Evan Dale // May 4, 2020
Toronto’s cultural role over the past decade is quite arguably unparalleled by any other locale. From music and art to cinematography and fashion, Canada’s largest city has become an international hub for just about everything at a pace that would have been impossible before the influence of the internet. But, in the internet and social media era thus far, Toronto is culture’s long-stay residence, presiding over it all from the mainstream to the experimental depths of subculture’s musty basement. Injecting the world with everything from poppy Drake to twisted Night Lovell, it’s non-musical – or shall we say musically-adjacent cultural exploits – are too rooted in globalism, technology, and subsequent range. Owing much of its thanks to a liberal government, a diverse population, and a creative community aware of its weight, Torontonians by birth or by transplant source within before ever looking out. And that’s because, within Toronto exists a microcosm of the world. Within Toronto exists influence and inspiration from every culture around the globe already, in addition to the framework to bring any creative idea to fruition. It is the mark of a global future, and Vitaly – a Toronto-based jewelry collective – is the blueprint for the future of fashion.
Founded in 2011, Vitaly’s rise parallels that of Toronto’s rise in the mainstream. Born of the same perfect storm that also gave birth to a whirlwind of other cultural movements, that of Vitaly – like that of many artistic exploits in Toronto – owes its thanks to being tied to islands thousands of miles from the city itself. For nearly every other Toronto artist whose path can be paved with white sand beaches, the influence is Caribbean – and more often than not, Jamaican. Toronto is home to, after all, the second largest urban Jamaican population in the world (#1 goes to Kingston). But for Vitaly, founded by designer and namesake, Shane Vitaly Foran, tropical influence can be traced back to Bali.
Not tied to Canada in any way more than it is to Vitaly’s jewelry, Indonesia’s role in the company’s start was a matter of manufacturing and skills. The young entrepreneur landed in Ubud – Bali’s inland international artistic hub – in search for an artisan that could make his design for a two-finger ring. When he found the right craftsman, entrusted him with an imbursement of cash, and began a business of wooden, then ceramic, now predominantly stainless-steel jewelry, he could have never known the liquid ground where Vitaly would end up.
Towards their Spring – Summer 2020 [SS20] release, Vitaly have found themselves in the same sort of unpredictable futurist spectrum where Westworld viewers have seen their show inexplicably, but celebratedly end up. The creative collective – genderless by the default nature of their design and the state of something as fluid as accessory to a culturally forward generation – borderless by the nature of their design and their globalist embracing audience – is experimenting with fluidity in all its forms except for time where their stance is purely futuristic.
When Vitaly began, jewelry wasn’t in a cultural recess by any means. But by no means either was it where it is today. Their pieces are for everyone who wants to make a statement. And more people than ever have something to say. With the world of fashion at a macro-scale moving in a much more experimentally open, oftentimes zany direction, embracing the different and the never-before-seen, Vitaly is the collective not only leading the way in jewelry design for a fashion epoch that knows no boundaries, but outpacing most other sources in their affordability without sacrificing anything in terms of quality. Their work is more standout than it ever has been, and bought now will last longer than just about any other purchase a consumer could make.
Regarding the stainless-steel preference in their current catalogue, ‘the reasons for using this material are countless. It does not rust, tarnish or turn your skin green. But more importantly, steel is the most recycled material on the planet. With a lifespan of up to three decades, 86% of steel will be reused.’
Futurist in their environmental ethics, Vitaly are also a symbolic figure for the future of the fashion industry, where experimenting with responsible materials is well on its way, but hopefully will one day parallel the commitment of Vitaly to recycle and reuse each piece from the ground up.
Beyond just environmental concerns and ethically listed jewelry, Vitaly are also leading the way in design. In a social media circuit where targeted jewelry adds all too often feel particularly tarnished with cheap, stock sources and ineloquent artistry, Vitaly is one of, if not the standout. And their SS20 catalogue is simply proof that they are on their way to making yet another massive move up the ranks of the high-fashion circuit they seem to defy.
Presumably built on the foundation of their recent experimentation suspending their craft in luminescent compounds, FLUORESCEIN, SS20’s direction feels otherworldly. More than anything it feels cut of the same late-90’s / early-00’s image of a Matrix future than it does of this present. And for that reimaging of a future, splashed with the vivacity of subculture undertones, CRASH OVERRIDE is high-fashion accessory line for the true risk takers.
There are explosions of semi-translucent acrylic interlaced with their signature stainless-steel, bringing pops of unexpected pink, orange, and clear linked with statements of silver and gold for the GAMMA bracelet. The same colorways also present themselves in a textile link of the new COMPOSITE wrist hardware.
Pulling their simplistic and relatively minimalist roots out of pocket for some unexpected SS20 pieces, Vitaly also tapped into gothic motifs for a spiked ring (RUIN), a skull & crossbones bracelet (OSSEIN), and living up to its name, the FISHBONE. Associating with the pops of color and the unique material choices, CRASH OVERRIDE’s gothic direction emerges somewhere between an homage to the Matrix and a celebration of Toronto’s own positioning as a cultural incubator, taking what was once underground or pushed from the mainstream, and marketing it to the world as the worldly art it really is.
Minimalist accessorizors: don’t be thrown off. Vitaly keeps many of their classic pieces in production even when running new seasonal lines, eventually folding standouts into the mix for future staple pieces. And for the in-betweeners who want a new spin on a classic look for Vitaly’s jaw-dropping GASOLINE editions of their pieces. The shape-shifting material inclusion creates a rainbow-sort of effect on what would traditionally be a simple, though beautiful piece of jewelry. Depending on the situation applied, these GASOLINE pieces can be a staple or a statement as long as the wearer can pair.
Keep an eye out for more from Vitaly’s CRASH OVERRIDE SS20 line as they continue to roll it out weekly. And be on the lookout for more from the global futurist brand as they continue experimenting and forcing a continuous evolution in jewelry and fashion at large.