit I put together.
The Spring 2014 collection “Prairie Winds and Western Wilds” is very much inspired from the “Western Settler/Panhandle.” I see that in the styled looks. Describe your approach and inspirations behind this collection.
Our new Spring/Summer 2014 collection – Prairie Winds & Western Wilds – is both beautiful and fun.
Inspired by North American “settlers”, the Wild West, the Canadian Prairies, the “panhandle” and Bob Dylan’s albums “John Wesley Harding” and “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid,” this collection is comprised of extremely soft cottons, linens, natural hues and indigos.
I did a road trip with my wife Julia through California and to Joshua Tree and that inspired me to create a collection that was lighter with washed-out desert hues.
As always, 100% designed and made in Canada using premium fabrics from Japan, Canada and the United States.
Is there a theme for the FW 2014 campaign at works already? Do share if you wish to.
Fall/Winter 2014 draws it’s inspiration from two very different cultures whose people live under similar natural conditions and have thus adapted their way of life accordingly.
The frozen vistas of the Canadian North have been home to Inuit people for centuries. Conditions often harsh and geography remote, they’ve lived off the land, taking nothing more than necessary, in order to survive. Their holistic approach has lead to many traditions and techniques that are still alive and well today.
We particularly admire the traditions these Canadians have imparted. They are one with nature, raw and colourful – an essential mix to the Canadian fabric.
We’re similarly inspired by Icelandic folklore and the country’s history. We took a trip to Iceland many years ago to learn about this culture and explore the haunting geography these people inhabit. Love at first sight and a forever sensibility of this land and this culture and these people engrained in our minds.
The palette for our FW14 collection – predominantly black, grey, white and navy is inspired by the extremities of the seasons both cultures endure: obscure winter months and shadowy skies, brilliant summer days and sparkling waterways. Their reliance on and relationship to nature is our design muse.
What does 18 Waits aspire to be in the fashion industry and business world, moreover?
To me there are many important things in life – many of them are small. But when you pay particular attention to the details and the small things, it opens up a world of beauty for the bigger things. The magic is in the details.
18 Waits is a lifestyle of having fun, enjoyment & love. It’s a common ground for like-minded individuals. It is a lifestyle as opposed to simply a brand or fashion label. It’s a way of life inspired by a joie de vivre and an appreciation of the finer things in life like an old pair of leather boots or a child’s painting. 18 Waits has an old European mentality which, at the same time, takes inspiration in nature and the natural flow of the earth. It is a lifestyle which adheres just as much to Parisian cafés as it does to old English pubs, 1920s New York speakeasies, wood cabins by the lake, old upright pianos, poetry, literature, and 1970s rock and roll music.
It’s about friends & family and the time you spend with them. It’s a very casual, relaxed lifestyle. On the other hand, it’s also about having everything perfect. It’s about finding the right reasons to live your life. That’s what 18 Waits is to me and what we’re trying to convey in the clothing, jewelry, videos, photos & various projects we’re constantly working on.
Thank you to Daniel Torjman and his staff for being so accomodating.
Images by: Jerzy Werbel and Robert Scarborough
Learn more and shop their latest looks at the 18 Waits site.
Always made with beautiful Japanese & Canadian fabrics. Wear Well, Enjoy, Love, Destroy.
Always Quality Crafted in Canada.