Lennard Taylor’s life philosophy is in line with the “when a door closes, a window opens” motto, only his could be more like “when you get a career ending soccer injury, you just might find your new life path in fashion.”
While in Europe to play high level soccer, Taylor tore a ligament in his knee, and that was that for his soccer dreams. While he was there though, he couldn’t help but notice what people were wearing. “I noticed the clothing people were wearing on the street. It wasn’t anything fancy, it was just so many people had really great style, and I really liked it.”
When he got back to Winnipeg, he couldn’t find anything he wanted to wear. Taylor would commission people to try and create the design ideas he had, but they never came out quite right. Realizing these ideas were something he needed to pay attention to, he began the process of figuring out how to become a trained designer. “I couldn’t afford school, so I thought ‘how did people do this before school?’ and that’s when I found my mentor.”
Alex Espinosa, Taylor’s mentor, has been a staple in the Winnipeg fashion scene for some time. When Taylor approached him at a fashion show and asked if he’d be interested in taking on an apprentice, Espinosa’s reaction was exactly what Taylor needed to hear. “He said ‘it’s funny you should ask that because I was thinking I’m getting old and I need to pass along what I know to someone.’”
After that, Taylor and Espinosa worked together intensely for a few weeks. Espinosa employed a Karate Kid/trial by fire style of education. “We’d make a pattern and then he’d say ‘okay, there’s the pattern, now cut it out, sew it, and I’ll be back in a few hours to see what you’ve done,’ and I’d be left to figure it out.”
It was during those sink or swim times that Taylor found he loved sewing jeans. “He would be showing me how to draft a lapel, but all I could think about was when would he leave so I could sew another pair of jeans.” That’s when Taylor knew he had found his passion, and what he would be known for.
Since officially launching his namesake brand in 2010, Taylor says he’s been flying by the seams of his pants. His well crafted and interestingly detailed denim has been custom ordered by clients who have found him primarily through word of mouth, and it’s been purchased in boutiques like Divine and Conquer on Academy. He creates other beautiful and wearable pieces like dresses and jackets, but it really is his denim that he is known for.
While Winnipeg has embraced his aesthetic, Taylor has only recently become fully comfortable with sharing his designs. “Fashion is art, and for me it’s so personal. It’s really intimidating to put yourself out there, but I’ve finally come to a place where I’m comfortable and I feel okay if people aren’t totally into what I have to offer.”
2012 was a year of great change for Taylor, but, in keeping with his positive life motto, he’s taken it all in stride.
In October he moved his operations out of his combined work/showroom space in the Exchange to a warehouse on Mulvey. The loss of the showroom was an adjustment, but Taylor took it in stride and embraced his new environment. Not soon after the move, and in an unsurprising door closing/window opening scenario, Taylor got an office/showroom space on Garry.
Taylor continues to work and create, and is taking steps to further his business. He has been working on a business plan to legitimize and expand his brand with help from an expert who, unsurprisingly and in keeping with the serendipitous way things have happened, approached him after a fashion show and offered his help.
Continued growth and success are what Taylor is working towards, and no matter what happens, he will face it with his positive, pro-change attitude.
Sara is in a committed relationship with Winnipeg. They fight, and sometimes need to take a break, but they always come back to each other. She doesn’t tweet, but she does have a blog: http://sawtoday.blogspot.ca/