Behind the Seams: Sully & Son Co.
A Q&A with Canadian designer George Sully about his latest brand.
Smart design and superior craftsmanship meet all-around comfort and style with Sully & Son Co., an exciting new line of functional bags that comes to us from George Sully, one of Canada’s most celebrated fashion designers. As an award-winning multidisciplinary designer, Sully has been inducted into the Bata Shoe Museum, designed costumes for film and television and has founded several successful brands over his long career.
With the launch of Sully & Son Co.’s Kuro line at Harry Rosen, we were thrilled to speak to Sully about his new collection, how a trip to Japan inspired it and the importance of Canadian design.
Where did the idea for Sully & Son. Co come from. What compelled you to start a new line?
Everything that I've learned over the years in design, and production, and manufacturing, and pricing has come to make this brand. It’s the best of me and it’s personal to me. I know I needed to do it because it was the perfect time to express myself. I know where to find the best materials, I can find the right resources, I know what the customer likes, and I have the energy! I'm striving for as premium a product that I can make.
And my son was born; he's almost two. When he was born, it just clicked – Sully & Son. It’s so classic and something I knew that I wanted to pass onto him in the future.
Sully & Son Co. was influenced by Japan. How so?
It was huge. When I travelled to Japan I felt Zen because everything just has an order over there. The dress, the etiquette –– everything has a purpose. That followed me everywhere; it reminded me to relate everything to purpose.
In the world we’re living in now, you’re a nomad. You’re hitting the streets and whether you’re going to work or just getting groceries – you have set things to do and you need something to go with you – so purpose is huge. Our backpacks, for example, are great because they work for any situation and they have a ton of pockets, other functional elements like laptop sleeves, water-resistant materials and waterproof zippers. Even the branding – it looks cool, but it’s 3M reflective, so if you find yourself riding your bike at night it could save your life!
Another example of function and design is that we’ve added extra air mesh for breathability when it’s on your back. I’m always thinking about travel, so the Kuro collection (which means “black” in Japanese, by the way) ticks all the boxes for travel in the city or commuting but it’s ready to go for international travel with passport pockets and hidden stash pockets to protect you, as well as anti-theft zipper locks.
You’re a very experienced designer that has worked in a lot of different areas from shoes to bags to sportswear, what was it that made you circle back to bags?
I've always loved producing bags. The quick backstory is LG Electronics came to me and said they want to collaborate. I happened to have Sully & Son in the back of my head and this one-off opportunity got the juices flowing and got me excited about the potential. They loved everything about the idea and Sully & Son was born. It gave me the perfect opportunity to start the brand and it allowed me to make my dream bag with my dream materials. The idea to put USB charging ports on all of these bags came from that collaboration as well.
The pandemic has had people thinking about supporting local a lot more. What can you tell people about Canadian designers? Why should people think more about our own designers?
Black or white it is hard being a designer in Canada. I think for my experience being a man of colour, it's been a little bit more challenging in some ways but supporting Canadian designers is very important simply because we're one of you.
[Canadians] are blinded by the perception that everything outside of Canada is better but it's a worldwide market. If you dive into the product, a lot of Canadian designers are making some really great stuff that’s comparable to or better than a lot of things that come from Europe.
I don’t want a handout and I don’t want charity and Harry Rosen doesn’t want that either. You want premium you have a standard and that’s perfect for me. If I present something and you like it then – boom, and if you don’t then cool, but having that chance is everything.
There's talent here and we have the materials so it’s all about giving people the opportunity to present what they have. Harry Rosen is carrying my brand for the sole reason that the product speaks for itself.