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Tristan: We Are One with Fashion

Pao Lim

MONTREAL, Oct 3, 2010 / FW/ — When shopping in Montreal, one of the must-go and must-see stores is Tristan, a well-established Canadian retailer that also designs, manufactures and distributes its own line of clothing.

Visiting Tristan’s downtown Montreal location, we met up with Pao Lim, Creative Director for both the Tristan menswear and womenswear lines. A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin’s, Pao grew up in Montreal but moved to Europe to study fashion.

After graduation from Central Saint Martin’s, he honed his skills in Paris working as a designer in several well-known houses. After several years in Paris, Pao and his wife, who is also Canadian, decided to go back to Montreal to raise their children here.

“London and Paris have been good to me, but Montreal is home,” said Pao, who also found a home as a designer at Tristan. Originally hired as the Creative Director of Womenswear, recently, Pao has also been given the responsibility for menswear

“It was a natural progression, for Pao to handle both womenswear and menswear,” said Gilles Fortin, President of Tristan. “We need a directional vision for our clothing line and having one Creative Director for all is a logical choice.”

Designing at least 10 collections a year, Pao Lim is in charge of all Tristan’s private labels from the drawing board to the sales floor. Tristan maintains a sizeable atelier in its Montreal headquarters. It also has manufacturing capabilities in-house though a substantial amount is sent overseas.

And as Mr. Fortin explained, Tristan owes its success not only to its clothing, but also to its integrated management approach. Since the beginning, the company has designed, manufactured and distributed its own collections, giving it much greater flexibility.

The process surrounding the development of collections for both men and women is very demanding, especially since Tristan has taken on the additional goal of striking a balance between being competitive, and socially and economically responsible.

It is important to note that Tristan has found a balance between Asian subcontracting and the maintenance/creation of jobs in Canada, thanks to the adoption of a Canadian manufacturing policy.

[MARI DAVIS]

Montreal Fashion Week Spring 2011