If you’ve been paying attention, there has slowly been a dramatic shift in what it means to be a man. No longer is there a stringent definition of what a man has to be. Men all over the country are redefining themselves and redefining what what masculinity looks like. In 2016 men are more comfortable to be who they are, they are more comfortable with what they want to wear, and they are more comfortable with being unique. Uniqueness is now a quality of strength and no longer something that should be masked.
Earlier this year, AXE unveiled a bold new point of view on masculinity that pushes guys to find the thing that makes them unique. The new campaign aims to have men look inward and give thought to what gets them out of bed every morning; the thing that helps them reach their max and helps you fuel each day. The unique thing that makes men move and gives men a tangible confidence – confidence that helps tackle the everyday. Whether it’s killing it at a board meeting, honing your artistic craft, or mastering a new life skill, confidence is that intangible element that can give men the extra lift they need to succeed.
To give the campaign some personality, AXE launched its first mentorship program, partnering with three Canadian guys who take life by the reins and will become AXE mentors. Selecting three stand-outs from Canada’s top three major cities, AXE has chosen Shane Foran from Toronto, Daniel Dubois from Vancouver and Benjamin Rochette from Montreal.
Each mentor is deeply entrenched in their community and embodies AXE’s modern view of masculinity.
With our headquarters in Toronto, StyleDemocracy had the opportunity to catch up with our friend Shane ‘Vitaly’ Foran, owner, creator and principal designer of Vitaly.
If you’ve never heard of Vitaly (formerly Vitaly Design) the brand has been making serious waves, first in Toronto, now globally. Initially the brand began as a unisex jewellery brand, Vitaly now offers jewellery, accessories and clothing. Though they’ve seen major success, the brand started out with humble beginnings. Shane put his life on hold for three months and went travelling in South East Asia. After weeks of unplanned travel, Shane landed in the small village of Ubud in central Bali, Indonesia. Inspired by the art culture of Ubud, Shane decided to pursue something new – fashion and design. Taking a risk, Shane developed a few simple designs and took to social media to get the word out. After receiving positive feedback from his friends and supporters, Shane took a gamble and withdrew the last $3,000 available on his student line of credit to start Vitaly.
Shane bet on himself, pushed boundaries and took chances that paid off. Vitaly has risen the ranks from a brand for friends to a brand carried all over the world, blossoming into a force to be reckoned with. In fact the brand has been so successful that they are now opening a massive flagship store.
Watching a brand grow from nothing to opening a flagship store is an amazing thing. All the blood sweat and tears Shane and his team have put into their brand can officially be recognized in the sense that the brand now has a concrete mark on Queen Street West in Toronto – one of the premier neighbourhoods in the world (as voted by Vogue Magazine).
“It’s still just a crazy thought,” Shane tells us, “we’ve been doing pop-up shops for about three years now. We started off doing it for a week, then two weeks, then a month. Now we basically have a permanent pop-up shop running on Yonge street. It was a slow build – it wasn’t something we could have done a couple years ago. I guess what got us to this point was continuing to grind, continuing to be true to what our original vision was, continuing to improve the product instead of cheaping out so we could increase our margin. It is important for us to be good to our fans and do the best job we can…”
Shane continues to tell us, “a lot of people ask how you would measure success, It think [opening the flagship store] is the first tangible thing for me. I get to essentially walk into a building that has my name on it. That’s a pretty huge thing for me, it’s the first time I feel that I have something that’s really ours and something that everyone can see. It’s huge.”
With a solidified mark on Queen Street, Shane, with AXE’s help, now has the ability to share his wealth of knowledge and resources with others in the Toronto creative industry within the AXE Find Your Magic Mentorship program. Shane has decided to work with two of Toronto’s best and brightest: Ben Johnston, a highly creative multi-disciplinary graphic designer and artist focusing on murals and custom artwork and Matheson soundscape wizard/musician who specializes in sound and audio engineering. Shane hopes that with his help, he will be able to open a few more doors for his mentees and help them tackle meaningful projects that can help advance their careers in the industry.
“What I’m looking in getting out of this project is some experience consulting and helping people with projects. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always really liked the idea… Not just of mentorship but of taking what I learned and taking my resources and helping other people that deserve it,” Shane tell us.
For the mentees, Shane will act as a guiding light helping each mentee find their magic…
“Finding your magic means finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s finding that thing that might not be obvious, might not be something you can have today and tomorrow, and maybe take every drop of your energy and effort but it’s that thing that you are willing to fight for. That thing you are willing to wake up for. That thing you are excited to talk about and you want to live and breath.”