A Candid Conversation with Erin Holman

Erin Holman is very aggressive. Erin Holman knows exactly what she wants and she’s willing to put the time in to get it. Don’t you love her already?

After much thought, myself, Telly and Erin decided to dine on Italian food, only to find out our restaurant of choice was closed. But we were presented with an escape across the way in the form of BBQ. We sat down to sirloin hamburgers and fries discussing Fashion, Pop Culture and designer dreams.

Erin Holman, Founder & Designer of HOLMAN men's wear.

Mens wear designer, Holman, started her designing career at a young age. In a way, you could say Erin started her career at 5 years old. “My two good friends, who we are still friends to this day, we met the first day of grade 1 and we all wanted to be the Spice Girls,” she remembered. “I would talk to them like this, ‘Guys, Think of the outfits’ and I started drawing all these potential outfits that we would wear once we were super big and famous singers, and I just never stopped.”

Holman’s designing ability was probably inbred, as her grandmother’s from both sides were career women in the fashion industry. One grandmother worked for Simplicity Patterns and the other was a seamstress and tailor who ran her own store. “It was as if Fashion had skipped a generation and went straight to me,” she said.

When we met Erin for the first time months ago, she said, ‘I’m a men’s wear designer.’ I thought I mis-heard her. Women in ‘the boys playground of design’ are rare and almost unheard of, but here was a women who was proud to share her title. It was a designing competition while studying at Ryerson University, Toronto that steered the young designer to men’s wear. “I’m always inspired by women’s wear and sneak it into men’s wear, which is why, when you look at my collection, you sort of see women’s wear inspirations and you see that it’s almost a fine line of women’s wear and men’s wear combined. People say it’s almost unisex,” she said.

We talked about how men’s wear is exciting again, almost out-doing women’s wear. Too many times we’ve walked through the men’s wear department, eying that sweater or button-down shirt. Erin explained the men’s wear revival occurring now. “I feel that the Peacock revolution is coming back, and men want to dress well for women again. In the last 15 years, women have been dressing for men. In the 1970’s men were dressing for women in their flares, like John Travolta [Saturday Night Fever, film] and now it’s sort of coming back,” she said. This is the reason why you will find pony hair in her HOLMAN collars and gun medal hardware in her designs.

“I didn’t have many successes with women’s wear. I was sort of very lost in women’s wear. Everything has been kind of done in women’s wear and it’s really hard to define yourself and your style in women’s wear.”

Erin was very sure of her decision to create men’s clothes. Her successes as a men’s wear designer couldn’t be more clear. She went from Le Chateau, to Montreal, to Flare Magazine with the 2-page spread. After that, one of Erin’s HOLMAN outfits was on display for Holt and Renfrew July 1st. But with all the success, Erin is still open to learning new things to make her a better business woman. “I feel like I need to learn more and do more until I fully develop my business and go forth with it. I will always design and make things. I’m just starting out and I will have the line. It’s a little stream that eventually flows into a raging river that goes to the ocean!”

As sure as Erin was about her art and choice to design men’s wear, she hit many emotional obstacles, including harsh criticism from one of her professors. “She saw my work and immediately became disgusted and said, ‘This is exactly what you’re not supposed to do. Cartooning and characters is completely irrelevant to fashion. Erin, you will go nowhere and you need to be more realistic.’ I did the entire project again in a day.” The project originally took Erin a month of work. Along with the finished project, Erin presented  her professor with a book, Up and Coming Young Designer. The book was all cartoons and caricature.

We had to ask her how she got past that situation without throwing in the towel! For those who don’t know, young students are very fragile when it comes to their work. “As strong as they seem, everyone’s been there. Any artist or creator knows how it feels to be insecure. Is it good? Is it bad? But it all comes down to your support networks and people that will tell you if this is good or bad.”

“I was inspired by all the men I have met in my life. I would envision them, take out certain style bits and make my own little style. It’s for men who want Male, 1950’s look with a modern twist. That’s classic,” when asked who Erin is designing for…

As for the rich and famous, Erin loves the idea of dressing Foster The People, actor Ryan Gosling and controversial rap star, Kanye West.

Erin: Kanye West, most definitely!  Couldn’t you see him in my clothes?

Carcia: He is very fashionably brave. He’s not afraid to wear a women’s blouse.

Erin: Could you not see him in that pony hair collared shirt? Or Kanye in a white t-shirt wearing the cardigan? He’s amazing.

Knowing Erin Holman, she just might get exactly what she wants. Watch out Kanye! She’s coming to dress you.

Stilettos & Rock n Roll,
By Carcia & Telly
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