The Genteel
January 17, 2021

Best Kept Secrets


Navigating the back alleyways of downtown Toronto, I arrived at my destination: a stark white warehouse-cum-art gallery, with the distinct sound of muffled bass coming from inside. I was here for the "Clocks & Colours" collection launch party of Toronto-based Vitaly Design, Shane Vitaly Foran and Jason Readman's nascent jewellery brand. As guests arrived, it became apparent that I was in the presence of the faithful.

The gallery space embodied the brand's ethos of bricolage; inspiration for the latest collection came from antique watches to kitschy street art, and both were on display that evening. Even though the duo is inspired by a breadth of cultural references and objects, Vitaly adheres to understated design.

"I often refer to the Vitaly customer as the iPod generation. By this, I mean they are the people who grew up with every kind of music, art and fashion influencing their preferences. The result has been a beautiful fusion or hybrid of influences. Vitaly's aim is to find the centre-point of that fusion," designer and founder Shane tells The Genteel.

When I came to Ubud, I did something I'd never done before. I relaxed, and let my mind wander.

Unmistakable, understated design, coupled with an androgynous aesthetic, lends Vitaly an everyday beauty that is almost reductionist. The rings come in singles, doubles and triples, in either wood or ceramic with rose gold, yellow gold or silver detailing. The brand has also expanded into cufflinks, tie bars and pendants of the same material. Signature, delicate bolts that appear on most of their designs are how you know it's Vitaly.

Vitaly already has two complete collections, with stockists from New York to Hong Kong, since its humble beginnings just over a year ago: a shoestring budget and a dream conceived in Ubud, the cultural epicentre of Bali.

"[Ubud is] an environment where creativity flourishes, and art seems to be the biggest commodity," Shane says of his experience, "When I came to Ubud, I did something I'd never done before. I relaxed, and let my mind wander."

Purveyors of cool, Shane and Jason make friends rather quickly. Forging a loyal community around a brand is what marketing experts believe builds powerful and respected labels, a skill that has been a touchstone of the brand since its inception.

Shane Vitaly Foran and Jason Readman.

Shane comments, "We've learned first-hand that it's not an easy task to make it as an artist in Toronto, or likely anywhere for that matter. But I think if we support each other and combine our networks, we can accomplish a lot more." The "Friends" section on the Vitaly website is a micro-blog, updated by Jason, featuring artists, musicians and local "friends" who make up a larger creative network.

"Business wise, admittedly, we have pretty lofty goals," says Shane, "It's not going to be an easy feat, and we're certainly going to need to lean on our friends for their support." Developing product lines to include bracelets and other accoutrements is also another goal for the brand.

The duo hopes to continue to expand globally over the next year and grow their loyal following. "I'd like us to be in ten countries and over one hundred retailers by this time next year," Shane concludes. At the rate at which Vitaly is gaining currency, his so-called lofty goals seem everything but impossible. 



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