Andrew Coimbra is the cutest human, totally into hugs and kisses, but at the same time - a full on sassy diva who knows what he wants and exactly how to make it happen.
Andrew began his fashion journey at OCAD University where he studied Material Art & Design and then shifted to Fashion Studies at George Brown College. He worked with Canadian labels Pink Tartan and Phillip Sparks before starting his own casual unisex line, Andrew Coimbra. Since then, he has built an incredibly strong brand, shown at Toronto Men's Fashion Week (TOM) and is now ready to host his first Toronto pop-up...at INLAND this May 6-8th!
Why did you decide to start your business?
I decided to start my brand because I wanted to offer a view into Canadian menswear that wasn’t just… plaid shirts, chinos and dandy blazers. Not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but I think Canada has a lot of influential character that is washed over by our general obsession with meeting dated industry ideals. I wanted to give Canada a fresh look reflective of its current population.
What were you doing before designing?
intended on going into illustration or animation at one point, and studied Drawing & Painting at OCADU before switching into the Material Art & Design program, and ultimately moving onto Fashion Studies. While I was there, I dived more into fashion by working freelance as a Stylist; it was a great networking opportunity, and I learned a lot about my aesthetic during the process.
"I wanted to give Canada a fresh look reflective of its current population."
What are/were your greatest challenges in getting started as a designer and entrepreneur?
For me it boils down to two main things: resources and support. When I say resources I mean everything from financing and physical space to a selection of trims and fabrics that suit the needs to my brand and my demographic.
Do you work with a team or on your own?
The brand and the way I handle it is almost entirely my own doing, but I have found incredible motivation, inspiration, and clarity in working with my friends throughout my processes, so in a way, it’s a team effort.
How do you measure success?
If I am proud of what I am putting out there, then I am successful.
What’s the best advice you've received in life and/or business?
“Do you.” *praise hands emoji*
Who are some key people that inspire / motivate you?
My “team”: I trust Toronto-based stylist Nadia Pizzimenti with giving me notes on collection direction; we often edit the collections together. My personal casting director is Lekan Tijani. I bounce creative concepts off of Mckenzie James, Patrick Lacsina, and Marina Guasch. I couldn’t accomplish what I do in the amount of time I have without them.
What advice would give emerging talent?
Know. Your. Brand.
If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
For a hot minute I thought about pursuing a career as an actor…
Do you have a favorite Canadian designer or artist?
Favourite Canadian designer hands down is Mikhael Kale. Even though he and I are friends, I’m such a fan-girl for him. He looks at design as an art, and still manages to make it beautifully wearable.
What do you think there should be more of in the Canadian fashion industry?
There needs to be more financial support. That not only comes in the form of grants that are made accessible by publicly and privately funded programs, but by individual investment. It is so crucial for local designers to be supported by their community members. It’s such a special thing to see someone work hard to create products or services for you, and for you to acknowledge it by making the conscious decision to invest in a piece.
What about yourself do you think would surprise people?
Literally nothing. I’m an open book; if you’re surprised, then you’re not reading.
When you’re not working, what are you doing?
Working. I feel terrible for my friends, because when I’m not talking about my potential new bae I’m picking their brains on the direction of my next collection, campaign, lookbook, Instagram post. They’re good people for putting up with me.
Why does Made in Canada matter?
Here’s an anecdote: One of my stockists, elkel, has a physical pop-up shop in Soho, New York, and a friend of a friend who does not know me or my brand ended up buying a piece. I was told that the person working in the shop at the time told the customer that my brand was based out of Sweden, and that the collection is manufactured there – so, the person was excited and bought it. Afterward, the person was upset when my friend (who was excited that his friend purchased my design) told him that the brand is actually Canadian and manufactured in Toronto. This is why Made in Canada is important. The international impression that we are leaving is ultimately lackluster and does not reflect the value and potential craftsmanship we, as an industry, can perpetuate. There is talent here.