Haithem Elkadiki Fashion designer of men’s clothing

‘I love white. I think there’s nothing hotter than a pair of white jeans.’

What’s your role in the upcoming fashion week?

It’s showing my fall-winter collection at the old Bank on Saturday March 27.

You were born in Libya. When did you come to Calgary?

I first came to Calgary in 1991 did my high school here then went on to Toronto for fashion school then came back here.

You sometimes use whimsical graphics on your clothing. Do you do that?

I draw them by hand and usually give them to a graphic designer to perfect and get them ready for silkscreening.

As a child were you quite artsy?

Yes I was. I did a lot of sketching and drawing. In school teachers hated me because my desk it always had doodling — robots cars spaceships — and they would clean it and the next day there would be more all over it.

Did they think you were out of this world?

Probably. I was never paying attention.

How did you decide that you wanted to be a fashion designer?

I knew I wanted to be in a creative field but I didn’t know where I would fit. But at 12 years old I saw a fashion illustration of a French designer and that sparked something. I thought “Hey I can do this with my drawings.”

It seems like you don’t want to rely on or follow trends so you rely on your travels and experiences. Have you travelled a lot?

Sort of. I’ve been to some places where I feel the energy and go “Wow!” then go in a coffee shop and start sketching.

Do you find different cities have their own energies?

Big time. Zurich is one of those cities you wouldn’t expect to be very stylish but I pay a lot of attention to what people wear and Zurich always intrigues me. The style there is very polished very clean very unique. I’ll be walking down the street there and see a gentleman in his 50s with a big bushy beard wearing the most colourful plaid pants and the most beautiful Nikes and a classic coat on top. They don’t follow trends there. They do their own thing.

What do you think of Calgarians when you watch what they wear?

In the nightlife you see people dressed in interesting unique clothes not following a trend. What bugs me is when you see a whole group of people all dressing after one trend. They look like clones and it doesn’t say anything to me that they are creative or stylish.

Do you create clothes for everyday wear?

That’s my goal. You can wear it at nighttime or at work or for Sunday brunch.

Is comfort import to you?

It is but not to the point where you sacrifice your posture. When clothes are baggy and loose they allow you to slouch.

Why did you decide to do clothing for men not women?

All of my training was for women’s clothing but at some point I made a shirt for myself and I thought “I like this” so I started focusing on that and the idea that I can test the product myself and understand how it works. That’s the best way.

Do you find that men in general will spend more on one piece of clothing because they don’t typically buy loads of clothes like some women do?

Yeah I think with most men they have fewer pieces and want to make the most out of what they buy. I think that is slowly changing. I think guys are obsessed with T-shirts and their closets are filled with T-shirts that they don’t even wear.

I noticed that for one season you had a lot of army camouflage material one was a jacket and on the back it had the word “Shalom.” Why use that word?

It’s peace in Hebrew. I just made a new friend who was Israeli and it inspired me.

I notice that you do a lot of black or white with a splash of bold red or purple. What’s that about?

It’s my way of injecting some energy into it. Black is very basic so my way of making it look exciting is to give it some colour.

It seems like in Calgary most men do not wear white.

I absolutely agree. I love white. I think there’s nothing hotter than a pair of white jeans.

One of the newer trends is guys wearing feminine or women’s clothes. Have you noticed that?

There is definitely a lot of unisex clothing that has no gender. And guys borrow from women’s wardrobes and vice versa.

What’s that about?

It’s just getting rid of the boundaries and breaking the rules. It’s something new and fresh to play with.

Where do you sell your clothing?

Up until recently I sold it at Worth’s but they just closed. For the most part it’s special order through the Elkadiki website.

In Calgary it’s difficult for small boutiques to make it. Why is that?

I think the problem is shopping malls because people here like to go to shopping malls to shop. They don’t think of walking down the street to shop unfortunately. I think it’s more exciting to walk from one boutique to another on the street.