We caught up with Vince Lo, the creator of Takeflight, a vocal, local clothing brand, in order to get more insight on his brand and experiences. He talks about his inspirations on the creation of his brand.

It was not brought up in the interview (and not to Vince’s knowledge that we know…), but Vince also sponsors a child from Compassion Canada with whatever income Vince has. Currently, his sponsor child, Mario, is going through surgery, and wished that all his friends that would care to give his sponsor child just a little note or a few words of encouragement.

Can you describe yourself?

I am a Chinese-born-Canadian currently in my second year at Emily Carr University and I do a lot of thinking, reflecting and responding in all sorts of ways and mediums.

What are some of the challenges or experiences that you have gone through while growing up in Vancouver that have shaped you to be who you are today?

Growing up in North Vancouver, I was one of the only Chinese people around. For me to be immersed in a western Caucasian lifestyle back then and now to be amongst so many different people with different backgrounds, it makes me feel really banana.

I think within this past year, when I’m going to school everyday, I saw a lot of the homelessness and social issues on the street and so for me, a lot of this has shaped who I am and what I do; these things are really big in my heart.

What does the Takeflight mean?

The name is basically about myself. The logo I created is like the head of a baby chicken; it is a little cheesy but the whole Takeflight name is playing on the fact that chickens can’t fly and Takeflight is playing on this and how it’s the top goal of what you want to do. Takeflight is about taking risk, and taking flight is already a big risk; it’s taking a leap of faith and so the whole deal is about taking risks. It’s just the top goal you’re trying to reach.

What sets Takeflight apart from other brands?

I think Takeflight is different on a technical level because all my shirts are hand painted, which I don’t think many people have the time to do. Other than that, in terms of morals and the message I’m trying to bring out, it isn’t as much about the trends and the aesthetics, even though these are important. It’s more about what I take in each and every year and what other people bring into my life. Then it’s my way of responding; I take these things and then I translate it to the different mediums and themes that I have.

You mentioned that you hand paint all your shirts. Can you take us through the process of making one of your shirts from inspiration to completion?

Usually, for most designers, we carry around a sketchbook or a napkin, and yes, the best ideas come from the back of a napkin. When I’m in the car or on the bus, I think a lot and I like to reflect and connect things together. When I’m thinking about certain areas, I really start to make the connections and when it connects, that’s when I summarize it into a theme or an idea and that’s really where I really get the idea, theme, or design. From there, I take that and go to cardboard and I cut out stencils. From the stencils, I pick the colour and the paint, or sometimes I just paint freely with my hand. Depending on the design, there’s various things I can and can’t do. Sometimes, I can’t layer things right away, so it’s a lot about waiting and waiting. I’ll work on one section of a shirt, go to something else, and then come back to another section of the shirt.

Right now, your designs are focused on t-shirts. What are some things that you would like to venture into?

I painted two hats before, but I try to stay away from that because Brian is a good friend of mine (laughs); he taught me a lot! What I’ve always wanted to do were scarves and bags.

What is your dream project?

It’s hard to say. I’ve had this idea just this year about what I wanted to do with my life. It was along the lines of something like if I could have a brand with a voice and a high level of publicity, where the public knows that this brand has this voice that is heard, then I would be take on a direct social issue and make a line to address that issue.

Relating to your dream project, right now, what are you intending on Takeflight to say? What are your different lines trying to say?

The first batch I ever did was called Aerial Freedom Movement and it is sort of about Takeflight and its start. It’s basically about moving freely and taking that big leap. From there, I went on to Soul Revolution, which is about how the change starts from inside. When I was thinking about it, it was sort of like how I take things and I have to change my own views on things to get it all started first.

After Soul Revolution, I moved on to Eternity. For me, I grew up with a church background and Eternity is just talking about how there’s an eternal hope and a goal for everyone to reach and strive towards. Next, I created Collabonation which is about working together to achieve a good outcome.

Finally, I went on to Beyond Beyond, which is about people going beyond to do something for someone. For me, it can be about a boy friend and girl friend, or marriage, or friends just going beyond with what they do together.

I’m currently working on a line called Advant Garde. It’s not out yet, but it’s an art term that roughly means timeless and doesn’t get dated. I’m not saying that my stuff doesn’t get dated though! It’s more about the impact of my products on issues and people.

Is Beyond Beyond the core line for Takeflight? Or does this most align with what Takeflight is trying to do?

Beyond Beyond was the biggest theme for me and it was a big risk for me to do. Some of the t-shirts talk about a great friend of mine that passed away and some talk about how yes, there is death, but there will always be joy and more. It’s really different and personal because unless they were in my shoes, I don’t think they would understand it.

How do you balance your busy lifestyle with school and making t-shirts?

I guess it’s like work and work. Most people have school and then some work and then take a break. For me, it’s just whenever I have time, I work on the t-shirts. I try to make it my hobby and my relaxing-time thing to do; it’s tough to balance things out between things you hold important and the things you hold urgent in your life. Often times, the urgent things in life get left behind.

What do you have planned for your future?

I don’t think being a t-shirt designer is sustainable for me. I want to look into branding and identity, and maybe work on some bags and scarves, like I said. Also, I would love to start a company that is pretty broad in messages and use their apparel to tie in with political issues.

What is HYPE?

I generally see HYPE as a negative connotation. I hear lots of people saying, “man, I hate Hypebeast!” or, “HYPE jacked up the prices!”, but I think HYPE is pretty good. It builds up the expectation and gets people excited for something. It doesn’t happen very much these days. Recently there was the Obama HYPE, and it actually got people changing their perspectives on many things. I think HYPE has a lot of potential.

More on Takeflight available at www.takeflightcollective.com

Photography by Nico Mak