Get To Know Vejas, The LVMH Prize's Youngest Finalist

Get To Know Vejas, The LVMH Prize's Youngest Finalist

With 48 hours until the luxury group announces its 2016 prize finalist, we get up close with one of the competition's top contenders

With 48 hours until the luxury group announces its 2016 prize finalist, we get up close with one of the competition's top contenders

Photography: Étienne Saint-Denis

Styling: Lu Philippe Guilmette

Text: William Defebaugh

On Thursday, LVMH will announce the recipient of the luxury group's coveted 2016 design prize. The prestigious award represents a seal of approval from some of fashion's most influential names, with a panel of judges that includes Karl Lagerfeld, Riccardo Tisci, J.W. Anderson, Nicolas Ghesquiere, and more. This is, of course, on top of the 300,000 euro grant and personalized brand development assistance that LVMH will offer the winner—a sure way for any burgeoning brand to fast-track its success.

Among this year's eight finalists is Toronto-based designer Vejas Kruszewski, the youngest nominee in the three-year history of the competition. Kruszewski's namesake brand, Vejas, is only two years old, having launched it straight out of high school—a particularly impressive feat considering that he has done so without any professional training. "I have constantly had to teach myself as I went along, to and allow for mistakes and to problem solve creatively in order to fix them," the designer tells V. "Maybe that has allowed me a more realistic vision of how things work."

Despite its newness, Vejas is already garnering a loyal following, finding popularity among younger consumers with its genre- and gender-bending manifesto and streetwear-inspired designs that play with proportion. This is also due, in part, to widespread industry endorsements and exposure: the designer showed his Fall 2016 collection during Paris Fashion Week, and later released a campaign starring model and actress Hari Nef. When asked why the designer thinks his label is catching on, he offered: "I think the signature of finding something new in garments people already know can make them quite exciting for people to want to wear. I hope that the imagery and our way of communicating can continue to engage with the design to really enforce our point of view and allow that cohesion."

Add relatively low price points (smaller pieces, manufactured by hand in Toronto, retail for under $300) and you've got a recipe for success: "We always want to have a range of price points, to keep the brand accessible. As we grow we'll continue to expand on our luxury offering, while keeping in place the intro-priced basics with a strong design element."

It's safe to say that regardless of whether or not Kruszewski wins this week's prize, Vejas has a bright future in store, and is only going to continue to thrive. While you wait for Thursday's announcement, be sure to check out our exclusive editorial with pieces from the brand's Fall 2016 collection below.

Credits:

Makeup Cynthia Christina Cadieux (Wilhelmina Artist Management) Models Amy Yule (Next Canada)  Rebbeca Liu (Another Species)

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